The Epistle To The Hebrews
Part 2 ...
In our last study we saw the anonymous author give proof
that Jesus is as superior to the angels as His name (the Son of God) is to
theirs (sons of God).
The Son of God is the exact representation of His
being, His prophet for the Last Days, the sole provider of our purification, and
when He had finished His work, He sat down at the right hand of majesty. Now
we'll see that in the process He descended lower than the angels for a little
while to become a man in order to save mankind. Let's begin.
Made Like His Brothers
It is not to angels that he has
subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place
where someone has testified:
is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower
than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything
under his feet." [Psalm 8:4-6]
putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet
at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was
made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he
suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Both here and Psalm 8
the phrase “a little” is also translated “for a little while”.
Jesus, who as the Son of God is superior to the angels and in fact
created them, temporarily descended down the hierarchy of creation to a place
lower than theirs to become the Son of
In bringing many sons to glory, it was
fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists,
should make the author of their
salvation perfect through suffering.
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the
same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says,
"I will declare your name to my
brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises."
[Psalm 22:22] and again, "I
will put my trust in him." [Isaiah 8:17]
And again he says, “Here am I, and the
children God has given me."
[Isaiah 8:18] (Hebr. 2:10-13)
the Father's children, have been given to the Son to be his brothers and
sisters. Romans 8:29 tells us
that in God's view we've been conformed into the likeness of His Son so that He
might be the first born among many brothers. And Paul also wrote:
when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the
full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into
our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."
So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has
made you also an heir. (Galatians
the Greek and Roman cultures, sons were not automatically heirs to their
father's estate. When they reached a point of maturity where they could
understand what it meant, usually between 14 and 18, they went through a formal
adoption process where they received “the full rights of sons”, qualifying them
to inherit their father's estate.
Until then even though they were biologically related to their fathers, they had
no more legal standing than the household slaves.
Through the Lord's atoning sacrifice, we've been given “the full rights
of sons” in our Father's family. No
longer slaves to sin, and not just forgiven, we've been made heirs with Christ
of all eternity.
the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by
his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—
and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.
For this reason he had to
be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful
and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for
the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is
able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebr.
didn't make His son an angel to save angels, but a man, to save mankind, to be
our High Priest, our atoning sacrifice, and our mediator before God.
When Adam sinned, he lost his immortality and his inheritance, and all
his children were made slaves to Satan.
Without a redeemer man was hopelessly lost, unable to save himself.
God had the price of redemption and the desire to pay it, but according
to His own law only a man, Adam's next of kin, could save us. (Leviticus
25:25,47-48) But being
enslaved themselves, no one of the family of man could do it.
And so God became a man in the form of His own Son and paid the price of
our redemption with His own life.
But He didn't just save us. As He
ascended back up the hierarchy to His rightful position on the throne of
creation, He took us with Him, past the angels, to be sons and daughters of God
and joint heirs with Him, seating us beside Him in the Heavenly realms (Ephes.
Greater Than Moses
brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the
apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who
appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. Jesus has been
found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has
greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but
God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's
house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as
a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and
the hope of which we boast. (Hebr.
the recipients of the letter are described as born again believers, and are told
that their most revered ancestor Moses has been surpassed by Jesus.
As the apostle John would write, the Law was given through Moses but
grace and truth came through Jesus. (John
1:17) The superiority of the Son over the servant demonstrates the
superiority of the New Covenant over the Old. Those who had been trained from
birth to rely on the Old Covenant now had to have the courage and hope to cling
to the New.
So, as the Holy Spirit says:
"Today, if you
hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during
the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and
for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation,
and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my
ways.' So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'
to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns
away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is
called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
We have come to share in Christ if we
hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said:
"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the
Who were they who
heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry
for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the
desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to
those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of
their unbelief. (Hebr. 3:7-19)
Another warning not
to go back into the Levitical system. Having been freed from slavery in Egypt with an
outstretched arm and mighty acts of judgment (Exodus
6:6) the Israelites rebelled when God asked them to walk by faith into
the Promised Land and achieve victory over its inhabitants.
“There are giants in the land,” they said, “and we looked like
grasshoppers in their sight, and in ours.” (Numbers
13:33) Because of their
unbelief, God withdrew His power and when they tried to take the land in their
own strength, they were soundly defeated (Numbers
14:41-45) and consigned to life in the wilderness.
The Israelite who
accepted deliverance from the bondage of slavery in Egypt but refused to cross over into
the Promised Land is a model of the believer who has accepted deliverance from
the bondage of sin yet refuses to walk in victory.
Both are redeemed from bondage and both receive God's provision, but both
are deprived of His power and doomed to spend their life in the wilderness.
Sacrifices For Sin
element of the Levitical system was the daily sacrifice for sin. Every evening a
lamb was placed on the altar and allowed to burn all night to cover the sins
they committed during the night. At
sunrise it was replaced with a new one that burned all day to cover the sins
they committed during the day. In addition Israelites had to make a personal sin
offering for their own sins.
Failure to do these things deprived
them of God's blessing and brought His anger upon them.
Jesus to Israel
as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (John
1:29) He was referring to the
daily sacrifice for sin. The difference is that this Lamb would only be
sacrificed once for all time. With
the establishment of the New Covenant we only have to believe that He died for
us to be saved for Eternity. (John 3:16)
But that doesn't stop us from sinning, and every time we do we have to
confess to remain in fellowship with God in the here and now. (1
John 1:9) We never again
have to worry about God's anger (Colossians
1:20) but failure to confess when we sin will still deprive us of His
power, His protection and His blessing.
It's the New Covenant replacement for the daily sacrifice.
In effect, the
writer admonished the Hebrew believers that turning back from the New Covenant
would leave them just as weak and powerless over spiritual enemies as their
ancestors had been over physical ones after turning back from the Promised Land.
It would demonstrate their unbelief in the sufficiency of the Lord's
death to cover all their sins. It
would not endanger their salvation, but it would put them out of fellowship with
Him. While still on the right side
of pardon they'd be on the wrong side of power, stuck in a spiritual wilderness
just as their ancestors had been stuck in a physical one. Confession and
forgiveness were God's only acceptable remedies for their sins.
It's the same
today. How many believers live
powerless lives because of their unconfessed sins?
Oh they're still saved, but where is their victory on Earth and what will
be their reward in Heaven? They have life without health, trial without triumph,
service without success. They're on
the right side of Easter but the wrong side of Pentecost.
How about you? Selah