First Exhortation

A dire warning of the consequences for failing to hear and obey the superior word of the Son  Hebrews 1:4-2:7

Angels Photo by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash
The next paragraph centers on the supremacy of Christ’s priestly reign from the “
right hand of the majesty on high.” First, the eternal sovereignty of God is described (“Your throne, O God, is to times everlasting”), then the Son’s qualifications to sit on His throne are stated (“You loved righteousness and hated lawlessness”) - [Photo by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash].

God and the Son are addressed separately. The purpose is not to engage in metaphysical speculation about the nature of the Son or his relationship to God, but to stress his greatness and the supremacy of his position.

HIS ENTHRONEMENT

  • (Hebrews 1:8-14) - “But as to the Son: Your throne, O God, is to times everlasting, and a scepter of equity is the scepter of his kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. For this cause has God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation beyond your partners. And you, by way of beginning, Lord, the earth founded, and the works of your hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but you abide still, and all as a mantle shall be worn out. And as if a robe wilt you fold them up as a mantle, and they shall be changed. But you are the same, and your years shall not fail. But to which of the angels has he ever said: Sit at my right hand until I make your foes your footstool? Are they not all spirits doing public service, for ministry sent forth for the sake of them who are about to inherit salvation?”
Because of his qualifications, God exalted His Son to reign from His throne (“For this cause, God anointed you with the oil of exultation beyond your partners”).

The Greek term rendered “partners” occurs five times in the letter in reference to believers, the very ones for whom the Son achieved the “purification of sins” - (Hebrews 3:1, 3:14, 6:4, 12:8).

The One who “anointed” the Son is the same One who “founded the earth” and the “heavens.” Though the creation itself may “perish,” He “remains forever.” And because the Son inherited His throne, his authority and status are supreme and everlasting.

As for the angels, at no point did God ever say to any angel, no matter how high or powerful he was, “Sit at my right hand.” Angels do not rule, they are servants “sent forth for the sake of them who are about to inherit salvation,” namely, the church.

FIRST ADMONISHMENT

The comparison of the Son with the angels now concludes with the letter’s first warning of the dire consequences for failing to heed the word of the Son:
  • For this cause, it behooves us with unwonted firmness to be holding fast to the things that have been heard, lest at any time we drift away. For if the word through angels spoken became firm and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if so great a salvation as this we have neglected, which, indeed, having received a beginning of being spoken through the Lord, by them who heard to us was confirmed, God jointly witnessing also both with signs and wonders and manifold mighty works, and with distributions of Holy Spirit, according to his own will?” - (Hebrews 2:1-4).
The concluding paragraph presents two themes repeated later. First, the need to “hear” the "word" spoken in the Son. Second, warnings about the grave danger posed by the refusal to obey his Word - (Hebrews 4:1-11, 6:4-8, 10:26-31, 12:25-26).

Because of the surpassing excellence of Christ’s word, it is vital to hold fast to it. If disregarding the word of angels results in dire consequences, how much more so will the refusal to heed his word?

Spoken through angels.” This clause echoes the Jewish tradition that the Law was given by angels. The statement does not disparage them, Moses, or the Torah. Angels may have mediated the Law, but its source was God. It was His “word” regardless of the intermediaries used to deliver it, and every transgression of it received a just recompense - (Deuteronomy 33:2, Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19).

With that being so, how shall we escape far greater punishment if we now abandon the supreme word spoken in the Son of God? As dangerous as it was to disobey the Word mediated through angels, how much more serious is that danger by ignoring the superior “word” of Jesus?

NEW VS THE OLD

Hebrews argues from the lesser to the greater. Angels are God’s ministers and glorious beings. Moses was God’s anointed servant. The point is the grave danger posed to believers who would now abandon this vastly supreme revelation. Anyone who turns back to the old order risks everlasting destruction.

Some believers were contemplating a return to the Jewish synagogue to escape persecution. The goal of Hebrews is to encourage them to hold fast to the supreme revelation they now have in Jesus. The rhetorical strategy is to compare this superior revelation with the past ones made “in the prophets”, including Moses, thus demonstrating the surpassing greatness of the complete revelation given in him.

Whether anyone “drifts away” from Jesus to non-Christian Judaism, to another religion, or to an irreligious life, he or she can expect to receive a “much sorer punishment” than any transgressors ever received under the Mosaic Law. To whom much is given, much is required.



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