Agonizomai: Heb 2:1-4 - Christ - IS the Message

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Heb 2:1-4 - Christ - IS the Message

Heb 2:1-4 - Christ - IS the Message

Heb 2:1-4 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Therefore - for all the reasons and in light of all the proofs provided as to the infinite superiority of Christ to angels and other messengers of God - because Christ is the message, the ultimate message of whom all other messengers spoke - then we who profess faith in Him ought to closely guard and heed our doctrine.

Inattention to what we have been taught by Christ and His Apostles will cause us to apostatize. It is not enough to have believed the truth if we then neglect that truth. We must constantly be reminded and we must continually abide in that truth or we shall drift by degrees into something other than the truth, and we may find out that we are reprobates after all. When the saints sing, "Tell me the old, old story," they are not being nostalgic, but prescriptive. We need to be told over and over because our flesh wars against the truth and is susceptible to being deceived.

The "we" I am referring to in these notes was originally the community of Jewish believers. But we are all adopted Jews, and there is great application for all the saints contained in the warnings of Hebrews.

The writer of the homily hearkens back to Israel’s past by reminding them not only that angels and other messengers declared a message (note the choice of verb - the word was declared, not suggested) but that what they said proved to be utterly true and reliable. And both the kindness and severity of God, the Sender, was revealed according to the way Israel responded. Every disobedience was punished. But not only was it punished - it was justly punished. Israel lived under the covenant of works - under law, which required complete compliance, on pain of incurring God’s just retribution.

God has the right to demand compliance from His creatures, and more especially still from His chosen people. Israel was chosen as the recipient of the law and the testimony - as the guardian of the truth and as a light to the world. God condescended to show Himself to the nation and to be their personal God. Yet Israel utterly failed.

And this is the writer’s point - that the communication of God Almighty to His people in times past came by intermediaries and yet was still reliable, and all rejection of it (which is a lack of faith) came with a price. Now that God has spoken "in Son" - the ultimate self-revelation in an intensely personal way, not through an intermediary but directly - then rejection of this ultimate message can only lead to something unimaginably terrible. And that will be a just end.

How can we contrast the message through intermediaries with the personal incarnation of the Message Sender - once for all doing away with all other intermediation? It is like the land owner, having sent servants to inquire of his tenants about the harvest and getting no response, he finally sends his son, whom they kill, thinking that in murdering the heir they shall themselves keep the land. {Mr 12:1-9} God came into history, to His very Own chosen people and was Himself the message. "I AM the way, the truth and the life," He declared, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." {John 14:6}

Jesus is not an example of how to live. He was not a teacher showing us the ten principles of fulfilled living. He is the life. He is the way. He is the truth. The life cannot be known or manifested apart from union with Him. We live, but nevertheless not we, but Christ lives in us. {Ga 2:20} We don’t imitate Christ. He lives in us and we abide in Him. This is what is encompassed in the idea of God speaking to us "in Son." It is an entirely different order of communication. It is infinitely superior to all the other means of communication of God to us, even though these other means were completely true and reliable.

The contrast in the writer’s conception is not so much about the message (for there is consistency between all the messages) as it is about the messenger. Jesus always was the message. He was the message in creation, which witnesses to Him. He was the message in the promises given to the fathers. He was the giver of the law which was itself a message about Him in typology and symbols (in the Levitical, civil and ceremonial laws), as well as in moral content (in the Ten Commandments). He was both the sender and message of the prophets. It was a message that spoke of both holiness and grace - judgement and mercy, punishment and love.

So Jesus’ coming is the ultimate self-revelation of God. It is naked. It is unequivocal. It is unveiled. It is in the open for all to see. And those who claim to have seen, and yet display the same behaviour as the historical record shows of the nation of Israel as a whole by disobedience, are displaying that lack of faith that belies their confession. The writer will go on to describe in more detail the parallel between the profession and the fate of Israel and the profession and fate of those who draw back from Christ.

No mistake should be made here; to reject Christ is a far greater and graver iniquity than to reject His messengers. Both are causes for retribution, but greater knowledge brings greater responsibility and, as a result, greater culpability and punishment.

What was it that the message of Christ and the Apostles attested to? What was it that was declared? It was salvation. But it was not such a salvation as could be separated from Christ Himself. Christ preached Himself as God’s only means of salvation, to be apprehended by faith. All that this includes was fleshed out by Christ, and then the Apostles in every God-breathed word of the gospels and other inspired texts. The message is “God is our salvation” {Ps 62:1-2, 68:19, Luke 2:29-32} and "Salvation (deliverance) is of the LORD." {Jon 2:9}. In other words, salvation is in a Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ.

The properly represented teaching of both Christ and the Apostles makes this clear, which is why close attention (see v1) must be paid to what we have heard from Christ and the Apostles and to keep on checking to see if what we have believed corresponds exactly to what they have said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most wonderful and basic truth-Jesus IS the message. He is spoken of throughout the OT as well as the NT and it is clear that we must receive HIM who He is, not on our ideas of what we want Him to be or what we were wrongly taught about who He is.

I pray that everyone who reads this blog will get into the Bible like never before, and believe every word. Hey,if you haven't done so, send a note to Tony from time to time,, giving hime feedback for his hours and hours of study, writing, and recording, that we may have these scriptural and encouraging studies.
(Tony, I hope you don't mind my saying that).)

9:08 am  
Blogger agonizomai said...


Tony, I hope you don't mind my saying that.

Well - it doesn't break any of the blog rules so I guess it's OK.[/smile]

I pray that I will get into the Bible like never before and believe every word, too.



10:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for clarification, I include myself in the "everyone." I constantly need to read and apply the Word in my life. Reading your blog boosts me. :-)

10:54 am  

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