Thursday, July 23, 2015

Heed Heartily: Hebrews 2

In Summary:

Hebrews 2 opens with a warning to heed well what God has said through His Son, and then goes on to point out reasons for that warning. Additionally, we see more quotations from the Psalms. The author of Hebrews is clearly well-versed in the Old Testament.

Further, we see the explanation in this chapter that Jesus was tempted through His suffering. Even though this is the case, He did not succumb to the temptation and is able, v. 18, to aid those who are tempted. I would suggest that this idea reaches into where our strongest temptations are: during suffering. Good times tempt us to laziness, but suffering tempts us to abandonment.

Yet when we look at the Cross of Jesus, we should see that God does not send us through what He’s never dealt with. That should be a sustaining thought.

In Focus:

Let’s focus, again, on the first part of the chapter. Verse 1 warns the reader to pay closer attention to what we have heard. Closer than what? Closer than the attention paid by those in the past, who did not heed the warnings of prophets and teachers.

Further, as we consider the Old Testament record of God bringing judgment on those who disobey, we must consider that ignoring the Son of God will bring even deeper problems and greater judgment.

There is also a chronological aspect to consider. God’s judgment has been as continuous as His lovingkindness. It is seen in both the affairs of nations and the individual lives of people. Yet it has always happened, and can be expected again.

In Practice:

Practically speaking, there are more steps here than simply “hunker down and fear the judgment of God.” Certainly that’s the first step: hunker down and fear the judgment of God. Then ask God to deliver you through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.

From there, consider the problems that come across your path. Every one of them is, at its root, similar to the difficulties faced by Jesus. Nothing He commands is out of His capacity, so take it to Him. How do we do that?

1. Knowing the Word of God. We’ll claim to know what God commands, know the person of Jesus, and follow the Spirit—yet we remain clueless about the Word of God that He has given us. How does that work? It doesn’t. Know the Word of God. You don’t have to memorize every last king or get Paul’s Missionary Journeys in the right order. But if you have never read through, slowly enough to understand, the whole Bible, you are missing the bulk of what God has to say about your situation.

2. Live in a relationship with God. We’re not in this alone, but we sure do act like it. Hear God through His Word. Talk to God in prayer. Recognize that you are not the only possible solution to your problems. Rely on and trust in the One who saved you.

3. Be connected with the Body of Christ. Jesus died and rose again, and so you can be drawn near to God. You also can draw near to others who have the same relationship. That time you faced the darkness alone? The Body should have been there for you. As believers, we have to do better for each other, in both admitting our needs and supplying the needs of one another.

In Nerdiness: 

Best nerd part of this chapter is the quotation of Psalm 8 in verses 6-8. Here we see evidence that the Septuagint was consulted rather than the Hebrew text at the time. The reference to man as “lower than the angels” reflects the Greek use of “angelos” instead of the Hebrew “elohim.”

What does that tell us? That while Hebrews is written to a primarily Jewish audience, the audience was more familiar with the Greek expression of Scripture than the Hebrew. This is historically interesting.

Theologically, it raises this question: what should we take as the text for the Old Testament? Should we count the Septuagint’s version of Psalm 8 or the Masoretic Text’s? Do we count both as valid, that Psalm 8 from the Hebrew is correct, and the quotations in Hebrews are also correct? This is why we keep searching, studying, and praying. 

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