Tuesday, April 8, 2014
In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 2:1-9
In previous verses, the author of Hebrews established Jesus' superiority when compared to prophets or the angels. Moving forward from here he makes the case that, consequently, we should give even more weight to "what we have heard" (the teaching from Jesus) than any previous messenger of Yahweh. We should give attention to it, and also be sure not to "drift away" from it.
Jewish teachers of this time period credited angels as the primary means by which Yahweh communicated and gave the Torah to Israel. This isn't necessarily the case, but there is some basis for it in scripture. (See Exodus 3:2) The author of Hebrews seems to allow for this idea and builds his case for Jesus on it.
He argues that if the teaching and commands delivered by angels were reliable and came with consequences for disobedience, then we should assume that the teaching of Jesus, who is greater than the angels, is even more reliable and will result in greater consequences for those who neglect it.
In the Old Testament era, consequences for disobeying Yahweh tended to be intense and visible, yet temporary. (Punishment by death at most.) For this reason we might pause for a second and consider what consequences could be more severe for neglecting and disobeying Jesus. I believe the implication here is that those consequences, far more than brief and temporary, will be eternal in nature.
The author continues to build the case for responding to the teaching from, and about, Jesus. He says that first of all, this teaching comes from the original and highest source himself, Jesus. He also says that it was confirmed by those who were present when Jesus taught (in other words, eye witnesses have verified the facts about Jesus passed down and understood by the author and his readers). Finally, the truthfulness of this teaching was verified to have divine origin by the numerous miracles that took place in connection with this teaching.
The author returns again to the superiority of Christ over the angels, and also sheds light on his role in relationship to all of humanity. He implies that this "great salvation"(v.3) revealed by the teaching of Jesus has something to do with "the world to come". We respond to it now, but it has its complete fulfillment in the future. He then applies Psalm 8 as a foreshadow of this future world.
v. 5-8 (Quoted from Psalm 8)
This psalm marvels at the fact that Yahweh has made puny, flawed, weak humans, the rulers of the world.
The author of Hebrews then acknowledges that currently we don't see everything in the world being subject to man. So even if this psalm is true in part, there is some sense in which it is not yet perfectly played out in reality. The author says that what we do see on display right now is the life of Jesus. He was, as the psalm suggests, made lower than the angels for a little while, so that he could die for the rest of humanity.
Given the context, the implication seems to be that Jesus, through his suffering and death for humanity, has paved the way for humanity to perfectly fulfill Psalm 8 in "the world to come". (The case for Jesus representing humanity is advanced in the upcoming verses that we'll look at next time.)
This is an awesome future ahead of us! So often our view of eternity or "heaven" is foggy and dream-like. We think of it as an ethereal existence without physical bodies. But this couldn't be further from what the Bible teaches. We will very much be a part of physical creation, and we will finally, perfectly, rule over it like we were meant to. Not in conflict with nature, but in cooperation with and real, practical authority over it.
I love the fantasy genre. I love reading books about heroes exploring dense forests and deep caverns. I love reading about the crackling of camp fires and the welcoming sounds of nature. I love playing immersive fantasy video games like Skyrim, Baldur's Gate or Neverwinter Nights, listening to the beautiful, earthy sounds of the environment as I imaginatively interact with the game.
I hate nature in real life. Nature bites me, crawls on me, poops on my food, and gives me strange rashes. It makes me feel hot and exhausted and keeps me up at night with all of its noises. But I can't wait to experience it the way I was meant to.
Imagine exploring the depths of nature without fear of strange bug or animal bites. Imagine telling acne-causing bacteria to go feed somewhere else. Imagine never being in danger of heat exhaustion or deadly chills. Imagine not fearing nature's most powerful creatures, but playing fetch and wrestling with them. Imagine not fearing the wind of a hurricane but being carried and served by it.
We have an incredible future waiting for us. If we place our trust in him for our forgiveness and eternal existence, that incredible future is a done deal. That's what Jesus has made possible and he can't wait to enjoy that future along with us.
He is also interested in living life with us now. This is an amazing God we have. One who knows what will most fulfill us and is eager to bring that about in eternity. All the more reason to trust what he's telling us about our lives right now, and engage with him in the kind of life that will yield increasing, eternal rewards.