Hebrews 1: Do You Really Know Whom You Have Believed?
“The just shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4b)
Do you realize there are three books in the New Testament which quote this single verse? Romans 1:17- the emphasis is on ‘the just.” .Hebrews 10 stresses ‘shall live’. Galatians 3 emphasizes- ‘by faith’. Ephesians tells us how to live the life of faith, the walk of faith, how to walk in the Spirit. Hebrews allows us to see the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus.
Many are concerned about the quantity of faith, but Jesus tells us quantity is of little significance. Jesus said, “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) It is the object our faith which is of utmost importance.
Hebrews is the most Christ-centered book in the New Testament. Here we will come to understand the superiority of the object of our faith. My hope is we all will get a better view of Our Leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. If we begin to see Him as He really is- our faith cannot help but be stronger. Do you really know whom you have believed?
Jesus Christ is the total answer to every human need! Do you hunger for God? I believe this is man’s most desperate need. Ever notice how desperate people were attracted to Jesus? Jesus and Jesus alone allows free unrestricted access to God. And throughout God’s story we see what the lengths to which He will go in order to get our attention. He will shake up your world to get you to let loose of those things you depend on instead of Him.
The writer of Hebrews, who is unknown, (although we know the Holy Spirit inspired all of the human authors), compares Jesus Christ to a number of leaders, angels, and systems and religious values. And in each comparison shows us how Jesus is superior to all of these people, angels and things.
The writer will also warn us of 5 dangers in this book:
- Danger of neglect which cause drifting.
- Danger of unbelief.
- Danger of spiritual immaturity.
- Danger of failing to endure.
- Danger of refusing God. Actually defying God.
This book was written just a few short years before the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. The world seemed to be going on just the way it was before Jesus came, died, buried, resurrected and ascended to heaven.
But God was getting ready to shake up the world they lived in and everything they had come to depend upon. He was about to destroy everything they believed in and held dear which were wrong. I believe we are in those times when everything which can be shaken is going to be shaken. What does our world depend upon today? There are several major religions the world depends upon:
Hinduism- believes in a multitude of gods and goddesses and reincarnation.
Buddhism – believes there is no god, no deity
New Age- believe we are gods
Islam- believes in a powerful, unknown God, no assurance of gaining heaven and pleasing God unless one dies in a holy war. No wonder they are such desperate people!
Christianity – believes in an approachable, loving God who has made a Way for us to have an eternal relationship with Him through FAITH in His Son’s Work at Calvary.
Why do you think God allowed the Roman Empire to destroy the temple and the city of Jerusalem? Because these had become the things men reckoned on, believed in, rested on, depended on, everything visible was being revealed as temporal. There has been no temple since 70 AD. We are facing a time when God is going to allow everything that can be shaken to be shaken- that is everything that is visible. Governments, politics, administrations, education, legislations, economies, institutes, i.e. marriage- will be shaken.
Which lead us to ask what is there which cannot be shaken? The kingdom of God, the rule of God in our hearts. His kingdom cannot be shaken. His shaking- is exposing the phoniness of everything else.
THE FINAL WORD
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through Whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1: 1-3a)
The Word which now comes to us in Jesus Christ is both by what He said and Who He was and what He did is the stronger and more inclusive word than God ever spoke through the prophets. The Old Testament is the Word of God. But it is not the complete Word of God. It was incomplete as it was pointing to the One who would make it complete. Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount, He did not come to do away with the Word, but to fulfill it, every jot and tittle.
In the New Testament, the Old Testament merges into one voice- the voice of the Son, who is the exact representation of the Father. This is the reason Jesus told Philip when he asked Jesus to let them see the Father, Jesus replied: ‘you have seen me, you have seen the Father’. There is nothing more to be said. Nothing to be added to the Scriptures as well as nothing to be taken away. Jesus Christ is God’s FINAL WORD TO MANKIND.
He has been appointed heir of all things. He stands at the end of the future as He also stood at the beginning of time, for He is creator of all worlds. “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8)
He, Jesus Christ, sustains all things by His powerful word. Science probes deeper and deeper into the secrets of the universe in attempts to find the mystery of the power which holds all things together. What is this force? The Scripture says the force is Jesus Christ. ‘By faith we believe He created the heavens and the earth.” Do you really know whom you have believed? He is the object of your faith. And if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed you can move mountains.
More than that, in the final statement, here His word comes with superior force because He redeems man and nature.
“When He had made purification for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Heb. 1:3b) We live in a restless world. People are constantly looking for something to satisfy them. They want to be entertained all the time, (including at church). When I was growing up – we had only three channels on television and no remote control except my brother and me. Yet every night we watched wholesome television shows and were completely satisfied. It went off at midnight with the Star Spangled banner. Today we have hundreds of channels, running 24 hours per day with movies and variety of shows, plus Net Flix offers thousands of other shows and movies and we sit for hours going from one channel to the next trying to find some entertainment. We only had one pro football game on Sunday afternoon when I was growing up. Bowl games were all played on one day, New Year’s Day. It seems the more we are offered, the more we want, and less satisfied we are. Ever searching but never coming to the truth. What is the truth? The world we live in is not the world God intended it to be and Scripture verifies this. *Mankind is in desperate need of redemption.
What is destroying human life? Sin. This the Good news- He made purification for our sins. This is why His Word is the final word and is greater than the prophets.
SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS
The ancient world made much of angels and we see today, many who do not believe in the Bible have somehow come to believe in angels. They are a subject of great interest. The writer of Hebrews asked the rhetorical question: “For to which angels did God ever say you are my son; today I have become your father (I have begotten you, RSV)? “ The answer, obviously, is none.
In fact in the next verse we are told ‘let all angels worship Him. Angels are his servants.
Angels are created beings. The Son was begotten. C. S. Lewis says what we make with our hands is different from what we beget with our bodies. What we beget with our bodies is always dearest to us in this world, because what we beget is part of us. The angels were made, the Son was begotten. What we beget has the same nature we do.
The Son is greater than the angels as they worship Him and we worship what is superior to us. The angels are his servants.
HIS KINGDOM IS EVERLASTING
This is why His kingdom is unshakeable. ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever.’ In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of our hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed, but you remain the same, and your years never end. “
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…” Revelation 21. Those who are worried about the environment have reason to be. The word of God says it is wearing out like a garment. This is really what man has discovered and calls it the Second Law of Thermodynamics which says there is a degenerative faculty in the universe; it is growing old like a garment. God is not going to put new wine in an old wine cloth. It will be a new earth we will inhabit in the everlasting Kingdom of God.
Angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation- that is us. “For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. (Psalm 91) * How many times unknown to us has God protected us while we unaware of pending danger. (Ben in the dog house with the wasp nests; John running toward a busy street out Wallick Music.)
And now let me personalize this portion for my wife as she did for me in 1998 when I received my diagnosis of cancer.
“Because Gina loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue her. I will protect her for Gina acknowledges my name. Gina will call upon me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life, I will satisfy Gina, and show her my salvation.” His faithfulness is our shield. Therefore- you will not fear the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalm 91)
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding and every violation (transgression) and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape, if we neglect (ignore) such a great salvation? This salvation which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.” (Hebrews 2: 1-4)
This message is to believers. The purpose is to encourage all readers to pay close attention to God’s Word and obey it. (Remember God’s message to Joshua? ‘Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law.’) Notice the warning is in the danger of neglecting our salvation – not rejecting it.
Is there nothing more heart breaking to see a loved one drifting away from the truth which will change their lives? Truth which can set them free and transform their minds. The principle of drifting is we not only drift away from something- we drift towards something. We need to pay close attention to the Word of God and what we have heard or neglecting the Word of God will lead to drifting. Drifting is the first phase which will lead to defying God, refusing to obey Him. This is why later, the writer will use the metaphor of an anchor to show how confident we can be in the promises of God. The anchor holds one from drifting, no matter how hard the winds of this world try to blow us off course. The anchor holds! The only way you can be anchored is to meditate in the Word of God day and night and be careful to obey its commands.
If there is one thing the Lord has made clear in His story of Israel, is the negative impact and horrendous consequences which fell upon the nation of Israel when they neglected, ignored, drifted away from obeying God’s Word and were cursed. And also how they were blessed when they obeyed His Word and God’s promises of blessing fell upon them. God loves to bless us for obedience.
If we do not pay attention to God’s Word and obey it- we will find ourselves in trouble. More spiritual problems are caused by neglect than perhaps any other failure on our part. When we neglect God’s Word, the study and obedience to it; when we neglect to pray and worship and fellowship with God’s people we will miss opportunities for spiritual growth because we are not anchored. We will drift and soon we will be in trouble.
Now if you know Scripture and have spent any time studying it, then you know this about the nation of Israel: there are no people on the face of the earth who show a more consistent pattern of the cause and effect of obedience and disobedience. For the message they were given by angels was binding and every violation we are told was met by just punishment. The KJV gives us a better insight here on this verse: “ For if the Word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience led to just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation which at first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed by those of us who heard Him.”
The words transgression and disobedience represent the two types of sins we commit. Transgressions are sins of commission. Disobedience refers to sins of omission. The author is leading us to a valid point: How shall we escape such a great salvation which was received from the Lord who first announced it?
Do you understand the sins of a Christian are worse than the sins of the unbeliever? What? I thought we were under grace and all our sins forgiven. We are. However, we will read later in Hebrews 12, whom God loves He disciplines. He rebukes, He chastens, He scourges. “To whom much is given, much shall be required.” (Luke 12:48)
God is not going to let His children act like spoiled brats. Our salvation is a great salvation. I cannot find the words to describe how great it is. It was purchased at a great price. God allowed His Son to die in our place. To take our punishment. To be scourged, beaten, spit upon, nailed to a cross and hoisted into the air between heaven and earth. Both shoulders, those shoulders upon which the government of the world will rest, were dislocated. His pectoral muscles cramped and He was unable to exhale. The effect is the same as being underwater and unable to breathe. It took every effort to exhale so he could breathe in and only could be accomplished by pushing up with his legs which created tremendous pain because of the spike driven through His feet.
But greatest of all- Our Lord was to receive in what no one can imagine, the punishment of all the world’s sins placed upon Him by His Own Father. We cannot imagine the heart of God the Father as He did this – so that we might live. He, the Lord Jesus, God the Son, the God-Man was forsaken that I might be forgiven.
Oh- what a great salvation purchased at such a great price. It brings to those of us who believe- great promises and blessings and leads to an inheritance in glory, how, how can we neglect so great a salvation.
Not only did Jesus announce it. We have eyewitnesses who testify to both what they saw and heard.
God also bore witness through signs, wonders and miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The message here is to both the non-Christian and Christian.
To the non-Christian it says: Where are you going to go? How will you get out of God’s universe? How can you escape the inevitable? He does not want to curse you, He wants to bless you.
To the Christian, the writer is saying: It is not enough that we know Jesus Christ. We must use Him and be used by Him. Unless there is a day-by-day walk with Him we will lose our peace and freedom and joy. We will be subjected to temptation, frustration and barrenness without Him. We will not grow spiritually.
The writer of Hebrews is telling us do not trifle with God’s Word. Jesus Christ is the total answer to every human need. DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHOM YOU HAVE BELIEVED?