Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses nine through nineteen of the third chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find that it immediately builds upon that which was written and recorded in the previous chapter. In fact, the words which are found in the opening few verses of this chapter are carried over and continued from an Old Testament reference that is found in the Old Testament book of the psalms. In fact, if you read verses seven through eleven you will notice that the words contained therein are included in the text within parentheses, so as to place additional emphasis. It’s almost as if the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews sought to use this Old Testament reference to build upon something they wanted to impress upon their audience. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning this New Testament epistle is the tremendous amount of language that is pulled directly from the Old Testament. This is actually to be expected, for would you expect anything less than this from an epistle that is written unto the Hebrews. In all reality, I am utterly and completely convinced that this particular epistle—although it was written to provide practical instruction unto the saints of God—was written unto the Hebrews in order to paint a powerful picture of the Messiah who they had long expected but didn’t recognize. There is not a doubt in my mind that this epistle was written with the express intention and purpose on bringing the Hebrews to a wonderful place of understanding concerning who Jesus Christ truly was. It’s as if the author of the epistle sought to pull a number of Old Testament realities concerning Jesus Christ found within the Old Testament and used them to bring the Hebrews into a place of knowledge and understanding concerning the Messiah and the Christ.
The more I read and consider the words which are found and contained within this particular epistle the more I am absolutely and utterly consumed with the tremendous amount of references from the Old Testament the author uses. It’s almost as if this epistle was intended to be a sermon concerning Jesus the Christ, and the author used as their reference and scriptures the Old Testament. I can’t help but be absolutely and completely captivated by the tremendous amount of Old Testament references which are found in this particular epistle, and the great affinity and love this author seemed to have for the Hebrew Scriptures. I would dare say that the author of this epistle sought to use their own scriptures in order to present the Hebrews with an undeniable picture and portrait of Christ. Although we find several references within this epistle that form a powerful theological perspective and warning concerning Christian living, I would dare say that a vast majority of this epistle is in fact a powerful portrait of Jesus the Christ. What we find within this epistle is almost what we find in Stephen’s sermon which he preached just before he was stoned to death by the Jews. If you recall Stephen’s sermon you will recall that he used the entire history of the Jewish people—not only to demonstrate that Christ was in fact their long-awaited Messiah, but also to declare unto them that they were following in the same footsteps of their fathers and ancestors. In all reality, the sermon which Stephen preached on that fateful day was designed to demonstrate unto the Jews the tremendous and dangerous condition of their hearts. Through his sermon Stephen sought to demonstrate unto the Jews their rejection of the Messiah, and the hardness of their hearts and the stiffness of their necks. Stephen sought to bring them into a place of understanding, and sought to powerfully demonstrate the reality of Jesus who was not only the Christ, but also the long awaited Messiah. Through his words Stephen sought to wonderfully and powerfully reveal that everything that was found in the Hebrew scripture, and everything that was found in their history led up to and pointed to the tremendous reality of the identity and nature of Jesus who is the Christ.
I absolutely love the New Testament epistle which wa written unto the Hebrews, for it is an epistle that is so wonderfully and powerfully centered upon Jesus Christ, and His fulfillment of Old Testament realities, types and shadows. I would in fact dare say that the entire epistle which was written unto the Hebrews was a call to response to the reality of who Jesus Christ truly is. As I sit here and consider and contemplate the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews, I can’t help get the strong and powerful sense that the author sought to paint a wonderful and powerful picture of who Christ truly is, and then almost demand a response to that reality. If we are being honest with ourselves—isn’t this the way preaching should be? Shouldn’t preaching be about presenting and painting a picture of Jesus the Christ, and then calling men and women to respond to that reality? Isn’t preaching designed to preach Christ and the fullness of the reality concerning Christ, and then call men to respond to that which they have seen and heard. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle John wrote in the first chapter of the first epistle he wrote unto the church at Ephesus: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesu Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:1-10).
The apostle John began this first epistle with a powerful declaration concerning that which He saw with His eyes, that which he looked upon, that which his hands handled, and that which he heard with his ears. It was that reality and that manifestation within his life that he used to present a powerful picture concerning Jesus the Christ, and call men and women to respond to the reality of who Christ is. When we come to the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews—not only do we find a powerful manifestation and demonstration of the reality of who Jesus Christ is, but we also encounter a powerful word of warning concerning that which we have heard of concerning Christ. In the opening verse of the epistle the author of the epistle begins by first declaring that God in sundry times and in divers manners spoke unto the fathers through His servants the prophets, but has in these Last Days spoken unto us by and through His Son. The author then spent the remainder of the first chapter of the epistle continuing the reveal and demonstrate the wonderful reality of who Jesus Christ truly is. Beginning with the second verse of the first chapter we find the following words written by the author concerning Jesus the Christ, which serve as a powerful portrait of His Idenity and reality within the earth, as well as within our very lives:
“…who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the an gels of God worship Him. And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre or righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast love righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands” (Hebrews 1:3-10).
When the first chapter of this epistle opens up, it opens up with a declaration that God spoke at sundry times and in divers manners unto the fathers through His servants the prophets, and then in the second verse it immediately shifts to a declaration concerning God speaking in these Last Days through His own Son. The author then uses the next eight verses of the chapter painting a powerful picture concerning the wonderful reality concerning Christ—and not only a powerful picture concerning Christ, but also Christ’s supremacy over the angels which were in heaven. MADE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS, YET SUPREME OVER THE ANGELS! As we will see in the second chapter of this epistle—although Jesus Christ was supreme over the angels in heaven, and although He was far greater than any angel in heaven, He was made a little lower than the angels in order that He might complete and fulfill the work for which He was sent to the earth to engage in. As the second chapter of this epistle opens, it does so with the author of the epistle calling their audience to “give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1). The author then goes on a couple verses later to ask the question of how could expect to escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us but them that heard Him. While the author first calls us to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard—those things which have been spoken by Christ, and those things spoken concerning Christ—they then transition to a powerful warning concerning our neglecting the great salvation that was demonstrated and manifested within the person of Jesus Christ. The word which was spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, and in light of that reality, we are called to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard—those things which we have heard concerning Jesus the Christ. In order to understand the second chapter of this epistle and what is contained therein it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that the things which we have heard—those things which we ought to give the more earnest heed to—were things which we have heard concerning Christ.
The first four verses of the second chapter serve as a means to transition from the reality of who Christ is in the previous chapter into the reality of who Christ is in the second chapter. As you read the words which the author wrote in the first chapter, you will encounter the tremendous reality that the author sought to demonstrate the supremacy of Christ over the angels, as well as the sovereignty of Christ over everything that was created and everything that was made. The first reality and the first portrait of Christ we find in the first chapter of the epistle of Hebrews is one that points to Christ’s sovereignty and supremacy over the angels in heaven, and that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Perhaps one of the most powerful realities contained within the first chapter of this epistle is the reality that Christ—when He had by Himself purged our sins—sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High. Not only this, but we also find concerning Christ in the first chapter a powerful declaration that He was the brightness of the glory of God, and the express image of His person, thus pointing to the reality of the divinity and eternity of Christ. Almost from the very beginning of this epistle we encounter Christ who is not only the perfect manifestation, representation and embodiment of the Father in heaven, but after Christ had fulfilled and completed the work which He was sent to complete, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty which was on high. The author of the epistle then brings us face to face with a powerful warning and word of caution to give the more earnest heed to those things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. It is from that place of giving the more earnest heed to those things which we have heard that the author of the epistle then transitions to a second description of Jesus who is the Christ. There is a fundamental difference found within the author’s description of Christ in the second chapter compared to that which they wrote in the first chapter. Whereas in the first chapter the author of this epistle sought to demonstrate the sovereignty and supremacy of Christ over the angels in heaven, the author in the second chapter paints a picture of the humanity of Christ. Pay close attention to this, for Christ could not fulfill and complete that for which the Father sought to accomplish in the earth without making Himself a little lower than the angels, and taking on the form of flesh and blood. Beginning with the fifth verse of the second chapter we find the author powerful demonstrating and describing the humanity of Christ, which was used to fulfill and complete that for which He had been sent. Consider the words which the author of the epistle writes beginning with the fifth verse of the second chapter:
“For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of Him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst Him with glory and honour, and dust set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet. For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).
In this particular set of verses we find the author of this epistle now transitioning to a completely different reality concerning Jesus the Christ—namely, the humanity of Jesus the Christ. It is this Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, who was also crowned with glory and honour, in order that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. It’s important that we recognize and understand that it was absolutely necessary that Jesus be made a little lower than the angels, for it was in that state and in that reality He could experience the suffering of death, and to taste death for every man. By being made a little lower than the angels Jesus allowed Himself to experience the trials, the temptations, the troubles, and especially the sufferings of man within and upon the earth. EMBRACING THE STRUGGLE! EMBRACING THE SUFFERING! EMBRACING THE TRIBULATIONS! One of the most incredible and powerful realities concerning Jesus the Christ is that He was willing to lay aside His divinity in order that He might take upon Himself humanity, and from that place of humanity might experience the sufferings of man. Perhaps one of the most powerful realities contained within this second chapter is that by being made a little lower than the angels, and by taking on the form of Abraham’s seed, He was able to taste death and experience the suffering of man. What other God do you know would willingly and voluntarily lay aside their divinity in order that they might take upon themselves the form and nature of those created lower than them in order that they might taste and experience suffering and death. One of the greatest realities concerning Christ is that not only was He willing to taste and experience death, but He was also willing to taste and experience the sufferings of man. Not only this, but Jesus was also willing to taste and experience the trials and tribulations which man faces on a continual and constant nature. The author of the epistle writes how Jesus was able to be made the captain of our salvation because He was made perfect through the sufferings which He endured and experienced within and upon the earth. In fact, in the eighteenth and final verse of this chapter the author writes and declares that because Christ Himself suffered being tempted, He was and is able to succour them that are tempted. Furthermore, Christ needed to be made a little lower than the angels, for Christ needed to taste and experience death, for it was only through death He could destroy the power of him that once had the power of death, that is, the devil. It was only through death as a man that He could deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. It was the humanity of Christ that brought about our salvation, for it was within the realm of that humanity Christ was not only able to suffer, but also able to taste and experience death—death that would ultimately destroy and deliver. It would be through His death that the power of him who previously held authority over death would be defeated, and through His death that He might deliver those who through fear of death were subject unto bondage.
Approaching the third chapter of this epistle we find the author speaking of us—not only as holy brethren, but also as partakers of the heavenly calling. The author then immediately calls us to a place where we are to consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession—namely, Jesus who is the Christ. This reality concerning Jesus Christ being the Apostle and High Priest of our profession is actually quite powerful and remarkable when you consider it, for as the Apostle of our profession He brings God to us, and brings God to man. As the High Priest of our profession Jesus Christ brings us before and brings us unto God. This is perhaps one of the most incredible realities concerning Jesus, for Jesus not only brings us before the Father, but Jesus also brings the Father to us. What I so absolutely love about what is found and recorded in the first part of the third chapter is a powerful declaration concerning the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—faithfulness to the assignment and mission He was sent into the earth to fulfill, complete and accomplish. The author uses Moses in the Old Testament to demonstrate that Moses as a servant was faithful to the assignment which was before Him. While it was true that Moses was faithful as a servant in his house toward and over the assignment that was given unto Him, Jesus Christ was faithful over His own house as a Son. What we find in the first six verses of the third chapter is a powerful comparison between Moses and Jesus, and a declaration that both were faithful in their house—both were faithful to the assignment which was given unto them. What’s more, is the faithfulness of Moses, and in fact—even the assignment for which Moses had been given was given as a type and shadow of that which was to come. Moses’ faithfulness was to stand and serve as a type and shadow of that which was to come—namely, the reality of Jesus who is the Christ. I absolutely love the comparison and contrast between the faithfulness of a servant with the faithfulness of a Son, for while Moses was faithful unto the assignment of heaven as a servant, Jesus was faithful unto the assignment of heaven as a Son. How absolutely remarkable it is that when the Father sought to accomplish His greatest work in the earth, He did not simply send a servant into and within the earth, but rather sent a Son—His only begotten Son in whom He was well-pleased. We dare not miss the tremendous significance of this, for more often than not the greatest work of the Father is completed and carried out—not by servants, but by sons and daughters. We must recognize and understand that we have been given power to become sons of God if we have believed in Him, and have believed on His name. Christ Himself was faithful as a Son over the house which was being built and established within the earth, and we are a part of this house and are a part of this building if hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
It’s interesting to point out and note that what separates the reality found in the first six verses of this chapter, and that which is found in verses twelve through nineteen is separated by an Old Testament reference—one that was pulled directly from the Old Testament book of the Psalms. In fact, if you examine the ninety-fifth chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms you will find the exact reference which was used in this particular point within the epistle. Consider if you will the words which are recorded in this particular chapter of the book of Psalms, beginning with the seventh verse:
“For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest” (Psalms 95:7-11).
It’s worth noting and pointing out that the author of this epistle doesn’t reference man speaking and issuing these words, but rather the Holy Spirit speaking and uttering these words. This is actually quite remarkable and astounding when you take the time to consider it, for it points directly to the reality that everything we find contained within the entirety of Scripture is authored and inspired by the Holy Spirit. There is not a single word contained within the entire canon of the Scripture that was not authored and inspired by the Holy Spirit. In fact, consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Peter wrote beginning with the twelfth verse:
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 2:12-21).
Within this passage found in the third chapter of the epistle we find the author of the epistle writing unto their audience concerning the nature and condition of their heart. What’s more, is there appears to be a direct connection between the condition of our hearts—most certainly a heart that is hardened before the living God—and our inability, and perhaps even our unwillingness to hear and listen to the words and voice of the Lord our God. Notice that the Old Testament psalmist first encouraged us to hear His voice—the voice of the Lord—and then directly connects hearing His voice with the hardening of our hearts. What’s more, is the author of the Old Testament psalm went on to describe and declare how hardening their hearts and refusing to hear the voice of the Lord was exactly what the children of Israel did in the day of temptation in the wilderness, and in the provocation. It was this hardness of heart and this refusal to hear His voice that caused and even allowed them to tempt the Lord God, and from that place prove and see His work. It’s worth noting and pointing out that this Old Testament author would go on to write and describe how for forty years the Lord was grieved—not only with a certain individual, or a certain group of individuals, but rather with an entire generation. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that the Lord God was not merely grieved and angry with a certain group of people, but with an entire generation. What’s more, is the Lord was grieved and angry with an entire generation because they were and are a people which do err in their hearts, and have not known the ways of the Lord. What an absolutely incredible concept it is to think that the Lord was grieved and angry for forty years with an entire generation because of the hardness of their hearts. The fulness of the reality which was found and recorded—not only in the Old Testament book of the Psalms, but also in the New Testament epistle unto the Hebrews—is found in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers. I present you now with the actual account of the children of Israel in the wilderness, and the Lord’s response to their rebellion and disobedience before Him. Beginning with the twenty-sixth verse of the fourteenth chapter of this Old Testament book we find the following words:
“And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil generation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murder against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as you’re have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall; know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the man that went to search the land, lived still. And Moses told these sayings unto the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly” (Numbers 14:26-39).
What we find in the first chapters of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is not only a powerful picture and portrait concerning Christ, but also a powerful word of caution and warning—not only to give the most earnest heed to those things which we have heard, but also to make a conscious and deliberate decision not to harden our hearts, and as a direct result, refuse to hear and listen to the voice and words of the Lord. I can’t help but be absolutely consumed with the fact that what we find in this epistle is not only a picture concerning who Jesus Christ is, but also in direct response to that portrait a powerful call to respond to that portrait. If we are being honest with ourselves, as well as with the Lord, our entire lives are centered around and upon the reality of who Christ is, and how we are living our lives in response to that reality. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to the portrait which is presented concerning Jesus Christ within the Scripture, and to refuse to harden our hearts to the point and place where we are unable to respond to what we have heard and seen. The single greatest question we must ask ourselves is what are we doing with the reality of Christ which has been painted and presented unto us. What are we doing with the reality of Christ which we have heard with our ears, and the reality of Christ which we have seen with our eyes. What are you doing with Christ within your life, and are you listening to and heeding His voice and His words within your own heart and life, or are you hardening your heart and responding in rebellion and disobedience?