Hebrews Lesson 25 September 1, 2005
NKJ Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'
We are in Hebrews 2. We're in the beginning of a new section. Last time we did a survey of the whole section from 2:5-4:13. So now we are going to step back and take our time exegiting our way through these sections. The writer is building a very important case for what Lord Jesus Christ is doing today seated at the right hand of God the Father, what qualified Him to get there and how His current ministry is preparing us for a future rule and reign with Him. In the midst of this he has to lay the groundwork for how the Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity laid the foundation and blazed the trail for our spiritual life. He was the pioneer of our spiritual life. He is the archetype. We are to look to Him. That is why when you come toward the end and the exhortation in Hebrews 12 it gives the command.
NKJ Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
To understand the significance of that command we start back in chapter 1 and chapter 2. With 2:5 we enter into the second section. Let me remind you how this is developed. We have a prologue that started in 1:1-1:4 that focused on the fact that God has spoken to us by means of His Son. It is a complete finished revelation.
The second main point he talks about is who the Son is and what Jesus Christ is now doing. He upholds all things by the Word of His power. His current position is the result of His past-completed work on the cross. Because of what He did on the cross where He purged our sins He has been promoted and elevated in His humanity over the angels. That sets the transition from verse 4 to verse 5. The focus is verses 5-13 is on the superiority of the Messiah over the angels. That sets the transition from verse 4 to 5 where the focus is on the superiority of the Messiah over the angels. The writer of Hebrews goes back to eight different Old Testament citations in order to demonstrate that this was foreseen, predicted and prophesized in the Old Testament that the Messiah would rule over the angels.
Then there is a conclusion. That conclusion is an application and warning in verse 1-4 that relates the fact that if God has given us this revelation and that it is superior to the revelation of the Old Testament. If that incomplete Old Testament revelation brought such dire consequences upon those who treated it lightly, how much more will God hold us accountable when we've had this complete revelation that has come to us from the Lord Jesus Christ? So the challenge is how shall we escape judgment and condemnation from the Lord even though we are saved if we neglect such a great salvation?
Then there is a transition in verse 5.
NKJ Hebrews 2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.
What he is doing in verse 5 is going back and picking up the thread of this idea. He's going back to chapter 1, picking up this thread related to Jesus Christ's superiority to the angels. He's pulling over the application and now He is going to expand on this illustration. He develops this point into an understanding of the sanctification that the Lord Jesus Christ went through in His perfect humanity. So this first section in verses 5-9 focuses on the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ and His elevation over the angels.
It begins with the Greek word gar that is translated for and always indicates an explanation. Several times he starts off with a brand new topic with this introductory particle. He starts with a "but" or a "gar". It almost has the idea of because but it is not the same word. It is more of a logical inference or explanation.
NKJ Hebrews 2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.
The point of the section from 2:5-9 is that God subordinated the angels and indeed all of creation under the authority of the glorified Son of Man. If we take a quick overview of these 5 verses it begins with this reference back where we pick up this thread in the past and bring it forward.
NKJ Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
This is a tremendous verse. We won't take it apart as much as I would like to tonight because I have to build to that. That is our conclusion. The way he moves is to start with a statement that the angels are subordinate to Him. Then he goes back to the Old Testament, picks up these three verses from the Old Testament from Psalm 8 and applies them to the Messiah. The interesting thing is that Psalm 8 (These verses will be familiar to many of you.) was never understood by the Jews as a Messianic psalm. What is interesting I think is that it is quoted three times in the New Testament. Each time that it is quoted it is in close proximity to Psalm 110:1.
NKJ Psalm 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
That is quoted in Hebrews 1:13. So He has gone back and tried these things together in an intricate argument. The more I get into things like this the more I realize how many layers of understanding there are in the Bible. Some of you have been Christians and reading your Bible a long time. Others of you are fairly new and as you go through this study that I know is a bit heavy you begin to realize as you read these verses that you see things and relationships to other doctrines and other verses that you never saw before. That is one of the great things about Bible study. The more you study the Scripture the more the Lord opens your eyes to see the things that are there and to put the connections together. All of the Scripture is interconnected. All of it relates to one another in some way. It is unified whole representing the coherent and cogent thinking of a God who is omniscient. So you just don't understand the Bible by simply picking it up and reading it. So many people think that you can. You'll understand certain things. Never would I discourage you from reading the Bible on a daily basis. Every believer needs to do that because it gives you a basic frame of reference for the Biblical events – who did what, where, when and why. If familiarizes you with the promises of God as you read through the Psalms and the Proverbs. There are many verses that are great promises that we need to memorize and use in the faith rest drill. The more we are familiar with these things, the more the Holy Spirit uses it in developing those building blocks of understanding that are the foundation of spiritual growth and spiritual understanding.
We need to develop a people. We have had this in the church in the past at different times in church history where there has been a strong influence from churches and Biblical thinkers that have thought deeply and profoundly about what the Scripture says and it has impacted all of the culture. Sadly because of the influence of pagan ideas on the church in the last 100 years we have diluted it so much that many unbelievers are under the impression that the church is nothing more than another attempt to teach people how to have confidence, how to feel good about themselves. It's nothing more than another motivational endeavor. The Scripture is a far cry from that. There are things in there that are motivational. There are also things in there that correct us. So we need to get into a deeper understanding of the Word. I don't mean that in some sort of mystical sense. I mean thinking more precisely about what the writer is trying to communicate.
NKJ Hebrews 2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.
"For" indicates an explanation.
He is God the Father.
The first key word that I want to analyze is the word "world". We know that there are a couple of different Greek words translated "world" in our English Bible. One is the word kosmos that has to do with an orderly, organized system. It talks about the systems of thought that characterizes the world. It talks about the systems of thought that characterize different cultures whether it is the ancient Greek culture, ancient Roman culture or modern western culture. This is covered by the word kosmos. Another word that is some times used or translated world is the Greek word aionos. We saw that word used back in Hebrews 1 where it talks about the fact that Jesus is the one through whom He made the worlds. The concept there is the ages. Jesus Christ is the one who is the contractor who oversees the progress of the dispensations down through history. This word picks up another idea. It picks up the idea of the inhabited world. It is the word oikoumene. The first part of the word is from the Greek word oikos that is a house or a place where you dwell. So this is a reference to the inhabited world.
The feminine relative pronoun is used with the verb mello meaning to come. Here it is a reference to the future Millennial Kingdom. So the focus here is on the future. The focus is on the millennium. The focus is on where we are headed.
Corrected Translation: For He (God the Father) did not subordinate to the angels
The reason I translate it that way is because the very first word in the Greek text is "not". Then you have the word "for". It has to take the second position in a sentence. That is a grammatical rule in the Greek. It is never the first. It is always the second. That is why it is called a post positive for those of you who have had a little Greek. It always comes second.
The third word is "angels". So the beginning of the sentence is "not the angels". It is boldfaced and underlined. That is what God is saying. Not to the angels that I subordinate the inhabited world! Or we could take that concept of oikoumene as the future human civilization of which we speak. What are we talking about here? Right here in the passage it says that what we are talking about in this epistle is that future destiny, that world to come because we have to focus our attention on where we are going so that we can prepare today for that future event.
Now in the history of the world there are four great periods of time or four great periods of civilization. We will summarize this under 10 points. This gives us a historical orientation.
Doctrine of Civilizations
- There are only four great periods of time related to the inhabited earth. Three of them relate to the present earth and one relates to the future earth. They are not dispensations and they are not ages. This is perhaps the broadest time category that we can talk about.
- Each of these periods of inhabitation begins a new civilization. There is a complete beginning anew in each of these periods.
- Each period of civilization began with believers only. This is what they have in common. Three of them end with a cataclysmic judgment where the entire inhabited world is judged. All that is left after that is a group of believers. It is that group of believers that begins the next period of civilization. So what you have is a period of blessing where God begins to fill the earth with people, for example at the very beginning with Adam and Eve. He tells them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. It begins with believers but by the time the end of that first period you have cataclysmic judgment on the earth. All of the unbelievers are killed. Only eight survive.
- Each civilization may be subdivided into various ages or dispensations. In that first civilization that began with Adam and goes to Noah, there are three dispensations indicated by covenants. You see every dispensation has to be moved or ended and shifted to the next one by some sort of divine revelation. It doesn't just happen. There is revelation from God. This is given in the form of a contract or covenant. Each civilization usually covers a couple of ages and several dispensations.
- Each civilization has its own characteristic related to the Adamic curse. That is foundational. Change happens. That is always related to sin. The elements that we look at have to do with climate. God created Adam and Eve in perfect environment – perfect weather. They didn't have humidity. They didn't have that hot sun beating down on them. They didn't have hurricanes and ice storms or any of those things that destroy so much today. In fact we didn't have that kind of weather even in the antediluvian period. During perfect environment there is perfect weather. Then is a second element that we look at is man's relationship to animals. This changes in every one of these ages - how man relates to God's other creatures specifically the animals. The kinds of animal change. There are different kinds of animals in the civilizations. There is a difference in how man relates to God in each of these civilizations. So how do you look at these characteristics?
- There are three periods of the current earth. Those are the antediluvian which is the period prior to the Noahic flood. Then there is the postdiluvian civilization that began at the end of the Noahic flood and extends into the Second Coming of Christ. Then there is the third civilization that is the millennial civilization. That ends with the judgment and begins the eternal state. That is the fourth civilization. So the three on this earth are the antediluvian civilization, the postdiluvian civilization and the millennial civilization. As I think about this I often think that the technology of each civilization is different. Those of you who have hung with me through the early chapters of Genesis when I went through Genesis 1-11, I made the observation that the population of the earth at the time of the Noahic flood was at a minimum 2 ½ billion. That is quite large. That was the earth's population about a 100 years ago or so. Now we are close to about 6 billion. There could have been that many on the earth. These were vastly intelligent people. They had a technology of some value. We know that after the flood that the early generations sailed the seas of the earth and mapped all the oceans. You have a book that is still available today called "Charts of the Ancient Sea Kings". In that book there is a map of Antarctica underneath the icecap. Now how did they know where all the rivers and valleys and mountains were under the icecap of Antarctica? They knew because there wasn't an ice cap there. They were able to go there and see it without the icecap and map everything. It wasn't until the 20th century when we had satellites with infrared camera capabilities that could take pictures through the ice so that we could map it out. Low and behold we have these maps that are very ancient maps that are 100% accurate. Who did that? Well it was those descendents of Noah. In order to map anything with that level of precision you have to be able to do both latitude and longitude. With latitude and longitude you have to have a precise clock that isn't going to have parts that expand and contract because of humility. You have to have a clock that is stable despite the ups and downs in rough sea. It has to be able to keep accurate time. You have to have metal parts that are not going to rust and corrode over time. You have to have all of those things. It wasn't until the 1770's that western civilization produced a time clock that was capable of allowing seamen to chart longitude. So this is a tremendous advance. Yet we have these ancient maps that are precise in both latitude and longitude. That shows the tremendous technology that they had. Noah and his sons brought this from the antediluvian civilization into the present civilization. They probably had many other things. It wasn't a culture that is based on oil like we have today. It was based on other things. It is possible that they had flight capacity. It is possible that they had all kinds of engineering capabilities. Even now we don't know how with the primitive tools that were available how the ancients built the pyramids. They understood trigonometry and geometry and astronomy and knew how to do all of these advanced mathematical calculations in order to construct those pyramids. Many of them were designed to worship the astro gods so they are all lined up in perfection. Yet this is supposed to be primitive man who is not too bright. He came out of the primordial ooze and is beginning to walk around without dragging his knuckles. Yet we can't duplicate their achievements on the basis of the technology that we understand that they had. So you have these three periods. You have the antediluvian period, the postdiluvian period and the millennial period with different climates, different animal relationships, different relationships to God, and different technology.
- The antediluvian period began with two believers, Adam and Eve. They had perfect environment and perfect harmony with the animals. All animals were grass eaters. They are not eating one another. That affects their teeth and their gastrointestinal system and affected everything. They had the presence of God on earth. As I pointed out when we went through Genesis and for those of you who weren't around then or haven't heard those messages, in Genesis 6 we are told that the Spirit would not strive with men anymore. That is how many people have understood that. You had the sons of gods taking the daughters of men as their wives. God is tired of putting up with man and has this antagonism. But the Hebrew word that is translated "strive" in that verse is what is called a hapoxlegomina. Hapox means one time and one time only. It is the one usage of that word in all of Hebrew literature. That always presents a problem. There are always about 1200 words in the Hebrew Old Testament that are hapoxs. They are only used one time. So in order to figure out what they mean you have to investigate the context that helps you limit the field of meaning. Then you have to go to related languages that are called cognate languages. Fortunately the Semitic language group is a very close-knit linguistic family. So there are very close similarities between Arabic, Hebrew, Northwest Semitic or Canaanite, Acadian, Aramaic and these other languages. They are all built on consonants only. They didn't have vowels to begin with. They had vowels in their spoken language but not in their written language. A lot of times the difference between an Arabic word and a Hebrew word is simply the vowels. The consonants remain the same. I understand that if you speak Modern Hebrew you can somewhat understand what a modern Arabic speaker is saying simply because the languages are so close to each other. So we go back into the documents that archeologists discovered in the various libraries and study these languages. You find that the cognate words are related to Biblical Hebrew. Then you go look in your Arabic dictionary and your Aramaic dictionary and your Ugaritic dictionary and look for these cognates. You see that this word when it is used in Acadian and Ugaritic that the word has the idea of abiding, living or dwelling somewhere. So in Genesis 6 God isn't saying that He isn't going to strive with men any more. He is saying that He isn't going to dwell with them any more. What do you mean? There wasn't a tabernacle. There wasn't a temple. Wait a minute. Go back to Genesis 1. It says that God was dwelling on the earth and that He built a garden to the east of Eden. He had a dwelling place. Why is it that He posts a guard of cherubs outside the Garden of Eden with this flaming sword? It's to prevent fallen unrighteous man from having access to the tree of life as well as to God. This was a holy place that was the centerpiece of God's activity on the earth. I have often wondered why it was that God waited until after the flood before He delegates judicial authority to man. Didn't they need judges and judicial authority prior to the flood? Sure they did. Who did it? God did it. He was still on the earth. So you see the antediluvian period in some ways mirrors, imitates or foreshadows what is going to happen during the Millennial Kingdom. In the Millennial Kingdom you will once again have the presence of God upon the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ will rule the earth. There will be a dwelling place for Him in Israel at the temple. All the nations will come to worship there. Ultimately all adjudication will be handled by the Supreme Court of Heaven that is present on the earth. There is a balance as it were between the antediluvian civilization and the future Millennial Kingdom. It also parallels with the animals. In the antediluvian kingdom there is perfect environment. There was harmony with the animals. You see harmony with the animals again when we come to the Millennial Kingdom. In the future in the Millennial Kingdom the lion will lie down with the lamb. A child will put his hand in the cobra's den. Isn't that neat? You wouldn't have to worry about these poor folks over in Louisiana. One of the most horrible stories that I saw was this family that after the storm they ran off the road. They were just outside an alligator farm. When they were rescued there were 15-20 alligators surrounding the car waiting. How would you like to be there? Fortunately they were rescued and are doing fine. There will be harmony with the animals. We won't have to worry about being eaten alive by alligators or lions or tigers or anything else. The same thing was true in that early environment. You have the presence of God on the earth. It deteriorated some due to the fall. Because of Adam's sin there was a change in the animals and a change in man's relationship with the animals but the real hostility doesn't come about until after the flood. In the Noahic Covenant God specifically said fear from man for the animals but man could now eat meat. Man wasn't a meat eater prior to the flood. So you can't come up with a religious reason for being a vegetarian. Now you may be a vegetarian because it makes you feel better or you have digestive issues that it is better for but you can't use a religious reason for being a vegetarian because the Noahic covenant specifically mandates eating meat for the human race. That is one of the differences between the antediluvian civilization and the present civilization.
- Postdiluvian civilization began after the flood with 8 believers. The first civilization began with two believers, Adam and Eve. It goes for about 2,000 years and then there is cataclysmic judgment. You have about 2 or 3 billion people on the planet and only 8 believers. Those 8 believers survive and float their way into the next civilization. There is a change now. There is a change in the way man relates to the animals. There are now different animals. I believe the dinosaurs lived during the antediluvian civilization. They lived along side of man. People often ask how dinosaurs could live with men. The same way lions and tigers and crocodiles live with men today. They don't live in the same place. They share the same planet and they don't have to locate in the same geographical area. You also have so many legends that are so close in their details that indicate that you had dinosaur type creatures survive even into the early middle ages. They were usually slaughtered by men who were later idolized and became great heroes. The story of baal wolf is one of them. If you read the story of the monster that he killed it sounds like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. So you have some of these animals survive but couldn't adapt to the present climate. There is a climate shift. Now you have extremes between hot and cold. You have the development of ice caps and ice ages. You have a rapid shift that takes place after the flood. It is like the whole system got rattled. It is as if you were to throw a boulder into a pool of water that would set off huge waves near the epicenter of the impact. The further you get away from the impact the lower the waves are and the further apart they become. We see the same thing in the geophysical history of the planet and the meteorological history of the planet. You have earthquakes and storms. Ice ages and global warming and cooling have been going on since the flood. It's not because the human race decided to come along and started internal combustion engines. The Vikings didn't have internal combustion engines. They weren't polluting the atmosphere with a lot of hydro fluorocarbons. In the 9th and 10th centuries when they went to a little place called Greenland, they called it Greenland because it was green. They had farms. There is a period in the 8th, 9th, and 10th century when there was a tremendous warm up. Meteorologists refer to it as a period of warming. Then all of a sudden it got cold again and they had to leave. The colonies that they were trying to plant in Greenland collapsed. It didn't have anything to do with human technology; it had to do with different things going on in the atmosphere since the universal flood of Noah's time and sunspots and how that interacts with the atmosphere. The earth doesn't have a canopy around it anymore. There are a lot of different reasons. If you start with evolutionary presuppositions you are going to end up making bad application because your science is flawed by taking the Bible out of the picture. This is why it is so important to study creation. This civilization is going to change. It is going to end up in a tremendous cataclysm of judgments in the tribulation period. We think that what happened in New Orleans last week is bad. And it is horrible. We look at that devastation and that is one category 5 hurricane. What you are going to see during the tribulation is super hurricanes. You will see super hurricanes and earthquakes. The earth is going to be impacted by massive asteroid of some kind that is going to set off a tsunami that is going to make the one that hit Southeast Asia last winter look like a small little ripple on the ocean. You are going to have two or three different types of events that take out at one point a quarter of the earth's population. Then a couple of years later another event will take out a third of the population. You lose well over half the people on the planet within a four or five year period of time during the tribulation. Think about it. We have 6 billion people on the planet. When this occurs within about 4 years about 3 billion people are going to die. That is a lot of funerals. When you start thinking about the disease impact as we are being told so much about what can happen with all of these bodies and cadavers floating around in the water in New Orleans and all of the diseases that can be bred. Just think about that in the tribulation. There is going to be a tremendous judgment. The only ones that survive are going to be believers. At the end of the tribulation period when the Lord returns there will be a separation of the wheat from the tares. The unbelievers from the tribulation are going to be taken in judgment so that all that is going to be left is tribulation saints in mortal bodies. They will marry. They will produce children. This begins the millennial civilization.
- The millennial civilization which begins with the survivors of the tribulation believers. Once again there will be harmony between man and the animals. There is going to be a restored climate that is going to be like period from Adam to Noah. It will be a time that you don't have the storms. There will be a more universal temperature. It will be a time of perfect environment. There is still a deterioration during that period within the human race. As these folks marry and have children, their children are going to have sin natures. Some of them are going to exercise negative volition toward spiritual things and toward Jesus Christ even though they are living in perfect environment. This is one of the reasons God has the millennium. It is to show that it's not the environment. It's not education. It's not the judicial system. When you screw everything up, you're not going to be able to come along and say that FEMA should have been there or that the government should have been there. Where is the mayor? Where is the city council? So many of the people in New Orleans are trying to blame the government. They are asking for the government to rescue them. What part of get the hell out of New Orleans didn't they not understand? You are always going to have these kinds of people that exercise negative volition. They hate authority. They rebel against authority and unite with Satan at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. They lead a rebellion against God that is called the Gog and Magog Rebellion at the end of the millennium. That will end the history of the planet.
- The fourth civilization is eternal in the New Heavens and New Earth. It begins with believers only. It extends forever. There will be no change. It will be a time of absolute perfection. It is so far beyond our comprehension that the Lord doesn't tell us much. We wouldn't understand it if He did tell us.
That's the concept behind the world to come. We are looking forward to that third age. We are preparing for that third age. It almost sounds like something from JR Tolken, doesn't is? We are preparing for that next civilization because in the administration of the kingdom, the Lord Jesus Christ is going to use this group of people called brethren or companions, the metachoi.
Now we go to Hebrews 2:6. Hebrews 2:5 picks up the thread of Christ's superiority to the angels. In that future kingdom the angels aren't in charge. Christ and His companions are in charge. Now we are going to go back and see the significance of this as it is developed in a psalm, Psalm 8.
NKJ Hebrews 2:6 But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him?
This is a very unusual introduction to an Old Testament quote. Now the writer of Hebrews has unusual introductions to Old Testament quotes. They are very important for understanding the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scripture. In some places you might have Peter making a reference to what Paul wrote. In other places Paul quotes what Moses said. There is a reference to the human author of Scripture. But to the writer of Hebrews there is no significance to the human author of Scripture. Now why is that? Because he understands that ultimately it is the divine author of Scripture, God the Holy Spirit, who authors the text even though there may be variations between the various authors of Scripture – their writing style, their history, their background and personality. As far as the writer of Hebrews is concerned it doesn't matter who the human author is because it is all guaranteed to be infallible and inerrant because God is the ultimate author of Scripture.
In the first phrase of this verse he is being vague. It indicates that his readers knew where to go in terms of finding the reference.
So we have this odd phrase at the beginning. We have pou tis lego. It is the adjective pou, indefinite pronoun tou, and lego which mean somewhere. He doesn't say in the Psalms or I Samuel or Daniel. He links it to the indefinite pronoun tis.
Literal translation: Somewhere someone said.
What is this? It doesn't matter where it is. It's the content that's important. He then quotes from the Scripture.
Another word that he uses that is very important is the word diamarturomai. It is translated testified. It is from the root martureo that is where we get our word martyr. It means a legal witness in a courtroom situation. It has to do with witnessing, testifying, and bearing witness in a legal case. Frequently it is translated, "So and so solemnly testifies." Frequently it precedes a quote from the Scripture or a statement made by Peter or Paul that has significant weight and is probably divinely inspired. It links us to the legal witness that believers have in the angelic conflict. It shows the weight of Scripture.
Literal translation: But somewhere someone solemnly testified saying.
Notice that first word "but". I heard a story yesterday that I still shake my head over. There are a lot of pastors in this country that just shouldn't be pastoring. I heard a story the other day about a pastor who got up in the pulpit and wanted to have a little double entendre. He said, "God likes big buts." That was his sermon title. And of course he was trying to make a play on the fact that the verse he was talking about started with a "but". That was as good as it got and it went downhill from there. It is not really a contrast here as much as it is an introduction.
Then we have a quote that comes from Psalm 8:4-6.
NKJ Psalm 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? 5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,
Then the writer of Hebrews explains this quote to his current argument. We don't see it yet. We will see it in the future. Let's go back and look at this psalm in context.
This is a fantastic psalm of praise to God. It is written by David. We don't know the immediate context but it begins addressing YHWH.
NKJ Psalm 8:1 To the Chief Musician. On the instrument of Gath. A Psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
The first "lord" has small caps. The second "lord" is lower cased lettering. The small caps of "lord" always indicates that YHWH is the Hebrew word behind it. He directly addresses God by His proper covenant name. He starts with God as the creator.
NKJ Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
As we see from II Corinthians 2, God is the one who uses the foolish to confound the wise. God is not impressed with human ability or human strength. He is the one who is going to demonstrate His power in our weakness. So the focus here is on God, His majesty and His greatness. As David is looking at the creation, he is impressed and awed by everything that God has made in the entire universe. Then he thinks about how puny we are. We are insignificant specks of life when you compare us to the entire universe.
NKJ Psalm 8:3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
NKJ Psalm 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
Why are we here? What is the significance of man? We are just this little speck of life floating around on this planet. It can't be by accident. We aren't the result of some chaotic cosmic discharge in a gas cloud that just happened to produce life.
Now as we look at Psalm 8 in the light of how the writer of Hebrews uses it in Hebrews 2, we need to take some time to understand this context. The context isn't focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ. The focus of this passage is on God's plan for the human race. Why is the human race of such significance? This is going to plop us right in the middle of an understanding of God's plan for the human race in relation to the angelic conflict.
Notice that there is a parallelism between the two strophes. Parallelism is how you rhyme in the Hebrews. You rhyme ideas, not words.
Son of Man is parallel to man. How do we understand that? The first man is the Hebrew word enosh. It refers to mankind or humanity in general. It usually it has in mind the weakness, the frailty, the limitations of the human race. What is the limited, finite, weak, frail creature all about? Now the LXX uses the word anthropos. Now the reason I mention the LXX is because the writer of Hebrews doesn't quote from the Hebrew Masoretic text that underlies the Old Testament. All of his quotes are word-by-word verse-by-verse verbatim quotes taken right out of the LXX. That is why I am putting this little comparison in there.
In the synonymous parallelism of the second strophe you have the Son of Man. Here we shift from enosh to adam. Adam focuses on man as a creature taken from the ground. The word for ground in the Hebrew is adamah. So God called man Adam because God spit on the ground and mixed up some clay. He made the first man whose skin color was the color of the clay. It was red or brown. It wasn't white, black or yellow. It was the color of dirt.
Ben adam is the son of man. So he is not using this title as a technical title for the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason I make that point is because the writer of Hebrews is going to apply this to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have to understand why he does that. The psalm itself is talking about man as being a frail insignificant almost trivial creature.
Here is the Hebrew word zakar. It is the qal imperfect. It means to think about something or to meditate on something. It means to pay attention to something. In many passages it has the idea of remembering. So it is a thought-oriented word. Why does God think about man? Why does He meditate on man? Why is man a focal point of divine thought? The Greek word used in the LXX when we come to Hebrews 2 is mimneskomai. It means to remember, to consider, or to be mindful of. So it is a good translation. Why is man so important that You reflect on him? Why does He think about us?
The second line of the parallelism is an interesting little word. In fact one well known Hebrew scholar commented that the word is used about 230 times in the Old Testament is one of the most difficult confusing words for translators to deal with because it covers a lot of territory. It covers a lot of nuances in very different contexts. It is the Hebrew word paqadh. It means in some places to visit. God came to visit Abraham. I'm not sure that was the word used there but it is a word that would be used there. Texans like to talk about the fact that we visited together. That is a little Texas saying. I have to say that for people who don't live in this part of the country. They miss out on good Texas lingo. Paqadh means to attend something with care, to take note, to exercise oversight over a subordinate. I really like that last nuance. It flashes it out for us.
Literal translation: And the son of man that you attend him with care.
You pay a lot of attention to him. You think about him. You meditate on him. Here you see that He gives close attention and oversight to man as a subordinate. The Greek LXX translates this with the verb episkeptomai that means to look at something, to inspect, to examine it closely. So the idea of the psalm is "God, why do you pay so much attention to man? What is his value? What is their role? What is going on here? Why is the human race significant to you?" It is obvious from the phrase here that the human race is very important to God. There is something tremendously significant about man for God to give him such close attention. This is echoed in other verses in the Old Testament.
NKJ Psalm 144:3 LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?
NKJ Job 7:17 "What is man, that You should exalt him, That You should set Your heart on him,
Human beings are important to God. Every single human being is important to God. This is why God the Father developed a plan of salvation where He sent His only Son to become a human being. The psalmist says, "This is the body that you prepared for me."
When He is back there in Genesis 1 creating man, He is creating man with a body that he has because He knew He would scrunch Himself down into this finite position so that He could represent Himself to human beings in a finite body. What is the best possible body I can squeeze into to reveal Myself into so that I can effectively reveal who and what I am to these creatures? So God doesn't just land on the shape that we have by happenstance. He chooses it specifically. In other words I don't think that there is a physical form that God could have used that would reveal Him to us in a better way. So there is something of value to man. Even his physical body is well designed by the Lord.
NKJ Psalm 8:5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
Now that is really an interesting phrase. I am going to wrap up with this because we need to come back and mine Psalm 8 a little more before we go back to Hebrews 2.
Angels were originally set over man. Why that is we will get to next time. The key word here that is translated lower is a piel imperfect of hasar that means to lack, have a need or be lacking. In fact the LXX translates it with a word that has to do with missing something. In other words the focus is on the fact that we don't have a lot of abilities. We lack something. It reminds me of II Corinthians 11 where Paul says that grace is sufficient in our weakness. What under girds this whole concept is that man is made to be dependent upon God. We are made to be weak. We are made to be unable to solve our problems without being dependent on God because only when we are successful in being dependent upon Him do we achieve real honor and glory that has eternal consequences. Of course this is only fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is crowned with glory and honor. We will all recognize that at the Second Coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. But in Psalm 8:5 the focus is on the fact that we are made with these limitations to force us to be dependent upon His grace. This very word hasar is a word that drips with grace. We are limited and we are to be dependent upon Him for everything in our life. Jesus Christ pioneered that life of dependency when He was on the planet during the time of the incarnation.
We will come back and look at that more next time.