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Hebrews 2:2-4 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:57 mins 46 secs

Hebrews Lesson 22  August 11, 2005

 

NKJ Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

 

Hebrews 2

 

One of the things I want to do and try continuously to do is to give introductions and reviews that keep us in the overall flow of what is going on in a book like Hebrews. It is easy to get involved in a study of the Word where you go verse-by-verse, phrase-by-phrase, and word-by-word and lose the forest through the trees. You end up doing microscopic analysis of every leaf and you forget how the leaf relates to the whole forest ecosystem. So we need to stop and take a look at what is going on. Remember that we think that Hebrews was originally a sermon. You can't be dogmatic on that point because it lacks certain characteristics of an epistle.

 

It seems to be a five-point message. Each point builds or unravels the principles that are embedded in the previous point. The first point starts in 1:5 and extends down through 2:4. Then we go into the second major point. Each point expands, develops principles and doctrines laid down in the previous point. As the writer develops this exhortation (a challenge on the principles of doctrine), he lays out a case in a certain number of verses and then follows that case by an applicational challenge or exhortation that is directed toward each individual. Embedded within these challenges or exhortations are warnings. Apparently the readers to whom this was sent were believers who were on the verge of throwing in the towel, giving up their Christianity, and going back into Judaism. So the writer lays this case out and begins with an emphasis on the superiority of Christ. The emphasis is on what happened at the ascension of Christ when Jesus Christ is elevated above the angels and the principalities and powers and is seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. During the session He is waiting for God the Father to give Him the kingdom. So this idea of the kingdom is integral to understand where the writer is going as he moves through his points to his readers. He has this whole concept of the kingdom in the background

Remember that at the First Advent Jesus Christ was preceded by John the Baptist. His message was to repent because the kingdom of heaven was near. When Jesus showed up He said to repent for the kingdom of heaven was near. When He sent out the disciples to the house of Israel He said to repent for the kingdom of heaven was near. So this was the major emphasis in the first part of Jesus' ministry until the leaders of Israel rejected it. Now the Jewish Christians that the author of Hebrews is directing his challenge to would be familiar with the concepts related to the kingdom. The kingdom is not something present today. It is not the mystical, spiritual kingdom that a-millennial, allegorical interpretation has developed. It is not an already-not-yet view of the kingdom that is taught now in so many places including Dallas Seminary and others. They think we are in some form of the kingdom, but not fully. It is the application of Hegelian dialectic (that is pure human viewpoint philosophy) to the whole concept of interpretation. It shows how constantly through decade after decade the evangelical church is influenced by the thought forms of the world systems around us. Their idea of the kingdom was a literal 1,000-year rule and reign where the Son of David, the God man, would rule on the throne of David in Jerusalem. It would be a Jewish centered kingdom. That's the mentality. The reason I am reviewing that is because we hit a very special word in the last verse of chapter one that is repeated in 3:2. That is the word salvation. It is the last word in the English text. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

 

Often I tell you that when you are reading through Scripture and you're trying to understand a passage that there are certain key words, certain key phrases that you have to keep your eye on.  They are the interpretive keys to understanding what's really being said. If you miss your interpretation of that verse, then you will be off center in terms of understanding the passage and even in terms of application. Keep that in mind in review. These are people who understand that there's a future kingdom. The kingdom is Jewish in nature. This is why you have such an emphasis in the book of Hebrews on inheritance and the current session of Jesus. When it ends, what is going to happen? He will return as the victorious Son of Man who destroys the kingdoms of man on the earth at the end of the tribulation. Then He inaugurates His kingdom. Then He establishes His millennial rule. Then we will have peace on earth and it won't be until that particular time. 

 

We have gone through verses 5-14. We have a development of the idea that Jesus Christ is over the angels - in His deity and especially in His humanity. In His humanity He is in authority over the angels and He will rule over them.  Everything that is happening in human history today is in preparation for the time when He returns and establishes the kingdom. Verse 8 quotes Psalm 45:6-7

 

NKJ Psalm 45:6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

 

That kingdom is characterized by the fact that you have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness.

 

NKJ Psalm 45:7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.

 

"Companions" is a reference to those who will be ruling and reigning with the Jesus Christ.

 

That ought to get your attention back to understanding this passage. In verses 5-14 established the foundations. Notice again how the writer does it. This is probably a sermon. If you were to sit down and read all it out loud with proper inflection and not read rapidly just to see how fast you can get through it, I would think that all 13 chapters would take close to an hour. This gives us an idea of the kind of teaching they had in the early church. It wasn't a twenty-minute sermonette for Christianettes. It wasn't a self-help diagnosis. It wasn't something designed to make them feel good. The first time they heard this, their brains probably turned inside out just like yours does on occasion. They were thinking that they had to get it written down. They couldn't get a tape. They had to get it written down so that they could go back and look at it. 

 

The other thing I want you to note is how it exemplifies what we do. In chapter one you see the writer quoting from six different Old Testament passages. In effect what he is doing is he has done the exegesis and he's extracting principles and doctrines from each of those 6 passages.  Then he builds a case for an application. As soon as he goes through that cycle once, he comes back and takes a couple of key ideas that were in that first development and then expands on that.  And what does he do?  He goes back to different verses in the Old Testament and he unpacks those verses to show what they mean and what they imply in terms of the present age and the present ministry of Christ. Then he builds to another level and ends with a longer exhortation that contains within it a warning that if you don't pay attention to this there are eternal consequences for now and for eternity. Then he takes some of the ideas in that development and builds on that in the third point all the way through this development. 

 

It is like what we should have in the church today but we don't have because people don't want Bible teaching anymore. People want to come and be entertained. Church has become an entertainment center. It is no longer a place where you come to study the Word of God to be challenged in our own lives to the fact that we are still totally depraved. We have sin natures. We can commit any sin an unbeliever can. We can destroy our lives quicker than any unbeliever can destroy their life if we don't pay attention to the Word of God. There are long-range consequences. It is great that we are saved. We are forgiven. It is great that we have I John 1:9 and can confess our sins and be back in fellowship. We're ready to go and we sin again. Too many people bounce in and out. The principle is to stay in fellowship, abide in Christ, walk by the Spirit, move forward, and advance to maturity because there is a future responsibility that you are being trained for now. That's the background. So he comes to a point and continues.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

 

Literally, because of what was just said, because of this, because of what was said in these 6 passages and the principles that were made. 

 

He wants us to give the highest attention possible to these things. 

 

What are the things that we have heard? This is the doctrine taught from the pulpit consistently since Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and the church was founded on the day of Pentecost.  When you go back and look at the messages that we do have in the Scriptures, we see that they were developing doctrinal teaching. Doctrine is not a bad word. It is not some sort of abstract irrelevant theology. It's not what has been labeled as dogma or technical doctrinal statements that read like some sort of legal document. It is teaching the whole of Biblical teaching that addresses every area of life, every area of thought from family life to marriage to raising your children to education to law to politics to philosophy. There is no arena of life or thought or intellectual activity that is not addressed by the Word of God. Yet the sad thing is that in most pulpits around the world we find pastors today who refuse to mine the Word of God. All they do is get out there with the gold pan and wash around a little dust and see what they can come up with. Usually it ends up being salvation over and over and over again. If they get beyond salvation what they try to do it tell people how to live a moral life. They never teach spiritual mechanics. They do not teach how to walk by means of the Spirit or how to recover from sin. They do not teach grace orientation or doctrinal orientation or how to love God that is the foundation for being able to love one another. All of this is left out. It is a shallow superficial truncated form of Christianity.  Or they decide they will imitate some popular preacher who is trying to build a mega church in order to attract more people. 

 

Let me tell you what you will see in the next ten years. Right here in this city we have the largest church in the country. You are going to find everybody from the Methodists to the Episcopalians to the Bible churches trying to imitate what they do in order to get more people. They think that he has discovered the formula. They want to ride the wagon train with him. They think that they won't compromise too much. But they already have because they are looking at method as a way to attract people. The issue is that God provides the hearers. It is terribly difficult as a pastor because you want to reach people and teach large numbers of people not because of ego but because they need to hear the Word of God. But they don't want to come. It is frustrating for a lot of pastors. They will compromise in different areas just to try to get more people. When I was a young pastor I fell in that trap just like everyone else does. But you have to recognize that it's better to have 50 people who are devoted to the Word of God than 500 where only 50 are devoted to the Word of God.  Those other 450 people will just be trouble. They are going to mess up the other 50. 

 

The focus is on paying attention - giving the highest form of attention to things we have heard.  That is the propositional content of Biblical revelation from Genesis to Revelation. All scripture is God breathed - even those horrible boring little genealogies and all of the records in Chronicles. They are all important for various reasons. They all feed toward our understanding of what God is doing in history. So we need to give the highest attention to the things we have heard lest our anchor is slipped and we gradually see our stern drift out into the current and taken away from the dock. The next thing you do is wake up and scratch your head. You wonder what happened. I used to be happy. There used to be stability in my life. My marriage used to have a vitality that it doesn't have anymore. Nothing can screw up a marriage quicker than one partner who gets away from the Lord. The key is to stay steadfast to the Word. 

 

Then in verse 2 we come to the next development. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,

 

That begins with the first word "for". I would suggest that probably about 90% of the time when you see the word "for" at the beginning of a verse in the New Testament, it is going to be this Greek word gar. Gar indicates that the writer is explaining or expanding the previous statement.  He develops the idea there.  He drew a conclusion in verse one. We have to give the highest attention to the Word. That is the main idea of the first verse. He expands it and he wants us to understand what the implications are for making doctrine the highest priority in your life. 

 

He follows that with a conditional word "if". In the Greek it is a first class condition. Greek has a little more flexibility than the English does. In the English if you want to express a condition by using "if" we don't know what is going to happen. It indicates a certain amount of uncertainty.  We use the word "if" in a broad range of nuances. "If" almost has the idea of since. We could say that if school started today I need to pay attention to school zones. That is if and it is true. We almost have the idea that since school started we need to pay attention to these school zone speed limits. That is the idea that we have here in the first class condition. It's not emphasizing contingency. It is the idea of certainty. If and it was. It is a first class condition that assumes the truth of that first clause. In technical grammatical terms it is called the protasis. 

 

Literal translation:  If the Word spoken through the angels proved steadfast and it was.

 

Then we come to the third word that is a key concept here. We keep getting these synonyms.  Now we have what we have heard in verse 1. You hear something. You hear a message. You hear words. Something vibrates the eardrum. Something is written on the page that you read. That's what is referred here by the Greek word logos. Logos can be translated word or message or content or thoughts. It has a wide range of meanings. In fact in the classical dictionaries there are 15-20 different nuances. Logos is the root Greek word from which we get the English word logic. It is the study of how rational propositions are put together to move from one premise to another premise and to reach a conclusion. It is also the basis for the last couple of syllables in words like biology and zoology. It's the study of something, science of something, or the knowledge about something. The word logos has a wide range of meanings. Here it has the idea of a word or message. Here in light the context we need to think of it in terms of the message, the revelatory message given through the angels in the Old Testament. 

 

Note the parallel to verse one in chapter one.

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

 

Notice that in 1:1 God spoke by means of the prophets. There is no mention of angels. Then when we come to 1:2, again we are talking about Old Testament revelation. That is the parallel. But now instead of talking about the prophets who were the human instruments, he informs us that there is another intermediate agency involved in revelation. That was angels. He says that if the message of divine revelation was spoken through the angels. 

 

This is dia plus the genitive indicating intermediate agency. This is a message communicated through the angels. The word translated "spoken" is the Greek word laleo. It is the same word used in 1:1 and 1:2 talking about God speaking. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

 

So there is a direct connection. The application the writer is deriving in 2:2 is an out growth of what he said in chapter one. You see the logical flow in development of his thought. He goes back to the previous foundations in chapter one to build his application.

 

This is an articular aorist that indicates that it is a specific word and it emphasizes specific revelatory activity that is referred to back in the Old Testament. 

 

Now think about it a minute. Go back to Ex 19, 20. The Israelites are camped at the base of Mt. Sinai. God begins to speak to them. They hear the voice of God. If you had been there with your digital recorder you could have recorded the voice of God. If you had your video camera you could have recorded the lightening flashes and everything on the mountain. This was not something that they were imagining which is what liberal Protestant theology argues. They say that they were religious experiences and they don't have objective reality. But the fact is that the Bible presents them as being objectively real. God spoke and they heard Him. They were scared to death. You go into chapters 19 and 20 where the Ten Commandments were given and the foundation of the law. You can search in vain for any reference to angels. They are never mentioned in Exodus. But they were there. It is indicated in other passages. For example in Deut 33:2 which is at the end of Moses' final sermon to the Israelites just before he died, he spoke.

 

NKJ Deuteronomy 33:2 And he said: "The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them.

 

Literally in the Hebrew it says "the holy ones". This is a term related to angels. In fact that is how the LXX understands this. He came with 10,000 of His angels when He was on Sinai. 

 

Moses indicates that there was an army of angels that accompanied God when He came to reveal the law to Moses.

 

This is indicated again in Acts 7:38 where Stephen spoke to the Jews.

 

NKJ Acts 7:38 "This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us,

 

Notice the similar terminology to what we have in Hebrews 1:1. 

 

NKJ Acts 7:53 "who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it."

 

It was clearly understood that angels were involved as part of the intermediate agency of revealing the Mosaic Law. 

 

NKJ Galatians 3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator [Moses].

 

Paul speaks. The mediator would have been Moses. You see that God is the ultimate source of the giving of revelation, the Mosaic Law. The first intermediate agents were the angels. The second was a human intermediary, Moses. Then it is given to the people. This shows that the angels are serving as covenant witnesses, court witnesses. 

 

This is the same concept we see in Revelation 2 and 3 when we talk about why those epistles were written to the angels of the churches? It is that same kind of function. The angels are serving as covenant witnesses. 

 

If you go down to a notary public and you need to have something signed and witnessed, you need witnesses. You are signing a legal document. This is the same issue. The angels are serving as witnesses. Why? Because all of human history is teaching things about the angelic conflict.  It's teaching things to the angels about God's character and about why Satan or any other creature cannot live independently of God without destroying everything. So angels are present and are part of the process.

 

Hebrews 2:2  For if the message which was communicated or spoken through the angels proved steadfast.

 

That is the revelatory message of the Old Testament. 

 

That is an awkward way of translating this. The word "proved" is a translation of the Greek verb ginomai that means to come into existence or to become. It should be understood in this way. 

 

Hebrews 2:2  For if the message spoken by the angels came into existence, or came to be confirmed.

 

It indicates a process of moving from non-existence to existence from non-confirmation to confirmation. 

 

The word steadfast is the Greek word bebaios. It means something that is fixed or certain or unalterable or immovable or absolutely stable. It indicates that the Mosaic Law is perfectly stable.  Paul said it was holy and righteous. You can't come along and say that because the Pharisees misinterpreted the law that there was something wrong with the law. There was nothing wrong with the law. It was an absolutely perfect government document. It shows what real freedom is. 

 

Too many people today come along and talk about freedom and liberty and they go where? They go to John Locke or Montesque or some enlightenment political philosopher to derive their definition of freedom or liberty. You don't start with some human viewpoint philosopher to figure out what freedom is. Freedom starts with the Word of God. They had perfect freedom in the Mosaic Law. It was a kind of freedom that wouldn't have been recognized as freedom by John Locke. Why? His starting point wasn't autonomous revelation. His starting point was human reason and human experience. He was an empiricist. That's his starting point. You always have to be careful. Sure he came up with many wonderful incites on the nature of freedom and liberty and the relationship of the governing to the governed. But his starting point is flawed. To the degree his starting point is different from the Word there are going to be flaws in his conclusions. So when we are going to talk about such elevated concepts as freedom and liberty you start with the Word of God. You don't start with some autonomous philosophical concept and try to read that into the Bible. You start with the Bible and let it define everything.

 

So we see the process that the law is given and then over time its certainty is established. That doesn't mean it wasn't certain to begin with. What we are going to see in the next section is that there were promises of blessing and discipline in the Mosaic Law. As time went by and the Israelites obeyed, the law was confirmed through the blessing they received. If they didn't obey God and God disciplined them, then the law is confirmed by God's discipline. So it was demonstrated to be true in history. It is true in reality, but in time it was demonstrated by what is explained in the next clause. The writer of Hebrews says that if the word spoken through the angels was confirmed, and it was. 

 

I want you to notice one more thing about the word steadfast. That's the word bebaios. It is used again in verse 3.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

 

If you mark in your Bible, you ought to circle the word steadfast in verse 2 and circle the word confirmed in verse three and connect them. I don't know why translators use different English words to translate the same Greek word used in the same context. You lose something the writer is trying to connect together by using the same word. 

 

Notice he's not focusing on the blessing they received for obedience. He's focusing on the fact that disobedience brings discipline. That is the issue that he is dealing with in the life of his readers. They are threatening to chunk their Christianity and go back to the old legalism of the Mosaic Law. They are saying that the pressure is too great. The difficulties are too intense. They are saying that they are tired and will go back to where things are more comfortable when they were under the ritual of the Mosaic Law. It is probably true. As soon as you want to get into the boiling point of the angelic conflict, just start getting serious about doctrine. The heat is going to turn up. The intensity is going to crank up. You think that you have made some real mistakes in life because everything gets a little bit wacko. All of sudden Satan and the demons will try to distract you from being a growing maturing believer. The angelic conflict will go nuts around you. You'll think you are living in the vortex of the angelic conflict. And you probably are for a while. It is a test to see if you will be faithful in your decision to follow the Lord and consistently put His Word first. That is the warning here. 

 

Focusing on the negative isn't popular today. They say that you should never say anything negative and you don't talk about sin. The last thing you want to talk about is sin. Unfortunately the Bible talks about sin and we have to stick with the Word of God. He knows what's best. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,

 

The word parabosis in the Greek means to violate the law. Here it is talking about the Mosaic Law because that's the context. It could be the general standards of God. Here it is talking about the violation of the Mosaic Law because that was what was revealed through the angels. 

 

The word for disobedience is the word parakoe means to hear wrongly, not apply what you hear, to be disobedient because of careless listening or inattentive hearing. It indicates careless listening. You are not paying attention to what you heard. You are not giving due diligence to the message of the angels. As a result you receive a just recompense.

 

Corrected translation:  For if the message spoken through the intermediate agency of angels became unalterable, and it did, and every violation and careless infraction received just recompense then

 

Here is our conclusion. What the writer is saying is:

  1. The message proved unalterable. It came through the angels.
  2. Every violation and infraction received recompense.

 

Then in light of that and that God's justice will be enacted is you treat His word lightly, that should call upon you for a certain type of behavior. That is verses three and four.

 

Verse 3 is the center of this section. Actually in the Greek verses 2-4 are one sentence. In some English translations they break it up in order to make it read a little easier in the English. But when you do that you lose the thrust of these verses. Verse two establishes a foundation for the thought. Verse 4 indicates additional information. But the main idea is what is communicated in this opening rhetorical question. How shall we escape if we neglect this great salvation? 

 

Look at what happened in the Old Testament. They had a lesser form of revelation. What did the writer says in verse one? That it was in various forms but it was incomplete. But now it's complete. Now it is through His Son. In the past (he will develop this later on in the book) it was through Moses and the prophets. But now it is through Jesus Christ and the apostles.  We have more revelation. We have more certain revelation. We have seen the ultimate revelation in the Lord Jesus Christ. If they had a lesser form of revelation in the Old Testament and didn't have everything that we are given to us in the Lord Jesus Christ and if they suffered these serious consequences in the Old Testament because they treated the Word lightly, what do you think is going to happen to you if you treat it lightly? It is a powerful argument. It is a powerful warning that lays the foundation for the subsequent warning sections coming up in Hebrews. This is addressed to believers.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape

 

He includes himself.  He is talking about believers. 

 

As an aside, this is one of the great interpretive problems in the New Testament. Is the writer of Hebrews addressing unbelievers or believers in these passages? Can believers fall away and reject Christ and turn their back on Christ? Sure they can. It is called grace. We are in the midst of a great theological controversy today and have been for about half a century or more. It is called lordship salvation. That is the modern permutation of it. One side is called the free grace gospel. That is where we are if you don't know. 

 

The other side is Lordship salvation. It's not simply the idea that you have to accept Jesus as Lord to be saved although I have heard some of their proponents say that. They say that if you are truly and genuinely saved then that is going to be exhibited by a change in your life. If you can't look back from the time you were saved and identify certain fruit (that's why we call them fruit judgers or fruit pickers) and evaluate the fruit, then maybe you weren't saved. Maybe you just had a false confession or profession of faith and you didn't really believe. That is hogwash. The documentation they go to just doesn't work. There are no passages that teach that. You never have the Bible talk about true faith or genuine faith or real faith. You just have faith in Christ over and over again in the Gospel of John. This is the battle today. It is over the purity of the gospel. 

 

Jesus Christ paid the penalty of our sins. The only thing that you need to do to appropriate that for yourself is to believe that He did it. After you trust Christ as Savior, regeneration doesn't ameliorate or dilute or reduce the power of your sin nature. You're still a lousy rotten sinner with the same trends as before you were saved. These folks have a problem with post salvation sins.  When somebody comes along and says they had a profession of faith when they were ten years old but now I am have been to college and now I have an education and just can't believe it is the Word of God anymore. Then others say that they weren't saved. That's not what the Bible teaches at all. The Bible teaches once saved always saved. You may fall from grace. You may slip your anchor and drift away, but you are still saved. This is the gospel of grace. This is one of the centerpiece verses in the whole debate. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

 

First is when? Is it Genesis? No. It is when Jesus began to teach in the incarnation. What was He teaching? "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."

 

"Us" is the apostles and their associates. The writer was probably an associate and not an apostle.  Whoever wrote this did not directly hear the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

 

Witness here is a legal term of confirmatory evidence. 

 

There are three classifications of confirmation here. This indicates that what was taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles is from God. 

 

The question is how shall we escape? Do you think you can get away with it? Do you think that you can rationalize sin? This is the problem with sin. It flows out of arrogance and arrogance is always blinding. We blind ourselves. We don't think that God will come down on us. Or we think we can just confess it later. Nobody is going to know. We think we can just indulge for a while.  We enjoy thinking about vengeance on that person or what would happen if God executed His judgment on that person. We give ourselves over to that bitterness and anger and resentment. But this hurts our soul. We don't realize it but eventually God is going to deal those things. Just because He hasn't yet doesn't mean He won't. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

 

The verb ekpheugo is the word to flee plus the preposition ek for out of. It means to escape. What is interesting here is the grammar. The future middle talks about the future but the middle voice is a dynamic middle given for emphasis on the volition of the subject. It pulls it right back to the action of the subject. The subject must make a decision. We make decisions with regard to this.  The subject must make a decision about this instead of thinking he will get away with it. 

 

Before we go on I want to go back for a minute and build a little case. How did the Jews escape? Did they escape? Turn back to Leviticus 26. Now the writer of Hebrews wants his readers to pay attention to what happened to the Jews in the Old Testament. That is why he brought in the issue of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law contained within it certain promises related to blessing and discipline – blessing for obedience and discipline for disobedience. 

 

Did the Jews escape because they treated the Word of God lightly or because they didn't pay attention to it? Did they escape when they compromised with false religions of the Canaanites?  Let's look.

 

We have promises of blessing in Lev 26:5-13. In these verses we see promises of rain and agricultural productivity and that there will be secure borders in verses 3-5. 

 

NKJ Leviticus 26:6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land

 

God will give them peace in the land. There won't be any military invasions even though Israel sits at the center of the trade routes of the ancient world. Everybody is fighting but God would give them peace. 

 

He would also eliminate predatory animals. Think about that. What does the presence of predatory animals have to do with their spiritual condition? If you are a believer you have to come to doctrine to understand that there is ultimately under God's control a cause-effect relationship between the physical domain and the spiritual domain. Now you'll never figure that out through science or empiricism. You won't discern it from the study of history. You can learn it by looking at what God says. This is why after Adam sinned you had a consequence of sin that changed the digestive structure of all the animals. They went from being grass eaters. Some became carnivores. You see the change of the womb of the woman so that now there are different dynamics at work in the birth process. Now there is pain and difficulty. Spiritual decisions affect physical reality. So He said that if they are obedient the harmful animals are going to disappear.  Why? God is going to affect that.

 

NKJ Leviticus 26:7 You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you.

 

There is not going to be military invasion. If they were obedient, He would prevent the power blocks of the ancient world from invading. In fact you will have military victory. You may only have 5 but they will put to flight 500. You may only have a hundred but they will put to flight thousands. God would give them military victory. It wouldn't depend on their understanding of Sun Tzu or their understanding of Von Klausowitz. It would not depend on their technology. It was going to depend on their spirituality. Now isn't that interesting? If you just walk in obedience to the Mosaic Law, you will have tremendous victory over your enemies. Why? Because God controls history. Spiritual realities are more real than the physical realities. 

 

Then they would enjoy an intimate relationship with God. It is pictured as God walking among them in vs. 11-13. But the Jews never obeyed the Mosaic Law and never experienced its blessing.  But the got the five cycles of discipline given in the next few verses. 

 

NKJ Leviticus 26:16 I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

 

NKJ Leviticus 26:17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you

 

We have the first stage of discipline here. They would experience terror from their enemies.  They would have internal anxiety. Everybody would have neurosis or psychosis. They would have to have a psychotherapist in order to handle life.  Sounds familiar doesn't it? 

 

They will have health problems. How many times do we hear of diseases and health problems that we've never heard of before? It is a similar parallel. Disease would increase.

 

Enemies would profit from their work. They wouldn't profit from their productivity but their enemies would.

 

NKJ Leviticus 26:18 ' And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

 

Verses 18-20 are the second stage of discipline. They would experience drought. As a result there would be famine. And as a result of that there would be an economic recession. There would be agricultural disasters. They would spend all of their time and energy trying to eek out a living from the land.

 

Then you get the third phase. 

 

NKJ Leviticus 26:21 ' Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. 22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate.

 

Remember I said that if they were obedient the predatory animals would disappear. Now they are going to increase. Isn't it interesting that the folks in Montana, the environmentalists, want to reintroduce the red wolf? There are battles with the cattle ranchers and farmers up there. Our environmentalists want to reintroduce predatory animals. Everything gets topsy-turvy when you get away from the Word of God. 

 

In the fourth stage they would experience military invasion and dominance by a foreign power.  They would no longer be a sovereign nation. They would be under the control of foreign powers even if they weren't completely defeated. There would be another increase of disease and plagues. There would be a move from economic recession to economic depression. 

 

Then you come to the fifth cycle that is the worst stage. They would be occupied by a foreign militarily power. They would come under siege. As a result of the siege they would engage in cannibalism.

 

NKJ Leviticus 26:29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.

 

This is exactly what happened both in 586 BC when Babylon attacked and destroyed Jerusalem and again when the Romans came in AD 70. In the economic collapse God would come in and destroy their idols and temples and their cities. People would be removed from the land God had promised them. They would be scattered throughout all of the nations. Those who were left would be weak and despairing. They would lose hope. God would not listen to their prayers. We will see that in Deuteronomy 32.

 

Since we have set the stage so well, let's go back and look at our verse for a minute. I don't want to lose this train of thought. I have built up the intensity of cursing and I want to finish that next time. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,

 

God fulfilled these curses. How do you think you can escape if you neglect that same salvation?  This is a powerful warning. God is trying to get us to pay attention. We can't take the Bible lightly. This is a real problem we have in our culture today. We are so used to having a Bible that we have reached a point where we take it lightly. We are so used to having the freedom and the Bible that we have reached a point that we take it for granted today. We take it lightly. We have a cavalier attitude to the fact that we have so much available today. Never before in human history has so much sound Bible teaching been available through the Internet, tapes, and mp3's. (There is a lot of garbage too.) Some of the information today is far greater than any other time in human history.

 

The education that pastors got at Dallas Seminary in the 70's and 80's was probably in the top one thousandth of a percentile of education available to any professional pastors or scholars in all of the Church Age. Yet we have so many that take it lightly. We have so much. A lot of pastors who have the training don't want to teach in depth because they are afraid their congregations will leave them. In a sense they water it down so someone will listen to them. They get involved in all these dog and pony shows and entertainment so that they have somebody listen to them. It is a tremendous judgment on this generation because we are seeing and witnessing the same trends that were going on in the early church with the people who were receiving this letter. They were treating the Word of God in a light manner – in a cavalier manner. They didn't realize how serious the consequences were if you don't make the Word of God the highest priority in your life. Not just learning it, but applying it consistently on a day-to-day basis.