Theme: What God Changed to Secure Redemption
1. With Angels and the Earth
2. With His Son
When God finished creating the universe, He said it was good. Such a simple statement but what profound implications it had. The perfect and almighty God had given His stamp of approval on the world and its inhabitants. It was all up to His standard. But, we know how things changed with sin. The book of Romans tells us that this once good world now “groans with pain like a woman in labor (Romans 8:22).” We, too, as creations of God, feel that pain in our hearts and lives. What God had created was no longer good, because of our sin.
We have a portion of God’s Word before us today, that looks at His creative power and shows what God did to deal with sin. Part of God’s work involved changing His creation. Hebrews highlights a few of those aspects as they pertain to the plan of salvation. In His almighty wisdom, God knew all of this even before He created the world. Despite mankind’s ruining of God’s perfect creation, God already had a plan in place to take care of it, and to ensure redemption for all sinners. We ask the Holy Spirit to bless our study today and reveal in our hearts whatever parts of that wisdom from our Creator that we can receive, as we read our text from Hebrews 1:13-2:9.
13 But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
2:1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 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, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? 5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 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? 7 You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. 8 You have 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 do not yet see all things put under him. 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.
Without a doubt, angels are mysterious creatures. This is partly due to their supernatural abilities and their existence as spirits. This is also due to the fact that we simply don’t know much about angels. We see occurrences of angels pop up throughout the Bible, but not enough to fully understand them. The clearest description we see of angels is that they evoke fear and uneasiness in people. The realm of angels is just another reminder that there are many things about God that we don’t know about and frankly, that we really don’t need to know about.
Regardless of how much we don’t know about angels, our text tells us some very important things about them today, especially the role they play in God’s plan of salvation. Chapter 1:14 is paramount to understanding angels: Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? Angels are spirits. They were created to serve God and God’s creation. And most importantly, they serve those who will inherit salvation. In other words, angels are here to assist believers in getting to heaven.
There’s two things of importance when it comes to the phrase, “those who will inherit salvation.” First, to inherit something is to receive something that has not been earned by the recipient. God reminds us, as He does often throughout His Word, that salvation is His free gift. The other aspect of an inheritance is that it is valuable. We’re not talking about a nickel or dime type gift. An inheritance is something so valuable that is cannot be bought, even if a person wanted to. An inheritance is a gift that is centered on immaterial things – like family and love. An inheritance offers intangible treasures of quality like: respect, admiration, and the continuance of tradition. The fact that God describes His gift of salvation as an inheritance tells us that it is a multi-faceted blessing on many different levels.
God created angels to minister to His greatest creation, mankind, in receiving and holding on to His gift of life everlasting.
However, there’s another realm of God’s creation that serves a purpose in this manner too – the rest of the creation. Our text quotes from Psalm 8:8: You (God) have put all things in subjection under his (man’s) feet. Part of the beauty and goodness of God’s original creation was bestowing dominion to mankind. To set humans apart as His highest creation, God gave them power over the rest of the earth. But, Hebrews goes on to describe the effect sin had on this: 2:8 But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
Because of sin, humans fail in their role as chief stewards of God’s creation. We do not witness God’s original plan of perfect leadership over the world or complete harmony between creature and Creator. In contrast, the creation seems to exert dominance over man. Natural disasters threaten our homes and livelihoods. Pestilence and disease infringe upon civilizations. Going back to the very beginning of sin, thorns and thistles continue to be reminders of the hardships we go through. There is so much about the natural world that is beyond our realm of influence.
But God made changes of His own to counteract our short-comings. Go back to angels as an example. They were created before the fall into sin, but back then there was no need for them to minister to humans in receiving salvation. God made a change. God reacted to our mistakes. God went even further by forming a plan to help us that reached down to our level, outside of the supernatural realm into human existence. Our text records: Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 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.
God gave us His Word. Notice the emphasis on the Word of God in this section, even though we are still talking about the work of angels.
· Give earnest heed to what we have heard.
· The word spoken through angels proved steadfast.
· Salvation was at first spoken by the Lord, and confirmed to those who heard Him.
Despite all the power God displays, His primary means of bring consolation and peace to sinners comes in a very ordinary way – through words spoken and heard. God may have borne witness of this word through very spectacular ways throughout history; our text mentions: signs and wonders, with various miracles, gifts of the Holy Spirit, and even angel revelations. But, it was and still is always about the simple message proclaimed. None of the ways in which God brought that message were ever more important that the truths which we spoken and heard.
That’s the same way it works today. The negative change of the earth because of sin was countered by God’s positive change through the service of His angelic messengers – as they shared and proclaimed His Word. None of this was part of God’s original plan, yet He willingly endured and produced change to secure salvation for fallen sinners.
But, none of this would mean anything without substance to back it all up. God made the biggest change possible – a change that cut even to His very nature as: Father, Son, and Spirit. God came to earth. He suffered and died. He reclaimed your life from Satan. Leaning up next to the example of mankind’s failed dominance over creation, is this statement from our text: 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.
Jesus is eternal and therefore not a product of the creation of the world. But, He changed with us in order to save us. Jesus became lower than His servants, the angels, when He took on flesh and blood. The dominion that God gave mankind at creation mirrored the ultimate dominion that Jesus willingly gave up in order to come to earth. As Paul wrote the Colossians, Jesus is the “firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15).” The first in preeminence and status. But, also the first, and only, to walk to the path to the cross in complete holiness.
God changed His nature to become human and He became human in order to die. Our text calls it “tasting death” for everyone. The word taste doesn’t mean Jesus only partly died or dabbled a bit in suffering without feeling the Father’s full wrath. It means that Jesus experienced death just as you experience a flavor through taste. He allowed death into His being. This was something that was never supposed to happen – many thought it was impossible; that God could die. It’s certainly one thing for God’s creation to experience death; that alone was never part of God’s will. But, for God Himself to be subjected to death was unheard of. No person would have imagined it.
Jesus suffered and died for us – what a blessed truth that no one can take away. But, we see even more here too. Jesus did this for everyone and He did it by His grace. Redemption from sin is not an inheritance that is reserved for just those who “choose” to believe, like its some elite club. It’s for the whole of humanity. Every person can be assured that their sins are taken away. Jesus did it for the world. Jesus did it by His grace. Because those two points are true, we have an opportunity to receive this blessing by faith. God graciously brings us into His family, He doesn’t need us to choose that for ourselves.
In an age when God’s status as the Creator of the heavens and earth is under attack in so many forms, we see today why it is so important to confess and believe what Genesis first recorded. The Creator cared about redeeming the world because it was His creation. But even more so, we see the great lengths that God, as both Creator and Redeemer, was willing to go to to secure redemption. He sends angels to serve and minster to His elect. He gave mankind a status of dominion out of His love and care for the pinnacle of His creation. And most importantly, God Himself came down for us, took on life in our place, and willingly offered it up for the eternal atonement of our souls. Thanks and praise be to Him. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.