Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 46
Hebrews 1:11 – 2:3 – Part 2
Let’s just pick up where we left off in the last lesson, and that would be in Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 1. I think we’ll just go straight through the first 4 verses, because they’re all tied together, then we’ll come back and pick these verses apart.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4. God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.”
Now all of those verses are tied around that one concept, “How dare we neglect so great a Salvation.” Now let’s go up to verse 1 and begin. And look at the very first word,“Therefore.” Remember when we taught Romans several years ago whenever we came to a “Therefore, what would I tell you? What’s it there for! Well, because of what went before. Here, he’s referring to what we just covered in chapter 1, and some of that was:
“If the Son is higher than the angels, if the Son was the Creator of everything, if the Son finished the work of redemption, and purchased man’s sins, and was now qualified to sit down at the right hand of the Father on high, but not forever, there would come a day when He would arise and return, and set up His Kingdom here on the earth. But before He would set up the Kingdom, He would destroy His enemies.”
Now the study we had in II Thessalonians should still be fresh on your mind. How that the day of the Lord is coming, and the wrath and vexation that is going to be poured out on Christ-rejecting mankind, and that’s all the same concept of what Psalm 110:1 spoke of as having His enemies under His feet. Now with all that as a backdrop, that God the Son, the Creator, the Redeemer, the Intercessor, sitting at the Father’s right hand on our behalf:
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
Now I think most of you have heard me long enough to know, that I believe that once a person is genuinely saved (and has been placed into the Body of Christ, and God has declared us justified from all things, He has redeemed us, He has paid the purchased price, He has forgiven us), that person can never be lost!
But you want to remember that we’re dealing in Hebrews with Jewish people who were still on the fence. They’re looking in at this whole concept that Paul is presenting concerning Christ, but on the other hand they still have that pull back to the Old Testament economy, which was still looking forward to a Messiah. And for them to believe that the Messiah had come and died and been raised from the dead, that was a bitter pill for them to swallow. Even our Jewish friends today, see this as their big hang up, and I say this kindly, because I know we have a lot of Jewish listeners, but they still can’t recognize that the One Who was crucified, was that promised Messiah, the Creator of everything. And you know in the Jewish mind, “Jesus of Nazareth, the Creator? You’ve got to be crazy.” And I can understand their response. But you see the whole purpose of the Book of Hebrews is to bring these Jewish people to a full understanding of Who Jesus of Nazareth really was.
He was the Christ, He was God, He was the Creator, He is even now at the Father’s right hand, and one day He’s coming again, and He is yet going to sit on David’s throne. He is yet going to fulfill all the Old Testament promises, as it’s still future, but oh, we feel we’re getting so close. My, when you look at what’s going on in the world, with regard to technology, the moral breakdown, the corruption in politics, and everything else, then it just screams at the human race that the end is near.
So this is what this Book is trying to establish, first and foremost with the Jewish people, but I’m going to just say, this is only for the Jew. You and I have been learning for the last eight lessons in Hebrews, there’s so much in here that is appropriate for us, but the main thrust of the book is to convince Jewish listeners who are on the fence, to come on in, and latch onto, and believe it! So this is why the language of Hebrews will make it sound that it’s possible to be saved and then lost, and this is what has raised so many questions. And it’s the same way here. It’s not someone who has been saved, and into the Body, and he’s let it slip and lost it, but rather, these are people on the fence, and they’ve tasted, they’ve been convicted by the Spirit, but they just can’t latch on to it. Verse 1 again.
“Therefore (because of what we’ve just proven in this first chapter, of Who Christ really is, The Son, The Creator of everything, the sustainer of everything, Righteous, Holy, higher than the angelic host, Therefore) we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we have let them slip. (in other words, lose interest and go back into the previous life,) 2. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast,…”
Now years ago I read that verse, and it threw a curve at me, and I imagine that it does lots of people. When did the angels have a part in dispensing the Word of God? Well it’s hard to nail that down, but come back with me to the Book of Galatians chapter 3, because this isn’t the only place that we have this. This of course is Paul’s letter to the Gentile churches with regard to their being pressured to go back under the Law of Moses. So this little letter of Galatians is written to prove that we in this Age of Grace are not under Law, but rather we’re under Grace, a whole new economy.
“Wherefore then serveth the law? (how did it come about, what was it’s background?) It was added because of transgressions,…”
Now you want to remember that the Law didn’t come on to the human experience until about 2500 years after Adam was created. So the Law was added because of transgressions. Now stop and think a moment. What happened to the human race from Adam to the flood, when they had no Mosaic Law? Oh, it became the pits! Violence filled the earth, and murder was everywhere. People were very wicked, they had no concept of God anymore. I always tell people, if you don’t think God has to be satisfied with a small percentage for a remnant, just stop and think, there were probably 4 or 5 billion on the earth at the time of flood, but how many were believers? EIGHT! Well, why so small a number? There was no Law, there was no formal system of worship, because it was all dependent on the head of the house passing it on to his sons, and so they immediately lost it. So by the time we get to the flood, only eight souls were saved. This is why Paul says “the Law was added,” because it didn’t work without some system of Law. Now reading on:
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions (mankind’s sins) till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”
Now I don’t understand that, and I don’t claim to, because I think our basic understanding of the giving of the Law was, “Moses was up there on Mount Sinai, and God wrote the Law with His finger on the tables of stone, and Moses brought it down the mountain.” But you see in these two Scripture references – and I think there’s even another one – somehow or other, angels were involved in that giving of the Law to Moses, and Moses, of course, brings the Law down the mountain. I’m not going to take it any further than that, but the Scripture does say, “it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” Now let’s come back to Hebrews then.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have hard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2. For if the word (the Law) spoken by angels was stedfast, (in other words the Law was perfect,) and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;”
Now do you know what that means? The Law was so explicit, and so severe. There was no getting a good attorney and somehow buying your way out when you broke God’s Law, you paid the consequences. Now I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding, when the Lord Jesus said, “an eye for and eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Well, was He actually promoting the fact that if you committed a particular crime, that you should have your eye plucked out? No. But rather it was a comparative term, that the crime was to receive the punishment equal to the crime. If someone had done something worthy to have his eye taken out, then his punishment should be accordingly, not by taking out his eye, or cutting off his hand, or anything like that. Remember the Law was strict, and there was no bending the rules. Now verse 3. Remember we’re in a whole better program than what the Law was, and this is the argument that Paul is presenting.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;…”
Now remember, how great is this Salvation that you and I have today. It’s beyond human understanding, because it’s free for nothing. See, under the Law you paid every time you broke it, one way or another. See, under this Age of Grace, you don’t have to gather a lot of money for Salvation. And as I’ve said before, you don’t have to cross the ocean or climb a sheer cliff to get to Salvation, but rather it’s right in front of every human being! In John’s gospel chapter 10, we find the door to the sheep fold is right at ground level. And where is it with a lost person? Right in front of him, and all he has to do is walk into it by faith. And so great a Salvation, you don’t have to work, work, work!
I gave this illustration once before, several years ago. A lady from Tennessee had sent us some buttons, and we took them on a tour to Israel with us. And it just so happened that we had the same amount of buttons as we did people on that tour and so we all wore them everyday. It just so happened that as we were coming out of Jordan into Israel, and we had gotten into one of the several passport lines, when I noticed this middle easterner was trying read what these buttons said. He was a young man probably in his 30s, and finally he broke out of his line and came over to me, and turned the button up to where he could read it, and said, “FAITH + NOTHING = SALVATION?” I said, “That’s right,” and he was just stupefied. He said, “You mean, that I don’t have to work, and work and work to get to heaven?” I said, “No you don’t, you just simply believe the Gospel, and that will do it.” He just shook his head, and went back into his line.
But isn’t that the attitude of most of the people of the world? Oh, we’ve got to work, work, work, and somehow satisfy the demands of a Holy God, but listen, the only way we can satisfy God is by taking it by faith in Paul’s Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4.
So this is what Paul is referring to here. How dare we neglect so great a Salvation! Now I think it’s all going to be based on this whole idea of responsibility, the judgment for rewards. The Bema Seat is going to be based upon our faithfulness with what we have, and what we have done with our responsibility. The lost will be judged on how much responsibility did they have, just how much knowledge did they have. Now for a lot of lost people out there in areas of the world where we think they’ve never heard the Gospel, then naturally they’re not going to suffer as severe a doom as an American who hears the Gospel day in and day out and rejects it.
We’ve got the greatest thing that has ever been offered to the human race. A Salvation without works, by faith, and faith alone in what Christ has already done for us – it’s finished. It’s a finished transaction, so the question again is:
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first (going all the way back to Christ’s earthly ministry. This is all building up to our Gospel of Grace) began to be spoken by the Lord,” (in His earthly ministry)
Now remember that I make it so plain, that the Lord could not teach our Grace Gospel, which is that “Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead.” That hadn’t happened yet. The Twelve disciples didn’t understand any of that either. In fact, let’s just take time and look at what the Scriptures say about that. I know people think that I’m coming out of the woodwork most of the time when I make a statement like that. So rather than just relying on tradition as a lot of people do, I have to back everything up with Scripture. You see they couldn’t be preaching our Grace Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection for Salvation for the whole human race, because:
– Christ was dealing with His covenant people, Israel. And the whole basis of Salvation was still under the Law of Moses, but now it was an added responsibility to repent, and follow it with water baptism, but the crux of the whole thing was, they had to believe Who Jesus was. They had to believe that He was the Christ, their Messiah.
– Then after Salvation goes to the Gentile world through the Apostle Paul, then yes, it becomes the Gospel of Grace, based on His death, burial, and resurrection.
So let’s look at it in Luke chapter 18, and let’s drop in at verse 31. My, these are interesting verses and should settle the argument when people try to tell me that Jesus and the Twelve preached the Gospel that we believe (that Christ was going to die, and that He was going to be buried, and He was going to be resurrected). See, that’s probably their argument. “Well, no it hadn’t happened, but they knew it was going to happen.” No they didn’t know, and these verses make it so plain. This took place toward the end of His ministry. They’re up there in Caesarea Philippi, and they’re going on up to Jerusalem for the crucifixion.
“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. (that is concerning Jesus of Nazareth) 32. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, (to the Romans) and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated. and spitted on: 33. And they shall scourge him, and put him to death, and the third day he shall rise again.“
Is that plain? Well, you can’t make it any plainer. Why weren’t the disciples sitting outside the tomb, which no doubt was in the sidewall of a limestone cliff, waiting for the great event that resurrection morning? Well, they didn’t know that He was going to be raised from the dead. But remember Jesus had just told them that, but they didn’t know. And it isn’t until you get to John chapter 20, when Peter and John run into the tomb, and see the evidence of resurrection that the Scriptures says, “and they believed. For as yet then knew not the Scripture that He must rise from the dead.” How could they not know when Jesus told them? Well the answer is in the next verse.
“And they (the Twelve) understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” Well Who hid it from them? God did.
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those thing which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever,…”
Well, all that says is: that God in His Sovereignty can keep things secret so far as men are concerned until He is ready for them to understand. So it was not time for these men to know that He was going to be put to death, and they were not to know that He was to be raised from the dead, although prophecy was full of it. But these men couldn’t put all that together, and so when all this took place (you know the events around His crucifixion), Peter vowed up and down with curse words and swearing that he never knew our Lord. The others evidently scattered like quail. They had no idea that He was going to be raised from the dead, and when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb in John chapter 20, what did she go for? Well, to anoint the corpse, because she had no idea that He was going to be resurrected from the dead.
And yet He had spoken it three times throughout His earthly ministry, but God did not open their understanding. So Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb with the idea of anointing Jesus’ body, as was the custom, and low and behold the tomb is empty. And on top of that, she still doesn’t think He’s raised from the dead, but rather somebody must have robbed His tomb. So she runs back and finds Peter and John and says, “They have taken away the Lord out of sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” By now Peter and John are all shook up, so what do they do? They run to the sepulchre, and when they get there they go in and see the evidence, the linen clothes lying there as if the body came right out of it. The head napkin folded up, so they had the evidence. And then that’s where I previously quoted the verse, “For as yet they knew not the Scriptures that He must rise again from the dead.”
Now here’s the reason. Even though Jesus explicitly told them what was going to happen, they understood none of these things as we saw in verse 34. But you see they weren’t supposed to because God kept that from them. Now the reason I always point this out so graphically over and over, is because when Paul comes along and claims that all of his revelations had been kept secret, we can understand then why all of Paul’s revelations were hidden from the Twelve disciples, and everyone before them. They had been kept secret in the mind of God until He was ready to reveal them to this man, the Apostle to the Gentiles in this Age of Grace.