Hebrews 2:1-4 Will God Exonerate Men’s Unrepentance in the New Covenant?
2:1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
In this section, the reason is surfaced as to why men must give greater attention and urgency to the words spoken by the Son. If there were severe punishments for infractions against the Old Covenant laws, men could not suppose there would be no penalties for infractions against the New Covenant. On the contrary, more severe punishments await those who abuse the patience of the Son. In today’s passage, we learn never to take for granted the grace of Christ. The more we experience God’s miracles, the more we grow to love Him and walk in His ways.
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
“For this reason” draws from the previous section: Because Christ is the supreme Creator, Ruler and Judge over creation; all the more men must pay much closer attention to His words. It is now required on the part of the hearers to give greater attention and urgency to the New Covenant message because of the change of mediator from angels to the Son. The greater the authority of the spokesman, the greater the weight of the words and hence, greater attention is required from the hearers. The author warns against drifting away from the commands of God, which comes in the form of distractions from the ways of God towards the cares of the world.
For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
Angels are instrumental in instituting the law of the Old Covenant. They function as messengers between God and the patriarchs (Abraham, Moses etc.) The apostle Paul in Galatians 3:19 explicitly says that the angels were instrumental in instituting the Law which spells severe penalties for violations. Hence, believers could not suppose there would be no penalties for violations against the commands spoken by the Son. While the message of the angels concerns repentance towards a secure and prosperous Israel, the message of the Son concerns repentance towards a secure and prosperous Christendom under God. In essence, the law of the New Covenant (as instituted by the Son) reinforces the law of the Old Covenant (as instituted by angels). However, the text infers a more severe punishment for transgression and unrepentance under the New Covenant: how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation (the New Covenant).
After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
This concerns the transmission of the message and its authenticity as it was first spoken by Christ. A message must necessarily be authenticated by the Spirit through signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts as apportioned by the Spirit. The signs and wonders that accompanied Christ’s ministry as well as His followers’ are marks of God’s endorsement of their message. Jesus says concerning signs,
Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. John 14:11
Hence, the two pillars of an effective ministry are: truth and signs that confirm the anointing of the minister and his message.
We must not take for granted that the grace of Christ will exonerate us from chronic disobedience. But a certainty of severe judgment awaits those who abuse the patience of God. Many churchgoers hang onto God’s mercies with one hand while toying with fleshly pleasures with the other. Their hearts become hardened to an extent that they can no longer respond to the call of the Spirit for repentance. The prophet Isaiah spoke in earnest,
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7
What the grace of God does is it extends the window of repentance. However, when the Day of Judgment comes, the consequences of disobedience in the New Covenant will be more severe than the Old Covenant. Why? Because the commands of Jesus in the New Covenant are weightier than the commands of men in the Old Covenant. In the Old Testament, God said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.” Exodus 7:1. Pharaoh and the people saw Moses as an earthly authority sent by God. Hence, violation of a command meant rebellion against Moses, who is but an earthly authority. But, when God sent His Son into the world, His Spirit no longer spoke through an earthly authority but directly from heaven. Therefore, persistent disobedience to the call of the Spirit amounts to an insolent rebellion in the face of God. When Pharaoh disobeyed Moses’ instructions and brought irreversible destruction upon Egypt, how much more will men reap unimaginable consequences when they disregard the commands of the Son?
Every miracle that comes from above must motivate us to walk in the truth in perseverance and faith. Miracles are meant to confirm the message of truth and to move people towards repentance. Many ministers are accustomed to using miracles to draw crowds by feeding on their need for physical healing and curiosity for spiritual manifestations. Hence, their message is primarily focused on the willingness and the ability of God to heal and to believe God for bigger miracles. However, Jesus uses miracles specifically to authenticate the message of truth as coming from the Father. Jesus miraculously fed 5000 with bread and directed their attention to Himself as the heavenly bread (John 6:50). In another incident, Jesus refused to perform any more miracles when requested by the people (Matthew 12:38-45). Instead, He pointed to the miracle of Jonah, which is the message of repentance.
Therefore, the message of truth is like the engine of the train; the cars of the train represent all kinds of miracles and gifts of the Spirit. Without the message of truth, miracles have no direction and purpose. Consequently, people will become more self-centered, abusing the grace of God for the sake of their selfish interests. Therefore, ministers must never stop at the message of divine power and love, but push for a commitment towards a godly lifestyle. Every time a miracle is performed, it is an indisputable sign that Christ is calling for all to be reconciled to Him and to walk in the truth. Every aspiring minister must also desire to be anointed to perform miracles as a sign of divine authority and authenticity. In the same vein, if a believer walks in the truth, signs and wonders will naturally follow them to authenticate their message. Jesus says,
These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Mark 16:17-18
How do you express your fear of God and your love for fellow men? Our reverence towards God is expressed through our obedience to the commandments as given in the Old Testament and in essence given by Jesus in the New Testament. Below is a prayer of commitment based on the 10 Commandments.
Dear Lord, I will love You and live by Your vision and principles alone, I will not defile myself by engaging in the pleasures of darkness and idolatry. I am committed to deliver on the promises that I have made before God and man. I will put the worship of God as the highest call of my life. I will honor my parents, and those who presided over me and took care of me. In every circumstance, I must never take matters into my own hands, for vengeance belongs to You and You will vindicate me. I will be faithful to my spouse and keep the sanctity of marriage. I will be honest and show moral excellence in my work and in my dealings with others. I will be kind and truthful in all manner of speech to bring goodness and unity to the community. I will live a life of thanksgiving being contented and fulfilled with all that I possess. Amen.