Approaching Sunday

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Approaching Sunday: Hebrews 2

Last week pastor Shaun kicked off our new sermon series, “Greater Than;” a chapter by chapter look at the book of Hebrews. This week he will be preaching through chapter 2 of Hebrews and I wanted to draw your attention to a particular passage in Hebrews that can also be found in Psalm 8. It states,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

As stated above, this passage can be found in Hebrews 2:6-8, but it can also be found in Psalm 8:4-6. At first glance this passage can be difficult to understand, but with a little consideration and context, Lord willing, it can become clear.

This passage finds its origin in the commission that God originally gave man in Genesis 1:26-28: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…”

When God created man in His image, a part of being an image bearer of God is to subdue the earth and have dominion over it- for the glory of God. Think about that for a moment. Before man was corrupted by sin, he enjoyed perfect fellowship with God and he ruled and subdued the earth in obedience to the Lord’s commission. So here is the order:

In the beginning, God…
God created everything.
God creates man in His image.
Man enjoys fellowship with God.
God commissions man to have dominion for His glory.
Man obediently labors in that commissioning.

With that as a backdrop, re-read Psalm 8:

“What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

This is what man is supposed to do. However, man rebelled and is now sinfully depraved. Because of this man cannot be obedient to the commission that God has given him and furthermore man is content with his disobedience.

Now, fast forward with me to our text in Hebrews 2 and let’s look at it in context:

“What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death that is, the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

The Hebraic author is saying man is incapable of having dominion over the earth, but Jesus is capable. He is the only one capable. Therefore, Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 8. Jesus is obedient to God the Father’s commission given in Genesis 1. Jesus is the better man. He is the better man because He is God and the beauty of it all is that as Christians we benefit from Christ’s obedience to God the Father.

And if you know your Bibles, you know that God through Jesus gives us another commission. It’s still a dominion commission and because of Christ, we have the capacity to obey it:

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. God therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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Approaching Sunday: Background on Hebrews

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This coming Sunday we are beginning a new series in the book of Hebrews. I thought that it might be helpful for us to have some background information before we hear Pastor Shaun’s first sermon on the book. Our prayer is that it will give you some context to help you better understand the letter by the Hebraic author.

 

Authorship:

The Hebraic author was well versed in Greek and the Hellenistic literary style and was concerned about redemptive history culminating in the person and work of Christ, our High Priest. In church history this book has been attributed to the Apostle Paul by Clement of Alexandria and Origen, however the book contains stylistic differences in writing. In addition to this the book has Levitical symbolism, about which elsewhere Paul says nothing. Tertullian proposed Barnabas, a Levite of the Jewish Dispersion who was noted for encouraging others (Acts 4:36). Martin Luther proposed Apollos, an eloquent man and Jewish Christian from Alexandria who had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures (Acts 18:24). Others have suggested that this is a Pauline sermon written by Luke. In any case, it’s difficult to rule in favor or against any of these claims and the bottom line is that God through His Holy Spirit inspired this book.

 

Audience:

The text seems to indicate that this audience consists of Jewish people who have professed Christ as Lord. Because of their knowledge of the Old Testament and their profession of Christ, this group of believers is urged to become teachers of the gospel. This audience heard the gospel not from Christ Himself, but from the apostles (2:3). They are reminded to consider the perseverance and faithfulness of Christ (3:1-2). They were reminded that Christ was superior to Moses (3:3), which strengthens the argument that these were Jewish recipients. They were reminded that those who persevere to the end are God’s elect (3:14) and to guard against the deceitfulness of sin (3:13). They have experienced persecution (10:32-36) and were facing current persecution by being excommunicated from Jewish Institutions (13:12-14).

 

Purpose of Letter:

The Hebraic author wrote what has been described as a “word of exhortation” (3:13; 6:18; 10:25; 12:5). The writer encourages perseverance by reminding his readers of the supremacy of Christ as their high priest. Christ is interceding on behalf of His Church to God the Father (John 17). This should bring the readers of this letter and believers today much comfort.

 

The Gospel in Hebrews:

Jesus is central to the book of Hebrews. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Everything in the OT was an earthly picture finding its ultimate fulfillment in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. He is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (1:3). Jesus has all authority (1:3c; 2:8). Jesus is superior to the angels (1:4). Jesus was testified about by the apostles and authenticated by wonders and miracles (2: 3-4). He is eternal and creator who “brings many sons to glory…” (2:10). He is the sanctifier of man (2:11). Jesus is greater than Moses (3:1-7). He is our rest (4:1-13). He is our great High Priest (4:14-10). He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (6:13-20). He is greater than Melchizedek (7). Christ ushers in a better covenant (8) Christ provides redemption through His blood (9:11-28). Christ’s sacrifice is permanent (10:1-18). God through Christ is the guarantee of our salvation (10:19-39). Jesus is the God of those who have gone before us (11) and Jesus is the founder and perfector of our faith (12).

 

Order of Service

In Tenderness (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Welcome and Announcements
Selective Reading: Hebrews 7:23-25
Before the Throne of God Above (Hebrews 5:1-10)
All I Have is Christ (Philippians 3:8)
The Saint's Creed (Romans 6)
Sermon: Greater Than The Angels (Hebrews 1:1-4)
Offertory: The Saint's Creed

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