Grace For The Journey
Continuing to write about our great salvation, the writer turns now to the future of that great salvation. It is a time he refers to in verse 5 as, “the world to come.” And the question is: “Who is it who rules over the world to come?” Is it angels? Is it something else? Someone else? Is anyone ruling?”
The answer to those questions gives encouragement to Christians to stay faithful to Christ, to not neglect our great salvation, but to “give the more earnest heed to it;” to paying close attention to the things we have heard; to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus; to be captivated by Christ.
A poem came to mind as I studied this passage. It is called “He Maketh No Mistake.” It is a poem about trusting in the loving, sovereign, and providence work of God who is in control of everything and always does what is right. It was written by a pastor who lost his wife and fourth child as she was giving birth. Both mother and child died and this man, a pastor who trusted in God’s goodness, wrote the poem and the verse that came to mind was where he said:
There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight’s far too dim,
But come what may,
I’ll simply trust and leave it all to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift,
And plain it all He’ll make,
Through all the way, tho’ dark to me,
He made not one mistake. (A.M. Overton)
That poem is not the wishful thinking or empty musings of a simple man. It reflects, rather, the truth of the Gospel as embraced by a grieving Christian who knew his Bible.
It reflects the truth that while we may now live
In a world that often does not make sense,
God is there, and He is working out a
Plan with precision and order.
We trust Him, knowing He makes not one mistake,
As we follow Him into the future,
As we await the “not yet” of our
Great salvation to come, the day
When “plain it all He’ll make.”
In some sense that is what the writer of Hebrews is encouraging in this passage. Remember he is saying, “Don’t neglect this great salvation!” You will neglect it if you stop listening to the Lord, stop reading and listening to His Word and you will drift away, drift away from Jesus, and drift into spiritual danger. That is something of a negative motivation, “Don’t drift, or else!”
The writer now gives some positive motivation as to why we won’t want to drift, won’t want to neglect our great salvation. It is a bit harder to see at the first but, in essence, he will say in verses 5-9 that while things seem to look awry at the present . . .
There is actually a plan God is unfolding
By which He is working through
All of the fallenness of this world
In order to bring us to a
Beautiful final state of salvation.
It is as though He says, “You are living in the now, but I want you to look forward to the not yet, the world to come, the ultimate and final installment of your great salvation!” He begins by reminding them of the greatness of their salvation. He begins with a . . .
I. Reminder of our Salvation – Verse 5.
Verse 5 continues the argument of the supremacy of the Son over all the angels. Remember: Jesus Christ, Son of God, better than the prophets, better than the angels. Verse 5 declares, “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.” He is exhorting them to not neglect their great salvation, do not drift, because God has not put the world to come in subjection to mere angels. That is, the future world to come when you are in that final state of glorification, that wondrous world to come is a world that will be free from all sin. It is the “not yet” of our Christian experience.
The writer is saying here in verse 5, “For God has not put the world to come, of which we speak, that blessed wonderful world of perfection in the final stage of our great salvation; God has not put the world to come, in subjection to angels.” It is not angels who are ruling and reigning over all creation. Not mere angels. Then, what the writer does next, is to pull from the Old Testament one of the Psalms. And it is Psalm 8. Now he doesn’t say that it is Psalm 8, but we know that it is because of what he says.
Incidentally, I find it a bit amusing that the writer does not mention the psalm or the psalmist by name or reference. He simply writes in verse 6, “But one testified in a certain place.” I smile when I read that because I wonder if the reason the writer speaks so vaguely and generally is because he does not recall exactly where in the Bible the phrase occurs. The older I get, the harder it seems to be to call up the exact references. Our memories become increasingly fleeting as we age.
Maybe you heard about the two elderly ladies who had been friends for many decades. Over the years they had shared all kinds of activities and adventures. Lately, their activities had been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards. One day they were playing cards when one looked at the other and said, “Now don’t get mad at me.” She said, “I know we’ve been friends for a long time, but I just can’t think of your name!” She added, “I’ve thought and thought, but I can’t remember it. Please tell me what your name is.” Her friend glared at her for what seemed an eternity. Finally she said, “How soon do you need to know?”
We do not know for certain why the writer speaks this way, but I ca not help but wonder if it’s not for that same reason. I have done it. Ca not remember a specific reference and I will just say, “The Bible says,” or, “Paul writes somewhere.”
So . . . the writer here reviews the Scripture for us and that is the second point . . .
II. Review of the Scripture – Verses 6-8.
Again, he is quoting from Psalm 8. Verse 6 says, “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?” Let’s stop right here. Since the writer is using Psalm 8 to make an argument, it is essential that we understand what Psalm 8 is teaching as originally given in the Old Testament. What we have noted previously in our study of Hebrews is that the writer often appeals to Old Testament Scriptures, revealing to us how many of the Old Testament writings or prophecies find a dual-fulfillment in the future. That is, much of the Old Testament can be seen as finding fulfillment in both human persons as well as in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. That is the case here in the writer’s inspired use of Psalm 8.
In the original context of the Psalms, were we to turn back and read Psalm 8, we would hear the psalmist speak to the heart of man. Psalm 8 contrasts the glory of God and the heavens with the glory of man. This is David’s psalm that begins, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth; who has set Your glory above the heavens!” And the psalmist goes on to say, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You should visit him, or pay attention to, or care for him?!” The psalmist is contrasting the glories of the exalted God and His heavens with the lowly nature of mankind. David shook his head wonder that the Lord – the One True and Living God – would even bother with man!
We look then at verse 6 in Hebrews 2 and this is what we read, a quoting from the psalmist, verses 6 and 7, “What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? 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.”
The writer of Hebrews is simply quoting from Psalm 8 verses that would have been familiar to his Jewish Christian audience. The Hebrews were raised hearing the psalms, reading the psalms, and knowing the psalms. He refers in verse 7 to God’s creation of man as the pinnacle of His creative work, “You have made him a little lower than the angels.” That is, in terms of glory and dignity, this is an exalted position, higher in dignity than any other created thing, any animal, o any anything, “crowned with glory and honor,” in an esteemed place just “a little lower than the angels.”
So much for the Darwinian evolutionary theory that posits the development of man, the evolutionary hypothesis – not fact; hypothesis – suggesting that man evolves from one stage to the next. The Bible says that God “made him a little lower than the angels” . . .
A way of referring to God’s special creation
Of mankind not as a lower life form
That evolved, but rather at the highest life form
In dignity, just under the glory of the angels.
And then, first part of verse 8 states, “You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” The psalmist back in Psalm 8 to describe how mankind – beginning, of course, with Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 – was to have dominion over all things, over sheep and oxen and the beasts of the field, and so on. This is how it was to be in the beginning. In the very first book of the Bible, the very first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1:26 states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
Think of that – All things were to be “put in subjection under his feet,” all things in the created realm submissive to the higher power of man, controlled, dominated, and subjected to a lowly place under the feet of man. Man rules in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 – but then, something happened in Genesis 3. Genesis 3 changed everything.
Here is the problem acknowledged by the writer of Hebrews – We see it in verse 8 where the writer stops with that phrase, “You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” The writer stops quoting Psalm 8 and acknowledges that something has gone awry. He carefully explains the difficulty in the second part of verse 8, “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.” Do you notice that change? “You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” . . . “But now we do not yet see all things put under him.”
We know that is true. Here is man, the pinnacle of God’s creative handiwork, the crown of His creation. God created him such as to put all in subjection to him. Everything. All things would bow before man, all things under his control, all things under man’s foot, as it were. But that’s not the way it is now, is it? No. At times it seems the very opposite is true. The earth of creation shakes man, the winds of tornados blow upon man, the water of hurricanes rise and fall upon man with wave after wave of rage and fury. Animal chases animal to death, lions devour lambs, and vipers bite the hands of children. “We do not yet see all things put under him.” Buildings fall, towers crumble, houses burn down. They do not seem to be in subjection to man.
Human sickness prevails. Deadly flu viruses spread. Cancer strikes. Bodily injuries occur. “We do not yet see all things put under him.” If man is destined to rule all creation under God then there is a huge problem: we don’t see that happening! “We do not yet see all things put under him.” We do not see man ruling. In fact, we may not want to admit it, but there may be times we question whether anyone is ruling. It causes us to ask, “God, are you there? Why is this happening? Why did You permit this?”
What are we to do? Embrace nihilism or fatalism? Abandon all hope of a better future, a better “not yet” because of the unanswered questions of the “now?” Embrace the philosophy of the Epicureans – eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die? We often smile at some of the ironic half-truths of pop culture, such as the meme a mother posted recently on our family group Facebook page. It read: “If you eat well, get good sleep, exercise, and drink plenty of water, you will die anyway.” It is meant in jest, of course, but it does reflect the mindset of a culture that focuses merely on the “now.” What is the point if we die in the end? “We do not see all things put under man” – especially death. Disease, disasters, and death have their foot over us. “But now we do not yet see all things put under him.”
But notice verse 9! It declares, “But we see Jesus (there it is! The first time the eternal Son of God is called by name in this letter; 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.” This is what is called “the big reveal.” It is that moment in a narrative, a book, or a movie when the plot reaches the apex of tension and then – the reveal – the surprise that makes the book worth reading or the movie worth watching. In our case . . . it makes our lives worth living.
III. Reveal of the Son – Verse 9.
We do not yet see all
Things put under man,
But we see Jesus!
Here now is this
Dual fulfillment of Psalm 8.
The writer says we see Jesus, “who was made a little lower than the angels.” That is, lower in terms of humiliation. Unlike angels, Jesus took on flesh in the incarnation. He left His exalted position in heaven with all the angels and, in humiliation, came down here and became one of us and suffered pain, affliction, and death.
Then Jesus was “crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” The Son of God takes on human nature so that, as man, He is the first Man, the Pioneer, the Forerunner, who blazes a trail that leads all future believing men to their future destiny of exaltation over creation!
Jesus Christ tastes death for man,
Suffering death, reversing the effects of the fall,
So that man may regain that glorious status over creation,
The rightful seat of dominion, reigning with Christ on high!
He is the one to whom God said in chapter 1, verse 13 – God said this not to angels but to Christ – “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” He reigns now. All things are subjected to Him. And we will reign with Him. We will note this further when we study verse 10 that speaks of Christ’s “bringing many sons to glory,” that is the glory mentioned in Psalm 8, the glory of our final great salvation, when we rule and reign with Christ over creation.
The world to come, the world of our future and final salvation – that glorious state – that time when Christ returns and consummates the kingdom – then we will have eternal joy and life and all things are subject to Him – and to us “in Him.” We will share His rule over creation!
It is true . . . “Now we do not yet see all things put under” man. Man’s future glorious destiny ruling and reigning with Christ is the “not yet” of our salvation. Hang in there! Do not drift! Rest knowing that Jesus Christ has blazed a trail for you. If you are “in Christ” then you too will follow Him to glory. It is what we been singing about often:
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!
The glorious kingdom of God has begun with the coming of Christ, His life, and work on our behalf. He reigns at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
The kingdom has been inaugurated
And one day it will be consummated.
So . . . how should this truth affect our outlook? It should lead us to . . .
Do Not Focus on the Now
Do Focus on the Not Yet
Don’t focus on the now because we live in the now and we turn to Christ to get through the now. And secondly . . .
Be Captivated by Christ
In the Now as
You Wait for the Not Yet
That is how we live our lives this week. We turn our eyes upon Jesus in the now as you wait for the not yet! Look to Jesus no matter what you face because Jesus Christ reigns and you are destined for a greater salvation than you enjoy even now.
If you are a Christian, only one of two things will be true of you this morning: 1) You are either moving closer to Jesus or. 2) You are drifting away from Him. There is no neutral position. Look unto Him . . . Commit to Him . . . Repent from your sin and turn to Him . . . Listen to His Word . . Be captivated by Christ!
If you are not a Christian there is only one thing that is true for you: You are separated from Jesus and drifting further away from Him with each passing day. Turn back while there is time. Open your heart, repent of your sin, receive Him, and listen to Him! Hebrews 3:15 says, “Today if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart.” Turn to Him and be saved.
Whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, in either case, the answer is the same:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
And be captivated by Christ.
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”