Week of July 7

Our Big God Cares about the Small Things

Read: Hosea 2-5; Hebrews 2
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
Hebrews 2:1, ESV


Endurance runners are elite athletes who train themselves to overcome severe obstacles and fatigue to reach their goals as the end of races. One of the hindrances is when their minds tell them to quit once the pain in their bodies reaches their brains! Come to think of it, suffering as we follow Christ will occur at times throughout our Christian race (cf. 2 Timothy 4:7b and Paul’s use of “race” as a metaphor for the Christian life). We will read in Hebrews 10:32-36 of some of the sufferings these Jewish Christians faced. Mild suffering led some to spiritual swooning!
Thank the Lord for Hebrews 2 because it is packed full of wonder. Here the author shows us how God brought salvation to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and how His superiority over all things and beings extends to our daily lives—even in the small things like suffering for our faith (cf. Matthew 10:22). There is more truth packed into chapter 2 than we will be able to digest today, but let’s make a beginning.

The Meaning of the Text

The context helps us interpret our key text
Hebrews chapter 2 begins with a connector (“therefore”) and leads us to ask how far back the thought reaches into chapter 1. We have two immediate possibilities before us. First, the writer may be referring to chapter 1, verse 14, and intend for us to see that God gives us salvation as a permanent possession, so we must pay close attention to what others say about it (NAC). On the other hand, the author may want us to view all of chapter 1 and understand that we should listen carefully to Christ, especially since He is far superior to even the angels. To “pay closer attention” means not simply to “turn one’s mind to something,” but also to act upon what one perceives (cf. Acts 8:6; 16:14; EBC). Active faith provides us with assurance of what we possess by our belief. The active faith he calls for is the one we have placed in Jesus Christ.
Christ is Lord over all
We are taught in Hebrews that Jesus Christ is our great High Priest who offered the perfect sacrifice for our sins and who has superiority over every aspect of Old Testament religion (HCBC). Here is the truth our writer wants us to believe: Jesus was truly human (2:18), experienced temptation (4:15), suffered death (3:2; 13:12), and His sufferings taught Him obedience (5:8; HCBC). We see in this book the entire view of humanity and deity of Christ and we are shown that His work on the cross erased the debt of our sins and finalized salvation (10:1-4, 11, 12-14).
Chapter two brings the angels into view. This inclusion is a curious addition for many of us, whose sole experience with celestial beings has been in movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life!” Even though we are not Jews or Jewish believers, we need to understand the argument our writer makes. Our writer wants us to focus on a specific point. He has claimed, and I believe it to be entirely true, that God has spoken in the past through prophets, but His revelation through Christ was superior to the revelation given through the prophets (1:1-3). He follows to show us that Jesus is superior to the angels (1:4-2:18). We are being called to recognize His supremacy and that He is a spiritual trailblazer for us. It does not get any better than Jesus. We have believed in the right One for our salvation. Amen! There is one thing more for us to consider today.
Christ is sufficient for our every need
The author seeks to prevent his Jewish readers from “abandoning Christ” and going back into Judaism because they were suffering for being His followers (see again 10:26-29). Here is where the passage meets us in our daily lives. We ask, “Why does God not end the world’s suffering and, more specifically, put an end to mine?!” Some of us may have even found ourselves hiding the fact that we are believers in order not to endure mocking by our peers, being bypassed for job promotions, and encountering hateful and hurtful rejection by our families. He will get to the importance of community later (cf. Hebrews 11-12), but here we are challenged to “pay more careful attention” to what we have heard, meaning the gospel. Prevention falls partly to us! We are not to let the truths we believe to “slip away” from our daily experience. Overcoming our sufferings for Christ begins when we “turn our minds to” and “act upon” the truths that we have received into our lives (EBC). Spiritual inaction easily leads to a disconnection from the life support that Christ’s Spirit and His word provide. So, we are to hang on to our commitment to Christ.

The Message for Your Heart

The world-class athletes that I write about in the introduction know the importance of the right type of hydration when they are running long races. Have you ever seen an athlete’s legs cramp up and make it impossible for them to finish a race? We have been taught today to “hydrate” our spiritual lives with the correct truth about Christ and His indwelling Spirit
Christ’s Spirit has provided us with gifts/fruits that enable us to persevere under hardship (cf. Matthew 5:5; Galatians 5:22-23). The righteous person has been trained to respond to God’s voice regardless of the circumstances—even when bent over by injustice, poor, and powerless. We find peace in the storm! We are able to recognize that God has not forsaken us in our grief and to find purpose in the sufferings that we encounter. C.S. Lewis once said, “What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.”

For Thought and Action

1. Write down the challenges to steadfast faith in Christ that you are facing. They may be as subtle as choosing poor friendships or keeping silent when His name is mocked. Refocus your commitment to Him in all things.
2. No one asks us to seek suffering, but we should not discount its value when it does come. God knows our every heartbeat and heartbreak. If you have become discouraged and wondered (even a tiny bit) whether He is there, then re-read Hebrews 2 and thank God for His abiding presence in Christ.
3. For Families: The writer of our passage today is concerned about connections: our commitment to God and His truth lived out in our everyday moments. Our kids can find a great example of this concept of connections as they play in the sprinkler or help you water the garden.

Invite their help to do one of these chores. Let them water or frolic in the spray a few minutes, and then go to the water faucet and turn the water off and unscrew the hose. When the water stops flowing, there may be some consternation! Share with them that this is an example of how God sees us when we drift away from Him or do not listen to Him anymore. We cannot know His power and presence when we do not stay connected. We must pay attention to God every day, every minute!

Then twist back the hose and turn on the water again and let them see how wonderful it is when we are connected to God. His love flows into our hearts and outward to help other people, particularly those who are hurting.

Make your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock