The destiny of mankind — Hebrews 2:5-10
The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and some of the comments of the class.
- Comforting the afflicted
In these verses, the author shows how Christ, through His superiority, gives massive significance to God’s ultimate desire for believers. What do you believe God’s ultimate desire is for you?
The class came up with various responses very quickly; still, some of the later responses included God’s will that we:
- Transform to become like Christ
- Bear witness to the good news that Christ died for us
- Praise God
- Rule with Him as believers
- God’s desire for mankind
- God’s desire to rule with His believers
It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. (Hebrews 2:5 NIV)
Angels are not going to rule the world to come. God’s intention and desire is to have this kingdom ruled by redeemed men and women. How does this verse impact you?
- God’s original intention for humanity
But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.” (Hebrews 2:6-8a NIV)
The author establishes the ultimate intention of God with the original intention of God for humanity by quoting Psalm 8:3-6.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: (Psalms 8:3-6 NIV)
This was originally spelled out in Genesis 1:26-28.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26-28 NIV)
Think about man’s position — “made a little lower than angels”. We are limited in ways in which angels are not and we have less power. But, we are not lower in spirituality or importance.
Think of man’s honor — “you have crowned him with glory and honor” — Adam and Eve were the king and queen of the original creation and God set them in a glorious paradise and walked with them.
Consider man’s authority — “putting everything under his feet” — we were given rule over the whole world.
God original purpose was stupendous, to say the least. If this original intention had been carried out, we would be living with our primal parents in the same astounding position and honor and authority.
Can you imagine?
- God’s desire to rule with His believers
- Man’s destiny stalled
- A perfect life averted
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. (Hebrews 2:8b NIV)
As encouraging as God’s intention for mankind, obviously, something has gone wrong. The writer intentionally gives it a dramatic expression by using the double negative – there is nothing in this world that is not under man’s control. He wants us to take exception and say, “wait a minute – that’s not true.”
- A believer’s response to this perfect life lost
Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. (Hebrews 2:8c NIV)
The author verbalizes our response for us. Adam sinned and as a consequence, his God-given dominion was subverted. His rule over the creation is a disaster; his rule over the animal world is superficial — he achieves it by intimidation; he cannot rule over himself, let alone others. We are not what we were meant to be.
- A perfect life averted
- Man’s destiny recovered by Christ
- Redemption in Christ
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9 NIV)
God’s original intention and ultimate intention is achieved in Christ, the second Adam. Jesus Christ became man that He might suffer and die for man’s sin and restore the dominion that was lost because of sin. Psalm 8 was also a messianic psalm that had its ultimate fulfillment in Christ.
When Jesus came into this world, this passage was fulfilled in His incarnation. Man is made a little lower than angels and for Jesus, this was the depth of his humiliation. Significantly, this is the first use of the name “Jesus” in the book of Hebrews. This emphasizes His humanity and His work of salvation. The only way the kingdom will be restored and man will be given the crown again is a payment for sin, which is death. The only way man can ever be a king again is to have the curse removed. The only way the curse can be removed is for the penalty to be paid. If we are to be restored to reign as a king, we must die and be resurrected as a new creation.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:5-11 NIV)
To accomplish this great work on our behalf, Jesus had to become a man. If a man dies for his own sin, he is doomed forever to hell. Christ came to die for us because His dying conquered death.
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10 NIV)
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4 NIV)
When asked for the defense they would offer in response to the challenge “do you believe that Christ’s death really saves you from your sin,” class members offered these responses:
- Christ was resurrected and that resurrection was noted in numerous extra-Biblical sources
- Christ is a central figure in history that cannot be denied (extra-Biblical sources citing Christ outnumber those citing Aristotle)
- If you study Christ, you will discover love beyond your comprehension
- Redemption in Christ
“But we see Jesus” is reminiscent of Revelation 5:1-14.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:1-14 NIV)
This is man’s one hope.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 NIV)
Jesus became a man to recapture our destiny. Life apart from Jesus is death. When we are in Jesus, our destiny is fulfilled!
“(N)ow crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death…”
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (Philippians 2:8-10 NIV)
We see that in Christ, man’s glorious potential was realized – everything was put under His feet. The way this happened is revealed – “so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” – Jesus’ death procured for us our reign.
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5:17 NIV)
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV)
Christ on the cross is the measure of our worth. Christ on the throne is a prophesy of our significance and dominion. Jesus is our promise – He is God’s ultimate intention and destiny for us.
- A God-worthy salvation — Hebrews 2:10
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. (Hebrews 2:10 NIV)
The opponents of this community of believers were aggressively asserting the absurdity of a suffering Savior. Have you ever faced such cynicism or criticism? The author turns the tables on the critics with an eloquent assertion that the cross is the most fitting and most God- worthy way of salvation.
This verse emphasizes that the way of salvation is not arbitrary but befits the character of God “for whom and through whom everything exists.” God is the author of all that exists and correspondingly, Jesus is the pioneer/captain or author of salvation. As the work of creation is totally of God, so also is the work of salvation.
Creation came into existence by the spoken word of God. However, speech was not enough for salvation as it took the Word, His Son incarnate who was humiliated, suffered, died, rose again, ascended and sits at the right hand of God to effectuate salvation. Our salvation is the greatest display of His power and character. Do you want to see the character and power of God? Look at the cosmos. Do you want to see even more the character and power? Then, look to Christ Who is the pioneer/captain of our salvation made perfect through suffering. How could Jesus, who has always existed in perfection, be made perfect? The idea is that He is the perfect pioneer of salvation. His perfection or completeness came through His incarnation, temptation, atonement and His identification with us.
“(I)n bringing many sons to glory” – Jesus, as the Pioneer/Captain or Author of salvation, brings/leads many to eternal life in heaven. This is a picture of the Conquering/Victorious Son preceding the saved saints on the road to heaven There are many, not a few.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9 NIV)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV)
The following comes from page 65 of The Practice of Piety: Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God, written by Lewis Bayly in 1680.
Soul Lord, wherefore didst thou wash thy disciples’ feet? Christ To teach thee how thou shouldst prepare thyself to come to my supper. Soul Lord, why shouldst thou wash them thyself? (John 8:4) Christ To teach thee humility, if thou wilt be my disciple. Soul Lord, wherefore didst thou before thy death institute thy last supper? (Luke 22:19&20) Christ That thou mightst the better remember my death, and be assured that all the merits thereof are thine. Soul Lord, wherefore wouldst thou go to such a place where Judas knew to find thee? (John 18:2) Christ That thou mightst know that I went as willingly to suffer for thy sin, as ever thou wentest to any place to commit a sin. Soul Lord, wherefore wouldst thou begin thy passion in a garden? (John 18:1) Christ Because that in a garden thy sin took first beginning. (Gen. 3:3) Soul Lord, wherefore did thy three select disciples fall so fast asleep, when thou didst begin to fall into thy agony? (Matt. 26:40.) Christ To shew that I alone wrought the work of thy redemption. (Isa. 63:5) Soul Lord, why were there so many plots and snares laid for thee? (Matt. 26:4) Christ That I might make thee to escape all snares of thy ghostly hunter (Psalm 134:7) Soul Lord, why shouldst thou suffer Judas, betraying thee, to kiss thee? (Matt. 26:49.) Christ That by enduring the words of dissembling lips, I might there begin to expiate sin, where Satan first brought it into the world (Gen. 3:4&5) Soul Lord, why wouldst thou be sold for thirty-pieces of silver? (Matt. 27:3) Christ That I might free thee from perpetual bondage. Soul Lord, why didst thou pray with such strong crying and tears? (Matt. 26:39; Heb 5:7). Christ That I might quench the fury of God’s justice, which was so fiercely kindled against thee. Soul Lord, why wast thou so afraid, and cast into such an agony? (Mark 14:33) Christ That suffering the wrath due to thy sins, thou mightst be more secure in thy death, and find more comfort in thy crosses.
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