4 God testified to this by signs and wonders, and by various works of power and the distribution of gifts by the Holy Spirit, according to His will.
1 Therefore, it is necessary for us to pay particular attention to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.
2 For if the things that the angels spoke about have become firmly established, and every punishment and disobedience has received its just punishment,
3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? From the beginning this was received from the Lord, and it was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.
4 God testified to this by signs and wonders, and by various works of power and
the distribution of gifts by the Holy Spirit, according to His will
Last week we look at:
1 The Dangers of not paying attention
2 The causes of not paying attention.
- Day dreaming
- Challenging situations to solve.
- Pleasure seeking.
Tonight we move on to verse 2, where once again we see that angels are mentioned:
2 For if the things that the angels spoke about have become firm, and every punishment and disobedience has received its just punishment.
For if a word spoken by Angels was established and everyone who heard it and violated it received a reward by justice – Aramaic Bible in Plain English (ABIPE)
Let us start at with the first word in this verse.
It is the word ‘if’.
It is a very little word, but it has great significance.
Some of your versions use the word ‘since’ instead of ‘if’
However, apparently, grammatically the Greek word should always be translated as ‘if’
Therefore, we need to ask why is ‘if’ different from ‘since’.
There are various ways in which we use the word ‘since’, and they are different from using ‘if’.
We use the word ‘since’ in a factual way:
‘Cooking has become easier for me since I’ve had a new cooker’.
‘My life has changed since I received Jesus as my Lord and Saviour’.
‘Jesus healed a man at the pool and he has not been seen there since’.
However, ‘if’ is a little word that has conditions attached to it.
These are conditions that are taken to be true for the sake of argument.
‘We will receive forgiveness if we confess and repent of our sins’.
The condition is that we must confess and repent.
What is taken to be true is that forgiveness is available.
‘If we love Jesus we will do what He says’.
The condition is that we must love Him, and what is taken as true is that Jesus speaks to us.
‘If we believe in Jesus we have already passed from death to life’.
The condition is our need to believe in Him, and what is taken as true is that we either face life or death.
The choice is ours.
As we see verse 2 begins with the word ‘if’, and it is ‘if’ (ei)) in the Greek.
It introduces a conditional contrast, which we only see if we read verse 2 and the first part of verse 3.
2 For if the things that the angels spoke about have become firm, and every punishment and disobedience has received its just punishment,
3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
(ABIPE): How shall we escape if we despise those things which are our life,
The writer is leading us to see that IF there were things that the angels spoke and delivered that received just punishment, then there is no escape for those who ignore what Jesus has delivered, because Jesus is far superior to the angels.
1 What did angels speak about:
The first thing that we need to ask is wha are the things that angels spoke about?
There are many answers to this, since there are many occasions when God sent His angels to deliver His word to men and women
So let us look at a few of these occasions.
Perhaps the first thing we need to note is that quite often the angel of the Lord is also regarded as the Lord, Himself.
The first time that we come across an angel in the Bible is in Genesis 16.7-13:
7 The angel of the Lord met Hagar at a spring in the desert on the road to Shur
8 and said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?”
She answered, “I am running away from my mistress.”
9 He said, “Go back to her and be her slave.”
10 Then he said, “I will give you so many descendants that no one will be able to count them.
11 You are going to have a son, and you will name him Ishmael,] because the Lord has heard your cry of distress.
12 But your son will live like a wild donkey; he will be against everyone, and everyone will be against him. He will live apart from all his relatives.”
13 Hagar asked herself, “Have I really seen God and lived to tell about it?” So she called the Lord, who had spoken to her, “A God Who Sees.” – GN
It is a very sad occasion for Hagar, because she had been thrown out of the home of Abram and Sarai.
This was because of Sarai’s jealousy.
Sarai had persuaded Abram to sleep with Hagar (Sarai’s hand-maiden) in order to produce a son and heir.
When Hagar conceived and produced Abram’s son, Ishmael, Sarai became jealous and had Abram throw her out.
This illustrates something that we were looking at last week.
Abram and Sarai took their eye of what God had said and so they drifted away from God’s word and purpose for them.
That drifting away had massive consequences, which are still with us today.
The great thing is that God works with us and in us in spite of our mistakes.
In their case He sent His angel to bring comfort and re-assurance to Hagar.
The great thing is that God works through our mistakes, and so He sent His angel to meet with Hagar.
The angle of the Lord, brings comfort and re-assurance.
- Judgement on Israel
There was an occasion when the angel of the Lord brought words of conviction and judgement:
The angel of the Lord went from Gilgal to Bochim and said to the Israelites, “I took you out of Egypt and brought you to the land that I promised to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you.
2 You must not make any covenant with the people who live in this land. You must tear down their altars.’ But you have not done what I told you. You have done just the opposite!
3 So I tell you now that I will not drive these people out as you advance. They will be your enemies,[ and you will be trapped by the worship of their gods.”
4 When the angel had said this, all the people of Israel began to cry,
5 and that is why the place is called Bochim. There they offered sacrifices to the Lord – GN
The angel of the Lord tells the Israelites that it is no light matter to ignore what God has said.
It was and still is a matter of grave concern to be disobedient to the word of God.
These verses illustrate what the writer to the Hebrews said that words spoken by angels, if violated would receive their just reward.
Judgement may be unpopular, but there is a judgement to come for all who refuse to believe in Jesus.
Whoever believes in him is not judged, and whoever does not believe is judged already, because he does not believe in The Name of The Only Begotten Son of God. – ABIPE
We shall look at this in more detail on another occasion.
- Zechariah 1.7-17
The prophet Zechariah also had experience of an angel speaking to him:
7 In the second year that Darius was emperor, on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month (the month of Shebat), the Lord gave me a message in a vision at night.
8 I saw someone riding a red horse. He had stopped among some myrtle trees in a valley, and behind him were other horses—red, dappled, and white.
9 I asked him, “Sir, what do these horses mean?”
He answered, “I will show you what they mean.
10 The Lord sent them to go and inspect the earth.”
11 They reported to the angel: “We have been all over the world and have found that the whole world lies helpless and subdued.”
12 Then the angel said, “Almighty Lord, you have been angry with Jerusalem and the cities of Judah for seventy years now. How much longer will it be before you show them mercy?”
13 The Lord answered the angel with comforting words,
14 and the angel told me to proclaim what the Lord Almighty had said: “I have a deep love and concern for Jerusalem, my holy city,
15 and I am very angry with the nations that enjoy quiet and peace. For while I was holding back my anger against my people, those nations made the sufferings of my people worse.
16 So I have come back to Jerusalem to show mercy to the city. My Temple will be restored, and the city will be rebuilt.”
17 The angel also told me to proclaim: “The Lord Almighty says that his cities will be prosperous again and that he will once again help Jerusalem and claim the city as his own.”
The angel of the Lord brings the announcement that the exile of God’s people is about to come to an end.
They had been in exile for 70 years.
The angel announced to Zechariah that God was brining this exile to an end and the nation was to be restored, and His temple also.
The angel announce to Zechariah that God was bringing this exile to an end and the nation was to be restored, and His temple also.
- The Apostles.
An angel appeared to apostles whilst they were in prison:
17And The High Priest and all who were with him, who were of the doctrine of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
18And they laid hands on the Apostles and seized and bound them in prison.
19Then in the night The Angel of THE LORD JEHOVAH opened the door of the prison and brought them out, and he said to them:
20“Go stand in The Temple and speak to the people all these words of life.”
21And they went out at dawn and entered The Temple and they were teaching; but The High Priest, and those with him, called their associates and the Elders of Israel and they sent to the prison to bring the Apostles.
22And when those who were sent went from them, they did not find them in prison and they returned and came,
23And they were saying, “We found the prison locked securely by the guards who were standing at the door, and we opened it and we found no one there.”
Here the angel of the Lord brings about the release of the apostles, and gives them the command to go to the temple and preach ‘these words of life’.
From all these incidents we know that throughout the centuries the angels of God have been sent by God to convey His message to His people.
We also know that there are many other incidents that we have not looked at.
God does communicate with us and sometimes He uses His angels to do so.
Now we must look at the second verse of this chapter and ask what incident to which was the writer referring.
Let us remind ourselves of this verse again:
For if a word spoken by Angels was established and everyone who heard it and violated it received a reward by justice.
What is the word that the angels spoke, and that was established?
We have a clue to this later in the book of Hebrews, and it is in chapter 10.28-29
28 For if any violated the law of Moses, he would die without mercy by the mouth of two or three witnesses.
29 How much more do you think he will receive capital punishment, he who has trampled upon The Son of God and esteemed the blood of his covenant to be like that of every person, who also was made holy by it, and he has despised The Spirit of grace? ABIBE.
The Good News version is:
28 Anyone who disobeys the Law of Moses is put to death without any mercy when judged guilty from the evidence of two or more witnesses.
29 What, then, of those who despise the Son of God? Who treat as a cheap thing the blood of God’s covenant which purified them from sin? who insult the Spirit of grace? Just think how much worse is the punishment they will deserve!
Looking at these two verses we can see that they are quite similar to chapter 2 verse 2.
Therefore, we can conclude that the writer is referring to the Law that was delivered to Moses.
It is the Ten Commandments and everything else of God’s Law that He delivered to Moses.
Now you are all probably thinking that in the Old Testament we read that it is God who gave to Moses the Ten Commandments and the Law.
And you are right, that is what we read in the Old Testament.
However, in the days of the New Testament it was generally held that it was God’s angels who delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses.
There is evidence for this in the New Testament.
Look at Acts 7.53:
You have received The Law by the visitation of Angels and have not kept it – ABIPE.
The occasion was when Stephen was preaching the gospel in Jerusalem, which ended with him being stoned to death.
He was the first Christian martyr, and Paul was there looking after the coats of those who were stoning him, and giving his approval.
The main point is that Stephen, along with the Jews, also accepted that angels brought the Law to Moses.
Paul also accepted that the Law was given to Moses through angels.
In Galatians 3.19 we read:
Why therefore is there The Written Law? It was added because of apostasy until The Seed would come to whom The Promise belonged, and The Written Law was given by Angels in the hand of a mediator – ABIPE.
- The basis of this believe
The basis for believing that Angels delivered the Law to Moses comes from the Greek translation of Deuteronomy 33.2:
The Lord came from Mount Sinai; he rose like the sun over Edom and shone on his people from Mount Paran. Ten thousand angels were with him, a flaming fire at his right hand – GN
Different translation use: holy ones or saints.
The Greek uses the word aggeloi, which is angels.
Since the Old Testament Greek version was well known, it is from this that the belief that angels brought the Law to Moses on the mountain top.