Daily Devotion for Wednesday 3rd July 2024

Wednesday 3rd July 2024
 
Hebrews 2:1-4
 
Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.
 
Reflection

Jesus is greater than any angel. So says the first chapter of Hebrews (1:4-14). Now this point informs the second chapter, in several ways; here is one.

A Jewish tradition told of Israel’s ancient law being handed down by angels. There is a hint of this in Deuteronomy: ‘the Lord came from Sinai with myriads of holy ones’ (33:2). The idea surfaces in the New Testament in Stephen’s speech in Acts (7:38, 53), and in Galatians (3:19). And Hebrews uses this thought to say that if the law was important, which indeed it was, how much more important is the word that Jesus spoke. If regulations passed on by angels required serious commitment, how much more seriously should people take the testimony and covenant that God gives in Jesus. His good news is a message to cling onto, not to ‘drift away from’ (v.1).
 
There are a handful of these so-called ‘warning passages’ in the letter. ‘Don’t let go,’ says the writer to his friends. These readers were finding discipleship hard going. Some may even have wondered about dropping their interest in Jesus, and merging back into the wider Jewish community. The author sees that as a serious mistake. These people have trusted Jesus as fulfilment of Israel’s hope. They have the solid ground of his saving work beneath their feet. It would be a backward step to return to their earlier ways.
 
Although we know little about where these readers lived, or exactly when, here is one clear clue. They received the Christian message from people who had heard Jesus (v.3). Since Jesus taught around AD30, Hebrews may come from a few decades later. This letter is one of the earliest, as well as one of the most careful, explorations of the relationship between Old Testament and gospel.
 
For prayer

Does anything tend or threaten to loosen your grip on Jesus?
Selfishness? Desire to conform or to fit in?
Tiredness? Opposition, even from people you love?
 
Turn these over in your mind, in conversation with God.
Recall and name the reasons Jesus matters to you.
 
What helps you to stay Christian?
Thank God for it.
Keep it in focus.

Today’s writer

The Revd John Proctor is a retired minister, and a member of Downing Place URC, Cambridge.

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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