Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.…
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to, etc. The "therefore connects this chapter with the preceding. Because the Son of God is immeasurably greater than the angels, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard," etc. Our text presents to us a view of the superior privileges and the more solemn responsibilities of Christians as compared with those who lived in the earlier dispensation. We shall confine our attention at present to the former portion of the subject, which we may state thus - The privileges of this Christian dispensation are much superior to those of the Mosaic economy.
I. THE EARLIER REVELATION WAS MADE BY ANGELS, THE LATER BY THE LORD. The Law was a "word spoken by angels." The Law came from God, but it was given to Moses by the mediation and ministry of angels. They were present and assisted at the giving of the Law on Sinai. The testimony of Scripture upon this point is conclusive (see Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19). And Josephus says, "Our best maxims and most excellent laws we have learned of God by means of angels." And Philo: "There were present at the giving of the Law, visible sounds, animated and splendid, flames of fire, spirits, trumpets, and Divine men running hither and hither." But the revelation of the gospel was by the Son of God - "having at the first been spoken by the Lord." "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Inasmuch as the Son is higher than the angels, insomuch is the revelation of the gospel higher than that of the Law.
II. THE EARLIER REVELATION WAS CONFIRMED BY SUPERNATURAL AND TERRIBLE SIGNS, THE LATER BY MORE NUMEROUS AND GRACIOUS SUPERNATURAL SIGNS. Very awful and alarming were the extraordinary phenomena at the giving of the Law. "The mount burned with fire," etc. (Hebrews 12:18-21). "And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke," etc. (Exodus 19:18). But the gospel revelation is more abundantly and more convincingly confirmed. "God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders," etc. (ver. 4). The miraculous confirmations of the Christian revelation were:
1. More numerous than those of the revelation of the Law. The Savior's public ministry was marked by an almost unbroken series of miraculous works.
2. More marvelous. To raise the dead to life again with a word is far more wonderful than all the fire and smoke, the thunderings and trumpetings and tremblings of Sinai.
3. More various. The miracles of Sinai seem to have been limited to the phenomena and forces of nature. But those which were wrought by our Lord and his apostles related to nature's forces, to nature's products, to diseases of the body, to diseases of the mind, to evil spirits, to life and death.
4. More beneficent. At the giving of the Law the miracles were amazing and alarming, and fitted to impress and awe an uncultivated people. But the miracles associated with the promulgation of the gospel, while even more amazing, were also gracious and helpful, beneficent and rich in blessing, and fitted, not to terrify, but to attract and exalt and purify. As confirmed by these superior signs, the gospel revelation is higher than that of the Law.
III. THE EARLIER REVELATION WAS IN THE LETTER, THE LITER WAS IN A LIFE. The Sinaitic Law was written; but the revelation made by the Lord was not merely in word, but in tone and accent, in gesture and expression of countenance, in involuntary influence and voluntary action. The greatest revelations are never verbal, but always vital. The deepest emotions cannot be expressed in any words. The highest truth far transcends the utterance of the loftiest eloquence of the tongue or the pen; it can be expressed only as it is lived. Thus "the greatest truth of the gospel is Christ himself - a human body become the organ of the Divine nature, and revealing, under the conditions of an earthly life, the glory of God." And when even his life in the human body could not adequately express the riches of the grace of God, he laid down his life, and perfected his revelation by voluntarily dying, "the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." And now "God commendeth his own love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
IV. THE EARLIER REVELATION WAS OF LAW ONLY, THE LATER IS OF A "GREAT SALVATION." "The word spoken through angels" consisted chiefly of commands and prohibitions; it expressed the authoritative" Thou shalt," and" Thou shalt not;" and it promised to the obedient life and prosperity, to the disobedient punishment and death. But ours is a revelation of grace. The gospel does not abrogate moral law; it rather insists upon its sacred authority, its great comprehensiveness, its intense spirituality, and its pure benevolence. We have law still, but it is law steeped in love. The gospel is also a revelation of forgiveness of sin for the penitent, of a new life for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and of inspiration and power for those who desire help to serve God; in a word, it is the free offer of a "great salvation." Let us briefly contemplate this "great salvation." It is:
1. Salvation from great evils. We have gazed upon the crumbling ruins of what was once a spacious and massive castle, or upon the venerable remnants of some ancient temple, and while we have pictured to ourselves the scenes of which they had been the theatre in olden days, a feeling of mournfulness has stolen over us. We have thought of the brave doings connected with the old castle - hunting, fighting, feasting, singing, dancing, love-making - all gone. We have thought of the earnest and eloquent pleadings of the servant of God in the temple, of the waves of music from pealing organ and living voices, of the devout, yearning, sorrowing, rejoicing hearts of worshippers, now all gone. Nought but ruins remain. How mournful and oppressive! These are faint pictures of the calamities which have befallen our nature through sin. The original dignity and glory, heroism and harmony, purity and peace of human nature have been lost by sin. And by sin it has become subject to guilt and fear, shame and suffering, death and dread of measureless woe hereafter. But most terrible of all is sin itself. The sinfulness, the degradation, and prostitution of our powers and our being, - these are our greatest curse. Can this fallen temple be rebuilt? etc. Is there a salvation great enough to deliver from these dread evils? Yes; "so great salvation" is this.
2. Salvation by great Agents and means. Not by angels or by men, but by "God manifest in the flesh." "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself;" "What the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son," etc. (Romans 8:3, 4). The "strong Son of God" is the great Savior of men. Then think of the distinguished means which he employed in effecting salvation. His marvelous incarnation, his simple and sublime teaching, his holy and beautiful life, his sacrificial sufferings and death, etc. "Ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things," etc. And in bringing this salvation near to men's hearts another great Agent is employed, even the Holy Spirit (see John 15:26, 27; John 16:7-15).
3. Salvation to great glory. This salvation raises man to a more glorious condition than was his before he ruined himself by sin. It saves from the lowest degradation to the highest perfection. It rescues groin hell and introduces to heaven. It includes pardon, peace, purity, perpetual progress, fellowship with God, etc.
4. Salvation of a great multitude. "Many shall come from the cast and west," etc. (Matthew 8:11). Our Lord will bring "many sons unto glory." "In my Father's house are many mansions;" "I saw, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number," etc. (Revelation 7:9, 10). "So great salvation." How immeasurably greater, then, are our privileges than those of the men who lived under the Mosaic economy! - W. J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.