Hebrews 2:1-4 – Dude, don’t drift!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 24, 2012 AM
Recently, just as there is every year, there have been a lot of people killed boating, kayaking, or canoeing. Often it is because the folks involved did not wear proper safety equipment such as a life jacket. It is easy to be caught in the swift current of a river and be swept away to your death. The same is true spiritually for those who refuse to heed the Word of God. They can get caught in the swift current of life and be swept away to their spiritual deaths!
We live in a day and age whereby everything we involve ourselves in wants to drag us away from our faith in Christ. What may seem so innocent at first can become a major undercurrent ready to pull us under into sin. Let’s discover how and why we should give heed to what Hebrews says and not drift away…
I will never forget many years ago challenging a young man to be careful of his involvement with a certain young lady because it was evident to everyone else around him that she was a poor influence on his life. In fact, they had little in common except he liked her looks and so did she! When I spoke with him, his eyes glazed over and his attention span was reduced to zero. He heard nothing of my warning. I believe the writer of Hebrews was facing a similar situation within some of the early churches. He begins to warn them to not allow themselves to drift away into sin. Perhaps we also need to give heed to what Hebrews teaches “so that we do not drift away.” We begin…
I. By paying attention to what we have heard! (v. 2:1)
1. “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” – Jesus (Mark 8:18 NIV)
1) In most translations we have “therefore” which denotes that since God’s Son is way better than angels “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” So important was the message for the writer that he now pauses to give his readers the first of five dire warnings. (The others are in chapters 3-4; 5:11-6:20; 10:19-39; 12:1-29.) The believer’s attention span should not drift when it concerns spiritual matters of such primary importance! Yet far too often we allow ourselves to become distracted. We float from our church attendance, we coast from our allegiance to the body of Christ, or we waft from our daily devotions! It becomes easier to “go with the flow” of the world than to walk with the Lord of our life! This is why he would later use the “lettuce” sayings: “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart,” “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,” “let us consider how we may spur one another on,” and “let us not give up meeting together.” (Hebrews 10:22-25) Our lives are to be daily sacrifices to the Lord where we “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but (are) transformed by the renewing of (our) mind.” (Romans 12:1 NIV) Why? Because both Paul and the author of Hebrews understood that it is only then that we “will be able to test and approve what God’s will is.” When we allow ourselves to be spiritually distracted we drift into sin and then crash and burn. As James would warn that “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15 NIV) Therefore, we should give heed to what Hebrews says “so that we do not drift away” by paying attention to what we have heard!
EXAMPLE: In the Disney Pixar movie “Up” there is a character called “Dug.” Dug is a lovable golden mutt living in the wilderness of Paradise Falls as part of a dog pack searching for a rare, flightless bird. Like the rest of his pack, Dug is outfitted with a remarkable high-tech collar that translates his thoughts into speech. But Dug is mocked by the rest of the pack. He is very easily distracted and in mid-sentence he will focus on whatever passes near him. In one particular scene Dug is explaining why he can talk, “My name is ‘Dug’ and I am just met you and I love you! My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master. He made me this collar so I could talk… SQUIRREL!” When I saw this scene I thought, “Wow! That graphically displays a lot of Christians!” We are so easily distracted by the current trend of the world and so easily go with the flow. We should give heed to what Hebrews says “so that we do not drift away” by paying attention to what we have heard!
Some of might whine, “Why should I pay attention? Didn’t God save me and therefore no one can snatch me out of His hand?” As Jamie Hyneman of the TV show “Myth Busters” quips whenever an experiment fails, “Well there’s your problem!” The writer states exactly why we should give heed to what Hebrews says “so that we do not drift away.” We discover that…
II. Because the message is binding whether we believe it or not! (vv. 2:2-4)
1. “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” – Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:3 NIV)
1) The author was aware that the message of the Gospel was extremely important. The Apostle Paul would ask, “What, then, was the purpose of the law?” (Galatians 3:19 NIV) The author of Hebrews tells why, “For if the message spoken by angels was binding and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” The answer is, “The Law was essential but this gospel is even more important, therefore, we will not escape!” And, like Paul, who knew “The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator,” the writer of Hebrews understood this message was far more critical! How then could anyone “ignore such a great salvation” that did not have to follow a bunch of rules but was based on and established on faith in Christ alone! Later the author would write, “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?” (Hebrews 12:25 NIV) He enforces his argument by reminding them that, “God also testified to it (the gospel) by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” More than that, however, “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him!” The author had evidently been one of those who had come to faith in Jesus as the Apostles had shared the gospel! Adam Clarke wrote, “Christ’s preaching was only a beginning of the great proclamation: it was his own Spirit in the apostles and evangelists, the men who heard him preach, that opened the whole mystery of the kingdom of heaven…. and consequently there was no excuse for their unbelief, and no prospect of their escape if they should continue to neglect it!” The same is true for us right now because the message is binding whether we believe it or not! Therefore, we should give heed to what Hebrews says “so that we do not drift away”!
EXAMPLE: We live in a world where fifteen minutes of fame has become more important than being respectful. Recently there was a bus monitor who was berated by a bunch of boys about her age and appearance. One of them actually video-taped it and put it on YouTube! One psychologist who was asked why “good boys would join in” remarked how they “probably had been bullied” at some point. HOGWASH! Those boys joined in because they are full of sin and live in a sinful world where such actions are lauded and placed on display for everyone to see! I am sure the parents of these Cretans are wondering, “How in-the-world did my son miss the message of respecting other human beings?” It is easy; they ignored it for a moment’s worth of selfish aggrandizement on YouTube! Some of them truly regret it now because what they did has consequences! The rest of the world has now seen them for what they were at that selfish moment. What we say we believe spiritually is forever binding. And this is why Christians should give heed to what Hebrews says “so that we do not drift away”!
We should give heed to Hebrews and not drift away by paying attention to what we have heard and because the message is binding whether we believe it or not!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.