Sunday, 23 March 2014

HEBREWS 2:5-9 - 'THIS WORLD AND THE WORLD TO COME'

'THIS WORLD AND THE WORLD TO COME'

Hebrews 4v5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.
6 It has been testified somewhere,
What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honour,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Have you watched the News in this past week? You just know that much of it is going to be 'bad news'! If there is a God then how come the world is in such a mess? If he has all these angels that he talked about in chapter one then why doesn't he command them to do something about it? If Jesus really is the Son of God then shouldn't the world be a better place?
Our passage tonight gives us some answers to these questions - it helps us to better understand the world as it is today. It shows us something of what God is doing. Where we are now in his plan and purposes for the world and his people, the believers - those who have taken his warning in 2v1-4 seriously and are acting upon it.
He has not finished with comparing the Son to the angels. He continues with this for the rest of chapter two. Our passage for today, v5-9 give us an insight into the world as we see it today.
1. Let's begin by getting into focus the world that he is talking about. The world he describes as 'The world to come.'
When we hear that expression, 'the world to come' we may think of 'this world' in all it's fallen state, described by Paul 'the present evil age' being changed. We are waiting for a new world to come, when Jesus returns and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
Two ages and sharp line between them separating them.
The Jews expected the Messiah to bring about the new world. This was one reason why they rejected Jesus. He claimed to be the Messiah but the world as they saw it had not really changed. The Romans were still in charge!
Jesus told many parables to teach about the kingdom of God. One of them was about the smallest of all seeds, the mustard seed, that when planted grew. Jesus said that the kingdom of God had come.
The new age had broken into the now old one. The world to come has already begun - but it has a long way to go before it reaches it's fulness.
The dividing line between the ages was not a horizontal line, but a line at an angle. There is an overlap between this present evil age and the world to come.
2 key moments in this that have taken place were:
[1] The incarnation. The coming of the Son of God into the world, his birth when he become not only God but also man.
[2] His exaltation - 1v3b.
He takes these up in his comparison between the Son and the angels - 1v6, 1v8-9, the new world coming in its full and final state - 1v10-12;
And the situation now - 1v13.
The angels, they are ministering to believers as we live in this present evil age, but are no longer part of it, for in Christ we belong to the world to come.
Why does the writer say: Hebrews 2v5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come?
Who thought the angels were going to rule the world to come? It's a bit like saying: The angels are not going to win the World Cup! Cricket, Rugby, Football - no team of angels is ever going to lift the cup (although I have no doubt they could easily do so!)
His first readers read the OT in the Greek translation. In Deuteronomy 32:8 that makes a difference.
ESV translation of the Hebrew: "When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God."
The translation of the Greek OT reads: "according to the number of the angels of God."
This passage is then teaching that all the nations were ruled by God through the supervision of angels, but God chose to deal with Israel direct. There are other passages that associate angels with the nations - especially Dan 10.
But in the world to come, the world to which believers already belong, it will not be under the supervision of angels, it will not be subjected to them.
Then still focusing on this world as it is today he quotes Psalm 8v4-6.
Psalm 8 is a hymn of praise for God's work in creation. David is in awe of creation. It reveals the glory of God, showing us his majesty and power - v1-3;
But that is not all this Psalm is. David goes on to think of himself and mankind living in this wonderful creation. When he looks into the heavens and sees the stars, the vastness of the Universe. How insignificant man seems to be. Little man in this immense universe - 1v4.
1v4a - 'man' thinking of mankind;
1v4b - 'the son of man' thinking of individual man.
This was a title that Jesus used to refer to himself. Ever since then Christians cannot but look at this Psalm and think of Jesus.
God has given to little mankind remarkable dignity. God has bestowed on man glory and honour - v5.
God has given man dominion over this world.
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
This was marred by the fall in Genesis 3. Because of sin we do not carry out this task as we should. Marred but not totally obliterated. We still see something of the majesty and power of God in creation and we still have dominion over this world. We should be caring for it.
But something is wrong. Psalm 8 is beautiful poetry, but it is not our experience!
We do not see an orderly world. We see a world with daily 'bad news'. Natural disasters: floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, fires, famines, accidents, illness, not to mention what man does: wars, neglect of the poor, crimes and so on.
"Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him."
Thank God we do see some fruits of the world to come - we see the good that Christianity has brought to the world: Education; Hospitals; End of slavery. But many things are not yet in subjection.
God's enemies are not yet under his footstall. The devil is as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The wicked often seem to do very well in this life and the righteous suffer.
We are living in an age characterised by death. This enemy that no man can master. Death that comes to all. Very often suddenly, even violently.
We are living in the overlap of the two ages: the present age and the age to come.
I would put it to you that the Bibles description of this world is true. It is an accurate picture of what we see and experience. The Bible is true to life.
2. Having given us this realistic, accurate, and true description of the world he shows us what God is doing so that we may look at this world in a new light.
v9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
This is the first time he mentions the name JESUS. He doesn't rush straight to it does he - But we see him! Who? Him who for a little while was made a lower than the angles"
That is true of everyman! Yes, and it true of the Son of God, who was given the name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins.
Him...namely Jesus!
We see him in the incarnation. Born of a virgin, laid in a manger. For a while was made lower than the angels.
And we see him crowned with glory and honour! He has gone through the heavens and ascended to the throne of God where he sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Surely that's his rightful place as the Son of God?
Yes it is his by right of his deity.
But the writer attributes another reason for Jesus' entitlement to be crowned with glory and honour:
....because of the suffering of death,
Acts 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, v6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus went through the suffering of death, a violent death, a death in which he bore the wrath of God against of sin.
...so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
He is going to take that up and explain it later in this chapter.
John Calvin: "The cause of redemption as the infinite love of God towards us, through which it was that he spared not even his own son."
Why is the world as it is? What is God doing? Here is the answer.
He has sent his Son, his only Son, even to die on a cross to redeem a people for his praise and glory. A people who will be part of the world to come. A world that has already begun. You do not see it as you look at the news. There you will only see a world that is not in subjection to man, a world out of order. But for those who see Jesus, they see him saving a people, and making them into a holy people, a people who serve him and do good in this world, a people who are looking for the coming of a new world, when what begun with Jesus will be complete.
Do you see Jesus?

















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