Hebrews 2:5-18: The Blessings of the Incarnate Jesus

Read: Hebrews 2:5-18

After telling his readers not to neglect their salvation, the author of Hebrews talks about the blessings that came from Jesus becoming a man, dying, and resurrecting from the dead. Continuing on the subject of angels, the author reasons that the angels were not sent to the world, rather Jesus was sent, to handle the matter of salvation, the “which we are speaking” in verse 5. He then goes to make two arguments interwoven together.

The first argument comes from Psalm 8:4-6 to establish that man was made lower than the angels. Psalm 8 talks about the majesty of God being displayed in all the earth, and yet in light of this, God takes note of man who “crowned with glory” from God and placed is given dominion over the earth. The Septuagint again translates the Hebrew word “אלהים”, (pronounced “el-o-heem”) here into the Greek word for “angels”, while most English Bibles translate it “God”. The author of Hebrews is talking about angels and using the Septuagint, so applies this to Jesus, who referred to himself as the “son of man” numerous times in the Gospels, being made lower than the angels as a man. In doing so Jesus died for everyone. But unlike man, Jesus had the power to overcome death and remove the power of death from the devil. The author reasons that those who receive salvation also receive glory because of what Jesus did. And all the more, because Jesus became a man, he becomes a “merciful” and “faithful” high priest who can sympathize with the weaknesses of man (this is expounded in chapters 4 and 5).

The second argument comes from a selection of verses from two places: Psalm 22:22, Isaiah 8:17-18. Psalms 22:1 is quoted by Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:46). The first half of the Psalm talks about a person experiencing great angst, yet the Psalm shifts in attitude when the psalmist recalls that God is not far off. In a manner of speaking, Jesus was reminding those who were witnessing his death that God was not far off. And after three days, Jesus rose from the dead and was with them again. Psalm 22:22 talks of the one undergoing angst proclaiming God in the midst of “brethren”. Isaiah 8 is in the midst of several messianic prophecies. The first one is of his birth (Isaiah 7:7), the second of his name Immanuel (Isaiah 8:8), and the third one of his titles (Isaiah 9:1-7). Isaiah 8 specifically is talking about the judgment to come to Israel from the Assyrians, but nevertheless there are a few faithful who put their trust in God. The author of Hebrews likens this to Jesus too. The common theme between Psalm 22:22 and Isaiah 8:17-18 is that is the presence of family, namely “brethren” and “children”. The author of Hebrews is arguing that Jesus, in becoming a man, makes family of man, such that he is not ashamed to call them “brethren”.

The tangible benefits new life, having a perfect high priest that can sympathize with our weaknesses, and having God as family are simply amazing blessings. Paul uses a very similar motif in Romans – before one is saved, one is destine to die. But what God does through Christ is raise one from a slave to an adopted son such that one is a joint heir with Jesus and also partake in his glory in God’s kingdom (Romans 8:11-17). Knowing Christians are adopted by the King should bring great comfort. God is not far off, and certainly Christians can know that they can take refuge in him, calling him “Abba”, which is analogous in English to “Daddy”!

Lord, your coming has made me alive and a part of your family!
Help me to draw comfort from you because you close by!

Joshua 5:13-15: Encountering the Presence of God

Read: Joshua 5:13-15

Joshua’s encounter with the “commander of the Lord’s army” is a rather interesting interjection at the end of chapter five. Not all scholars agree about the placement this appearance. Some see the last three verses of chapter 5 as part of chapter 6. Some see these verses as a separate episode to chapter six altogether. But even so, the question still remains: who exactly is this person that appears to Joshua? Some observations can be made about this:

  • Joshua is out looking at Jericho, the city that God captures on Israel’s behalf in chapter 6. Some commentators have suggested that Joshua is scouting a plan here, but someone obviously sent by God comes to him while he is out. The commentators think that this appearance by the man was to draw Joshua’s attention away from trying to capture Jericho by plans conceived by man, and focus Joshua on God who would give him a plan.
  • When Joshua asks if the man is for or against Israel, the commander answers “לאכי” (pronounced “loh kee”) which is rendered “neither” or “no but” in many modern translation to indicate that the man represented something entirely else than what Joshua presumed he did – namely the Lord’s army.
  • The man identifies himself as “שׂר” (pronounced “sar”)which is a general term indicating any number of possible positions of rank such as commander, prince, captain, leader, head, chief, or a ruler of some kind. The man had rank among the army of God.
  • Joshua bows down to him. The man does not disdain Joshua’s reverence as Peter did in Acts 10:26 and the angel who delivered revelations to John (Revelation 19:10).
  • Joshua calls the man “אדני”  (pronounced “adonai”), a name that is spoken in reference to God and is substituted for the unspoken name of God – יהוה – when the scriptures were being read aloud which means “Lord”.
  • The man tells Joshua to remove his sandals because the place he was holy ground. This is reminiscent of Exodus 3:5 when Moses is at the burning bush and God speaks to Moses through the bush. The burning bush was made holy by the presence of God.

What is certain is that whoever the man is, he commanded reverence from Joshua because of who he represented, namely God himself. That and where this man went, the presence of God went also. It is possible that the man was an incarnation of God himself for several reasons: The man receives worship, Joshua calls him “Lord”, and the place his made holy in the presence of the man. What is certain is Joshua realizes that he is in the presence of God and responds appropriately by submitting to the man in reverence and awe. This is the same thing that Isaiah did when he encountered God (Isaiah 6:1-8) and what the disciples did after Peter walked on water (Matthew 14:33).

Witnessing the works and the very presence of God should do the very sort of thing to Christians too: drive them to reverence and awe. Christians should never be puffed up because of what God does on their behalf, but recognize that it is God working and be grateful for it. What is interesting here is that the man does not identify himself as siding with Israel or the Canaanites, rather siding with God. God is the god of those who will have faith in him and obey him no matter what nationality they may be from. God redeemed Rahab the prostitute even though she was a sinner and not of the Israelites and he still does the same for so many others in the world today too. When sinners encounter the majesty and holiness of God, they should be amazed, being filled with awe and wonder. And this drives people to reverence and awe!

Lord, you are amazing! I submit myself to you!