Thursday, September 09, 2010

Ruminating on Scripture: Hebrews 2

So I've been reading The Letter to the Hebrews lately. Well, the first few chapters, over and over. Sometimes, when you read through something, you just know you're not getting everything you could out of the passage. You're not seeing the stitches on the ball, as it were.

Me, I'm a little rusty when it comes to Bible reading. I know I'm not supposed to admit this, but I haven't been "in the Word" lately. Since it's the richest reading material I know, that just shouldn't be. My bad.

So I've begun reading Hebrews. I figure I'll just keep reading the first few chapters until I get it. Of course the first chapter of Hebrews amounts to an over-the-top hymn of praise for Jesus. I'm not going to repeat all that, because you can read it yourself, and it's pretty straightforward. Where the question comes in for me is at the start of chapter two:
Therefore [i.e., given everything he's just said about Jesus] we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2:1-4 ESV)
When I read this, I get that tingly feeling like when I read a wonderful poem, or hear a beautiful song. The author seems to be opening the door on something spacious and beautiful. He calls it, "so great a salvation."

That phrase, those four words, kind of stir my blood. What is he talking about there? Now, I'm a Christian, and I can tell you what "salvation" means, but just now I want to know what it means in the context of the letter in hand, the letter to the Hebrews. What does the author of this letter mean by "salvation"?

One thing I see in the passage above is that neglecting this great salvation is set against paying close attention to what we've heard. We've heard something, but it's something we need to pay close attention to, for to neglect it, to pay no attention, or to live as if we'd never heard it, would be to neglect "so great a salvation." Do you see? Whatever salvation means, it is very closely associated with "what we have heard."

You might think that's a pretty routine insight, but it does something for me. There is something I've heard, and having heard it, it won my heart. It affected me. But there's also a possibility, perhaps a strong tendency, to forget what I've heard, or to pay less attention to it, or to neglect it. That would be to neglect my salvation.

There's something to chew on here. A message can save you. But a message can also go unheeded. In this context, the message is clearly about Jesus, or perhaps from Jesus. I wonder how it is we who have once paid great heed to that message, can soon enough come to a place where a friend might have to say, you'd better stop neglecting that message, the one you once heeded so well. Stop neglecting your salvation.

I'm still not sure I fully understand this, but I think the passage to follow will surely help. However, that's for another ruminative post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the message declared by angels