Friday, September 22, 2006

Coffeehouse Conversation : The Law

The conversation is ongoing, come and join in at The Coffee Bible Club

Last night we began to study Hebrews at our homegroup. A light-bulb came on about the use of the law. See Hebrews 1v1-2v4.

When a parent disciplines a child it helps to prepare them for a teachers authority. When a teacher disciplines a child it helps to prepare them for the authority of employers, the law of the land etc. We see the consequences of infringing the authority of those with limited power to punish... and it helps us to listen to those who have greater power.

This lesser to greater argument seems to lie behind the seemingly bizarre argument of Hebrews 1v1-2v4. The writer initially seems to have a major Angels hang-up. He tells us how God has spoken definitively through his Son Jesus. The Son who holds all things together by his word, and who sits enthroned in heaven.

He could then simply conclude, therefore listen to Jesus. He's the boss. Wouldn't that be enough?

But, he then goes off on a seven quote excursus about how Jesus is better than angels before drawing his conclusion in 2v1-4.
1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how 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, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
This angel argument is supposed to make us "pay closer attention to what we have heard". That hearing is God speaking through Jesus (1v2). Why pay closer attention? Because "the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience recieved a just retributinon.". What is the message the angels delivered? The Law. (Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19).

So we should look at The Law, and see what happened to Israel when they disobeyed it. The consequences were tragic for Israel. Now God has spoken again. But this definitive message was not delivered by an Angel. This message was delivered by God's Son. And Son is far, far greater than the angels. How much more should we listen to the word of Jesus?

In terms of how this helps us understand, apply (and even preach) from The Law perhaps it means we need to preach bigger sections. We need to beware of isolating the words the angels delivered from their consequences. We need to hear the story of how God spoke to Israel (through angels) and how they failed to pay attention, and so were judged. Their story serves as an example that points us to Jesus, turning up the volume on what he says - showing us the deadly results of failing to consider what God speaks through Jesus.

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