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Hebrews 2:16-18 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:51 mins 30 secs

Hebrews Lesson 30    October 20, 2005

 

NKJ Psalm 46:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song for Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

 

Hebrews 2:5 down through 3:6 focuses on the exposition of the principle of the spiritual life that basically states that Jesus Christ is the pioneer, the pathfinder. He is the one who set the course, the precedent for the spiritual life for the Church Age. This is based in His humanity. The humanity of Christ is a crucial doctrine that is often not understood in areas related to the spiritual life. Often its focus is on the fact that He had to become a man in order to go to the cross to die as our substitute. But in this section, especially beginning in verse 10, there is the expansion of the idea that He is our assistant and set the course for us in sanctification. The section started off back in verse 5 and in verses 5 though 9 talks about the fact that Jesus was made lower than the angels so that having gone through the process of spiritual growth and then the cross He would be crowned with glory and honor so that the path to the crown, the path to His ruling position was through the path of learned obedience through the things He suffered. That path is the same path that every believer follows and it prepares us in the same way to rule with Jesus Christ. So that principle is laid down in those verses that talks about the fact that He is over the angels and that the world to come is not subject to angels but to man in ultimate fulfillment of man's original destiny and purpose outlined in Genesis 1:26-28.

 

Then beginning in verse 10 the author goes to the next level saying that as Jesus Christ was matured through suffering. So we too are matured through suffering. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

 

That is we all partake of the same nature. We are all human beings. It is a reference to His true humanity.

 

In verse 12 there is a citation from Psalm 22:22.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:12 saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."

 

NKJ Psalm 22:22 I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

 

That quote we saw coming out of Psalm 22:22. It is a prophetic, Messianic psalm that is quoted by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The first 17 verses of Psalm 22 focus on what Jesus Christ went through on the cross. The last few verses focus on praise to God for sustaining Him while He was on the cross. The principle that the writer of Hebrews is drawing from that is that in the same way that God completely sustained the Lord Jesus Christ through all of His suffering, especially His greatest suffering that any human being will ever go through, if God sustained Jesus Christ through all of that He is the same one who sustains us in whatever we go through. Whether you are dealing with trials of adversity or prosperity, no matter what the situation may be, whether you are going through aggravation, whether you are going through things that anger you, whether you are going through rejection or financial trauma, whatever it may be, Jesus Christ has set the pattern for how we go through those trials and how we handle them.  It is based on trust in God. That is the thrust of the two other quotations that come in verse 13 from Isaiah 8:17-18. 

 

There is an extremely strong way of putting this in the Greek. 

 

Literal translation:  I have put my trust in Him in the past with the result that I will always put my trust in Him in the future. 

 

It is a statement reflecting the solid foundation of Christ's trust in God. That's the basis for His deliverance. 

 

Then the author goes to another level in verse 14.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

 

There is an important word indicating that Jesus Christ in the same manner shared in the flesh and blood in the same manner as us emphasizing the true humanity that He took on at the incarnation. This is foundational to this whole section. We call it the doctrine of the hypostatic union. We'll get into that a little more this evening. It is through that that He destroyed the power of death on the cross. The greatest problem that we will ever face is the sin penalty. The argument here is that if Jesus Christ solved the greatest problem that you and I will ever face, then He can solve every other problem that we face.

 

Then there is a conclusion in verse 16.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

 

Jesus Christ does not assist and help angels. That is not His role. He gives assistance to the seed of Abraham. 

 

We turned to Galatians 3 last time to show that the term "seed of Abraham" refers to everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. It's the spiritual seed of Abraham. It is not talking about the Jews. Jews are of the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In order to be a Jew you have to be a descendent of all three - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But if you are a believer, spiritually you are of the seed of Abraham.

 

Then we come to what appears to be a conclusion in verse 17. That's where we are starting this evening.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

 

We had that same verbiage that has been stated again and again. You would think that the Holy Spirit understood the principle of repetition. 

 

There are three major ideas in this verse. The first is the issue related to the hypostatic union that Jesus Christ had to take on true humanity. He had to be made like His brethren.

 

The second thing that we see is that this was for a purpose that is to be a merciful and faithful high priest. That high priestly role is focused in this verse on His being a propitiation for the sins of the people.

 

So let's start breaking it down a little bit to understand the depth of this verse. First of all the initial phrase "therefore" isn't what we might expect if you know Greek. That is the word oun that is the normal word for drawing a conclusion. It is the normal inferential word. This is the word hothen which is also used to infer a conclusion as referring to a cause, a ground, or a motive for something.  Since hothen is emphasizing a cause or ground for something, it isn't so much drawing a conclusion as much as it is stating the ground or the cause or the reason for something that has already been said. So what was already said was in verse 16. The hothen is not drawing a conclusion as you would in a logical argument, but it is going to state the ground for what has been stated or the reason why something that has already been stated is so. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

 

This word used twice for giving aid is the Greek word epilambano which means to take someone by the hand, to give them aid, to help them along the way, to take hold of them, to give help, to give assistance. So it is part of the role of God the Son to assist the believer in life today, not just the Holy Spirit. 

 

Remember when you studied in John 14 and Jesus says that He must go to the Father so that He can send what? Another comforter.  The Greek word there is parakletos, one who comes alongside to help. So Jesus is one comforter and the Holy Spirit is another comforter. They have complementary roles in the process of the believer's sanctification. That is why Jesus is referred to back in verse 11 as He who sanctifies. He ultimately positionally sanctifies us because we are identified with Him in His death, burial and resurrection at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone. That we refer to as positional sanctification. He is also involved through His high priestly ministry in giving aid to believers on a day-to-day basis as we face various forms of adversity.

 

He had to be made like the brethren.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

 

This is where we get into an interesting group of words. The word that we find here in the Greek is the word homoioo. It is a little difficult for us to pronounce because if you look at this word right here you have four vowels connected together.  The first two vowels that are joined together are in the English transliteration are an "o" and an "i". In the Greek it is an omicron and an iota. The last "o" is a long "o". It is an omega. So it is pronounced like a long "o" and the omicron is pronounced like ah". It means to make like or to become like. In relationship to the brethren, that is to human beings, He had to be made like human beings. The emphasis being that He is of the same essence as man. He is a true human. Now the reason I make that point is because in the course of church history this word has had a special place in understanding the whole concept of the hypostatic union – the union of Christ's deity and humanity. 

 

The first place that this was hammered out in history was at the Council of Nicea. This was in 325 AD. It has been called the Battle of Diphthongs. A diphthong is a combination of two vowels pronounces as one. If you look at the transliterations since most of you can't read the Greek, you will see that the difference is between two words - homoousias vs homoiousias. It doesn't look like there is a whole lot of difference there other than that letter "i". That is the iota.  That made all the difference in the world though theologically because that first word would mean that the Lord Jesus Christ in reference to His deity, the word we are looking at is homoioo is related to His humanity. But, at Nicea they were trying to figure out how His deity related to the Father. There was one group of theologians that said, "The word we should use is homoousias meaning He is of similar substance to the Father." 

 

Another group said, "No, He is fully God undiminished deity so He is homoiousias." 

 

In the 18th century Edward Gibbon who wrote "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" and was basically anti-Christian (He thought Christianity was the worst thing that ever happened in history.) said that all they were arguing about was this silly little diphthong and it didn't make an iota worth of difference. That is where we got the origination of that phrase that it doesn't make an iota's worth of difference. You didn't know that it had to do with doctrine. You see, you didn't know that it had to do with theology. It has to do with one of the most important doctrines of Scripture. 

 

The Nicene Creed which some of you may have learned to recite if you grew up in a church that was a little more high church where you quoted creeds you may have recited this. 

 

Nicene Creed

 

We believe in one God the Father all Governing, creator of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father as only begotten, that is, from the essence of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not created, of the same essence as the Father, through whom all things came into being, both in heaven and on earth; Who for us and for our salvation came down and was incarnate becoming human. He suffered and on the third day He rose, and ascended in to the heavens and He will come to judge both the living and the dead.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit.

 

I think it is interesting that all of these creeds going back to the earliest, the Apostle's Creed, start with creation and the Father. 

 

Then the second paragraph defines the Son. They are struggling with how to use human vocabulary to express the eternality of Jesus Christ in His deity and His equality with the Father. So they described Him as begotten, as only begotten, not born. 

 

The word we were looking at was homoiousias. That last part ousias means essence or being. 

 

Begotten doesn't mean born. It is a technical term to describe that eternal relationship between the first person of the trinity and the second person of the trinity. Jesus doesn't become a Son in history; He is always a Son. Therefore how do you describe that relationship? The Father is always the Father. The Son is always the Son. So the term is eternal begottenness. 

 

That's the word they had in the Greek, homoiousias. The Orthodox theologians were victorious in the debate explaining that Jesus has to be identical in deity to the Father. He also has to be identical in deity to the Son. I always love 4th and 5th century because they hammered out what you and I always seem to take for granted. That is, our understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ. The first question that they had to answer that they answered at Nicea was, what was Jesus before He came? Before He came He was eternal God. He was the same essence as God the Father - Light from Light and True God from True God. 

 

But then the question became after Nicea, what was Jesus when He came?  If Jesus was God and eternal before He came, exactly what was He when He came? How to you explain this union of deity and humanity? And so they had to wrestle with that. They didn't just say, "Oh. He was undiminished deity and true humanity united in one person forever." It took about a 150 years to get that figured out. In the process they wound around through several things that they ultimately discovered were heresy.

 

One of the first attempts was by a man named Apollinaris. In his view he said that every human being has three components – a body, a human soul, and a human spirit. When he comes to describing how the eternal deity of the second person of the trinity was joined with man, his solution was to say that He had a human body and his soul was divine (the divine Logos was the term that they used) and He had a human spirit. The problem with this is that is makes Jesus only partly human. He has a human body and a human spirit but He has a divine soul. So He is not fully human and He is not fully divine. That was rejected. It was declared heretical at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD. That was 56 years later that they condemned Apollinaris. Apollinaris was straight at Nicea but he can't quite figure out how to explain the humanity and deity of Christ. 

 

The next one up who tries was a guy named Nestorius. There were a lot of Nestorian Christians who went east and took the gospel into India and China in subsequent centuries. This was a major view that was held by many different missionaries. It was dominant in a lot of areas even in Western Europe up through the early Middle Ages. Nestorius almost sounds right. He talks about the fact that Christ is fully God and fully human. He wasn't fully God or fully human with Apollinaris. But the way he describes it makes it sound as if Christ has a divine nature and a human nature. He is a divine person and a human person. So you have two natures and two persons and there is no true union. Remember that the term we use is the hypostatic union. There is a union of humanity and deity in one person. So Nestorius took his stab at it and in 431 that was declared heresy at the Council of Ephesus. 

 

So one more guy comes up and takes his stab at it. That's Eutyches. He says you have a divine nature over here on one side and a human nature over on the other side. They blend together in Jesus. He has two natures that were stuck the Osterizer. It blends Him up and creates a third nature. Jesus is now sort of a third being. He is not truly human. He is not truly divine. He is just a mix. That was declared heretical at the Council of Chalcedon, a suburb of Constantinople, in 451. This is how they wrote the Chalcedonian Creed. Most of you didn't grow up in churches where they recited creeds like this but this is where we get our verbiage for defining the hypostatic union. It comes right out of Chalcedon. This is one of the greatest theological documents of all time.

 

We also teach that we apprehend this one and only Christ Son, Lord, only begotten – in two natures; and we do this without confusing the two natures. Without transmuting one nature into the other without dividing them into two separate categories without contrasting them according to area or function. The distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the properties of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one "person" and into one essence. They are not divided or cut into two persons but are together the one and only and only begotten Logos of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

Sometimes you have heard people say that He did this out of His deity and He did that out of His humanity. You've heard that kind of talk. That makes it sound like there are two people. We have to be careful. There are things that Jesus did such as when He wept at Lazarus' grave that indicate His true humanity. There are things that Jesus did when He changed the water into wine that indicate He was undiminished deity. But, He doesn't do something from one side and something else from another side. That is almost Eutychianism where you have two different persons because you split it so far apart. That is what they are getting at there.

 

In other words nothing that happens on the divine side nullifies any attributes of His humanity. Nothing in His humanity nullifies or diminishes anything in His deity. Undiminished deity stays undiminished deity. True humanity stays true humanity. 

 

That will give you something to think about tonight while you are trying to go to sleep.

 

Two natures and one person is the mystery of the hypostatic union. That is your theology lesson for the night. That is how we got our understanding of the hypostatic union in a nutshell going through 126 years of church history. 

 

The whole concept is clearly taught in Philippians 2:5. Hebrews 2 and Philippians 2 along with and Colossians 2 are the three core chapters that deal with the person of Christ. 

 

NKJ Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

 

The thrust of what Paul says in Philippians 2 is not a doctrinal discourse on theology. It is a discourse on humility. In order to understand what true humility is in your life and my life, we have to understand its model which is in the make up of the Lord Jesus Christ and His assumption of humanity at the incarnation. That is the standard for defining humility. If we are going to talk about humility, we have to start with the incarnation Christ, not with an abstract concept of humility, not with going to Webster's' Dictionary to see how the dictionary defines humility. You start with Philippians 2.

 

NKJ Philippians 2:6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

 

Now that first phrase "being" is a participle of the Greek verb huparchon which should be taken as a concessive participle. It is translated although or even though. Even though He existed in the form of God, even though He is full deity, even though He is sovereign God of the universe, even though He is the creator of all things, even though He is the one to whom all obedience is to be addressed, even though He is the one who owns everything, even though He is the to whom all subservience and honor should go, even though He is fully God He didn't think that it was something to be held on to. That is the thrust of Paul's argument here. 

 

The word form is the Greek word morphe. We use the term morph to indicate a change in something. It has to do with the nature or essence of a thing. 

 

Literally, He didn't think deity was something to be grasped after. What imagery do you have there? To grab for something. What was going on in the Garden of Eden? The serpent came along to Eve and said, "Did God say that you can't eat from all the fruit in the garden?" 

 

She said, "We can't eat it or touch it."

 

He said, "That's not true. God doesn't want you to be like Him. So, go ahead and eat."

 

So what Eve did and what Adam did was grab for deity. They wanted to eat that apple so that they could be like God. 

 

But Jesus even though He was fully God didn't think it was something to be held on to or grabbed on to.

 

So He emptied Himself. That is the Old King James translation. It is the word is kenaoo. This is where we get the famous kenosis passage. The emptying of Him doesn't mean that He gave anything up. It means that He added humanity to His deity. 

 

Often I know you have heard an old definition that goes way back. I think Dr. Walvoord has it defined this way in his book "Jesus Christ Our Lord". Others have used the definition that in the kenosis Jesus Christ the second person of the trinity voluntarily gave up the independent use of His attributes. It is a definition that every seminary student has memorized for years and that many of us have heard over and over again. There is a flaw in that because the implication is that when you say that He voluntarily restricted the independent use of His attributes is that - did He ever use His attributes independent of the Father? No, He never used His attributes independently of the Father. He was always in complete sync with the Father. The real issue in the kenosis is that Jesus added humanity so that He faced the problems of life in the incarnation by relying not on His divine attributes but by relying on the provisions that God gave Him that are the same provisions that God gave to you and me. He is not facing the tests in the wilderness by using His divine power to turn the stones into bread. He is not using His divine power to handle various problems that were challenges to His personal spiritual life. That doesn't mean that He did all of His miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. He did some that way but others He did in His own deity to demonstrate that He was God. He changed the water into wine. He raised Lazarus from the dead. These were things that He did in His own divine power but they were not done to handle the problems or adversities that He faced in His spiritual life. They were used to demonstrate who He was. As the New King James translates it…

 

NKJ Philippians 2:7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

 

It defines for us what kenosis is. It is not giving up His deity. It is taking on humanity. It is adding true humanity to His eternal undiminished deity. So He took on the form that is essence or nature of man. It is the same word used in the previous verse to describe the essence of deity.  So you have the essence of deity, the morphe of deity in verse 6 and the morphe of the bond servant in verse 7. 

 

He came in the likeness of men. What's that word? Likeness. Does it look familiar to you?  Homoioma. It is the noun form of the verb that we see in Hebrews 2:17. This is the noun form. He came in the likeness of humanity – anthropos, the human race. He has all the attributes of humanity minus the sin nature because that is not what Adam had as part of his original equipment. He comes as true humanity just like Adam was originally created. 

 

He humbled Himself. There is the same principle that we are finding in Hebrews that He learned obedience by the things He suffered.

 

NKJ Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

 

He placed Himself under the authority of God. He became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. He was willing to go through all of that suffering, all of that heartache, all of that punishment because that was God's plan for man.

 

Now let's go back to Hebrews 2:17.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

 

In order to be an aid to mankind, in order to be an assistant in going through adversity and tests He had to be made like man. 

 

In all things and in every area of His makeup He had to be true humanity. 

 

Now we have a purpose clause: "that He might be." The first principle is that He had to be made like His brethren so that He could be our helper, our assistant. Being made like the brethren had a further purpose. That was to be a high priest. 

 

The verb there is the aorist middle subjunctive of the Greek verb ginomai. It indicates becoming something you were not. You have what they call two existential verbs in Hebrew. It is a fancy grammatical term for verbs that have to do with existence. They are words that have to do with being. Eimi has to do with I am. There is ginomia which has to do with becoming. Then there is huparcho that has to do with existence. This word ginomai is the word that is used of John the Baptist in John 1:4. There came to be a man named John. Ginomai is used in contrast to Jesus Christ who always was. In the beginning was the word – eimi.  But John came into existence. It is the difference between the eternal creator nature of Jesus Christ by whom all things come into existence according to John 1 versus the creature John the Baptist who comes into being. Again this emphasizes His humanity. To be a high priest He had to be true humanity, full humanity. 

 

This introduces us to the doctrine and concept of the high priesthood. What is a high priest? What does a high priest do?  Let's go through this to summarize the doctrine of the high priesthood. 

 

  1. In the Old Testament the role of a priest was to serve as a mediator. A mediator partakes of the essence of both parties. This is similar to the role that you see in I Timothy 2:5. 

 

NKJ 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

 

He has to partake of true humanity so that He can be the go-between, the mediator, function as a high priest between the human race and God. The only priest that is mentioned in the Old Testament before you get to the Aaronic priesthood in the Mosaic Law is Melchizedek. Melchizedek demonstrates that there was a royal priesthood early on, prior to the Mosaic Law.

  1. The human dimension of a priest was related to sin as we see it unfold in the Old Testament. There is a sense in which the priesthood doesn't relate to sin because we are going to have a priesthood related to Church Age believers in the Millennial Kingdom when we are in resurrection bodies because we are going to come back and be kings and priests to God. At that point it doesn't relate to God, but it has to do with service to God. So there are two dimensions but the role of the priest as we see it after the fall is related to sin and the need for a go-between between God and man because the barrier between God and man has been broken through sin.
  2. The priest's role was to function in the area of representing man to God. The prophet spoke for God to man. The priest represented man to God. In the early part of the Old Testament the family patriarch functioned as the family priest. They built altars and offered sacrifices. This is what you see Adam doing. This is what you see Noah doing after the flood. This is what Abraham is doing when he goes through the land. He builds altars. This is functioning in the priestly role even though the Word wasn't used. 
  3. The first priest that is mentioned in the Old Testament was Melchizedek, the mysterious Royal Priest, the king of Salem who was said to be a priest of God. Genesis 15:18. That is one priesthood. That is a priesthood we will come back to study as we go through Hebrews.
  4. The other priesthood that is developed is the Aaronic Priesthood. It is a priesthood related to Aaron. One of the things I find as a teacher every now and then you learn something new and then your mind gets bumfuzzeled because you haven't heard  it that much. This morning I was teaching my class at the college through Numbers. I had never quite nailed this down before. I realized that you couldn't function as a priest unless you were a descendent of Aaron. Not just as a high priest. To be a high priest you had to be a descendent of Aaron through Eliezer. To be a priest, to function as a priest, you had to be a descendent of Aaron. The Levites aided in various other services taking care of the tabernacle. But you could be a member of the tribe of Levi but you couldn't function as a priest. But you could only function as a priest if you were a descendent of Aaron. Now some passages in the Old Testament aren't real clear about that, but that is the thrust. You had to be a descendent of Aaron to function as a priest. Leviticus 21:10 talks about the high priest as the greatest priest among the brethren. Notice how similar that terminology is to Hebrews 2 talking about the brethren and talking about the children in verse 11. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. You see that the writer of Hebrews is immersed in Old Testament vocabulary. 
  5. Many of the high priest's duties were similar to other priests – carrying out the sacrifices and the offerings. But his duties were ultimately related to all the people of the entire nation. Other duties of the priest included declaring God's will to the people, teaching the Torah Deuteronomy 33:10, participating in sacrifices and offerings. The primary duty of the high priest was to represent the nation on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, which was celebrated according to the calendar this year last Thursday. Yom Kippur celebrated the birth of the nation. It's fulfilled prophetically at the end of the tribulation. 
  6. The most important of these were the events of the Day of Atonement, Yom Kipper. Lev 16:1-9 On the Day of Atonement he would place the blood of a lamb that was without spot or blemish on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. That was a sign that God's righteousness was satisfied or propitiated. That is exactly where we go in the second part of this verse. 

 

There is a rigorous logical flow here. The word translated propitiation which we come to here is the Greek word hilaskomai. That word is the word that translates the Hebrew 'mercy seat' in the translation of the Old Testament. The high priest makes atonement for God. 

 

Now one more thing before we move into propitiation. Jesus is to be like His brethren so He can be a harsh judge of mankind. Is that what it says? No, it says a merciful and faithful high priest. Merciful brings out the dimension of grace. Grace is undeserved favor or unmerited kindness. Mercy is grace in action. Mercy is grace sort of ratcheted up and put into application in certain situations. He becomes like His brethren (fully human) so that He can be a merciful high priest and faithful high priest. The Greek word there is pistos (not pistis) which emphasizes His faithfulness, His consistency, and His constancy. He is immutable. The writer says that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can always count on Him no matter what the problems or challenges are that we face in life. We have to stop and take a deep breathe and trust and rest in Jesus Christ because He has been there before us. He set the pattern for how we are to respond to the outside pressure of adversity. This is related to His high priestly role which is grounded in the doctrine of propitiation which has to do with satisfying the righteousness and justice of God. So we see that this is the basic problem that man has with God - or part of the basic problem which is God's character. God is a righteous and just God. 

 

NKJ Romans 8:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 

NKJ Psalm 7:9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds.

 

It is the justice of God that evaluates man. We have to satisfy His justice. 

 

NKJ Psalm 7:11 God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.

 

That is the application of His justice through His righteousness to mankind. 

 

NKJ Psalm 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.

 

Where was God enthroned in the Old Testament? He was enthroned between the cherubs according to the psalmist. Where does that exist? The throne of God was viewed on the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies inside the tabernacle and later the temple. So here we have David in Psalm 89 reflecting upon the fact that righteousness and justice are the foundation of the throne. So you can take that and apply that to the mercy seat. 

 

The word for mercy seat is the Hebrew word kaporeth which means propitiatory or the mercy seat. The mercy seat was located on the center of the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box describe in Exodus 25:17-8.

 

NKJ Exodus 25:17 "You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. 18 "And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.

 

They are looking down on the mercy seat. If you convert the measurements into English it is roughly 45"x27"x 27". It is a box made of acacia wood overlaid in gold. It pictures the humanity and deity of Christ in hypostatic union. The box itself contained the urn of manna which the Jews rejected so it is an indication of rejection of God's logistical grace. It contained Aaron's staff the one that was placed inside the tabernacle. It sprouted leaves when the staffs of other leaders did not. So it is called Aaron's rod that budded. It speaks of the sin of the people when they rejected Aaron's priestly leadership. That's inside the ark. Then there were the tablets of the law that the people had broken. These three elements – the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the Law - picture the transgression or sin of the people. When the high priest would go into the holy place he would place the blood from the lamb on the mercy seat. That is the picture of the covering of sin. The cherubs that picture the righteousness and justice of God as holiness look down and are satisfied by the sacrifice. This is a picture of what Christ did on the cross. He is the sacrifice that satisfies the righteousness and justice of God. 

 

There are four key passages on propitiation in the New Testament. One is the passage we are in and another is Romans 3:25.

 

NKJ Romans 3:25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

 

"Who" is Jesus Christ. 

 

This was to demonstrate His righteousness.

 

NKJ 1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

 

In other words Christ propitiated the Father with relation to the sins of the whole world but it isn't applied unless you trust Christ as your Savior. 

 

NKJ 1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 

Verse 17 of Hebrews said that He had to be made like His brethren in order to be their assistant in verse 16. I keep going back to verse 16. Verse 16 and 18 both talk about Christ's assistance to us. What is in the middle is an understanding that He had to be made like His brethren to be so that He could go to the cross and be our mediator so that He could propitiate the Father in relationship to our sins. Those three elements lay the foundation for His being able to be our aide, our assistant. 

 

Then we come to verse 18.

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

 

We went through the doctrine of testing last Thursday night. We saw it again Tuesday night in relation to Abraham's being tested by God when he was commanded to take Isaac up Mt. Moriah. We have gone through this extensively in the last couple of weeks that I am not going to do it again. Testing is the means by which we apply doctrine that we have learned and demonstrate what we learned and it becomes a testimony to man and the angels. 

 

The word here for aiding those who are tested is the Greek word boetheo. It derives from two root words, boe and theo. It has the idea of running when you hear a cry or scream out for help. It came to mean to give assistance or give help. Its primary synonym is antilambano which is used for giving aid in verse 16. The writer of Hebrews is tying these two concepts together. Because He was tested He is able to aid those who are tested. Now that writer is going to move to another level of the development in his argument and he is going to use that same word we saw in verse 17, hothen

 

Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,

 

"Holy brethren" refers to believers. 

 

We have a purpose and destiny.

 

So we are moving to an application. Because of this, he is saying. I am setting the stage for next week. Because He entered into hypostatic union, because He became a man, because He was matured through suffering, because He is the one who sanctifies and we are the ones being sanctified and are all united together, because He has conquered death, because He is the high priest and can aid us and because of all these things, consider. 

 

The word here for consider here means to contemplate, to concentrate on, to study in detail. 

 

This is occupation with Christ. Because He has done all these things everything is laid out from 2:5 through 2:18. We are called upon to take time to think deeply and profoundly about the person and work of Jesus Christ and how that ought to change the way we react and respond to the problems and difficulties in life. Then he is going to develop that in relationship to Moses in the next few verses before we get into the exhortation section.

 

That is our set up. We have finished chapter two and are moving into chapter 3.