Atonement in Action

Hebrews 2:9-18

Please note that neither I nor anyone else knows what the future holds, nor how it will all work out. Only the Lord knows. However, this is the way it appears to me to best fit the overall context of Scripture.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

The Jews stumbled over “Christ crucified”.
The Greeks saw “Christ crucified” as foolishness.

Both groups were offended at the atonement because it was accomplished by the crucifixion.

In 73РBC, a slave revolt (known as the Third Servile War) under the ex-gladiator of Capua, Spartacus, began against the Romans. Slavery accounted for roughly every third person in Italy.
Spartacus defeated many Roman armies in a conflict that lasted for over two years. While trying to escape from Italy at Brundisium he unwittingly moved his forces into the historic trap in Apulia/Calabria. The Romans were well acquainted with the region. Legions were brought home from abroad and Spartacus was pinned between armies.
On his defeat the Romans judged that the slaves had forfeited their right to live. In 71РBC, 6,000 slaves were crucified along the 200-kilometer (120Рmi) Via Appia from Rome to Capua.

In Christ’s day, crucifixion represented slavery, bondage, lawlessness and revolt, which describes the sinner without Jesus Christ. Christ went thus to the Cross in the place of the sinner.

Hebrews 2:5-9 quotes Psalms 8. V. 5, “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.“ and Hebrews 2:9 shows us that this promise of dominion can only be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 2 and Psalms 8 clearly speaks about the resurrection of our Lord, and its meaning. God had created man, not the angels, to be the one to exercise dominion over the creation under God by obeying the Word of God. Man listened to the tempter, and since that time, has sought that dominion apart from God.

(The Bildergers, most recently met in Austria, and continued to develop their plans of how to take dominion of the world, and overthrow all godly authority. Meanwhile, the Lord sits in the heavens and laughs at their useless efforts. He is the One Who controls history, not man. Ps 2.)

Man the sinner is incapable of Godly dominion, and yet this is his created purpose:

[Keil & Delitzsch on Ps 8] … It is just this Psalm, of which one would have least expected it, that is frequently quoted in the New Testament and applied to the Messiah. …
The psalmist regards man as one who glorifies God and as a prince created of God. The deformation of this position by sin he leaves unheeded. But both sides of the mode of regarding it are warranted. On the one hand, we see that which man has become by creation still in operation even in his present state; on the other hand, we see it distorted and stunted. If we compare what the Psalm says with this shady side of the reality, from which side it is incongruous with the end of man’s creation, then the song which treats of the man of the present becomes a prophecy of the man of the future.

“The dominion of the world lost to fallen man, and only retained by him in a ruined condition, is allotted to mankind, when redeemed by Him [Jesus Christ], in fuller and more perfect reality. This dominion is not yet in the actual possession of mankind, but in the person of Jesus it now sits enthroned at the right hand of God. In Him the idea of humanity is transcendently realised, i.e., according to a very much higher standard than that laid down when the world was founded. He has entered into the stateР—Рonly a little beneath the angels-of created humanity for a little while in order to raise redeemed humanity above the angels.”

That is to say, this Psalm not being fulfilled in the present, so it must therefore be for the future.

“Everything is really put under Him with just as little limitation as is expressed in this Psalm: not merely the animal kingdom, not merely the world itself, but the universe with all the ruling powers in it, whether they be in subjection or in hostility to God, yea even the power of death (1Co 15:27, cf. Eph 1:22). ... Redemption demands of man, before everything else, that he should become as a little child, and [Redemption] reveals its mysteries to infants, which are hidden from the wise and intelligent. Thus, therefore, it is [the little children of faith, Gal 4:19, 1 Jn 2:1, 12, 13, 18, 28, 3:7, 18, 4:4, 5:21] whose tongue is loosed by the Spirit of God, who are to put to shame the unbelieving; and all that this Psalm says of the man of the present becomes in the light of the New Testament in its relation to the history of redemption, a prophecy of the Son of man and of the new humanity. (K-D, Online Bible)

First, man still desires to exercise his dominion over creation, but his efforts are corrupted by sin as he does it for his own glory and as his own god.

Second, this Song is a prophecy of man in the future. The central theme of the New Testament is Jesus Christ the Restorer of that which is lost by the First Adam.

Third, proper dominion is in the person of Jesus Christ as he sits at the right hand of all power and authority.

Fourth, we have already seen that the Mediation work of Christ raises man to his appointed level established in creation.

Fifth, redeemed man’s tongue is loosed by the Spirit, and he will put to shame the wisdom of the world.

In other words, the redeemed are seated with Christ in heavenly places, far above all that can be named in heaven and earth. As Jesus Christ is so are we in this world. Thus, God the Father places all things under God the Son’s feet through the work of God the Spirit working by His Grace through his people. Dominion over God’s creation is not the result of any self-effort, but is the result of the Spirit working through them. As His ambassadors do what He would do in this world, the world is brought under His footstool through his people.

Only a new humanity under the head, authority, of Christ can fulfill man’s creation mandate. It is evident that man in his fallen state is not the “lord of the universe”, but in Jesus Christ, he is already “lord of the universe” as he is seated with him in the heavens.

The work of Jesus Christ is to restore man to his calling . It is to enable man to exercise dominion and to subdue the earth under God for the glory of God. Man’s purpose can only be accomplished through the atonement and regeneration.

The purpose of the atonement is to restore man to his created purpose. Ignoring that purpose makes the atonement man-centered rather than God centered ---- in Francis Shaffer’s words, men see atonement only for “personal peace and prosperity”, and not as the means to fulfill God’s command in Genesis 1:26-28.

That command was given to man and not to angels, and the atonement forms man into the image of Christ, so he can fulfill his calling and destiny assigned to him in Jesus Christ.

Galatians 4:19 “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,”

When the time was right and according to the Everlasting Covenant between the Tri-Une God, God the Father sent God the Son as a man, made a little lower than the angels. The angles cannot die, but God the Son had to be able, by the grace of God, to suffer and to taste death for every man. The result of his suffering was to be crowned with glory and honor.

Romans 5:6 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Galatians 4:4 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

The nature of Christ was never lower than the angles. But he had to have a human body made a little lower than the angles, so he could experience suffering and death. Angels are ministers, and as such, they can never to die.

V. 9, Jesus Christ tastes death for us; that is, the total experience of death in all its horror and isolation.

“… The author interprets and applies the language of the Psalm to Jesus and here puts Christ’s death in behalf of , and so instead of, every man as the motive for his incarnation and death on the Cross. The phrase to taste death occurs in the Gospels, (Mt 16:28 Mr 9:1 Lu 9:27 Joh 8:52) though not in the ancient Greek. It means to see death, (Heb 11:5) "a bitter experience, not a rapid sip" (Moffatt). His death was in behalf of every one (not everything as the early Greek theologians took it). The death of Christ (Andrew Fuller) was sufficient for all, efficient for some. It is all "by the grace of God," a thoroughly Pauline idea. (RWP, Online Bible)

2:10, see 5:7 “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

V. 9. His suffering was necessary to make our Saviour perfect, which certainly does not imply imperfection in him. Rather, it means that Christ’s suffering was necessary in order to identify with and experience everything that suffering and death entails. He did this so he could identify completely with his people for whom he became the mediator.

The result of his experience as a man was to be crowned with glory and honor. He did not deserve suffering and death, but he did it as the substitute for all whom the Father would give to him.

John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

As any good leader of a successful army must do, he had to experience everything his solders would need to endure. Through suffering, the Captain of our salvation was made perfect.

(I well remember our ITR training in Camp Lejeune. Our officers from the top down went through everything we had to go trough. It formed a locality with the troops. I am sure that attitude has greatly changed in the last 45 years.)

It was through his incarnation that Jesus Christ, God the Son, became a man and our brother.

John 1:3 tells us that all things were made by him, and all things exist because of him. But here, vv. 9, 10, we are told that God the Father made all things and causes all things to exist for the redeemer who is the Lord over all the redeemed. In order for the Captain of our salvation, the head of the new humanity, to be made “perfect”, he had to suffer as a man.

Jesus Christ knows what it’s like to be human. He knows the pain of being hurt and of suffering. He knows the pain of seeing things go wrong in the lives of others. He knows the hurt of being abandoned by those who professed “undying” love for him. He certainly knows the anguish and pain of death. He experienced all this on the behalf of those whom the Father would give to him.

V. 11, Christ was made the head of the new humanity though whom the Father will subdue all things to the Son.

John 17:15 I” pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

Both the Sanctifier and the sanctifiedР— both Christ and his followers, are all of the same nature; for as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, i.e. of human nature, he partook of the same, and thus he was qualified to become a sacrifice for man. (Clarke)

But what is meant by "He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified"? The Sanctifier is Christ Himself, the sanctified are the many sons who are being brought to glory. The source and power of sanctification are in the Son of God our Saviour. (Pink)

The Spirit of Christ sanctifies, sets his people apart for the holy service of God the Father. And those who are sanctified, set apart for God, are thus one with Christ.

Note Paul’s words as he quotes Jeremiah 18 in Romans 9:21 “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Follow the clear application of 2:11 in 1 Thes 4:4, 2 Tim 2:21, as the chosen, i.e., sanctified, vessel is sanctified, molded, by sanctifer, into a vessel fit for the Master’s use.)

The reason for the Son’s incarnation was to call out a people unto himself, and to sanctify them, and make them holy even as he is holy. What he endured qualified him to be in all points like those he sanctified through his redemptive work as their mediator. The Godhead is not ashamed to be identified with his brethren.

Matthew 12:48 “But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Through redemption and sanctification, his “brethren” are called and equipped to fulfill the creative purpose of man.

V. 12 refers to Psalm 22:22 “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.”

Congregation: “An assembly of any sort and purpose may be designated by qahal. It may be for evil counsel or deeds, {#Ge 49:6 Ps 26:5?} civil affairs, {#1Ki 2:3 Pr 5:14 Pr 26:26 Job 30:28?} or war. {#Nu 22:4Jud 20:2, etc.?} The assembled armies see the fight between David and Goliath. {#1Sa 17:47?} The term may in other contexts designate an assembled multitude of nations, {#Ge 35:11?} peoples, {#Ge 28:3 Ge48:4?} and even the dead. {#Pr 21:16?} It may be of the returning exiles, {#Jer 31:8 Ezr 2:64?} and then the restored community in Jerusalem is a qahal. {#Ezr 10:12,14 Ne 8:2,17?}” (TWOT, Online Bible.)

The Messiah, Jesus Christ the King, is there shown speaking to his brethren. The word church, v. 12, is the Greek Ecclesias, which has as its meaning: The governing council of the community. (See “GreEng” Lexicon.) Accordingly, the church thus has the duty of making its community and its world a Godly one. The believers, not the local assembly, are to govern in all areas of society as the ambassadors of Christ. And thus the redeemed ambassadors of Christ expand the work of the Kingdom of God.

This nation was founded by those who believed this land was to be an expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth, God’s new Zion. (Mayflower Compact.) They set out to accomplish that goal through evangelism, education, charity, courts of arbitration, and much, much more.

Some years ago when the “Christian Identity” crowd was trying to gain my support, they argued that the church, defined as individuals not an organized assembly, had a duty to be involved in and even control the community under God. Sadly, they had more of a grasp of the implications of God’s laws than does the vast majority of Christians.

V. 13 quotes Isaiah 8: “17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.”

Follow the author: V. 12, “I will declare thy name”, “I sing praise unto thee” and “I will put my trust in thee”, v. 13. We see that the Messiah’s praise to God the Father was to place his total trust and confidence in the Father to see him through the unimaginable suffering he faced as the Redeemer-Sanctifier. That is, he praised God the Father by placing his trust in the Father.

The Messiah included those given to him by the Father in his trust. The emphasis is on the family of God, of which the Mediator is its head.

In the historical context of Hebrews, the author is saying, “It is not the priest established by Moses who is totally identified with you. Rather, Christ is your family. He is the one you can turn to. He is the only one who knows about all of your need.”

V. 14, Jesus Christ took on a human body of flesh and blood. He became a mortal man, so that through the sacrifice of his body, death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil:

1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

When the devil introduced sin, he introduced death. Death destroyed life. The devil introduced death, and carries it with him like a plague. However, the devil has not the authority over death, for Christ has the keys of death and hell. (Rev 1:18)

Some years ago, TB was the scourge of the land, and is becoming so again. I remember that there were “carriers” who carried TB, but were not affected by it. The devil does not cause death, but is the carrier of the plague of death. Those who follow him contact the plague, and that plague of sin is death.

The cry of God in Hosea is “O Israel, why hast thou destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.” The cry is the same today: “O [name], why are you so determined to destroy yourself, when in Me is life everlasting?”

God the Son comes to deliver those who have been in bondage to death all their lifetime. They have the plague that was introduced into the world, and continues to be carried about by the tempter.

V. 15. The modern anti-Christian man tries to pretend he does not fear death, but that fear cannot be dismissed:

Psalms 73:1 “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. 2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. 19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. 20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.”

We must also say that even God’s people can be tormented by fear:

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

Fear keeps many in bondage, as they fear to exercise their calling under God in society. Fear of what man can do to me, will hinder fulfilling my calling under God. (Ecc 12:13)

Hebrews 2:13, fear shows lack of sanctification and trust in the One who sanctifies his people for his own use and glory. (Pro 29:25, Mat 10:28, Heb 13:6)

God the Son did not become as one who serves God without exposed to sin and death, as would be an angel. Rather, he became a man, in the physical line of Abraham and David. His incarnation as a flesh and blood man was from the time of his birth until his death. His incarnation as a man was very real. He was in all things like his fellow men, so that he could be their merciful and faithful high priest.

V. 17. He was a faithful high priest “in all things pertaining to God”. He was made “perfect” in order to make perfect reconciliation for the sins of his people.

It was the reality of the Son taking on the body of flesh and blood that made possible the reality of the atonement or reconciliation for the sins of those given to him by the Father.

In every area of his work as our High Priest, the Son’s incarnation made him our brother. He is our true intercessor. Because of his incarnation, he knows our every want and need, as well as our sins and shortcomings. When one has been with his or her spouse for many years, they should get to know them well. However, God the Son knows and can identify with us far better.

Remembering that this book addresses the Hebrews who were desiring to return to the now defunct Temple worship. This book is a strong rebuke to them for their desire to depart from what they have in Christ, the better High Priest, who is the only mediator between God and man.

Unlike purely human high priests who were exalted by the mediation laws of Moses and who were apart from the people, Jesus Christ is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Christ our Mediator is our merciful and faithful High Priest in “all things pertaining to God”.

V. 18. All societies outside of Christ, regardless of what they claim, are founded on sin. No social order built man must end on death.

That social order is without atonement; it is without grace from above, and seeks grace from below, from the powers of darkness.

Ephesians 2:12 “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:”

Social orders that are without God and his law have no hope.

Men everywhere are trying to build a society and a community apart from Christ. All the various clubs and gatherings that meet apart from Christ, that is apart from seeking to do his will on earth, are only hastening the death of the society.

Matthew 7:26 “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
1 Corinthians 3:11 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.“

There is only one foundation, and any building on other than Jesus Christ is building on sand. Civilizations rise and crumble based on their relationship to the Redeemer King.

Partial, false or defective gospels, such as the gospel that seeks “personal peace and prosperity”, and that sees salvation as simply the salvation of the individual soul have led to where we are today, on the very verge of total collapse. (I dealt with the evils of those false plans and the results in “Death of the Church Victorious”.)

Godly salvation will seek to fulfill man’s created purpose through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We saw from Isaiah’s prophecies that Christ’s atonement points to one thing---a new heavens and a new earth, wherein righteousness or justice dwell.