Dr. S. Lewis Johnson comments on the Hebrews passage which states the purpose of the combat between the Christ and the devil.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for the ministry of the Scriptures, which has been so rich to us in our lost estate. Thou didst cause us, by Thy grace, to turn to a consideration of the things of heaven and, not only that, Lord, but Thou hast through the Holy Spirit moved our hearts to turn to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as the one whose offer of the forgiveness of sins is backed by all of the authority and power of heaven itself. We thank Thee for the enlightenment that has come. We thank Thee for the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. We thank Thee for the continued work of the Godhead in our lives and we look forward, Lord, to the ages of eternity and the blessings and the enjoyment of knowing the great God of heaven. We thank Thee, especially, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when we think of the incarnation of the eternal God, it not only is astonishing and astounding to us, but it’s one of the most thrilling things that one could ever think about, that Thou didst come here in our midst, and point us without any fail, to the truths that affect our lives forever. We thank Thee for the word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us. Now, Lord, we ask that Thou will be with us as we study the Scriptures this evening. We entrust this hour to Thee, looking for Thy blessing, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[Message] Some years ago, it was about twenty, I think, I cut out something out of the newspaper. It was description of a wedding of two people in San Francisco, who were wed by a Satanist minister. Among the things that the article said was that the wedding took place, of course, in a home in San Francisco. They were married by a lion-tamer turned sorcerer, pronounced the match “conceived in Hell.” Through the dark rite, a 500-pound lion on the back porch grumbled throatily and bashed the bars of the cage with his paws. I don’t know if that had any connection with Satan being a roaring lion, going about, seeking whom he may devour, but it certainly fit the case. The bride was not an insignificant person, a graduate of Goucher College, daughter of one of the important politicians of the state of New York. The bride groom was one who described himself as simply, “a member of society.” The minister, who performed it, performed it as being one who was a self-styled high priest of the prince of darkness, and it was witnessed by a number of people and a number of reporters, of course, who were told about it ahead of time.
Accompanying the wedding, as pieces for to give the proper atmosphere was a naked woman who was lying on a mantle and with long red hair. And while the wedding was going on, it was her business to lie there, flanking the pastor or preacher, the high priest of Satan was the paraphernalia of the sorcery business, human skeletons, stuffed by opossums, leopards, and a physicians examining table which later became a bar. The minister was black hooded and robed. He rang a gong. He recited an oath to the Seder of Pan then uttered incantations in a guttural outpouring. He said it was a language he invented. And, occasionally, the lion muttered, while this was going on, and while the ring was placed on the bride’s finger. The ceremony closed with “I am an ordained clergyman in the satanic church, which I founded, and which the law may not recognize,” but he pronounced them married. And whether they are still married or not is anyone’s guess.
What interested me about this, of course, was the surprising thing that it be put in the paper that people would really be interested in this kind of thing. But through the years since then, I stopped clipping these things out. But I know that you have noticed as have a number of others that similar types of things have been transpiring all along.
Of course, we’ve always had and as far as old as the Old Testament, we’ve had fortune tellers, false prophets. We’ve had mediums. We even have mediums in the Bible, of course. We all remember Bishop Pike, if we’re old enough to remember. So we’re not surprised at some of the indications that there is a kind of world about us in which there is a recognition of satanic power and satanic influence.
Van Ranke, one of the greatest analysts of the historical processes, more than once called attention to something subtle in history, which remained at the finish as a sort of residuum, unexplained. He said that, “It felt sometimes as though an occult force were at work in the midst of the apparent confusion.” Of course, Christians would be quick to say, “You’re absolutely right.” And this is what it is. The Bible makes it very plain that there is an occult force at work in the midst of the apparent confusion about us. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews is one of those who has a great passage on the relationship of the work of Jesus Christ to Satan, who is, of course, the instigator of all of this occult confusion, if we may call it that. The Apostle Paul has a great section in the Epistle to the Colossians in which he talks about that and other passages in the New Testament speak with reference to it, too. But this is one of the great ones and I’d like to read the passage. It’s Hebrews chapter 2, verse 11 through verse 16, as we talk on the subject, “The Defeat of the devil, or Old Nick Wiped Out.” Now, in verse 11, we read.
“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, saying, ‘I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.’ And again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ And again, ‘Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.’ 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, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.”
Now, we have noticed as we have been reading the passage here in chapter 2, that the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, that the world to come, and we have identified the world to come as the kingdom of God upon the earth, is a world to come that is to be put in subjection to men, not to angels; for he’s still seeking to show that Jesus Christ is greater than the angels. In verse 5, he had said, “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.”
And then he cited the passage in Psalm 8 in which the psalmist, thinking about Genesis chapter 1, and the creation, how in the original creation described there, God placed man over the creation, made him, in effect, the king of the earth. We know, of course, that this position is one that he lost by the sin described in the next chapter. But man’s ultimate goal is to be lord of the creation, under God. Or we can put it this way, lord of the creation through Jesus Christ, who is our representative. “He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.”
And the Psalmist goes on to say that, “He has put the world in subjection to man.” He mentions this when he says, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him for a little time lower than the angels, You have crowned him with glory and honor and set him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” That’s the divine intention described in Genesis chapter 1, and then in a lyrical way in Psalm 8, referred to and substantiated.
But now, the human condition is much different. The human condition, as a result of the fall, makes it very evident man is in no position to assume lordship over the creation. He states, in verse 8, “For in that He put all things in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.” Man sinned by storming God’s throne to seize the right to rule for Him, but God said, “No,” consigned man to finitude, all of us. I look out upon you and I can see the evidences of finiteness. You look at me you can see a few evidences in my case. [Laughter] I see many in your cases. I see men out there who have lost their hair. I see some of you wearing glasses, such as I am. I see many other things. I see nothing of this with reference to the ladies. [Laughter] But the men, they have really suffered as a result of the finitude that is part of our being today. We are finite, we are mortal, and one day it can be said of us, “You are history.” Finis. So the human condition is such that we could not assume authority over the world.
And so, he says, “Now we do not yet see all things put under him.” But the 9th verse is a verse of great comfort for us. “But,” “but,” “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor.” The glory and honor that man is to have, as he says, in verse 7, “You have crowned him with glory and honor.” Our Lord, “crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” “By the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
So the divine solution here is expressed specifically in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ; and we laid great stress on the fact that our Lord is the mediator, the representative, of the people of God. The ancient promise that man is to be king over the earth is not a baseless fabric of vision, it’s not a passing dream, it’s something that is as sure as the truthfulness of the existence of the eternal God in heaven. And our Lord’s work, described here, tasting death, by the grace of God, for everyone, is the pledge of the destiny for each of those for whom he has acted.
Now, one might ask, why must He suffer? Why is it necessary for our Lord to suffer? Well, we talked last time about the 10th verse. We spend our whole hour on the 10th verse. It is a tremendous verse. More could have been said than I said about it and I said a lot of word. But it’s a great text. “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Only by representative suffering may man regain his destiny. It is necessary that our debt be paid and our Lord has paid the debt. And by paying the debt, God is freed to give to men what he has determined to give them, authority and kingship over the earth.
Now, in describing this in a bit more detail, the author goes on to discuss identification in a bit more detail, beginning with verse 11 through verse 13. And then describes the suffering in a bit more detail in verse 14 through verse 16. So that’s what we’ll be doing. And, first of all, we’ll just remind you that verse 10 is the picture of an army, marching to the Promised Land, under the one captain, and our Lord can only make him like him, by becoming like us. And by his entrance into heaven, he secures our entrance together with him, ultimately.
Now, the representation, the proof of representation, in one sense, in order to prove man’s supremacy, it’s necessary to show that Jesus was a man, because he has won the victory and being a man, in him, man has won the victory. The “For” of verse 11 introduces the explanation of how we may be called “sons.” “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.”
Now, there are a couple of important things to bear in mind here, and first the word “sanctifies.” “For both He who sanctifies,” I think, the Authorized Version has “sanctifieth.” What does that mean? Well, to sanctify in the language of the Epistle to the Hebrews is to set one apart for worship. To sanctify is to qualify an individual to worship. When we think generally of Christianity today, the term justification is much more frequent than sanctification, and we think of justification as being the work of Jesus Christ by which, and on the grounds of which, God is able to give us a righteousness that is acceptable to Him. What a marvelous truth that is. The Reformation, the Protestant Reformation was built around the preaching of justification by faith. Christ taking the place of sinners and through his work satisfying God’s righteous claims against us, enabling him to in harmony with his righteousness and with his justice to give to us an acceptable position before Him, a righteousness that is acceptable to God. What a magnificent thing it is to know that through faith in Christ, I have conferred to me, as a gift of God, a righteousness that makes me acceptable to God forever, always, a son of God, always, righteous before Him.
Now, sanctification is a different figure. And this author, of course, is the author of the high priesthood, and so sanctification is a term that frequently speaks of the same thing, but in a different way. Justification is a language of a lower court in which an individual appears before a judge and is finally declared acquitted. But sanctification is a term that applies to the temple where worship is taking place. And so the individual who is sanctified is the person who is qualified to worship in the temple. That’s the figure of sanctification. And this author, of course, being the kind of author that he is, interested in the High Priesthood of Christ, is interested in that. So when he states here, in verse 11, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one,” he’s talking about God who sets apart the saints for the worship of Him. And those saints as individuals who have been set apart for the worship of Him and he states that they are all “of one,” that is, they belong to the same body. To bring into God’s presence, for worship, is the idea and that we and he are of one.
When you think of our Lord Jesus Christ as “The Man,” par excellence, of course, he is, also, the Son of God. But, we, too, are of God. We are “sons of God.” He is a Son of God, by virtue of His divine being, and by His eternal generation. God the Father is always a father, always a father because there is always a son. We are sons by adoption; when we believe on Christ, we come into the family of God and we are called sons. So we and he are of God; the Son of God by eternal generation, we by adoption upon our salvation. So verse 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.”
Now, why should a brother be ashamed? Why would the author be expected to make any point over this? He is not ashamed to have them called brethren.” Well, of course, the very fact that we read something like this, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren,” indicates how great our position is; but it also indicates how great he is. He’s not ashamed to call us brethren.
Now, the author, at this point, goes on to cite, as is his favorite way of writing, to cite some passages from the Old Testament to support his claims. And so we want to look at them.
Now, let me say this. Sometimes, when the authors of the New Testament use the Old Testament, you like I you turn back in the Old Testament and you look at that passage and, I’m getting like Wilford, I better close this and put this in my pocket, you learn, you look back in the Old Testament and you look at that text and you say, “Well, I don’t exactly see how he got that out of that passage? And why his use in the New Testament agrees with that particular place?”
Now, I can not say how accurate I am, but I know this, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand how the Old Testament texts are used by the New Testament writers, and one thing I’ve learned. I’ve learned that the New Testament writers were tremendous students of the word of God. I’ve spent sometimes hours and, literally, days on one place, and then discovered after awhile, why that text did say what they said it said. And every time that that has happened to me, I’ve just been convinced, more and more, of the inspiration of Holy Scripture; but also of the greatness of the understanding of the word of God that the writers of the New Testament had. That’s not surprising to you. I mean, we talk about the inspiration of the Scriptures. And so, yes, we believe that. But, it’s so marvelous to see this carried out in individual cases.
Now, he’s going to cite three texts here, in support of what he’s talking about. Verse 12, “Saying I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” Now, if you’ll turn back, for just a moment, we don’t have time to study each one of these in detail, but I’d like for you to look at one of them, at least, if you’ll turn back to Psalm 22 in verse 22. This is the psalm from which our author is citing. And the verse he is citing is verse 22 of Psalm 22, “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” Now, the author has said, “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
Let me sum up by saying this; Psalm 22 is a Messianic psalm. In fact, David carried beyond himself, speaks typically as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaks with reference to the future. You can see that, if you just read the first verse of this psalm. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?” And you know, that the Lord Jesus Christ, when he was suffering on the cross at Calvary, reached back into the Old Testament, made no complaints whatsoever about what was happening to him incidentally, reached back into the old Testament, selected this text. I don’t think he did that, like a professor, understand, this came normally and naturally from him. And said, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Now, this psalm is a typical prophetic psalm. It spoke, David wrote it, spoke of his own experiences but carried by the Holy Spirit went far beyond them. This is Holy Scripture. You can see that it went far beyond David because later on in this psalm, notice the effects of what is transpiring here. Verse 27, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations.” So it’s evident that the things that David is talking about go far beyond him. They speak of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so here, he says that the head of the assembly is going to declare the name of God to his brethren. This, of course, is marvelously fulfilled in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ because that is precisely what he did when he came. He revealed the Father to the assembly that belongs to him. No man has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him. So he says, “I will declare Your name to the brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” So the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews finds in this an indication of the Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry of revealing the Father to us, revealing him as our God to us.
Alexander McLaren has some interesting words concerning this. Maybe I’ve got time to read a couple of them. He says, “Dear Brethren, more and more it is becoming certain in the tendencies of modern thought that unfold themselves that we are brought to this fork in the road; Christ or nothing. Either God manifest in him or no manifestation of God at all. Theism or deism.” Theism is simply the belief that there is a god, and that’s the kind of thing that characterized the Christian church member today. They say, “Well, I believe in God.” That means to them, “I’m a Christian.” It doesn’t mean that at all. A person can believe in god and not have anything to do with the Christian Church. But he says, “Deism is even less Christian, because it simply says there is a god, but he’s not interested in the things of the earth. He has created man and he’s created the general principles by which things transpire, and so, he sits back and does nothing, day by day, but lets the general principles which he has ordained operate in human society.”
So he says, “Theism or deism has not substance enough to sustain the assaults of the modern scientific spirit. Unless the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him, and no man has seen God at any time or can see him. It is Christ or darkness. Either the Father revealed in him, or god spelled with a little “g” who is an unverifiable and unnecessary hypothesis or a stream of testimony, not ourselves, that make for righteousness.”
McLaren goes on, “Or a vague someone, concerning whom we only know that he cannot be known. The cultivated mind of England has to make its choice this day, between these two, and when we come back to Christ, declaring the name of the Father unto his brethren, the nebulous doleful gray that veiled the sky, disappears and we feel the sun again and regain a God whom we can love because he has an ear and a heart and a hand. A God of whom we can be sure, a God concerning whom we have not to say, ‘I think, I hope, I fear,’ perhaps, but a God whom we can know; and to know whom is life eternal.”
That’s what has transpired, because the Lord Jesus Christ has taught his people, through the Holy Spirit. As he says, “I will declare Your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly, and I will sing praise to You.” The Son of God telling us, teaching us, teaching us through his teachers, I hope I’m doing some of that at the very moment, telling us, teaching us, through his teachers, the truth about the Father. And that our author derives from that statement in Psalm 22. And, let me tell you this; it is really there.
Now, he cites another text. “And again, “I will put My trust in Him.” Now, this is a text derived from the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 8. Remember these things about Isaiah, chapter 8. It’s near the end of the days of Judah. Isaiah the Prophet in Judah, the Assyrian is coming down toward the land, Israel the Northern Kingdom is going to be overcome, and the Assyrian is drawing near to Judah. And Isaiah is an individual who, for a good while at least, apparently had trust in the fact of their righteousness. Judah’s righteousness. But then in chapter 8 in verse 17, it becomes clear in that context to Isaiah that Judah, too, is going to be defeated by the Assyrians. And so Isaiah and the little company gathered around him, which were not simply his children but the prophets who gathered around this great prophet, those were the faithful ones; the kind of remnant in the midst of Israel. And there, Isaiah says, “I will put my trust in Him.”
God, of course, told Isaiah, your two sons are signs. One of them was Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, that’s quite a name, isn’t it? But “hasten booty hasten spoil” and Shear-Jashub, “A remnant will return.” What’s very interesting about that is, here in the midst of the chosen people, there is a remnant. A remnant and this is the first time in the Bible, that this idea of a remnant is evident.
I may be doing that. I notice, if I don’t say anything, anyway. [Laughter] So, Isaiah [Pause] I don’t need any help from the heathen. Laughter. I guess it’s touching my coat there.
Now, we’re coming back to Isaiah, chapter 8 and Isaiah with the people gathered around him, the prophets, expresses his hope in the midst of the evident Assyrian onslaught, which it’s quite evident now to Isaiah is going to result in Judah’s captivity. And so he says, “And I will put my trust in Him.”
Now, Isaiah, of course, acts also as a type. Being a prophet, he is a type of the prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ, and so, he expresses in himself and in his actions, the kind of hope and faith that the Lord Jesus Christ expressed in his ministry.
Sometimes we forget this that the Lord Jesus Christ is not only the object of our faith, but he also is the illustration or example of our faith. And occasionally, in our desire to emphasize the fact that the Lord Jesus is the eternal God, we forget that other aspect of his character, just as necessary, that he is a man such as you and I are, man or woman, such as you and I are, belonged to the human race, apart from sin. And, thus, the attitude that the Lord Jesus Christ, as a person, had during his incarnation is the attitude of faith and trust in God. That is expressed so often, particularly, in the Gospel of John, where he talks in this language, that he does the things that the Lord tells him to do. He says the things that the Lord puts in his mouth. And so the idea of the God-man, as one who also puts his trust in the Lord God, is a truth that we should not lose. He is one of us in his faith and trust, and an example for us in that. He’s more than example, but he is an example in that sense, and we ought not to lose it. So the prophet’s sons are signs, and Isaiah expresses his faith in, “I will put my trust in Him.”
And then, again, in the third text, from the very next verse in Isaiah 8, and again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.” The Prophet, of course, speaking of that little remnant gathered around him, but speaking typically of our Lord and the Christian Church; that is, the body of believers who are also given to him by the Lord God.
Now, all of these statements are designed to underline what is stated in verse 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.”
Now, what’s the purpose of this representative solidarity? Well, that is described for us in verse 14 through verse 16, where he says, “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.” It’s proper for the victor to gain victory and in gaining victory to enter the sphere of the evil and to overcome there. And so the Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven.
I mentioned, a couple of nights back that, “Jesus Christ,” according to Helmut Thielicke, “did not remain at base headquarters in heaven, receiving the reports of the world’s suffering from below, and shouting a few encouraging words to us from a safe distance. But he took a nature such as your nature and mine, and came down in the midst of the lost-ness of human beings and carried out his ministry in our midst.”
And so, now, here is the description of it, with reference, as we shall see, to the satanic powers. “Inasmuch as the children have partaken of flesh and blood.” The way that is described in the original text is this: We have taken part in flesh and blood, and if I may embellish the Greek tense a bit, and that is our condition. We have partaken of flesh and blood and that’s the result of our participation, as human beings, in the fallen state of humanity. We have partaken of flesh and blood. Now, if the Lord Jesus is to come and redeem us, he must not only be a divine, infinite savior, but he also must be one of us. The Bible makes that so plain in the illustrations of the Old Testament, the Kinsman-Redeemer, for example, just one illustration. He must be one of us.
We read here, “Inasmuch as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same.” What is interesting about this word “shared” here is it’s in a slightly different tense from the other one. It’s the perfect tense. The other is the aorist tense, referring to a particular time. He has taken part in our nature. And the reference, of course, and the way it’s written is to the incarnation. Think about it, my Christian friend or non-Christian friend, think about it. God has taken to himself human nature.
I believe it was Dorothy Sales, who once said with reference to the incarnation, “If the incarnation is not exciting, what in heaven’s name is exciting? That God, the eternal God, should partake of our nature.” That’s so marvelous. It has such great ramifications. You and I, let me just put it in a word or two, you and I could never know certainly the truth of God if Jesus Christ had not come and taken our nature. We could never know, never know. That’s why the incarnation is so important. That’s why the person who came must be a divine being. We must have divine authority for these truths that we are talking about. And so our Lord must be a divine savior, otherwise, we cannot ultimately know. No prophet could bring us that assurance. Our Lord must come and He must authenticate the prophet’s words, for those prophets’ words to be words that we can believe. So the incarnation, as he says, “He has taken part of flesh and blood.” True humanity. No Docetic or Appolinarian Christ, that is, he didn’t partake of something that was like humanity, but he took humanity as we know it to himself, a genuine partaker, and a genuine partaker of our nature.
Why? Well, he goes on to say, “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” The death of death by death gives death its death. I’ll say it again. The death of death by death gives death its death. For, our Lord has come, taken human nature, borne our punishment, and death for us is no longer. The alabaster box must be broken, the devil’s power, gained in Eden, is to be taken by Him. And as a result of what he has done, the devil as the authoritative representative of the judgment and power of God, in exercising judgment, is history, himself. The demons have no ultimate force. The kingdom of the underworld, the kingdom of Satan, is the kingdom that is defeated. The Lord Jesus Christ has done it. To spell it out, he goes on to say, “and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Incidentally, there is a statement here that I did not want to pass by. Reference is made to the fact that the devil had the power of death. Incidentally, your texts may have “has” but “had” is proper. “Had the power of death.” We know, from later on, in the Book of Revelation, that the Lord Jesus has recovered and regained for man what Satan was given as a delegated authority of God. And so we read in verse 17 of Revelation, chapter 1, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
And, evidently, for one of Satan’s privileges, was as a result of being the head of angelic creation, it was part of his authority and power to inflict death, under God. There are passages in the word of God that indicate that. In fact, individuals who are under discipline, the Apostle Paul feels free, in passages like in 1 Corinthians chapter 6, to say that he has committed such to Satan for the exercise of judgment. So in other places, at least two places, where that has been stated. So, evidently, Satan had that authority. It must have been something like this, and this is only something by illustration, what happened was that we are all in the power of Satan because of the fall in the Garden of Eden. And so our Lord has come and has taken our place, has borne the judgment, and now, as a result of what he has done, he has been given a legal release, which he presents to Satan, for those for whom He has died. So the Devil’s power gained in Eden is taken by our Lord Jesus Christ and we go free. As he says, “The release of those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” It is the greatest of all emancipation proclamations, and it is that which the Lord Jesus Christ has won, by virtue of his death on Calvary’s Cross.
One last statement made in verse 16, is rather important, I think. He says, “For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.” That’s an interesting statement. The passage in the Authorized Version reads somewhat differently, but this is the correct translation. “He does not give aid to angels,” because he’s showing the Lord Jesus Christ as greater than the angels, and we too, since we are now his. He’s saying that He came not to give aid to them, but he came to give aid to the seed of Abraham. This will let you know, also, what he’s been talking about all along. For example, in verse 5, he has said, “But He has put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels,” and then, he goes on to speak about man. And, throughout, he begins to speak about what is meant by the statement, “tasting death for everyone.” Everyone, that is, the ones that he’s talking about here; everyone, verse 10, sons, verse 11, sanctified, verse 12, brethren, verse 13, children, and now here, seed of Abraham. So the “everyone” is everyone without distinction and not everyone without exception. Our Lord came to help give aid to the seed of Abraham. So He does not give aid to angels, he gives aid to the seed of Abraham.
Campbell Morgan, many years ago, in one of his writings, I’ve forgotten exactly where, but in one of his writings, he talks about this particular statement here. And he said, in thinking about it, there came to his mind that wonderful poem by Mrs. Browning, entitled, “The Seraphim.” “I’m not going to recite it,” he said, “because I cannot recite it but I know its meaning. Mrs. Browning describes the Seraphim watching the work of the Son of God on earth, and at last, seeing where into the thing was moving, by the mystery of the incarnation and, ultimately, by the cross. One seraph looks at the host of ransomed souls, at the church, and says, ‘Hereafter shall the blood bought captives raise their passion-song of blood.’” Marvelous thing that she has written there. And, then another of the seraphs replies, “And we, extend Our holy vacant hands towards the Throne, Crying, ‘We have no music.’” Isn’t that marvelous?
“Hereafter shall the blood-bought captives raise their passion-song of blood.” Every redeemed soul, who really knows redemption, raises that kind of song, thanksgiving and praise, for the blood that was shed for me. But the angels cannot sing that song. He did not die for angels. There are elect angels; there are non-elect angels. The non-elect angels are passed by. The elect angels need no redemption, for they did not sin. Those who have sinned and have come to new eternal life are the saints, the church of God, at the present time. And it’s they who extend their holy vacant hands toward the throne; crying or it’s the angels who say, “We have no music!” We extend our holy hands to heaven and praise Him, for the redemption that He has accomplished.
Morgan says, “Are we inclined to call that hyperbole? It does not even begin to touch the wonder of the fact that the angels will never sing as the church of God will sing. No angel will ever be able to chant that solo, “He loved me and gave Himself for me.”
I have another statement here, but I don’t have time to talk about it now. I’d like to conclude, because our time is just about gone.
So what our author has said then is in Him there is deliverance from the occult, from Satan, and his demons. In other places of the New Testament, the New Testament writers make special reference to the fact that Jesus Christ came and accomplished his work with reference to Satan.
John says, in the 3rd chapter of his first epistle, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil.” The seed of the woman has crushed the head of the serpent. He has died and defeated death. We no longer need fear death. May God help us to cry from the reality of it in our lives, death is swallowed up in victory, thanks be to God which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So finally, it comes to this; there is one way to know God. As we read in the Bible, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh unto the Father, except through me.” The distinctiveness of the Christian faith is on many of the pages of the Bible. Only through Christ is there salvation. One fountain of life has been opened in the graveyard of the world. One road to life and that road is the Lord Jesus Christ. Trust in Him.
So we call upon you, as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and to hear him say in heaven, with no wonder lost, all in the fold, “Behold, I and the children which God hath given to me.” That’s the ultimate fulfillment of that marvelous promise, when you and I are in the presence of the Lord and the Lord Jesus Christ, I can see this in my minds-eye, the Lord Jesus Christ, for this vast multitude, innumerable saints, “Behold, I and the children which God, the Father, has given to him.”
Are you in that company? Do you belong there? Are you sure? Has God the Holy Spirit so worked in your heart and life that you know that you belong to Him? Has the witness of the Spirit touched your heart, showing you your need, causing you to flee to Christ, causing you to give Him thanks for having died for sinners, such as you? And have you made that transaction of simply receiving the free gift?
May God, in his marvelous grace, surely marvelous grace, may he touch your heart, may you come to Him and sing with the writers of Holy Scripture, these marvelous promises of the word of God.
Let’s bow together in a moment of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee and praise Thee for these wonderful passages from the word of God. We thank Thee for the encouragement that we are given by them. We thank Thee that Satan is a defeated foe and that in the experiences of life he may go about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may destroy, but we have someone stronger than he; our great Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who has by the shedding of his precious blood, overcome him and overcome sin, and given us the eternal life and the blessings of it.
Lord, if there should be someone in this audience who has not yet come to Him, at this very moment, touch their hearts, turn them to Thyself, enable them to give Thee thanks for what Christ has done for sinners, recognizing themselves as belonging to that company.
We pray, In Jesus’ name. Amen.