Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
Heb. 2:1a “Therefore…”
This word connects our present text with what has been said before. Our author’s purpose is not only logic and doctrine. Conclusions must be drawn, and practical applications made.
Hebrews begins by presenting the preeminence of Jesus in order that we might see the importance of listening to what Jesus has said. Since Christ is the highest authority, superior even to angels, we must hear him, and submit to His will.
Heb. 2:1b “…we ought…”
This is a very strong verb, often translated “must.” The author is not giving us a choice in this matter. He is saying we have an urgent duty to perform. A proper response to Jesus is necessary.
Heb. 2:1c “…to give the more earnest heed…”
The only adequate response to the Lordship of Christ is diligent attendance to His words. Take His word, dear friend, embrace it tightly, concentrate upon it, let it be the object of your meditation. Yes, “meditation” is a good word, the concept is almost forgotten in our “hustle and bustle” world, but its worth is not therefore diminished.
Christians desperately need to pay more attention to God’s Word. They need to apply their minds to His revelation. One of our greatest dangers is losing interest in what is familiar. The most important truths too often lie “in the dormitory of the soul” (Maclaren).
Many pressures from daily cares and anxieties are pushing upon us. A thousand different cares occupy us, and agitate our lives. This constant bombardment makes it hard for us to keep our focus on the most important thing.
Do not let trifles keep you from essentials. Apart from the teachings found in the Word, your Christian life will fall to shambles. The wisdom you need for effective Christian living does not come to you automatically. It is contained in the Bible, and must be drawn from that source.
God does not put a premium on laziness or carelessness. His Word must be sought, yielding the seeker great reward. “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (PR 2:3-5).
To find silver, you must search and dig. The same is true of Gospel treasures. The greatest diamonds are reserved for those who seek diligently in the Bible-mine.
Heb. 2i1d “…to the things which we have heard…”
This refers, of course, to those things, which Jesus spoke. “The things” to which we give heed are not ordinary words, but communications of the highest importance. Jesus’ words are the message of heaven to earth, the revelation of God to man.
Only as we understand the significance of Christ’s words will we commit ourselves to heeding them. The more we value His message, the more we will seek it.
I heard this week of a ninety-year-old lady who has read the entire Bible each of the last twenty-five years. Her eyes are failing; she requires very large print, a magnifying glass, and a special light to read.
Reading has actually become a painful thing for her. It strains her eyes. Family members in love have suggested that maybe she not read as much as she once did. Her response is, “If I cannot read my Bible, I might as well not be alive.”
Bless the Lord for such an attitude! O that we could also feel the same way. Let’s give ourselves daily to reading in the precious book. Do not let good books crowd out the best book.
The field in which the treasure is hid should be valued above all other possessions whatsoever (MT 13:44). If the Word means not more to us than all the world besides, we will not give the more earnest heed to it. The consequences of such an attitude are disastrous…
Heb 2:1e “…lest at any time we should let them slip.”
Here we find the peril of indifference. Failure to give earnest heed to the Word results in losing benefits that accrue to our account by knowing and obeying the Word.
“Let slip” refers to things which slip away, as a ring from the finger, or a fact from the mind. It carries the connotation of something drifting away. “To give heed” and “let slip” are words with exactly opposite meanings. The first means to embrace a thing, the latter means to let it go.
When we do not give earnest heed to the Word, precious things are lost, valuable items drift away. The river of God’s redemption flows by us. It is filled with riches and blessings. We are to give heed to it, and draw out every pearl we can find.
Sadly, many believers splash idly in the shallows, while the great current of a deeper Christian life passes them by. They stay near the shore, while the main current cries from the midstream, “There is more, much more! Come enjoy it!” As we dally at the beach, great joys and victories drift away.
The greatest dangers in Christian living are rarely those that are most dramatic. Disaster does not stampede us as often as it creeps up on us. Very few believers deliberately turn their backs on holy living. Rather, day by day, they remain in the shallows, allowing the river of spiritual vitality to slip by. As a result, their own power ebbs slowly away. Sluggishness and carelessness have destroyed many a Christian home.
The temptation is ever before us to drop our guard, and relax our strenuous labor. However, this is something we must never do, not even for a moment. There are countless influences trying to pull us down.
In the old days, travel in the mountains of Pennsylvania was extremely difficult. Horses strained to pull loads up the steep grades. Rest was not possible for them at such times, because even if they stood still, gravity still pulled the weight of their load against them.
To arrest this downward drag, thereby allowing horses to rest, the pioneers equipped the rear of their wagons with stout, iron-shod stake. The stake trailed behind, but if the wagon began to roll backwards, the stake immediately stuck in the ground and held the wagon fast.
This illustrates a spiritual truth. Our journey up the mountain is exhausting. We need something dependable to keep us from ever going backward. Lost ground is hard to reclaim.
The stout, iron-shod stake which will steady our wagon is giving heed to the Word of God. That is our stay. Is your focus the Word? Are you in it every day? Do you feed on it, and cherish it? Your answer to these questions will tell what the future holds for your Christian life. How does your journey look? Should we anticipate progress or retreat?