“If the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:2-3).
Today the majority believes that God is a God of love and grace, but not of justice. One brief look at Hebrews 2:2-3 ought to convince anyone otherwise. The writer’s point is this: Since the Old Testament makes it clear that transgression and disobedience met with severe and just punishment, how much more so will equal or greater punishment be rendered under the New Testament, which was revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself?
Both the Old and New Testaments confirm that angels were instrumental in bringing the law (Deut. 33:2; Acts 7:38). The law the angels spoke, primarily the Ten Commandments, was steadfast. That meant if someone broke the law, the law would break the lawbreaker. The law was inviolable; punishment for breaking it was certain.
“Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense” (v. 2). Transgression refers to stepping across a line–a willful, purposeful sin. Disobedience, however, refers to imperfect hearing–the sin of shutting one’s ears to the commands, warnings, and invitations of God. It is a sin of neglect or omission, doing nothing when something should be done.
Hebrews 2:2 also puts to rest the notion that God is not fair. The writer says every sin received a “just recompense.” God, by His very nature, is just. Every punishment He meted out to those who defied Him was a deterrent to the sin He wanted to stop.
God severely punished the nation of Israel because they knew better. That leads to the important principle that punishment is always related to how much truth one knows but rejects. The person who knows the gospel, who has intellectually understood it and believed it, yet drifts away will experience the severest punishment of all.
Suggestion for Prayer:
Ask God to give you an even greater appreciation of the punishment He has saved you from to motivate you to pursue the lost more vigorously.
For Further Study:
Read Matthew 11:20-24, 12:38-42, and Luke 12:47-48 to discover Christ’s attitude toward those who know the truth yet rebel against it.
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.