Our current study will come from this text: “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:5-8).
In this epistle we have seen the supremacy of Christ over the angels (Hebrews 1:1-14). We have read about how one cannot escape the consequences of disobedience to the confirmed words of our Lord (Hebrews 2:1-4). Soon, we will be entering into a context that is going to be discussing Christ being in the flesh. For some, even today, they think that Christ being in the flesh lessened His authority. What we are about to learn in this study is that even man, being in the flesh, still can have authority in this life and in the world to come.
When we are talking about the “world to come” we are talking about eternity (Mark 10:30 and Luke 18:30). Remember this because we will read this phrase again in this epistle (Hebrews 6:5). What we are reading in our current study is that the angels will not have the world to come under their authority. The fact is, faithful saints will stand in authority above the angels in Heaven (I Corinthians 6:1-3).
The Hebrew writer then references a Psalm. Let’s consider the whole Psalm this comes from: “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth” (Psalms 8:1-9)! One of the points in the Psalm above and our text is that man was made lower than the angels, but given authority.
Then, what does it mean that man was made lower than the angels? The angels don’t have authority in the world to come. The angels don’t have authority over the things of the earth. Why is this point made? It is being made because the context is going to draw from this to talk about Jesus being made in the flesh and thus being lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9). The point is, being in the flesh has some limits (i.e. sickness, physical death, etc.). However, those limits are not concerning things of authority.
Man, even while being in the flesh, is in authority over this earth. In the beginning we read: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).
Why did God make man above all other living creatures on earth? Consider what Paul wrote: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device” (Acts 17:28-29). As the offspring of God, made in the image of God, man has been given authority over all other creatures on earth (Genesis 9:1-3). This logic carries forward in talking about Jesus in the text we will begin to study in verse nine.
Before we get into the authority of Christ, even though He was in the flesh, we have a statement in our current study to consider. Regarding man, the writer of this letter said: “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” What, in this world, does man not have authority over? What is it, in the flesh, that we are limited in our control of? Think about it. What is the last enemy of mankind that is yet to be destroyed? Paul wrote, speaking of the resurrection contextually, this: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Corinthians 15:26).
Mankind can subdue animals. Mankind can subdue his fellow man. Mankind can subdue the plants, seeds, etc. We cannot stop death. Death is an appointment that we shall all keep unless Christ comes first (II Samuel 14:14, Psalms 89:48, Ecclesiastes 3:19-20, Romans 5:12, and Hebrews 9:27). This point goes forward even in talking about Jesus coming in the flesh. As a man, even aside from Him being the sacrifice for our sins, He had to die. By coming in the flesh He had to submit to that limitation that all men have unless God made an exception (i.e. II Kings 2:1-14 and Hebrews 11:5). Jesus was provided with a fleshly body for the very purpose of going through physical death (Hebrews 10:1-22). Death is that one thing that will prevail over humanity until our Lord comes again. Thus, we look forward to the abolishing of death and the granting of everlasting life (II Timothy 1:9-10).
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