For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:2-3)
One of the most serious errors of today’s evangelical movement is the construction of a god and of a savior that is very much different than the one presented in scripture. The modern fallacy is to believe the God of the Old Testament was very harsh, unforgiving, and much too demanding. We read the Old Testament laws given to Moses at Mount Sinai and we shudder at the consequences ordered by God to make restitution for breaking those laws. There are many examples that could be given, but one that comes to mind is the sin of adultery. God said, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10). These laws are difficult for the modern hearer because the god that has been constructed today is one that would never think of punishing evil doers so harshly; and certainly He would never punish anyone in an eternal Hell. And yet in the book of Hebrews, we learn these laws were given to man through the administration of the holy angels of God. God’s holiness demanded such punishment so that scripture says the penalty paid is a “just recompense of reward.”
Churches today offer salvation from a god that is much less demanding. This god loves you and is unconcerned with your petty indiscretions (re: actual crimes against His holiness!). You owe nothing to God, but He owes everything to you. There are no requirements, no real standards—all you need do is acknowledge He has something to offer.
These verses in Hebrews are some of the strongest refutations in scripture about this idea of God and His Christ. Hebrews affirms that God is just in giving a penalty for the transgression of His law. What is more amazing from these scriptures is that the demands of God are not decreased because we have entered the New Testament era, but are rather intensified. In the Old Testament, angels were attendant at the giving of the law (Ps. 68:17), and prophets such as Moses taught it to the people. Obedience was expected even though the law itself could never bring anyone into a personal relationship with God. “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Hebrews 7:1).
The better hope is the Lord Jesus Christ and knowledge of Him is through the gospel. The writer makes a simple but profound argument. Christ is God’s own Son, the express image of His person (1:3). He has spoken, not angels and not men, and His gospel is the only way to come into a saving relationship with Him. If the hearers of the Old Testament Law could not escape God’s punishment for disobeying an inferior law given through angels and men, how much less can we expect to escape punishment for disobeying the superior law which actually brings salvation (Rom. 8:2) and was given by the One who sits in majesty on high (1:3)?
Rather than God demanding less today than He did in the Old Testament, He demands incredibly more. Punishment for rejection of God’s message today is far greater than it was then. To put it simply, Hell has become hotter! We will not escape it if we neglect salvation in Christ.
Pastor V. Mark Smith