The biggest irony of our supposedly “WOKE” world is that most people are asleep with their head in their Apps. The smartphone hasn’t been the tool which promised to advance our abilities and accelerate our progress. Instead, it is the primary dispensary devise for dopamine, anxiety, FOMO, entertainment and distraction. While this tech is powerful for business and communication, the primary use is social media, games, and propaganda. Each alert, chime or buzz inoculates the user deeper into a mostly meaningless dance which spirals deeper and deeper into a dreamland of commercial messagges, assumption and dis-integration from ultimate reality. How many people could be without their phone for one day?
Our world needs help. It desperately needs to be rescued. But how?
Our smartphones use alerts to try and get us to “pay attention” to certain things and we are trained like Pavlov’s dog to respond. However, the architecture of our brains is actually being altered through neuroplacticity toward a helpless dependence upon our endless “feeds” and stimuli. The problem is that these alerts cause us to pay attention to the wrong things. Instead of actually waking us up, they are lulling us to sleep in the most pernicious irony of our time. As the rest of the world comes online, cataclysmic shifts in economy, politics, cosmology, religion, and entertainment are being orchestrated by those who control or “influence” the message or propaganda.
Ultimate Truth has been replaced with personal truth. This is the hallmark of a lost generation in need of a TRUTH rescue and it happened before in the Hebrew religion.
Our series continues today in chapter two of the book of Hebrews. As I’ve said in parts one and two, if we import the modern evangelical religious system into this text, we will not hear the message the author is seeking to bring. Because this is so vital, I have endeavored to layer in the biblical text until we have a useful framework to put it in.
The author was originally speaking to religious people. Today, this book is speaking to a modern version of religious people. You might miss this if your assumption is that modern religion is anything like the ancient religion. It’s not. However, what I described above reveals the powerless trap of a deeply religious mind who yields all authority to the “principalities and powers” behind their tech and the message which promulgates within it. Make no mistake, we make idols of ourselves and our tech is the religious framework in which the lost modern world puts its faith and trust. Yes, politics is a religion. Sports is a religion. Science is a religion. Entertainment is a religion. This book is written to the religious mind and as such its message is for most of our modern world who is hopelessly trapped in their religion du jour. Without this vital piece of understanding, we will miss the meaning of this book. Hebrews may as well be retitled: “A letter to smart phone users.”
The next piece needed to decode this book is a bit of Hebrew history. The people were led out of slavery in Egypt by Moses into the desert for forty years living on the promise of the Hebrew people finding their own land where they could be their own people, free without the tyranny and oppression of a government. This trajectory was understood as “Salvation” or rescue and it was something shared by all the people of Israel. It is not the notion of individual salvation promoted by evangelicalism today. Yes in has importance for the individual, but was understood as corporate.
Now we are ready for the text.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2: 1-3)
The Greek word (proséxo) means (to pay attention, be alert, consider carefully, continue believing, continue to give oneself to…). I think it is abundantly clear that our modern world isn’t doing much paying attention except to all the wrong things. We are alert to our propaganda dispensary units but we have forsaken and almost completely lost “that which we have heard.” In fact, most of our modern world has never heard that to which this author refers. Our religions have commoditized salvation and sold it only from within their “cradle to the grave” containment systems.
Religion obscures salvation. It was doing it then. It’s doing it now.
The result of not hearing, or neglecting (ámeléo) and not being able to pay attention to the bigger message of corporate salvation is that we “DRIFT AWAY” (parappéo) from it. Like a boat untied from the dock, our world has untied from it’s true moorings and we live among a generation who has grown up adrift at sea. For the audience of this book, the author is calling them to review their religious heritage and tribal history as a metaphor for the bigger salvation and the means by which their people can live freely, which he will unpack in the coming chapters.
For the modern audience today, the author is calling us to PAY ATTENTION or to become SELF AWARE amidst a tidal wave of digital distraction. The means by which our modern generation will be rescued is not from the voice lulling us to sleep within our tech, but the LOGOS (Word) or REMA (Message) which emerges from our “implant” within (James 1:21). Salvation is the liberation from the dominant voice of authority in our life (our religion, our Egypt, our Ego) unto the voice generously placed within us all by our Maker. This is called “Good News” or the Gospel because it reaches all comers. Rescue is the spiritual transformation which empowers us to hear the Truth and follow it not the tribal religious transaction.
Religion is always trying to get us INTO Christ. This book is waking us up to Christ within us all.
The gap to understanding this for the religious Hebrew mind was big enough, the gap for the modern mind which is deeply religious is substantial.
Next week we’ll look closer at why Jesus is described as the Founder of this salvation, but before we get to that I must point out something so huge, so vital, that it cannot be skimmed over. For the religious minds reading or listening to this, it may be the first time you’ve really ever heard this. A simple test is to use self awareness and monitor your triggers or reactions to what I’m about to say. If you dismiss it, avoid it, or reject it, then you have never truly heard it or you’ve been suppressing it.
“…every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution…”
To the ancient Hebrew mind, this would mean to that audience that their religious practice was obsolete. How could EVERY transgression or disobedience receive retribution? If that were the case, then their very system of JUSTICE could no longer be based on retribution. Religion’s house of cards falls. The author is reminding them to pay attention to this NEW SCRIPT of restoration which has overwritten the MALWARE script of retribution. You can have your religion, but you have to see it as a metaphor for something so much bigger.
Consider this example: To the modern mind this would mean that our WOKE ideals which strive for equality do have validity but only at the bottom of the cess pool. The gravitational pull of the modern narrative is to believe we are progressing if we exchange our transgressions for those more agreeable to our preferences. In the past, homosexual behavior was seen as sinful. Today the sin is the condemnation of homosexuality. They are both prisons. While this may seem like progress, it is just the same old sinful cake with new frosting. Thus the person who feels progressive and free has only become a new version of the religious zealot they despise. Both evils uphold and embrace the old malware script of retribution upon those who don’t share the new religion’s beliefs. We’ve changed cells but not prison masters. It’s not progress if we remain tribal in our thinking.
We need rescue from this horrible pit.
Thus the book of Hebrews is inviting the modern mind to avoid the same pitfall as his original religious audience. Rescue occurs when we pay attention and become self aware that our hopes for liberation and freedom are only possible when we see ourselves within our enemy. The message that the angels, prophets, signs and wonders pointed to (2:4) is that our collective rescue begins within each and everyone of us the moment we do as God has done and begin loving our enemies. That is what justice based on restoration looks like. An enemy is someone for whom we have not done the work of love within ourself.
If our world at sea would cease to be adrift and to regain it’s moorings in safe harbor, we must pay attention, we must be AWAKENED to the bigger message of salvation and rescue which finds and unites us all back on solid ground. Salvation is not merely an individual life preserver that we cling to while forsaking others. The greatest transgression is not what our religious systems declare, but the drifting away from our Maker inside, evidenced by drifting away from each other, whom we forget as drift away into TikTok, YouTube, or Netflix.
What if the drifting away is actually a misguided assumption? What if drift is not one of location (in that God drifts from us or we drift from God) but one of conscious awareness? If that were true, then rescue or salvation is a matter of redirection of our thoughts and heart and religion is nothing more than a framework to prop up our faith and integrity to who we truly are at our core. I’ll prove to you that is precisely the message of Hebrews. If we can incrementally regain this perspective and follow it rather than anesthetize ourselves with media and propaganda, then the rescue or salvation of our world is not only entirely possible, but latently potential.
May we all pay closer attention to that!