1. No Help for Angels
2. Help for People

In the spring of 1980, a series of earthquakes had been rumbling in Skamania County, Washington. It brought many geologists from around the world to see what was happening. A volcano was about to burst. That’s what was happening. On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens blew its top, literally. The eruption of this volcano was so massive that it reduced the elevation of the summit of Mount St. Helens by more than 1,300 feet (from 9,677 feet to 8,365 feet). It made a crater in the mountain two miles wide and half a mile deep. The avalanche caused by the explosion was nearly a cubic mile in volume. Fifty-seven people were killed in the explosion. Two hundred and fifty homes were destroyed. Forty-seven bridges were demolished. One hundred and eighty-five miles of highway were destroyed.

With such a massive explosion, the reason why so few people were killed was because of the constant warnings that these geologists sounded forth. In the months prior to the final explosion, they all knew full well what was happening, and they were hanging around (from a safe distance) to watch this once-in-a-lifetime event take place.

One man who died in the explosion was named Harry Truman (not to be confused with the former president). He had lived at the base of the mountain for over 50 years, owning and operating Mount St. Helen’s Lodge, a resort on 54 acres of prime land on Spirit Lake, at the base of the mountain. He also owned 100 boats, which he would rent for those interested in taking a boat ride on the lake. Shirley Rosen, Truman’s niece called him “A smart man and a hard worker.”

Now, the reason why Harry Truman died upon the mountain wasn’t because the explosion came upon him unexpectedly. On the contrary, he knew full well that the mountain was going to explode. The authorities gave him clear warning of what was going to happen when the mountain erupted. They urged him to leave and seek refuge in safety. But, he refused to leave. He preferred to remain on his resort, where he died on May 18, 1980, along with his 16 cats who lived with him. It was the way that he wanted to live, right next to the mountain and he had for years.

As a result of his stance, Harry Truman had became a national celebrity. News reporters from around the world were anxious to speak with him and learn about his stubborn and quirky ways. He was featured on the “Today” show. An article was written about him in the New York Times. So great was his fame that according to one eye witness, Robert Landon, the head of the Washington State Patrol, seemed “a little star-struck” when he had the opportunity to actually meet Harry Truman in person.

Only three days before the mountain exploded, National Geographic Magazine was in town taking aerial photographs of the mountain with a helicopter. They gave him a helicopter ride to visit elementary pupils at Clear Lake School, near Mount St. Helens. (He visited them because so many of the students had written letters to him when he became a media star.) While with these students, he talked about what life was like on the mountain during those days. He said, “There are dozens of quakes every ... minute. There is never a dull moment. ... About the time things settle down, here comes one of those babies.” When one of the students asked him, “Do you know when the lava will come?”, Truman replied, “I wish I did, because I would run. ... I'm going to tear down the hill as fast as I can.” His niece confirmed that these were his thoughts in those final days. She said, “He felt, like everyone else, that he would be able to see lava start to ooze down and a news helicopter would come in and scoop him up at the last minute.”

One reporter, Don Hamilton, who was covering the story, had the opportunity to interview Truman on a number of occasions and got to know him quite well. In fact, he had promised at one point to spend the night with Truman at the lodge. Don Hamilton had the opportunity to visit with him the day before the mountain exploded. He wrote, "Truman asked me if I planned on staying that night. Not this time, I said. I had to file a story and he had no phone. If he’d had a phone, I would have stayed that night and been buried with him when the mountain erupted 16 hours later. He said once again he wasn’t worried, and I said goodbye and walked back out to the road."

Well, Harry Truman had every reason to be worried that night at the base of Mount St. Helens. At 8:32 in the morning on May 18, 1980, the bulge on the right side of the mountain that had given the scientist reason to believe that the eruption could happen at any moment “blew out the north side of the mountain in an enormous lateral explosion.” The explosion was so great that “the searing blast came at 300 mph.” Shirley Rosen commented, “One scientist told us [that] Truman probably had time to maybe turn his head.” His body was never recovered, as it is now 150 feet under the lake that is now formed over his old ranch. [1]

Things didn’t turn out the way that Harry Truman had expected. Indeed, his ways weren’t God’s ways. His ways was a trickle of lava flowing gently down the mountain, which he would be able to outrun. God’s ways was a gigantic explosion that would create a gigantic crater in Mount St. Helens.

As most of you know, we are in the midst of a topical sermon series this summer entitled, “Not Our Ways.” We have been looking at ways in which God does things that are contrary to the ways that we might expect. The seed for these messages has come from a sermon preached by Edward Payson in the early 1800’s, entitled, “God's Ways Above Men's.” I read this sermon a few years ago and was quite encouraged by it, as it lifted high the ways of God in this world. In the heart of his sermon, he put forth eight Biblical examples of ways in which God’s ways are different than our ways. I’m using each of these examples as a launching point for each of my messages throughout this summer.

Two weeks ago, we looked at the problem of evil: “How could an all-powerful, loving God create a world with evil in it? Was He simply not powerful enough to stop the evil? Or, was He not loving enough to stop it.” Last week, we looked at the issue of imputation. Imputation is God’s way of holding people accountable for the actions of another. Like it or not, we are held guilty for Adam’s sin. But, without imputation, we all are in trouble. For, it is by faith alone through imputation that God holds us righteous in Christ Jesus.

This morning, we turn to Edward Payson’s third example of how the world God created is different than the world that we might naturally create. Once again, I want to quote Edward Payson. He says that God’s ways are not our ways in ...

The difference [the God] has made between our race and the fallen angels. For [the fallen angels] no way of salvation was provided. To them no space for repentance, no day of grace, no offers of mercy were given; but their punishment immediately followed their offence. We, on the contrary, have space for repentance, and are favored with the offers of salvation, and the means of grace. Christ took not hold of angels, says the apostle; but he took hold of the seed of Abraham. But we should have thought no difference ought to be made; or, if either angels or men were to be left, that they should be saved rather than we; because they are of a higher rank in the scale of being. But God thought otherwise; and the only reason we can assign is that so it seemed good in his sight. [2]

With these words, Edward Payson points out how God’s ways with angels are different than God’s ways with us. For the fallen angels, which are often called demons, God has provided no way of salvation. These fallen angels have no opportunity for repentance. Once they have declared their rebellion against their creator, God gives them no opportunity to confess their sins and come back to God.

We, humans, on the other hand, have many, many opportunities for repentance. In fact, God has delayed His final judgment upon the world, to give people time to repent from their sins and come back to God (2 Peter. 3:9). It is the patience and kindness of God that should lead all of us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

In this way, God has created a world which we would probably not create, with differing rules of salvation for different created orders. If God would offer salvation to some of his creatures in need of salvation, we would naturally expect that it would only be right for God to extend the offer salvation for all of His intelligent creatures.

I know that I was always taught by my parents that you don’t pull some candy out of your pocket and begin eating it, unless you have enough to offer to all of your friends. But, that’s what God does in some ways with salvation. He extends the offer of salvation to human beings who have fallen into sin, but, He doesn’t extend the same offer to angels who have fallen into sin. He has provided no way of salvation for them, other than living a perfectly holy life (which many of them do).

We see this distinction made clearly in our text this morning, “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham" (Hebrews 2:16).

This verse cuts right in half, into two parts. The first part is talking about angels. The second part is talking about people. The writer to the Hebrews says that God doesn’t help angels. But, on the other hand, the writer says that God does, in fact, give help to men.

The best way to understand this verse is to take it to mean that God offers no salvation to angels who have fallen into sin, but that He brings salvation to people who have fallen into sin. The previous verse (verse 15) speaks about the saving work of Jesus. He came to “free those who through the fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (verse 15). God came and helped us, who were imprisoned to death our whole lives, by sending His Son to rescue us from our distress. This He did for us who are human. But, God chose not to do so with angels. This is what verse 16 means. God has not extended the helping hand to them at all.

Before we continue on, I need to point out for you a difference in translation at this point, in the event that you are holding a King James Version of the Bible in your lap. If you are, you may well have been a bit confused as to what I just said, because of the different translation that you have in your lap. The New American Standard (and all other translations I looked at), give the sense that God chooses to help people, but He chooses not to help others. But, the King James Version, however, translates this verse, “For truly He did not take the nature of angels, but He took hold of the seed of Abraham.” The idea put forth in the King James is that of the incarnation, God took on the nature of a man, in becoming flesh. When Jesus came, He didn’t come in the form of a spirit, like an angel, but He came to be flesh, like a man.

The differences in these translations has to do with how you translate the Greek word, epilambanw (epilambano), which means “to take hold of.” The King James translators took this word to mean that Christ “took hold of man” in the sense that He took upon Himself, the nature of a man. The other translations to take the word to mean that Christ “took hold of man” in the sense that He held him by the hand to help him. There is nothing in the meaning of this Greek word that makes one translation better than the other.

In addition to this, the context can also be taken either way, because verse 14 is indeed talking about the incarnation, “since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same.” But, the tense of this verb, clearly points to the more common translation (i.e. that God didn’t help the fallen angels from their lost estate, but has chosen to help men be rescued from their sin).

This verb, epilambanw(epilambano), is in the present tense, which means that Christ is continually helping the seed of Abraham. If the King James is accurate, the idea is that Christ continually takes on the nature of flesh. But, Christ is no longer flesh and blood. Rather, He is now glorified and seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. And this has made the good news of Christ helping us even better.

Perhaps you remember the time when Jesus came to the disciples, walking on water. Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water" (Matthew 14:28). Jesus said, "Come!" (Matthew 14:29). So, Peter took a few steps on the water and began to freak out, as he was very frightened! He said, "Lord, save me!" (Matthew 14:30). "Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and epilambanw(epilambano) of him" (Matthew 14:31). With the grasp of a secure hand, Jesus brought Peter into the boat. And that's what Jesus continually does with us.

In our fears and doubts and our worries and our distresses, Jesus takes hold of us and helps us. Now, for angels, this has never been the case, “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham” as Hebrews 2:16 tells us.

We are so used to grace that we might easily miss this. He didn't help the angels in the past. He doesn't help them now. He won't help them in the future. But, he gives help to the descendent of Abraham. Let's turn our attention to my first point.

1. No Help for Angels

This comes from the first half of our text, “For assuredly He does not give help to angels.”

Within the created universe, there are two classes of intelligent creatures that were created: angels and human beings. We obviously belong to the class of human beings, every single one of us, young or old. But, there is another class of intelligent beings, every bit as real as we are. They are called angels. Lest you think that angels aren’t real, the Bible gives evidence to the contrary. The Bible speaks about angels hundreds times.

Many times these angels come to earth with a divine assignment. An angel was sent with the people of Israel to guarantee their military success (Ex. 33:2). Angels are sent to guard and protect the people of God from danger (Ps. 91:11). An angel came and rescued Peter out of prison (Acts 12). In the end times, Angels are given authority over the earth to pour out God’s bowls of wrath upon the earth (Revelation 16).

Many times these angels are sent with a message. Angels came to visit Lot to tell him to flee Sodom before it is destroyed (Gen. 19). The book of Zechariah is saturated with angelic messages. An angel came to Elizabeth and to Mary before either of them conceived to inform them of what was soon to take place (Luke 1). Angels announced the arrival of Jesus to the shepherds (Luke 2).

Angels are very real. Some doubt their reality because they are often unseen and undetected. But, did you know that there are people in this world who have demonstrated kindness to angels without even knowing that they were interacting with angels (Hebrews 13:2). Angels are often left undetected. The apostle Paul says that our primary struggle in this life “is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). In other words, as we struggle to live the Christian life, we are in a battle. But, it’s primarily not a battle of the things that we see. Rather, our primary battle is the unseen battle that takes place in the spiritual realm, as we battle with the demonic forces of wickedness.

The angelic world is alive and well. In fact, our actions right now are being observed by the angels, as they watch God’s manifold wisdom “made known through the church” (Eph. 3:10).

The difference between us and the angels is vast. First of all, angels are eminently spiritual beings, who possess much power and authority. You don’t want to mess with angels. Jude talks about the utter folly of those who “revile angelic majesties” (Jude 8). Those who do this have no idea of the power of angels. In 2 Kings 19, the account is recorded of how a single angel destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima that killed 140,000 people. But, this angel brought more deaths than the atomic bomb, which ought to give you an indication of the power of angels.

Angels are beings of immense power. We, on the other hand, are physical beings, laced with weakness. In great measure, the angels are higher in the created order than we are. In Hebrews 2:6-8, the writer quotes from Psalm 8 with these words:

Hebrews 2:6-8
What is man, that you remember him? Or the son of man, that you are concerned about him? You have mad him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor and have appointed him over the works of your hands; You have put all things in subjection under his feet.

Right there in verse 7, the Psalmist is talking about the order of human beings in comparison with the angels. We are below angels. We are below them in rank. We are below them in power. We are below them in authority.

But, with these words, there’s also a sense in this verse that this order will be reversed one day. It speaks about how we have been made “for a little while lower than the angels.” The idea is that this situation is only temporary. There will be a time when this isn’t the case any more. There will be a day when we will be exalted above the angels. In 1 Corinthians 6:3, Paul indicates that there will be a day when we will judge the angels. But, that’s not the case now. It's only when God reverses the order of things that we will experience this.

At this moment in time, we are lower than the angels. But, when we are finally glorified, I believe that our status with them will be reversed. We will be over the angels. This is what verse 8 speaks about, as it prophesies, "You have put all things in subjection under his feet." With the next phrase, the writer puts forth the reality as it is today, "For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see al things subjected to him" (verse 8). It's clear from these verses that we are fundamentally different than angels. We are of a different class than they are.

It would be good for us to spend a few moments thinking about angels, as they are a bit foreign to us. Now, among the angels, there are two categories. Angels are either good or bad. The good angels are identified with words like “holy” (Mark 8:38) or “elect” (1 Timothy 5:21). The bad angels are identified as being “evil spirits” (Luke 8:2) or “unclean spirits” (Luke 11:24, 26) or “demons” (Luke 4:41). The “holy” angels are described as those who give their allegiance to God. They are sometimes called, “the angels of God” (John 1:51). The “evil” angels on the other hand are described as those who give their allegiance to Satan. The devil has “his angels" (Matthew 25:41).

Holy angels and demons have the same nature. Morally, they are different from one another. But, holy angels and demons are of the same substance. In this way, they are like us. There are good people and there are bad people, but, we are all people. The Proverbs often speak about the righteous person and it speaks about the wicked person.

Now, with people, it’s difficult sometime to figure out exactly whether a person should be identified as a “righteous” or “wicked.” This is simply because a “righteous” person can perform “wicked” deeds on occasion. Also, a “wicked” person can to a “righteous” deed from time to time. Furthermore, people can flip from side to side. The Bible is full of notoriously “wicked” people humbling themselves and finding mercy and becoming “righteous,” such as Manasseh and Paul. The Bible is also full of “righteous” people, who are really “wicked,” such as the Pharisees.

But, with angels, it's a bit different. Such a distinction isn’t very difficult at all, because every angel is either a good angel or a bad angel. And, there is no flipping in between. A good angel cannot become a bad angel. And, a bad angel cannot become a good angel. Their ways are established. They are either servants of God or servants of Satan. They don't waffle in their loyalty.

And, the Lord doesn’t move in the hearts of angels (if they have hearts), so as to see them transformed from being a wicked angel to being a good angel. For the wicked angels, there is no hope for them to be transformed! In other words, God doesn’t save any demons. They will be wicked and evil and anti-God throughout all eternity.

It's not that they don't have a need to change. Certainly, they have a need to be transformed. They have a need for salvation. But, God has chosen not to help them. This is the point of Edward Payson, “For [the fallen angels] no way of salvation was provided. To them no space for repentance, no day of grace, no offers of mercy were given; but their punishment immediately followed their offence.” This is somewhat the point of Hebrews 2:16, “For assuredly He does not give help to angels.”

To understand why this is the case, we really need to go back to their creation. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about how or exactly when the angels were created. However, there are enough clues to help give us a general idea. When you read the Genesis account of creation, you discover that the world was created in six days. But, as you go through these days, you discover that there is no mention of angels or spirits being created. But, we do know that the angels were created somewhere within this timeframe. For, the LORD has told us (in the midst of the 10 commandments), “in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them” (Ex. 20:11). As the angels primarily reside in heaven, we know that they were created before this time. When, exactly, we don’t know. But, we do know that all of the angels must have been created sinless, because, at the end of the sixth day of creation, we read that “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

But, somewhere between the sixth day of creation and the day when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree in the garden, something went dreadfully wrong. Satan had obviously fallen into sin. He was in the garden tempting Eve with sinful thoughts, which were obviously coming from his fallen mind. As we gather more information about how this fall took place, we find out that Satan rebelled and brought his followers with him in his rebellion. He didn’t fall alone. Jesus spoke about the “eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Many will interpret Revelation 12:4, which speaks of the dragon sweeping away a third of the stars of heaven, as implying that Satan took a third of the angels with him in rebellion against the LORD.

And for some angels who sinned, God “cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (according to 2 Peter 2:4). Jude says that “Angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, [God] has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for eternal judgment of the great day.” In other words, these angels have sinned and are merely waiting until the day of judgment, without any hope of being redeemed. They are like prisoners on death row, who have no opportunity for appeal.

When we read of the saving work of Christ, none of it is for angels who sinned. All of it is for fallen men. “Assuredly, He does not give help to angels” (Heb. 2:16).

Is this the way that you would have created the world if you were God? One sin and you are out? Sudden death with God? This is what He did this with the angels! Our society is into giving people second chances. We give people third and fourth chances. But, with angels, God gave them only one chance. When they blew it, by siding with Satan, they have been destined for the lake of fire.

We have become so used to our own salvation in Christ, that we expect everybody to have a chance. But, it’s not that way with God and angels. There are those holy angels, who have chosen to serve the LORD. They serve Him night and day. There are those evil angels who have chosen to rebel against the LORD. These are awaiting judgment, with no hope. I trust that you see that God’s ways are not our ways.

Though God gives no help for angels, praise the LORD that He didn’t do this with us. Rather He has given ...

2. Help for People

Look back again at Hebrews, chapter 2, and verse 16. The second half of our verse this morning reads, “But He gives help to the descendent of Abraham.” Literally, this verse reads, “but He gives help to the seed of Abraham.” That is, Abraham’s spiritual descendents, who believe in Jesus Christ. He's talking about we who believe. God helps us!

As we consider how God gives help to people, we need look no further than right here in Hebrews, chapter 2. Surrounding this verse, we see the various ways in which He helps us. The first has to do with something Jesus did at Calvary.

a) Jesus has conquered death for us (verses 14-15).

We see this in verses 14-15, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

To save us, He became like us. And in becoming like us, He suffered like us. And in suffering like us, He died like us. But, the death of Jesus was unlike any other death. We know that when Jesus died, death could not contain Him. A few days after He died, Jesus rose from the dead, thereby conquering death. What once held its power over us no longer has it’s sting.

Our ultimate weapon on this earth is the nuclear bomb, which can produce unbelievable devastation. So awesome is its power that this weapon has been used only twice in the history of mankind. Both of these instances were in August 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, in effect led to the end of World War II. These two bombs killed more than a hundred thousand people, some due the the initial impact, and others over time due to the high exposure to radiation.

The ultimate weapon that Satan possesses is death. Somehow, and in some way, Satan gained the “power of death” (according to verse 14). And Satan has wielded this weapon with great vigor. But, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan has been disarmed. That big stick that he used to carry isn’t quite as big as it was before. Oh, indeed, it can hurt us. The process of dying can be a very painful process. I doubt that any one of us really look forward to this process. But, the fear of death should be removed from us, because we know, that it’s not the end. In this we are free.

The biggest weapon that Satan can aim at us has essentially been rendered powerless. When Satan takes out his gun and takes aim at us, we can have confidence that he is no longer shooting real bullets at us. Rather, he is shooting tranquilizer darts that will only put us to sleep. Give us time and we will fully recover!

In the same way, when you die, your body may well sleep, but your soul will live like never before. I love the perspective that D. L. Moody had. He said, "Someday you will read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born in the Spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit shall live forever!" [3]

Jesus also helps us in that ...
b) Jesus is a high priest for us (verse 17).

This is the thrust of verse 17, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

In the Old Testament economy, it was the role of the high priest to come before God, representing the people. He would bring a sacrifice before the LORD and would pray for the LORD to accept the sacrifice on behalf of the people. As God accepted the sacrifice, the wrath of God would be diverted. The people would not be punished for their sins, because the sacrifice was accepted.

This is what Jesus has done for us, only He didn’t bring an animal, which could never take away sins (Heb. 10:4). Rather, He offered up Himself upon the cross. In so doing, the wrath of God was turned away from us. That’s what “propitiation” means. When you hear "propitiation," think "wrath." When Jesus made propitiation for the sins of the people, it means that He turned God's wrathful anger away from us, because He was satisfied with Jesus' sacrifice upon the cross.

Unlike the high priests of the Old Testament, our high priest, “does not need daily ... to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:27). This is what Jesus did. He paid the price of our sin with His blood. And thereby, He helped us.

Recently, I read a great story that illustrates this far better than I ever could. It’s called, “The Room,” by Joshua Harris.

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

This little story captures the essence of Jesus’ role as high priest so perfectly. He made propitiation for our sins, in wiping our cards clean with his blood. But, He didn’t do so with cold indifference. On the contrary, He is tender and compassionate. Or, as the text says here, He is "merciful." He looks at us with sadness when we sin And yet, He doesn’t condemn us. Rather, He puts His arms around us and He weeps with us.

And He’s completely dependable. You won’t find Jesus taking a day off in His high priestly duties. The heavenly confession booth is never closed. He is always there, waiting for us to come. He’s always ready to forgive the one who believes in Him. He is our "faithful" high priest. In this way, Jesus “gives help to the seed of Abraham.”

Jesus helps us in that ...
c) Jesus helps us in temptation (verse 18).

Look at verse 18, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” This is the great reality of the incarnation. When Jesus walked among us, He experienced temptation like all of us face. I

In fact, the temptation that He faced was of a greater intensity than what any of us will ever face. In His greatest weakness, Jesus faced His greatest enemy, and overcame without sinning. After forty days of fasting, Satan came to Jesus with all the craftiness that he could possibly muster. Satan tempted Jesus in the flesh: "Command these stones to become bread" (Matthew 4:3). But, Jesus refused, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Satan tempted Jesus to prove who God is: "Throw yourself down ... for He will command His angels concerning you" (Matthew 4:6). Again, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy, saying that we are not to put the Lord to the test. Finally, Satan tempted Jesus with power and authority: "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:9). Again, Jesus refused and passed the test of being tempted. In every single case, Jesus was victorious! He didn't sin! And this makes him able to come ot the aid of those who are tempted.

Were any of you tempted this week? Were any of you in need of help during your temptation? Jesus is ready to help you in time of trouble. He is our perfect help, because He, Himself, has experienced great temptation during His suffering. This has qualified Him to be our greatest help. None of those cards in that room ever need to be written.

God is faithful. He "will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13). And how do you find the escape? You come to Jesus, who stands willing and able to help us. "He gives help to the seed of Abraham."

Don't ever take these things for granted. God could have made the universe in such a way that He helped no creature. He was never obligated to help us in the first place.

Perhaps God's ways with the angels were a deliberate choice of God to teach us of His grace. His ways with us are the ways of help! "For assuredly, He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendent of Abraham" (Heb. 2:16). I don't know why it is that God has chosen to help us, and not the angels. But, I'm thankful. Are you?

We need Him! I don't care if you are the smartest, strongest, richest guy in the world, you need the Lord! If you have never bowed the knew to Him, crying to Him for mercy, do so today.

Everyday they pass me by,
I can see it in their eye.
Empty people filled with care,
Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain,
Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries,
Only Jesus hears.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize -- people need the Lord?

We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right.
What would be too great a cost
For sharing Life with one who's lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel
All the grief they bear.
They must hear the Words of Life
Only we can share.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize that we must give our lives,
For people need the Lord.
People need the Lord. [5]


This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on June 24, 2007 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.

[1] All of the information gathered concerning Mount Saint Helens and Harry Trumen came from the following very interesting web sites:


[2] Edward Payson, "God's Ways Above Men's." See http://www.rvbc.cc/ResourceLibrary/PaysonGodsWays/PaysonGodsWays.htm.

[3] I wasn't able to find the original context in which these words were spoken. But, this quote can be found all over the internet.

[4] Joshua Harris has this on his blog at http://www.joshharris.com/the_roomtext.php. At the end of the story, here is the copyright notice: "By Joshua Harris. Originally published in New Attitude Magazine. Copyright New Attitude, 1995. You have permission to reprint this in any form. We only ask that you include the appropriate copyright byline and do not alter the content."

[5] This song was sung by a member of our congregation as a solo after this message. It was a very fitting conclusion to my message, and so, I include the words here for you to meditate upon. These words were written by Greg Nelson and Phill McHugh.