Hebrews 2:14-18 (NLT)
14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. 16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
V14, Those who consider the humiliation of the Son of Man to be shameful are now asked to consider four important blessings that flow from His passion.
The first is the destruction of Satan. How did this happen? There was a special sense in which God gave His children to Christ to sanctify, save, and emancipate. Since these children had human natures, the Lord Jesus assumed a body of flesh and blood. He set aside the outward display of His deity and veiled His Godhead in a “robe of clay.” But He did not stop at Bethlehem. “All the way to Calvary He went for me because He loved me so.”
Through His death, He destroyed the one who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Destruction here means the loss of well-being rather than loss of being. It means to nullify or to bring to nothing. Satan is still actively opposing the purposes of God in the world, but he received a death wound at the cross. His time is short and his doom is sure. He is a defeated foe.
In what sense does the devil have the power of death? Probably the chief sense in which he has this power is in demanding death. It was through Satan that sin first entered the world. God’s holiness decreed the death of all who sinned. So in his role as adversary, the devil can demand that the penalty be paid.
In heathen lands his power is also seen in the ability of his agents, the witch doctors, to pronounce a curse on a person and for that person to die without any natural cause.
There is no suggestion in Scripture that the devil can inflict death on a believer without the permission of God (Job 2:6), and therefore he cannot set the time of a believer’s death. Through wicked men, he is sometimes kills the believer. But Jesus warned His disciples not to fear those who could destroy the body, but rather to fear God who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28).
In the OT, Enoch and Elijah went to heaven without dying. No doubt this was because, as believers, they were reckoned to have died in the still-future death of Christ.
When Christ comes at the Rapture, all living believers will go to heaven without dying. But they too escape death because God’s holiness was satisfied for them in the death of Christ. The risen Christ now has “the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18), that is, He has complete authority over them.
V14, Jesus Christ shared in our humanity by humbling himself to become a man (see Phil. 2:5–11). The devil tempts people to sin and then accuses them of rebelling against God (see Gen. 3; Job 1). By inducing them to sin, Satan delivers people over to death, the due penalty for their sin (Rom. 5:12). The devil is still active today (see 1 Pet. 5:8), but his power over death has been taken away from him. Christ’s death fulfilled the penalty for sin. Thus by placing our trust in Christ, we can be free from Satan’s evil grasp (see Luke 10:18; 2 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 1:18).
V15, The second blessing traced to Christ’s humiliation is emancipation from fear. Before the cross, the fear of death held men in lifelong servitude. Though there are occasional flashes of light in the OT concerning life after death, the general impression is one of uncertainty, horror, and gloom. What was hazy then is clear now because Christ brought life and immortality to light by the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10).
V16, The third tremendous blessing is expiation of sin. In coming into the world, the Lord did not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. “Give aid to” is a translation of epilambanō, “to take hold” (hence the KJV’s “he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham”). While the verb might not have the idea of violent grasping which it carries elsewhere, the ideas of help and deliverance are suggested by its use here.
The seed of Abraham may mean Abraham’s physical descendants, the Jews, or it may mean his spiritual seed —the believers of every age. The important point is that they are human, not angelic beings.
The fact, that Jesus came to give me aid and assistance (I was in desperate need of it), caused me to want to place my trust in Him, to follow Him the rest of my life. As Christians, we are tremendously blessed to have such a Saviour.