Reading: Hebrews 1:13-2:9.
The main thing in view in this passage is "world dominion in fellowship with the Son of Man through the Cross".
"What is man that thou shouldest make mention of him? And the Son of man that thou shouldest put him in charge? Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet."
This is entered into in fellowship with the Son of Man: "What is man that thou puttest him in charge?"
"Since the children are sharers in flesh and blood He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death."
In these passages we see the crowning of the race in Christ as its representative (and ultimately to be actually) with Christ in glory. We read of a bringing into the place of a company which is related to the dominion of God's new creation in Christ. That is said to be the "so great salvation". It is salvation in its finality, bringing the sons of God to the place of complete dominion in fellowship with the glorified Son of Man through the Cross.
How much larger is the Holy Spirit's revelation of things said in the Old Testament in the meaning He gives to them in the New Testament. "In divers portions and in divers manners" (Heb. 1:1) of Old Testament truth we find its full range is never given, but only hinted at, and the thing stopped short at a point. And when these same Old Testament things are taken up in the New Testament the Holy Spirit always enlarges them, expands them. In Psalm 8 "every beast" (the earthly creation) is mentioned as the range of dominion, but when we come into the New Testament with that passage and bring in the Son of Man, we find the expanding of revelation in limitless ways and the reference is to universal dominion. And go to Ephesians and find the universal subjecting of all things to Christ in His glorious exaltation. See also Psalm 8, Psalm 22, 1 Samuel 2 and Isaiah 8. In Isaiah 8 there is a most remarkable quotation about Isaiah and his sons, and that fragment is taken and brought over and related to Christ and all the sons He is bringing to glory. The Holy Spirit brought in the fulness of that fragment in relation to Christ which was only hinted at in the Old Testament in a very limited and earthly way. And again and again there is a marvellous expanding of things in the New Testament which was only hinted at in the Old Testament.
This matter of dominion is also expanded and enlarged from the earthly into the universal and eternal. Psalm 8 may in the main have related to Adam, but Adam was not in any way the Son of Man; but if permitted in a limited way to bring that Psalm in relation to Adam, he never attained unto that dominion in full; he missed it. Adam was on probation unto dominion and missed it because he failed in the probation. But the Son of Man not only secures that of which Adam failed, fell short, but in HIM there is an expanding which was not in the Divine thought for Adam; we gain more "in Christ" than we lost "in Adam". The Lord Jesus brings in far more than was in view in the Adam dominion.
Here we have dominion invested in Christ for the sons whom He is
bringing to glory, and that dominion is by way of the Cross. The
specific thing in the securing of that dominion by way of the
Cross is in the matter of the destroying of death and setting up
the testimony of Life in the Hebrew letter. There is a tremendous
place given to life triumphant over death. Right at the beginning
of the letter the second psalm is quoted: "Thou art My Son,
this day have I begotten Thee" (v.5). That specific
declaration is made in relation to the resurrection of the Lord
Jesus. When 'they' carried out the vain thing, they meditated
against Him: "they meditated", but God raised Him from the dead.
So you have the letter beginning with the testimony to the
resurrection in the power of that triumphant Life. The whole
letter is founded on that great fact.
Now the House of God is a corporate representation of Christ personal, and the House of God comes in to display the truth of the Son of man as He is now at the right hand of God. The whole testimony of Jesus is gathered up into His conquest of death. His conquest of sin and conquest of the devil are fragments only, but in His conquest of death you gather up sin and its moral consequences - the devil and his kingdom, and the human race, all is included in this great inclusive triumph and conquest. In dealing with death He has dealt with everything and has established the testimony, which is Life triumphant over death. "The testimony of Jesus" is that He conquered death in all that death means, and lives in the power of a death-conquering Life. It is again gathered up in the Man-child (Rev. 12), and the same things are said of the Man-child as are said of the Son of Man. In Revelation 1 and 12 the identical words are said of each; the Man-child is coming to the throne "by the word of their testimony" which is simply the testimony to the blood; Life conquering death.
The testimony which God is more concerned to have set up and maintained on this earth and in this universe more than anything else is the testimony to Christ's conquering of spiritual death. In the end-time the death pressure will be more intense and the activities of the enemy will be more intensified along this line. The force of the power of death will be very great, and many of us are being forced into the testimony of Christ's conquest of death by the very daily pressure we meet. We meet death as a mighty working principle in this universe, to body, soul and spirit, (to the body out of God's time and will and the devil-dragon seeking to bring death upon it), to mind, will, and atmosphere. We are in that - the battle of the age, and the battle of the age is concerning death. The issue for this time is the testimony concerning Life, the mighty power of Christ's Life, which is the blood that effectuates there against that force of death as a mighty death-conquering force; that force which was in the Cross of the Lord Jesus and which has overcome death in every realm.
"What is man that Thou art mindful of him?" Christ is brought in as the Son of Man. "We see Jesus... made lower than the angels, because of the suffering of death." The apostle's comment on that is, "because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour," then, "that by the grace of God He should taste death for every man". And a little later on, "He partook of flesh and blood that through death He might destroy him that had the hold of death, that is the devil" (Heb. 2:14). What is the meaning of this? Why "made a little lower than angels because of the suffering of death"? (I know there are differences of interpretation of the words 'a little lower', but whether 'little' is in time, 'for a little while', or in degree, is not really the point; the fact is His condition). God has made man capable of suffering death; when God made Adam, he so constituted him that he could suffer death, not merely die as a mortal being, but He made him capable of suffering death. This is said in the same way as we would say, "You shall suffer punishment, as a penalty or as a judgment", "The day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die". And when Adam sinned in disobedience, he "suffered death". The children of that race have entered into that penalty and judgment, they are suffering death - under the fear and the power of death.
Now because the children of that race are sharers in blood and flesh, He also in like manner partook of the same, that is, He came into relationship with that race. He came with blood and flesh because that race was a suffering, death race. It is the question of the dominion of death, the devil's hold of death; he has got it in his hands and is using it along the line of the accuser. The devil has tempted man to sin, and God has said, "the soul that sinneth it shall die." "The day thou shalt eat thereof Thou shalt surely die." And the devil has gone to God and said, "Death is the penalty of sin. If You are true to Your own word, pronounce death upon him". And God has to do it, not because of the devil, but because He is God. God, because of what He is, has to pronounce death over His own creation.
But here is One who allies Himself with the children of that sinning race, but in Himself there is no sin, therefore death has no legal hold over Him; in Himself He is perfectly sinless. The devil cannot go to God and say He has sinned. No! He is paralysed and in that sense destroyed, for the word translated "destroy" does not mean annihilate, but is used in the sense of 'annulling': "Annul him that had the power of death". So all the accusing work of the devil when face to face with the Son of Man is nullified, silenced. And the Lord Jesus has taken that whole race into death and before God that race is no longer seen. What remains? One Man is sinless and He has met all that charge and the devil is absolutely at a standstill. That Man is your answer to the accusations of the accuser. And God points to Him, the Son of Man.
Where do the saints come in? We have no right to "suffer death". The enemy is seeking to get us to take on condemnation, and when we do so, we in effect repudiate what Christ has done in His Cross on our behalf, and by accepting the enemy's accusations we open the way to condemnation. The way of victory is faith's appropriation of all Christ is now for us at the right hand of God in the glory of His exaltation as Son of Man. In ourselves there may be many true things upon which the enemy can pounce, but there is such a thing as turning to the Lord and repudiating that thing, and in faith taking hold of His moral perfections and meeting the devil's accusations with Him.
When any child of God accepts accusation from the enemy and loses sight of the Lord Jesus in them, and before God for them in all His moral perfection, they come into the domain of death and defeat. It is a battle of holding on to the Lord as our answer on every point.
The pathway to heaven seems a growing consciousness of our utter
worthlessness; the enemy keeps your own wretched, worthless self
before your eyes to crush and press you out. But there is another
side to that worthlessness of nature: there should be a growing
appreciation of what Christ is as the perfect Man for us. And we
see growingly what the Lord Jesus is on our behalf before the
Father for us, and what Christ is universally for us; that is Life
triumphant over death. As Christ is seen in His mighty victory
over death, this is the way of Life; a growing appreciation of the
Lord Jesus. He destroyed him that had the hold of death! The way
of victory for us is by presenting the accuser with a Life against
which nothing can be laid. We stand in faith believing Christ
satisfies God for us. He is the One who answers every accusation
of the enemy against us in what He is for us. And, holding on to
that by a mighty faith, we win through with a mighty triumph.
The appreciation of the Lord Jesus and faith's appropriation of Him is the power by which the enemy, the Accuser, Death is destroyed; it is by a large enjoyment of the Lord Jesus. The secret of life-triumphant is the enjoyment of the Lord Jesus. That is not a little thing; it is a mighty thing, an ultimate thing, it represents a mighty thing to enjoy the Lord Jesus.
When the enemy comes in like a flood on the ground of our moral defectiveness (and that he will do with the elect of God, it is one way in which he will centre upon the people of God) the way of victory is still, in the presence of that attack, to enjoy the Lord Jesus. It is a mighty faith that holds on to the Lord Jesus as our answer. As long as you recognise the absolute flawlessness of Christ, you are in victory, and you triumph over the enemy as you keep your hands full of Him. Our rest is coming into God's estimate of the Lord Jesus; that means something of the power of Christ's resurrection is established in us, not as information and doctrine, but Life is the testimony. The light will come. God builds upon the testimony of Christ's victory over death.
In the Old Testament we see David, when the pestilence raged and death was abroad, was commanded by God to go to the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite and offer burnt offerings and peace offerings. And immediately, the plague was stayed, death was arrested; and upon which David said, "This is the house of God and this is the altar of burnt-offering". When death is taken hold of and its power overcome by the blood of the altar, then God begins to build His House. The building is on the basis of Life triumphant over death.
Everything in the House of God has got to be a revelation of this foundational thing: victory over death. The Body of Christ grows by Life, not teaching. It is not built by truth, it is Life that builds.