Sermon #5                                                         Hebrews Notes


          Title:            “WHAT IS MAN?”

          Text:            Hebrews 2:5-9

          Readings:     Bobbie Estes & Larry Criss

          Subject:       “What is man?”

          Date:            Tuesday Evening – November 16, 1999

          Tape #         V-55a



          Angels were highly venerated by the ancient Jews, almost to the point of worship, just as they are by many today. Because so many would put the angels of God in the place of God, making them the objects of adoration, worship (Many even pray to the angels!), superstitions abound concerning those heavenly creatures. Therefore, the Holy Spirit gave us these first two chapters of the Book of Hebrews to show us Christ’s greatness and superiority over the angels. He is the Creator. They are, like us, his creatures.


          The angels are, as we read in verse 14 of chapter one, -- “Ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be the heirs of salvation.” It never was God’s intention or purpose to put his people in subjection to, under the rule of, angels or to make them in any way inferior to the angels, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. Therefore, we read, in verse 5…


Hebrews 2:5  "For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak."


          Then, in verses 6-9, the inspired writer quotes from Psalm 8, raising the question, WHAT IS MAN?” That will be my subject tonight. “What is man” – That God should be so gracious to him? “What is man” – That the angels of God should serve him? “What is man” – That the world to come should be put in subjection to him?


Hebrews 2:6-9  "But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? (7) Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: (8) Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (9) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."


          Whenever we read about, hear about, or think about God’s goodness, mercy, love, and grace toward fallen, sinful man, we ought to be utterly astonished. We ought to ask -- “What is man?”


Job 7:17-18  "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? (18) And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment?"


Psalms 144:3-4  "LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! (4) Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away."


Psalms 8

"To the chief Musician upon Gittith,

A Psalm of David.


1.     O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

2.     Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

3.     When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4.     What is man[1], that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5.     For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

6.     Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

7.     All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

8.     The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

9.     O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!"


The Greatness Of God


          Be sure you do not miss the backdrop against which this question is asked. Both the Psalmist (Ps. 8:1-3) and the writer of the Book of Hebrews (Heb. 1:1-3) raised this question (“What is man?) against the backdrop of the glorious greatness of God. We cannot form a right and proper view of anything in God’s creation, if we fail to see the greatness and glory of God.


          The root of all sin, the cause of all unbelief, and the source of all heresy in the world can be found in one thing: all men by nature have low views of God.


·        Satan could not persuade Eve to sin until he convinced her that God was not as great as she thought he was.

·        We would never doubt his Word if we did not question his greatness.

·        Men would never pervert the gospel, if they did not have very low views of God.


Therefore, the first message of every prophet, apostle, and preacher sent of God is, “Behold your God!” (Isa. 40:10). Only when we see the greatness of God will we worship him, love him, trust him, and honor him as God.


1.     David was overwhelmed by the realization of God’s greatness.


Psalms 8  “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. (2) Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. (3) When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; (4) What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?


·        The Excellency Of His Name (v. 1) - Jehovah - God who Saves!


·        The Glory Of His Being (v. 1) - “Above the heavens!” (Christ!).


·        The Purpose Of His Grace (v. 2)


1 Corinthians 1:26-29 -   "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence."


·        The Work Of His Fingers (v. 3). Finger work is work that requires no strength, but great skill, and detail.


·        The Rule Of His Providence (vv. 5-9).


5.     For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

6.     Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

7.     All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

8.     The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

9.     O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!"


2.   Ever entertain great thoughts of God.


          Anything that lowers God’s character or lessens his greatness is a lie of Satan. Do not tolerate it. Let no doctrine be believed, no sermon be heard, no song be sung, and no thought be received which in anyway detracts from the greatness of God. In all things, at all times, “Behold your God,” and know that he is great (Isa. 40:10-31). God is great!


Isaiah 40:10-31  "Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. (11) He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (12) Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? (13) Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? (14) With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? (15) Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. (16) And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. (17) All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. (18) To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? (19) The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. (20) He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. (21) Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? (22) It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: (23) That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. (24) Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. (25) To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. (26) Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. (27) Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? (28) Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. (29) He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (30) Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: (31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."


Isaiah’s message is plain and clear - GOD IS GREAT!


·        Greater than all the works he performs (vv. 12-14).

·        Greater than all the nations he has made (vv. 15-17).

·        Greater than all the gods men have invented (vv. 18-21).

·        Greater than the world he created (v. 22).

·        Greater than the greatest men the world ever produced (vv. 23-24).

·        Greater than the heavens above (vv. 25-26).

·        Greater far than all our troubles (vv. 27-31).


          Great beyond description, great beyond imagination, great beyond our loftiest praise is the Lord our God! In the light of God’s greatness and glory as God, it is an astonishing thing that God should be mindful of man, especially when we see the answer given in the Bible to the question -- “What is man?”


Proposition: Man is set before us in the Word of God as the peculiar, distinct object of God’s mercy, love, and grace. -- But what is he? What is man?”


I will guarantee you this, anyone who knows and acknowledges the greatness of God, will also freely acknowledge THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF MAN.


          As soon as David looked up to heaven and spoke to God of his greatness, his heart was humbled, his pride was withered, and he cried, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”


          It is impossible for anyone to have both great views of God and great views of man. Those who imagine that man is great think God is insignificant. Those who know that God is great know that man is insignificant.


          “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” Here is greatness and littleness, grandeur and nothingness, excellence and corruption, majesty and meanness, God and man.


          “What is man?” The word of God gives us many answers to that question - “What is man?”


·        Ask Isaiah - “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field” (40:6).

·        Ask David - “Verily, every man at his best estate is altogether vanity” (Psa. 39:5).

·        Ask the Psalmist - “Men are a lie” (Psa. 62:9).


          “What is man?” Do not ask philosophers what they imagine, educators what they read in books, scientists what they see in microscopes, psychologists what they see in asylums, or sociologists what they hear from tests; but ask God who made us. He declares in his Word that man is fallen, depraved, sinning, sinful, cursed, condemned, helpless, dying flesh. Men are grasshoppers before him. Men are the dust of the earth, no more. Man is a lump of clay. Man is a puff of smoke, a mist of vapor, the small dust of the balance, a drop in a bucket. Man is insignificant! All the nations of all men in all the world are less than nothing before the great and infinite God.


·        Man is nothing!

·        Man has nothing!

·        Man can do nothing!


          You are nothing. And I am nothing. No matter how many of us nothings you put together, nothing added to nothing is still just nothing. God, teach us to know our nothingness, that we may look to Christ for everything!


Divisions: To that end, that we may, indeed, look to Christ for everything, let me show you the fourfold state of man, as it is set before us in the Word of God.

1.    The State of Man in Innocence

2.    The State of Man in Sin

3.    The State of Man in Grace

4.    The State of Man in Glory


I.     First, let’s go back to Genesis chapter 1. There we will see The State of Man in Innocence, the original state and condition of man in the garden, before sin entered into the world.


Illustration: “I’ve seen better days.”


Genesis 1:26-28  "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."


          God made man upright, righteous, without sin, holy; but we did not stay in that condition for very long.


Ecclesiastes 7:29  "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man (ADAM) upright; but they have sought out many inventions."


II.  Second, the Word of God gives us a clear, unmistakable picture of The State Of Man In Sin.


          The picture drawn of fallen man in this Book is not a pretty one. It is not the picture given by educators, moms and dads, sociologists, psychiatrists, preachers, or politicians; but it is a true and accurate description of us all by nature. What is more, though we all naturally deny it (because we despise the fact of it), we all know that it is an accurate description of ourselves.


Psalms 51:5  "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."


Psalms 58:3  "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."


Isaiah 1:2-6  "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. (3) The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. (4) Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (5) Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. (6) From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."


Matthew 15:19-20  "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: (20) These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."


Romans 3:10-19  "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (13) Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: (14) Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: (15) Their feet are swift to shed blood: (16) Destruction and misery are in their ways: (17) And the way of peace have they not known: (18) There is no fear of God before their eyes. (19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."


          We are, everyone of us, and everyone of our children, sinners, corrupt at heart, corrupt by nature, corrupt by choice, and corrupt by practice. -- So vile, so corrupt we are, that the thoughts of the human heart are only evil continually. – So evil we are that we cannot and will not do good (1 John 1:8-10).


          This is called TOTAL DEPRAVITY. We are depraved, spiritually dead sinners by nature, incapable of changing our condition, or even wishing to change it. Man is so depraved that it is utterly impossible for him ever to escape the wrath of God, if left to himself. But, blessed be God, that which is impossible with men is possible with God! By the work of his sovereign, free, distinguishing, effectual grace, some men and women are made new creatures in Christ. So…


III. Third, we are given a picture of The State of Man in Grace.


Ephesians 2:1-10  "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."


          I cannot tell you everything I would like to tell you about this; but I must tell you four things which describe the state and condition of all God’s elect, once they are born of God, once they are called and granted life and faith in Christ.


A.  We are forgiven of all our sins.


Romans 4:8  "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."


Ephesians 1:3-7  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;"


B.  In Christ all who believe are justified before God. – Imputed Righteousness!


Romans 5:1-2  "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."


Romans 5:6-10  "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."


C.  Every believer is also sanctified by the grace of God. – Imparted Righteousness!


2 Peter 1:2-4  "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, (3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."


D.  The believer, so long as he lives in this tabernacle, is a person at war with himself.


Romans 7:14-24  "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"


1 John 2:1-2  "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."


          But God is not done with us yet. There is another state of man described in this Book. You who perish without Christ shall forever remain in your state of corruption, depravity, sin, and turmoil. But the believer shall soon escape all the consequences of sin. The children of God shall forever dwell with Christ in glory. So…


IV. Fourth, the Word of God describes The State Of Man In Glory.


          I do not pretend to know much about it; but I do know this – In that blessed state called glory, every chosen, blood bought, saved sinner shall be with Christ and like Christ forever.


1 John 3:1-3  "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."


·        No Sickness!

·        No Sin!

·        No Sorrow!


1 Corinthians 15:49-57  "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. (50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (51) Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."


Illustration: The Robin’s Eggs


          Then, the purpose of God for man shall be complete and fully accomplished. All things shall be put under our feet, when all things are put under Christ’s feet!



[1] Enosh – Frail Man