The Creation Has Become Subject to Evil (Hebrews 2:14–3:6)
Although Christ created the world entirely good, it has become tainted and subject to “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). The writer of Hebrews says little about how this happened, but he speaks at length about how God is working to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death,” namely, “the descendants of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16); this means Abraham’s descendants, both through Isaac (the Jews) and Ishmael (the gentiles)—that is to say, everyone. The question asked by Hebrews is, how will God free humanity from evil, death, and the devil? The answer is, through Jesus Christ, the great high priest.
We will explore Jesus’ priesthood in greater depth when we turn to the central chapters of the book (Heb. 5–10). For now we simply note that the opening chapters of the book stress that Jesus’ creative work and his priestly work are not isolated from one another. Hebrews brings together both: “Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands” (Heb. 1:10), and “So that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). This tells us that Christ is God’s agent of both the original creation and the work of redemption. Christ’s work of creation leads him, after the Fall, to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery” (Heb. 2:5) and to “make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).
We know very well how far our workplaces have fallen from God’s original intent. Some workplaces exist primarily because we need to restrain the evil that now infests the world. We need police to restrain criminals, diplomats to restore peace, medical professionals to heal disease, evangelists to call people back to God, auto body shops to repair accidents, investigative journalists to uncover corruption, and engineers to rebuild decaying bridges. And every workplace suffers greatly from the Fall. Mismanagement, labor-management disputes, gossip, harassment, discrimination, laziness, greed, insincerity, and a host of other problems large and small, impede our work and our relationships at every turn. God’s solution is not to abandon his creation, or to evacuate human beings from it, but to utterly transform it, to re-create it in its essential goodness. To accomplish this, he sends his Son to become incarnate in the world, just as he was the creator of the world. In our workplaces, we become Christ’s “holy partners in a heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1) to both sustain and restore his creation. This does not replace the creative work that began in the Garden of Eden, but instead tempers it and adds to it. Creative and redemptive works occur side by side and are intertwined until Christ’s return and the abolition of evil.