Some things require special levels of attention. For example, driving requires focused attention. Texting, talking on the cell phone, or even visiting with passengers can be deadly. The nature of driving requires your full attention or you can easily drift into the ditch or oncoming traffic. In this same spirit, the preacher who wrote Hebrews warns his listeners:
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (Hebrews 2.1-4).
Already, the Hebrews writer has announced that God has ultimately spoken through the Son (Heb 1.1-4) and this Son is superior to the angels (1.5-14). Though the OT did not say angels were involved in the delivery of the Law, it was commonly believed among the Jews of the first century to be true (see this notion in Acts 7:53 and Gal 3.19). So the author picks up here—since the law that was brought by angels should be taken with utmost seriousness, how much more should the message that come from the Son? Therefore, the Son deserves our careful attention.
Without careful attention, we drift, much like a boat can gradually drift out to sea. What’s really at stake is that the readers might be tempted to give up. The latter part of the first verse might be translated: “so that we will not gradually give up believing what we have believed.”
This biblical passage is a gut check.
Have you drifted? You can find your way home this coming Sunday.