Vol. 2 - No. 3

March, 1983

Editorial: The Recovery of Man

by Robert L. McDonald

“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 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? 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: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all things in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 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” (Hebrews 2:5-9).

The writer of Hebrews quotes from Psalms 8:4-6 where the reference is to man. Even though one phrase, “son of man” (vs. 6), has sometime been applied to Jesus, the emphasis is the fact that man has been exalted and honored as he has. The word “man” always has reference to man, never Divinity. It is the normal meaning of the word.

Psalms 8 is a great lyric expressing God glorifying man. As one observes the heavenly bodies and is made to marvel at God's creation in all of its beauty, he looks at man and is made to realize how God exalted and honored him far above all of the creation. God's greatest work in creation is recorded, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 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 fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 2:27-28). We should read Psalms 8 and Hebrews 2 in that light.

The Ideal Man: Less Than God

“Thou madest him a little lower than the angels” immediately draws our attention to the glory of man. The Psalmist speaks of man as he came out of the hands of the Creator, placing him at the head of all of His works, being made in the image and likeness of God. Even though man, in comparison with the majestic heavenly bodies, is so small and weak and insignificant, God took a loving and careful interest in making him a little lower than Divine. Gesenius renders the Psalm 8:5, “Thou hast caused him to want but little of God; that is, thou hast made him but little lower than God.” (Barnes on the Old Testament). Albert Barnes comments, man had been placed in a condition comparatively but little inferior to God himself; he had made him almost equal to himself.” (ibid.)

God “crowned him with glory and honour” shows the elevated honor conferred on man in the beginning, giving him an extended dominion. He “set him over the works of the hands of God.” When man was created, 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” (Genesis 1:26). Man would not only have the distinguishing characteristics of flesh, but was endowed with the intelligence not common to the animal world. Man was far superior to all things in the world, for he was given “all things in subjection under his feet.”

Actual State of Man

Look at all of the advantages of man. As a friend, God blessed him abundantly. Man was given every fruit to eat (except the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden) and every physical want was supplied. Man walked in Eden's garden in the cool of the evening with God. There was no wall of enmity to separate man from God. Man was a friend of God. He knew nothing of deceit; he was without sin. In the actual state of man, we find him frustrated by temptation. His weakness was through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. So man, instead of ruling as a king in the dominion of the earth, he became a slave to sin. James writes, “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished,

 bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15). Through Adam, sin entered the world and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). The apostle Paul would later write, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins        also we all had our conversation in time past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:1-3). In sin, man was without God and without hope in the world.

Actual Man Changed Into the Ideal

In verse 9 of our text, “But we see Jesus,” our Lord is mentioned for the first time in chapter two. Jesus was made lower than the angels -- or in other words, he was made a man. He was made in the likeness of man. He was tempted as a man. The inspired writer affirms that Jesus Christ, our high priest, “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus led man back to a proper relationship with God by living the perfect life, becoming an example that we should follow his steps (I Peter 2:21). In His mercy, grace and love, He made known a perfect scheme for man's salvation from sin. So as to redeem man, he became the perfect sacrifice, “for the suffering of death.” Man deserved to die because he was guilty of sinning against God and himself. God had pronounced the penalty for sin. But, Jesus Christ took man's place in death to “taste death for every man” so that man might be redeemed and brought back into a covenant relationship with God. Surely, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Man's Recovery

Throughout the New Testament we are informed of God's grace as manifested in bringing about man's salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8) is as familiar as any passage in the New Testament. Every Bible believer acknowledges the fact that without the grace of God there could not be salvation for sinful man. There is nothing that man could do so as to merit forgiveness. It has never been in man to work or direct his way so as to bring himself back into a proper fellowship with God. Man tried! He offered animal sacrifices, he built temples and altars and idols in his vain attempt to renew his friendship with the Almighty. All that he did was a vain attempt, for he was directing his own steps (See Jeremiah 10:23). In time, God spoke to man through Jesus Christ and His words are preserved for us today in the New Testament. As man hears the words of our Lord and develops a genuine trust in those words, his trust leads to obedience to the gospel. When man obeys the gospel of Christ, he is then made free from sin and becomes the servant of righteousness (Romans 6:12-18). He has been, by the grace of God, recovered from sin by faith in Him.