Fighting Death with Death

Although it might be somewhat counter-intuitive, it’s a well known fact that, sometimes, you need to fight fire with fire. That you need to set a fire in order to extinguish a fire. That you need to burn stuff in order that more stuff might not be burned. Thinking about fires this morning because one of my daughters is under a fire evacuation. Her and her husband have had to leave the lodge they manage in northern California as the Happy Camp fire there continues to move and grow. Appreciate your prayers. Pretty sure the firefighters will do everything within their power and within the limits of safety to deal with that fire . . . even if it means setting another fire.

But this morning, as I continue reading in Hebrews, I’m reminded that Jesus cast off all thoughts of personal safety as He too fought fire with fire . . . or in, His case, death with death.

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.    (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV)

You can’t blame them for struggling with the concept of Jesus as Messiah. Messiah was to be the descendent of David, ascending to the throne on Mt. Zion, to rule over an eternal kingdom. Messiah was to be the deliverer . . . and the model for “deliverer-ship” was Moses . . . complete with the power of God come down . . . and the Red Sea parted. Messiah was to be the benefactor of God’s ancient people, Israel, reigning OVER them in majesty and authority . . . not living WITH them under Roman rule. He was to be, as I’ve just read in Hebrews, the manifestation of God’s glory, Himself. So what were they to make of Jesus?

What they missed was the other side of the prophetic coin. That though He would be crowned with glory and honor, He first had to be made a little lower than the angels, as all men are. For what purpose? For the suffering of death . . . “so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (2:7-14). So that, through the power of God manifest in flesh, He might destroy the one who has power over death. And so, our Savior fought death with death.

Those on the frontlines of that fire this morning are no doubt taking risk and placing themselves in danger. But they have their evacuation protocols as well. The fire is not worth their lives and they will leave if, and when, it’s necessary. Not so with my LORD.

There was no fallback plan . . . He came to do the Father’s will . . . and there would be no retreat. The Son of God would become God incarnate . . . and would be made like the creation, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God (2:17). And, in that priestly duty, would “make propitiation for the sins of the people” (2:17) . . . offering Himself as the all-sufficient sacrifice to appease the just wrath of a holy God. And thus, He would take way the accuser’s advantage . . . for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Thus He would destroy the power of physical death . . . and the blindness of spiritual death . . . and the holy requirement for a second death, eternal separation from God. Thus, He would provide a great deliverance for all who believe.

Sometimes you need to fight fire with fire. God so love the world that He determined to fight death with death.

O’ what a Savior . . . to Him be all glory, honor, and praise!

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