Sunday Bible Study Notes: February 19

NOTE:  This week’s notes are a “best of” because we have a guest speaker today.  Our study of John will pick up where we left off next Sunday.  I hope you enjoy this one, it is a powerful text!

God Has Spoken!

Today’s Text:              Hebrews 1:1-4

To say that these four verses are dense with meaning would be an understatement, for they may be the most meaning-filled four verses in the entire Bible.  Here we find the seven attributes of Jesus, His true identity, His position in history, and a summary outline of all of redemptive history.  Please note that this is the introduction to Hebrews, not its contents.

Most of the epistles of the New Testament begin with some sort of a greeting, but not Hebrews; we get right into the thick of things theologically.

Notice the contrasts that are drawn immediately between the Old and New Testaments:

“in the past…”                         “in these last days”

“God spoke”                            “he has spoken”

“To our forefathers”                 “to us”

“Through the prophets”           “by his Son”

In less than one sentence, we can see that this is no ordinary book!

1:1  In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,

Before Jesus came, God spoke through the prophets.  He did so many times and in various ways, by direct speech, dreams, and visions. His message was spoken, illustrated and legislated, it was proclaimed, decreed and provided.  It came in “bits and pieces” as the Greek would indicate; never did they get the whole thing in the old days.  They got pictures, types and shadows, they had dreams… but in all of this, God was communicating to His people indirectly through the prophets and yet even then the people received the message in clear human language. Notice that by saying “God spoke” the author here is telling us who it was who took the initiative in the production of Sacred Scripture: it was God Himself.  The Bible is not a collection of man’s musings about God, but rather God’s instructive revelation to man.  Keeping this fact in mind will help anyone who ever interprets the Scripture.  He must ask “What is God telling us” rather than wonder what an author is saying about God; God is the ultimate author of every word. Finally, note that everything that came before Christ is “in the past”. Christ, by contrast instructed us “in these last days”. Jesus is the turning point in all history: there is the past, and then with Jesus comes “these last days”.

1:2   but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

Whereas God spoke to “our forefathers” through the prophets in former times, God has spoken to “us” by His Son In these days.  Notice God spoke through the prophets and by His Son.  He didn’t speak through Jesus because He was Jesus. How fortunate we are that our revelation of God is direct from Jesus!  In the past, they received partial revelation that came from many prophets, a little bit at a time; we have received the whole thing from Jesus directly.  In the past, they received these many partial revelations that when put together would point them to Christ; we received the whole revelation in the person of Christ.  The contrast is staggering to contemplate.  Chapter 11 reveals to us several “forefathers” who were great in the faith even with partial revelation.  How are you doing with your faith, having received complete revelation?

Notice also that God appointed Jesus “heir of all things” and then He made the universe through Jesus. One might say that God planned the universe for Jesus to ultimately rule, and then it was all accomplished when Jesus spoke the Word. (John 1:1-5; Col. 1:15-17)  These are the first two attributes of Jesus that we find in this short text.

1:3   The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

This verse contains five more attributes of Jesus, making a total of seven in this introduction. (Interesting, isn’t it? Seven attributes, with seven being the Biblical number of completeness)  First we have the Son’s being the “radiance of God’s glory”. This indicates that we see God’s glory reflected to us in Christ.  If we want a sample of glory, seek Jesus.  Second is an attribute that closely follows the first: Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being.  In other words, if you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father.  If you want to know what God is all about… seek Christ. In the fifth of His attributes, we see His awesome power that is at work throughout the entire universe: “sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (cf. John 1:1-4)  In the Gospel accounts, we see that Jesus can interrupt the normal laws of nature through His miracles.  Here, the author points out that the laws of nature themselves are created and sustained by the Word: Jesus.  When we study science, we are studying Jesus!  Then, with the sixth attribute, we have the most wonderful of all: Jesus has provided purification for sins! Notice that this is placed within the wide sweep of the totality of history; verse 3 is all of history in one line.  Hebrews will have much to say about all of the particulars of how Jesus accomplished this.  The final attribute of Jesus in this verse is that after He accomplished al of this, He sat down with God.  The point here is this: Now that Jesus has accomplished His work as High Priest for the purification of our sins, He has sat down beside the Father’s throne in authority, reigning as King of kings and interceding for us.

1:4   So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

After all of His magnificent accomplishments, Jesus sits at the very throne of God, King of kings, Lord of lords; He is so vastly superior to the angels and all other created beings!  His position is superior, His being is superior and His name is superior.  The balance of the chapter is the author’s proof of the thesis statement made in verses 1-4, and for the benefit of the Hebrew, he uses Old Testament texts to do it.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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6 Responses to Sunday Bible Study Notes: February 19

  1. Noel Williams (prhayz) www.prhayz.com says:

    Thanks a lot Don, for bringing the word of the day. I am richly blessed.

    May God continue to bless and inspire you, so that you can continue to inspire other people.

  2. Pingback: God’s Word has no limits. « bummyla

  3. Pingback: I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. —Philippians 4:11 « bummyla

  4. Glenda Mills says:

    Thanks for this wonderful teaching!

  5. Pingback: “all things are possible” & “condemn not” – Jesus & the realm of language « JRFibonacci's blog: partnering with reality

  6. Pingback: God Has Spoken! | A disciple's study

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