In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 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. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
Here we are at the beginning of a tour of a new book from the New Testament, my very favorite book of all, a book that will show you how the Old and New Covenants come together, a book that will both challenge and encourage each one of us. I sure hope that you will have the time and inclination to be fed and encouraged on our tour: Here we go!
The book begins with a bang in these four verses! Take a minute to drink them in; they are simply amazing. Look first of all at the contrast between God’s former ways, and His ways now. In the past, He spoke through the prophets. Now, He speaks directly by His Son. Can you see the difference? In the Old Testament, there is always an intermediary, but in the New Testament, God speaks directly to us by His Son; a paradigm shift of massive proportions. This Son by whom God speaks is not just some kid, He is not only heir of all things, He is also the one by and through whom God created the entire universe. When God spoke the words “let there be light” it was the Son’s lips that were moving… Just let that sink in… This is a huge statement. There’s more coming, catch this one:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. The “radiance” of God’s glory! Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory, and God sent Him to be with us, to teach us, to have relationships with us… and to die for us. It’s one thing to be amazed at God’s unending love for us in sending His Son to die for us, but when you combine that kind of love with just exactly who this Jesus is… WOW!
Jesus is also the “exact representation of His being”: Jesus is in fact God. This is what Jesus meant when He said “the Father and I are one.” WOW! If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. If you want to know what God thinks, look at Jesus. If you want to know if God loves you, look at Jesus on the cross.
“…sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Ever wonder why the planets don’t just fly off into space? Ever wonder why the seasons keep coming at the right time after all of these years? Ever wonder who made up the laws of physics, of nature, of right and wrong? Ever wonder why your head doesn’t explode? The entire universe is sustained by His Word! Ever wonder why so many people seek to denigrate the Bible? Now you know why; it is His Word. It is so powerful that it could call the universe into existence. It is nothing to be trifled with, as so many philosophers have found out. It is a force that we cannot even begin to fathom, and God sent Him to give us direct access to Him. If this does not inspire you, then maybe you need to see if you can still fog a mirror!
After He finished His work on the earth, He was returned to the glory from whence He had come, superior to the angels, yes. Superior to all living beings everywhere? Yes. This is our Savior, with whom we have a relationship. I wonder, do we value that relationship as we ought?
Hebrews is simply an awesome book. I think you’ll see as we continue going through it, that it is like no other.
As we continue through the rest of Hebrews chapter 1, the author is setting about to prove his assertions of Chris’s supremacy by comparing Him to the angels. Verses 5-13 are quotations from the Old Testament that contrast the Son with angels.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”?
“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son
Notice that in these words, God has a special relationship with Jesus, the relationship of Father and Son; this is quite a different relationship than that which He has with the angels. In the next verse, our author shows that at the Incarnation, the angels must worship the Son:
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.” (1:6)
As the chapter continues, we can see that the Son will reign, but the angels are His servants (1:8-9 c.f. 1:7). In vv. 10-12 he quotes Psalm 102 indicating that the Son will reign over the universe, will destroy it and yet remain the same always. In verse 13 he quotes Psalm 110 showing that God will destroy all of the Son’s enemies and make them “a footstool for your feet” surely God has never made such a promise to an angel!
Finally, comes verse 14 and a curve…
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
As the book continues, we will see the author demonstrate that Jesus is not only superior to the angels, but that He is also superior to Moses, that His sacrifice is superior to the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, that His New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant, and that the promises of the New Covenant are superior to those of the Old Covenant, for they are brought by a superior High Priest (Jesus) who brings a superior sacrifice to establish a superior Covenant. With this in mind, consider 1:14 above…
By asking the question, the author is asserting its truth: Yes, the angels are “ministering spirits” sent to “serve those who will inherit salvation.” Slow down, take a closer look; Jesus is the “firstborn” of the Father, His salvation isn’t even an issue, who are these people the author is referring to? Let’s figure it out: Who inherits salvation? Who are called “co-heirs with Christ?”
Let’s see… salvation comes from accepting Christ as savior, by His work on the cross. Those who are “in Christ” are His co-heirs. Therefore, the angels are ministering spirits sent to serve you and me. Again, slow down and let that sink in…
This “in Christ” thing is really too cool!
So, why is it that we waste so much time arguing and complaining? It seems to me that our author is going to make the point that we really need to grab on to what we have in Christ, and not worry about all of the noise and distractions of this life.