The Expository Files.


 Much Better Than The Angels

Hebrews 1


It is important for us to understand who Jesus is. Ever since He walked this earth, there have been varying ideas about Him. During His ministry, His enemies claimed He was just a crazy man or demon-possessed. Others suggested He was something even more sinister; a false prophet intentionally deceiving the people. Herod, feeling guilty over his having put John the Baptist to death, thought Jesus might be John come back to life.

The people also had different ideas about just who this Man of Nazareth was. Some said He was one of the ancient Old Testament prophets come back to life. Some thought He might be the Messiah because of the signs He did. Of course, they were right.

Even those closest to Him had a difficult time in coming to proper conclusions about Him. For example, some envisioned Him as an earthly king in competition with Rome, and even sought to assure for themselves prominent leadership positions next to Jesus in such a political arrangement. Of course, Jesus' kingdom is far different from that, and greatness in the kingdom is measured by services rendered, not received.

Jesus worked chiefly among His own people during His ministry; the Jews. After Jesus ascended back to heaven, the Holy Spirit sent a special message specifically to the Jews to explain some things of particular significance to them. This message has been preserved for us by God's providence as one of the books of the New Testament; the letter to the Hebrews. The first chapter deals with clearing up exactly who Jesus is;
not an Old Testament prophet but rather the Son of God and Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos (Hebrews 1:1-3). Consider Jesus' identity as revealed in the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

Jesus is the Son of God
"For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee?' and again, 'I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me"? (Hebrews 1:5). This and the following verses are a collection of passages from the Hebrew Scriptures which would have been an important part on any discourse on religious themes to the Hebrews of the first century. The purpose, in part, seems to be to show that Jesus is more than an angel (Psalm 2:7). Even today, there are religious groups, such as the "Jehovah's Witnesses" who claim that Jesus is Michael, the archangel or some other celestial created being. They are proven in error by this chapter; because though angels and men are, as groups, called sons of God, none of us individually are called "the Son of God".

Only Jesus is the Son of God in this special sense. He is "the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14b). Interestingly, God's statement "this day I have begotten you" seems not to refer to Jesus' conception or birth, but rather to His resurrection from the grave (Acts 13:30-34).

Jesus is the Lord of Angels
"And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him.' And of the angels He says, 'Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire." (Hebrews 1:6,7). That Jesus is more than just an angel is also seen in how the angels act toward Him (Psalm 97:7). Again, the term "firstborn" seems more related to Jesus' resurrection than His birth (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5). This term also denotes rank, signifying the preeminence of Jesus.

Because of this, the angels worship Jesus, the Son. They are only servants, albeit mighty servants and ministers of God. But they are creatures, and by worshiping Jesus they give recognition to His deity because nobody other than God is to be worshiped (Matthew 4:9,10).

Jesus is God Enthroned
"But of the Son He says, 'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions." (Hebrews 1:8,9). In these two verses, God the Father refers to Jesus the Son twice as "God"! Why this does not once and for all settle all questions as to the Deity of Christ is a testament of man's ability to deny the obvious. God Himself twice affirms what modern day cults deny.

This passage also speaks of Jesus as king by referring to His eternal throne and righteous scepter. Jesus now rules on His throne in heaven. He reigns in the hearts of men and women everywhere who submit to His rule. He has been doing so since His resurrection (Acts 2:30,31). His kingdom is spiritual (John 18:36) and eternal (Daniel 2:44; Hebrews 12:26-28).

Jesus is the Creator
"And, 'Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands;" (Hebrews 1:10). The Son was God's active agent in the creation of the universe (Hebrews 1:2; John 1:1-3). This quote is from the Old Testament (Psalms 102:25-27). It is plain that the Psalmist wrote of God's eternal nature and creative power. The Hebrew writer applies these points to Jesus, the Son. Even the angels, as powerful as they are, are products of creation. The Son, however, is the eternal Creator (Colossians 1:16-17).

Jesus is Eternal
"They will perish, but Thou remainest; and they will all become old, as a garment, and as a mantle Thou will roll them up; and as a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end." (Hebrews 1:11,12). Not only did the Son eternally exist before creation, He will eternally exist after the universe He created is no more. The Hebrew writer later affirms that God will "shake" the present heavens and earth, and that this "shaking" signifies the "removing" of these things (Hebrews 12:26,27). Yes, there will come a time when the physical heavens and earth that we know presently will be destroyed or removed and will no longer remain. But this system will be replaced with a new one; entirely new and of a different nature altogether (II Peter 3:9-13; Revelation 21:1).

Jesus is Victor
"But to which of the angels has He ever said, 'Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet'?" (Hebrews 1:13). The final Old Testament passage referenced is Psalm 110:1. The angles bow before the throne of the Father, but the Son sits beside Him receiving worship and adoration as He does. Earlier in the chapter, the Hebrew writer had spoken of the Son's exaltation at the right hand of God following the deed He had done here in making "purification of sins" (Hebrews 1:3). This is where Jesus is today, mediating between God and man as the perfect mediator, being both God and man Himself (Philippians 2:5-11; Acts 2:32-36).

So this is Jesus; the Son of God and the Lord of angels; God enthroned; the eternal Creator and victor over the grave. What is more is that He loves us. He will make all the difference in the world and in eternity to those who obediently place their trust in Him.

After Jesus ascended back to heaven, the Holy Spirit sent a special message specifically to the Jews to explain some things of particular significance to them. This message has been preserved for us by God's providence as one of the books of the New Testament; the letter to the Hebrews. The first chapter deals with clearing up exactly who Jesus is; not an Old Testament prophet but rather the Son of God and Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos (Hebrews 1:1-3).

By  Jon W.  Quinn
From Expository Files 4.6; June 1997
 

 

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