Friday, May 31, 2013
Hebrews Chapter One Part 2
1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds
We begin our look into these verses with the simple declaration of the writer, who tells us that God had in various times and ways spoke to the Jewish fathers by the prophets. Not just to the Jews, however, but prior to the Flood He spoke to a sinful world through Abel, Enoch and perhaps other prophets (including Noah). His message of redemption and forthcoming judgment is hardly a new theme in the history of mankind. Halfway through the first 1600 years of mankind’s existence (roughly) Enoch was recorded having spoken of a time when the Lord would come with His saints to mete out judgment on the world that rejected Him and killed His prophets, Jude 1:14-15.
Jesus alluded that Abel was also a prophet, and was likewise killed by the world system that rejected God, Matthew 23:34-35. God has never been without witness on this earth, and His combined witness of the prophets of yore was a weighty condemnation against the people of the world who rejected His message in the clearest terms possible: by slaughtering His messengers. It is tantamount to killing the originator of the message, more or less declaring that if you could get your hands on the person who spoke the words to begin with this is what you would do with him. The Jews demonstrated this by seizing and killing Jesus; they finally had their opportunity to kill the originator of the messages they detested.
Nonetheless, God spoke to the fathers through the prophets. The prophets themselves were but foreshadows of the Coming One, who is the perfect prophet of God; not only conducting God’s word, but who is in fact God’s word, John 1:1. Like the sacrificial offerings of the temple, where millions of slain lambs could not erase the stain of guilt sin created, so too did the Father send prophet after prophet because His message to mankind, and the Jews in particular, had not been perfected or finished. Christ’s arrival brought perfection, which is why the office of prophet is no longer needed in the church; Christ gave an accurate depiction of the Father’s will with words and teachings that surpassed and completed all that the Old Testament prophets had been leading toward. His teachings always brought perplexity and amazement to those that heard it, so much so that even His enemies were frequently astounded and ashamed by what Jesus had to tell them. As Christ finished all need for oblation by the offering of Himself on the cross, so too did He conclude revelation with His arrival. He was the subject of the Old Testament prophets, but also the authority by which they spoke. No longer was it “thus saith the Lord” but “I say to you” when Jesus addressed the crowds or His disciples with doctrine.
Christ is, according to the writer of Hebrews, the appointed heir of all things. Here we see then what is meant by the Firstborn over all creation. Like the Jewish ceremony in which the eldest received the inheritance by the father, or sometimes the favored child received said inheritance as in Joseph’s case with Jacob or Isaac’s case with Abraham; so too does Christ receive the inheritance as being the one with preeminence, to whom God bequeaths the inheritance to. It never says in Scripture that Christ was created an heir, but like in verse 2, He was appointed an heir. Being begotten as a man he was made the heir of all things, having supremacy over all things since He was also the Creator, Hebrews 3:6. Verse 2 goes on to declare that it was through Jesus Christ that the known universe and all things (visible or invisible) were created, see also Colossians 1:16-17. In Him all things consist. One definition of “consist” is “to be based on or defined by something.” The usage of this word in Colossians asserts that our existence as human beings is based on and defined by our special creation in Christ. Being God’s image bearer grants definition to our race and provides a reference point to understand the universe around us and our place in it. One of the consequences of mankind’s rebellion and rejection of God is a foolishness that seizes our minds in regards to cosmology, Romans 1:22. We have no idea where we came from or why we’re here, or what relation we have to anything, so we invent stories apart from God’s presence and providence to explain existence. What happens is that such stories rob existence of any shred of genuine meaning and reduce life to a series of random chemical accidents that prevent meaning from ever intruding again.