Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hebrews Chapter One Part 5

1:4-6 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

The writer of Hebrews begins to discuss the nature of Jesus and of angels, contrasting one against the other. It is immediately clear then that Jesus Christ is not an angel. The first chapter of Hebrews alone dissolves the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ contention that Jesus Christ is Michael the archangel. Yet the writer of Hebrews states clearly that Jesus is not an angel. Jude refers to Michael in his epistle, addressing a conversation the archangel had with Satan. Though we are not told the particulars of the conversation, it culminates with Michael telling Satan that the Lord will rebuke him. The language and tense of the verse in Jude suggests an attitude of fear while Michael was addressing Satan; certainly not an attitude Jesus possessed even while incarnated as a man.

The inheritance of Christ was foreshadowed numerous times in the Old Testament. The Psalmist writes: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession,” Psalm 2:7-8. Elsewhere we read: “They shall fear You as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations…He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth…His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. All men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed,” Psalm 72:5, 8, 17.

How did Christ enter into this inheritance of which the Old Testament speaks of? Paul writes: “[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Philippians 2:6-11.

In the days of Jesus’ humanity His triumph over sin and death, His perfect obedience to the Father’s will, made Him worthy of the inheritance of the nations, of literally all things in the created order, 1st Corinthians 15:27. Christ is the first born (first begotten KJV) over all creation in the sense that He is the inheritor of the Father’s kingdom. As Abraham made Isaac his inheritor, or Jacob to Joseph, or David to Solomon, it has nothing to do with chronology. These verses do not imply Jesus was created; they were meant solely to inform us that God elevated the begotten Son of God to have preeminence in the created order. The Son is every bit as eternal as the Father, Micah 5:2; John 1:1.

The writer now begins to ask a series of rhetorical questions drawn straight from the Old Testament scriptures that were chosen, I think, to highlight the supremacy of Jesus Christ over the creation; even over a race of beings so mighty as the angels. The first in verse 5 is taken from Psalm 2:7. The Psalm in question depicts the nations raging against the Creator and His Christ. Despite the wrath of the nations God places His Christ as King over them all, with authority to destroy those nations that rebel and will not obey. The Psalmist seems to have caught a glimpse of the thousand year reign of Christ, when Jesus will sit on the throne of David His human ancestor and rule the nations. The writer then asks to which of the angels did He ever say “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? Jesus was born the seed of David according to the flesh, but declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness (the Holy Spirit) by the resurrection of the dead, Romans 1:3-4. Christ’s resurrection demonstrated His deity; His death demonstrated His humanity.

Again in verse 5 we read: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son.” This quote is lifted from 2nd Samuel 7:14, in direct reference to Solomon, the son of David. It is clear that Solomon and the glory of his reign was a brief portrait of the coming kingdom Jesus would establish, an enduring kingdom that would compass the earth. Solomon was a fleeting picture of Christ, and so the nation of Israel under his reign faintly mirrored the promise of the kingdom to come. We know that Solomon was not the person God was necessarily addressing in this chapter since He promises that this King’s empire would endure forever, 2nd Samuel 7:13, 16. Clearly Solomon died and his kingdom passed to another, and finally failed at last when Judah was taken to Babylon. The fulfillment of this passage then is to be found in Jesus Christ, when the Lord returns from Heaven to establish His kingdom on earth that will crush all other kingdoms, as the rock hewn without hands destroyed the Gentile powers in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45.

In verse 6 the writer quotes “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” This reference in the OT is found in Psalm 97. This Psalm, like Psalm 2, appears to portray the coming of God in power, visible to those who are alive at the time, Psalm 97:6. Verse 1 clearly puts forth the reasons that the Lord comes: namely to reign over all the earth. Verse 7 is where we find our quote, where we read “worship Him, all you gods.” The Hebrew name for God or gods is “Elohim” it literally means a plurality of gods, since the word “El” in its generic sense is the singular “God.” This word is also used of angels in the OT, sometimes being referred to as gods, Psalm 95:3; 135:5. The Psalmist lauds God as being “most high above all the earth,” and therefore “You are exalted far above all gods,” Psalm 97:9. In the New Testament we are informed that angels are ministering spirits, inexplicably linked to the welfare and state of the saints, Hebrews 1:14. Holy angels also refuse any form of worship, Revelation 19:10. Not so with fallen angels, whose singular purpose it seems is to draw away man’s worship from the true God to themselves. Yet it is not the purpose of angels to receive worship, but to give it. In this instance the Psalmist tells us that the angels are commanded to worship the Son.

Scripture leaves us with a clear picture of Christ’s absolute sovereignty above the angelic order. Isaiah chapter 6 describes the prophet Isaiah’s encounter with Jehovah in the temple in the year King Uzziah died. The Lord is referred to as Adonay, which in Hebrew means “lord par excellence or lord over all.” He is also named Yahweh or Jehovah (when referenced as the Lord of hosts) which means “self-existent or eternal [one].” There is positively no doubt that Isaiah saw God enthroned in the temple, lording over both Heaven and earth as its eternal King. Seven hundred years later we find John, inspired of the Holy Spirit, telling us that when the prophet encountered Jehovah in the temple he was seeing Jesus; Jesus is Jehovah God, John 12:37-41.

1 comment:

  1. While Romans lays out the basics of Christianity and Christian life, Hebrews reveals it as God's plan from before the creation of the world. Knowledge of who and what Christ is is essential to understanding that plan. As chapter 5 and six point out, an understanding of the plan is necessary for effective teaching and reaching others.


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