Hebrews 1:1-14 | The Son Of God is Superior To Angels

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The Son Of God is Superior To Angels

 

Hebrews 1:1-14

Key Verse 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.”

 

Look at verses 1-2. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers 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 he made the universe.” The author of Hebrews reminds us that God had spoken to the human race, particularly to the people of God through the prophets of old. And he had done so many times and in many ways. We reflected last time on what that meant. It means that when God chose to speak to human beings in the past, he did so through his chosen instruments the prophets such as Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah and others. They were for the most part, merely sinful men chosen by God for a time to relay God’s messages. But we also saw that the messages they brought us in the Old Testament were neither complete nor perfect, but fragmented and dispersed. Then the author tells us that God had spoken one last time by his Son. In other words, his Son Jesus became God’s complete and final and perfect message to us. His Son was in every way God’s own revelation to us. When God wanted to speak to his people in these last days, he sent us his Own Son not only as his messenger, but as the message of God as well. Everything Jesus said and did reflected what was on God’s mind and heart for us, his love and grace and desire to redeem us from the miseries of this world. After this the author summarizes for us Jesus’ person and works; that is, who Jesus really is, and what he has come to do.

 

Look at verse 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.” Jesus is not only the Son of God by whom God spoke to us in these last days. He is also the one appointed “Heir of all things”. In John 1:3 we read that: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” So, since he is the Creator of all things, creation already belongs to him. How then can he be the heir of something which already belonged to him in the first place? We need to explain this in order to understand it. Jesus was incarnated as a human being and took upon himself our own humanity. But there’s a history behind why he needed to do that. When God created human beings, man was given dominion over all creation. And here we’re not talking about making him a gardener raising fruit trees. Adam had dominion over all the earth. He ruled creation as its sovereign. If Adam needed rain he could call for rain. If he needed sunshine, warmth came. When he summoned the lion, it came like a kitten. Now, that’s what we call dominion and authority over all creation! But when Adam sinned against God, he lost his sovereignty over the earth and his supreme place over it.

 

When the Lord Jesus came to this earth and became a man, he exercised authority over all things. We all know the miracles he performed in every realm. He had dominion over the human body. He cast out demons and sent them to hell. He had control over nature. We know he could calm storms, and feed five thousand people with a few scraps. Jesus recovered what our ancestor Adam had lost. In that sense then— that is, in the sense that Jesus is the new Adam sent to usher in a new era for humanity— Jesus became the heir of all things. Though he is the Creator of all things, including this world, he— the Mediator of the new covenant— is now also its heir since he did not sin, but fulfilled all that Adam could not fulfill as the original heir of creation. Jesus also became the heir of all things, so that we who believe in him, and have been redeemed by his blood, could also become once again rise to our original position and become co-heirs with him over God’s creation. Jesus alone was able to make it possible for us to re-inherit our dominion over creation. That’s what the Bible tells us: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:17) We could never be equal heirs with Christ Jesus, because he is the Owner and Foremost Heir. But we are certainly going to be joint or co-heirs with him. This is far too deep for the human mind to conceive. But one thing is sure, the Lord Jesus recovered for us what our ancestor Adam lost. Even more! For he made us co-heir with him. Christ is the heir. He is the one whom God has appointed Heir of all things. I suppose that never a human being in history, not even the greatest of prophets has ever been appointed as such. This makes Jesus most assuredly superior even to the prophets.

 

Look at verse 2 again. “And through whom he made the universe.” While the word “universe” here may well refer to what God had created in the beginning, as in Genesis 1:1, since Christ is the Creator God of all things (John 1:3), there is a much better reference or meaning to the word “universe” than simply “creation”. In the original language, the verse may read as such. “And through whom he made the ‘ages’”. And in this of course, He goes beyond being the Creator of all creation. The word “ages” gives rise to purpose. In other words, the Lord Jesus who created all things, also is the giver of purpose to all things. And where there is purpose, there is a plan. He made the “ages” and in doing so, had a plan and gave purpose to all things. In other words, God has a reason for the things that he did, as he continues to have a reason for all that he does even this very day. When man failed God’s test of obedience in paradise, God cast him out of the Garden to suffer the consequences of his disobedience. In time he gave his people the Law through Moses. God had a purpose in that as well. It was to teach them the holiness of God, and to help them see their own sinfulness through the Law. That too had a purpose. It was that they might see Christ, their Savior God, who alone can save them from their sins, repent and put their faith in him. Then the promise of ages who is — Christ the Lord— came in person to this world. That too had a purpose. It was to introduce the age of grace, where men and women are saved by grace through faith in him. The Christ is the creator of the universe. He is the creator of the ages. He has given meaning and purpose to all things visible and invisible. This universe is not random. It is not, as some believe, a universe without meaning, chaotic and directionless. The universe was created by the Creator and all that is in it follows a plan and serves a purpose. We can be sure that the sun that rose ten thousand years ago, will rise again tomorrow morning, not by some random chaotic events that happened to throw the sun in our vicinity, but by the purpose of him who created it. So also are our lives. Every life has a purpose by the grace of the one who created it. We must each find our purpose of existence. We can only do that when we come to Christ and live in him.

 

Read verse 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.” What a glorious testimony and truth we have in this statement! The author tells us something amazing about Jesus. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” There are two testimonies here. 1st, The Son is the radiance of God’s glory. And the 2nd,  He is the exact representation of God’s being. Jesus therefore, is the radiance or brightness of God’s glory. How can we understand this? We can’t fully understand it. God’s glory is beyond our comprehension. No one has seen God except the Son of God to tell us about him. You cannot directly look at the sun when it’s shining in all its glory. But you can see the brightness or radiance of its glory by the light and heat that emanates from it— which you can see and touch and feel. In the same way, the Bible tells us that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory. In Christ Jesus we see the glory of God in its fullness. We know about him, because Jesus his Son reflects God’s radiance completely and perfectly. When you see Jesus and hear him speak, you see the glory of God. You see his holiness shining through. You see his love shining through. You see the very heart and mind of God in Jesus because Jesus is the “exact representation of his being”. In Colossians 2:9 Paul tells us that: “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” This means that Jesus is not a copy of the original— he is the very image of God. He represents God in all God’s true nature and essence. When Philip said to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered him: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:8-9)

 

Look at verse 3 again. “Sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Now this is an incredible statement! The little baby in Mary’s arms could have spoken one word and annihilated the universe. Rather he sustains all things by the power of his word. Therefore, Jesus is not only the Creator of all things by his Word, but he also sustains or holds everything together by his powerful Word. Imagine how much power there is in sustains everything! We have learned only a fraction of that power through which the Lord of Glory sustains all things. We know for example what power holds the atom together. When human beings discovered a way to unravel that little tiny invisible atom, we know the amount of power it generated. It was devastating! Who holds all these atoms together so that a holocaust of epic proportions doesn’t happen to the universe? The Bible tells us that it is Jesus who does so. Believe what you will, but I believe the Bible when it says that the Lord Jesus himself holds all things together by his powerful word. Should the Lord let go of his power, the universe as we know it will no longer exist. The Sun and Moon and stars, the earth and all of nature, the way all things work out together to sustain life— this is all by the power of Jesus’ Word. Creation power is tremendous power beyond our comprehension. How much more then, the power that sustains this world and the universe! It must be even greater than creation power!

 

We’ve talked about the Lord’s power and his work in nature. Now we come to the part where the author tells us the main purpose for Jesus’ coming to this world of ours. Look at verse 3 again. “After he had provided purification for sins.” The whole way and power of this purification is the subject of this entire letter. The Lord Jesus came to this world in order to provide for us what no one else ever could— Purification from sin! What Adam didn’t do— which is to obey God— Jesus was able to do. Adam sinned by disobeying God, and so plunged us all with him into a life of sin and death. We inherited from Adam the life of sin and all its consequences. And there is no human being who could deliver us from the power of sin in our lives. Even the best of people sin and are subject to God’s wrath and punishment. But when Jesus came, he lived the life that God required him to live on earth. He lived in obedience to God, a life of holiness and righteousness that no one could ever do. He did it for us. He lived the life you and I could not live for God. Then, Jesus suffered at out hands, because we rejected him and nailed him to the cross. But God had a purpose in that as well. His blood that was shed in his suffering and death was holy blood. His blood alone could wash away the filth of sin in our own blood. How does this work? It’s a mystery, but the evidence is clear! It is God’s grace that when we put our faith in Jesus’ blood’s cleansing power, it washes us clean. It not only brings us forgiveness for all the sins committed in our lives against God and each other, but it also purifies our own blood from sin. So that if your blood has been purified by Jesus’ blood through faith, you are called righteous and become a child of God. And nothing can harm you, neither sin nor death nor God’s coming judgment. Jesus purified us from sin by his righteous and sinless blood shed on the cross. It is not something that we can ignore, although most people do. Most people think that Jesus came to be a moral teacher and a friend of the downtrodden. But Jesus really came to purify us from sin. And anyone who comes to him receives full pardon and purification from sin. It was our sin that caused him to sacrifice his glory and majesty in heaven to come to this miserable world. And it was our sin that that crucified him. But he did it willingly for us— in love because he is the Father’s Son. We must never forget this.

 

Look at the last part of verse 3. It tells us that after the Son of God provided purification from sin, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”. What a remarkable statement! This too is the message of this letter. Jesus rose from the dead and sat at the right hand of the majesty of God. The Lord Jesus received glory and honor when he went back to the Father’s throne. What this means is that heaven changed. Something had changed it. Something exists in heaven today that did not exist before the incarnation of Jesus as a man. What we have there now in glory is a Man with nail-pierced prints on his hands and feet, and a mark of a spear wound on his side. Even in his glorified body, there is no doubt they are there and we can see them, and we shall know him who bore them for us. Before the incarnation, this Jesus was God the Son. But now, in glory, heaven has been changed for we now have a God-Man on the throne at the right hand of the majesty of God. The author tells us that our Lord sat down at the right hand of the majesty in heaven. He sat down because the work he had come to do had been completed. There’s nothing more that he needed to do. It was completed. It is finished! In other words, there is nothing you and I can do to add or take away from our redemption. The work has been completed by the Lord through his death and resurrection. Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he said: “You have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head of every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9) We— you and I who believe— whose faith rests on Jesus Christ and his redemptive work, are complete in him. We are made full in him. And we are accepted by him who sits on the throne in majesty in heaven.

 

Although redemption is completed, the present ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ in his glory does not end. The church may have forgotten that we now have a Man in glory, and foolishly focuses on the mundane things of this world (economics, politics, social reform). But in truth, Jesus Christ’s ministry today may be expressed like this: He died to save us. But he now lives in glory to keep us secure in his saving grace. Indeed, he is now in glory and far removed from the wickedness and filth of this world and its sin. But he is ever so near to us as a church and as his beloved people— one by one. He is there ministering to us. He is there interceding for us— shepherding us— disciplining us— leading and guiding us— protecting us. That’s because he so deeply loves those he calls his own— who belong to him. And above all, he is also available to us as well. Whatever is needed by those who confess his name, Jesus Christ is ever always there to help them. Do we need mercy; do we need help; do we need wisdom and understanding? Whatever we need, we only need go to him for it. This is what the author of Hebrews encourages us to do when he says: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) There is no one else in heaven or on earth who can do this for us other than Jesus. The world has its religions and philosophies which are dead and impotent to save them. But our reality is different. We have Christ Jesus, the God-Man in glory— our sacrifice and High Priest— who lives forever to intercede for us. (1 John 2:1-2)

 

Look at verse 4. “So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” Now why does the author bring in angels and tell us that Jesus thus, is superior to them? Because angels were prominent in the ministry to God’s people in the Old Testament, and the author wanted to help these Hebrew converts to see Jesus for who he really is, as the supreme ruler of even angels. We find angels everywhere in the Old Testament, ministering to God’s people. The Law was given through the ministry of angels. The prophets were associated with angels— with visions and visitations and such. The birth of the Lord was announced by angels. Angels were associated with the worship of God at the tabernacle. But whatever the angels’ ministry had been in the Old Testament, we can now clearly disassociate them from the church. People like to think they have guardian angels protecting them. But the truth is that for the children of God, who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, what could an angel do for you that the Holy Spirit cannot do! Let us not be superstitious in our understanding of the deep things of God. Let us also be careful because much of today’s demonic activity is confused by those who are superstitious and ignorant as the work of angels! Granted, angels are magnificent creatures created by God who serve God’s purpose. But we would be wise to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator Son of God, and redeemer of mankind— far superior to angels, as much as the name he inherited is superior to theirs. Now the author directs us to seven quotations from the Old Testament to impress upon us what he is saying in this verse.

 

Look at verse 5. “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’”? Jesus is superior to angels because he is the Son of God. This means that Jesus is God himself, the Creator, and not a created being like angels are. That is why in verse 6, the Old Testament quote says: “Let all God’s angels worship him.” The author also tells us that Jesus is superior to angels because he is the everlasting King in glory. He says of the created angels that they are but “servants” (7). But when it talks about the Son of God, the Bible says: “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom” (8). Jesus reigns over his people and kingdom, not in cruelty and oppression as do human kings, but in righteousness for ever. He alone is the one worthy of honor and worship. Look at verses 10-12. Jesus is also superior to angels because of his eternal nature. While all created things change, wear out and perish, Jesus, who laid the foundations of all that exists will ever be “The same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Finally (13-14) Jesus is superior to angels because he is the Sovereign Ruler. The author concludes his argument by quoting Psalms 110:1. “To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’”  Which brings us back to the end of verse 3, that Jesus “Sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven”. God exalted Jesus to a position of power and privilege where he rules over everything, including angels, even our own lives. As verse 14 tells us that angels have a mission to serve those who will inherit salvation. But the Lord Jesus Christ rules all things in heaven and on earth. It’s good to always keep in our hearts these truth about the Lord Jesus. Then we can serve him better as our Lord and King. Amen.

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