by Pastor Mark Hudson
Phillip E Hughes offers an easy to understand and follow outline of Hebrews
1:1-3 Christ superior to the prophets
1:4-2:18 Christ superior to the angels
3:1-4:13 Christ superior to Moses
4:14-10:18 Christ superior to Aaron
10:19-12:29 Christ superior as the new and living way
13:1-25 Concluding exhortations, requests, and greetings.
Better and superior are the words we will read in this beautiful, anonymously written epistle which was probably written around 64 AD. This was written primarily for Jewish Christians who were considering going back to Judaism or at least the temptation was there. This epistle is an immense help in understanding the Old Testament. This book exalts Christ on every page as the author compares and contrasts Christ with how God spoke and ministered to His people in previous times.
In the first few verses, the author affirms that God is a talking God, desiring to communicate with His creatures. God spoke in thundering voice and whispers, in mountain tops and in desolate places, through kings and donkeys. God spoke in poems, narratives, laws, prophetic visions, words of judgment, and gracious words of love and acceptance. Why would God want to speak to such rebels? We ought to be thankful that He speaks and even more thankful that we do not die when He speaks to us. What grace is expressed in “God spoke to our fathers” and “he has spoken to us by His Son.” As Anthony said to the monks around him, “Do not be astonished if an emperor writes to us, for he is a man; but rather wonder that God wrote the Law for men and has spoken to us through His own son.” Quoted by Athanasius.
Since the coming of Christ in the flesh, we are in the last days. So there is a sense of urgency in that phrase. In just these two verses, the author spans all the previous time periods in the O.T. Then the author transitions to the time after Christ entered the world. Previously the way God spoke was “in many ways” but the primary way was through His prophets that were written down in Scripture. God speaks to us in His Word. But then the authors continues.
Now, in these last days, He (God) has spoken to us by His Son. That phrase delivers a devastating blow to other religions and any further revelation. God spoke to us in the past in a variety of ways that were collected and written down in the Bible. But now God speaks to us in His Son and God’s inspired authors have written down their words that God preserved in the New Testament.
That might be enough to make it clear to us that Christ is the supreme way that God has revealed Himself. Once the author mentions Christ, notice what follows. Christ is God’s Son. We know this means Christ is God not that Christ is a son the way we speak of our sons. God the Father appointed Christ, as God the Son, to be the heir of all things. Imagine being appointed by God the Father to anything. Christ is appointed heir of all things. Can you imagine what that possibly means? No one else has that honor. Imagine inheriting one billion dollars. That would be life changing. Yet even more is Christ who inherits all things. Amazing.
The next phrase tells us that God the Father created the world through Christ. So we may rightly say that Christ created the world and God the Father created the world. But the distinction to keep in mind is there is no distinction between speaking and doing with God. We speak but that is not doing. But God accomplishes creation just by speaking. His authority is so massive and powerful that just by speaking He can create out of nothing.
In v. three, Christ is the radiance or the reflection of God’s glory. Both of the phrases in v. 3, “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature clearly communicates that Jesus Christ is God. We can say that of no other human being or angel. Just as a coin in engraved with a likeness so Christ is the very nature of God. Christ is the revelation of God. As we read in John, if we have seen Christ, we have seen the Father (Jn. 14:9).
The next phrase tells us that without Christ maintaining and upholding the universe, the universe would fall apart. Christ is actively holding the stars and planets in place. He is the one who speaks to the waves of the sea, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther” (Job 38:11). Christ has not just let the universe go on apart from His concern and care. The world we live in is a place of beauty, variety, growth and flourishing and that is not be accident. He does all this (we cannot begin to imagine what
upholding the universe involves) simply by the word of His power. His word effectuates His will.
Now Christ is seated at the right hand of God (or the Majesty on high), having made “purification for sins.” Only through the work of Christ can we be forgiven and we must never forget that His death on the cross will be the wonder, joy, and cause for celebration throughout eternity. Only in heaven will we understand how glorious the cross is and all that God accomplished in Christ’s obedient and submissive death for our sins.
Our dear heavenly Father, all You do, say, and will is just and perfect. We praise You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for how You have spoken to us so clearly, lovingly, and wisely. We worship Jesus Christ, Your Son, who is the heir of all things. You are radiant and exceedingly bright because of God’s glory. Thank You for suffering in excruciating pain for our sins. We will never get over Your sacrifice. In Your perfect and powerful name. Amen.