God's Provision to Come into His Presence
Jesus – God’s Supreme Revelation – Hebrews 1
The book of Hebrews is about coming into God’s presence. It contrasts the Old versus the New Covenants in light of this. Jesus is the prime and sole means of coming into the presence of God. Therefore it isn’t a surprise that Hebrews begins with the first two chapters devoted to establishing the supremacy of Jesus.
The first two chapters of Hebrews are of great value in establishing the supremacy of Jesus and establishing His nature. Jesus is higher and distinct from created angelic beings. Jesus is the God-Man. Jesus is the God-Man so that He can serve as the perfect priest; an arbitrator and representative between God and humanity.
Hebrews 1 (NKJV)
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
God speaks. The word "spoke" (Greek laleo) means to talk, utter words, preach, say, speak, talk, tell. God speaks.
God is present and makes Himself accessible. God is not far off and mysteriously unapproachable. Quite the contrary, God speaks to humanity from the beginning of creation. God interacts and makes His heart known to humanity. If we want to know God, He will allow us to know Him. He states through Jeremiah, " And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). Interested? If you are listen to the promise of Jesus:
· Luke 11:9–13 (NKJV) - 9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
God is here. If you want to know Him just ask in faith; ask in Jesus name and trust in Him. God is here. God is knowable. That's what Hebrews is all about.
God speaks to us through history through inspired written words. While He used human agents, and we may argue about such human agents or authors, God is the ultimate Author of what we find in the Bible. The Bible is God-breathed (cf. "inspired" - theopneustos - 2 Timothy 3:16-17). What we find on the pages of our Bibles are His words that reveal His heart and His truth, His way.
You may be in dire straits or going through deep depression. You may feel as though God is silent when you call. But these opening words of Hebrews fly in the face of those who accuse God of being silent. These words proclaim loud and clear God still speaks!
How does God speak? God speaks at "various times," and in "various ways."
“Various times” would refer to the times of Genesis through Revelation. There remains a spiritual gift of prophesy for today whereby a person with this gift is empowered by the Spirit to edify, exhort and comfort God’s people (1 Cor. 14:3). The gift of prophesy can also be predictive of future events. A predictive prophetic word that is genuinely from the Lord will not contradict God or His word (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). It will be measureable and 100% accurate (cf. Deuteronomy 18:21-22). That is the standard of God for the prophet. Persons speaking prophetically are to be assessed by those in the church (1 Corinthians 14:29).
“Various ways” would generally refer to how God has revealed Himself in nature (e.g. Psalm 19; Romans 1), through human conscience (Romans 1 and 2) and angelic beings More specifically, "various ways" refers to God speaking to and then through prophets (e.g. 2 Peter 1:16-21). To Joseph (Gen. 37 and 40) and Daniel (Daniel 2; 7-11) God revealed His plans through dreams and the ability to interpret dreams. Ezekiel was instructed by God to use models (Ezekiel 4) or act out God’s message (Ezekiel 12). God also empowered prophets to do miraculous signs such as with Elijah and Elisha (1 and 2 Kings). There are many ways God discloses Himself to humanity.
This opening verse speaks to the inspiration of the prophets. Those books of the Old Testament written by prophets were inspired by God and accepted as canonical. They were without error and there was a continuity with God’s revelation.
God's greatest and central theme of His revelation is Jesus. Hebrews opens with statements on these attributes of Jesus.
2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,
First, Jesus is God's Supreme and Clearest revelation of Himself. God is not silent. God speaks. God has spoken to humanity "by His Son" Jesus. God’s greatest most holy and pure revelation of Himself and His will is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the word made flesh (cf. John 1:1-3 and 14). God's word is truth (John 17:17). Therefore Jesus is the embodiment of God's truth about Himself and our existence. This is the stated purpose of Jesus for His incarnation (cf. John 18:37).
I like how Jon Courson illustrates this point when he says:
I see them coming, marching rather orderly up the steps. The ants are definitely headed this way.
“Slow down,” I say. “Back off. Run! I know after third service, the boys will bring the vacuums out, and you’ll be sucked up and cast into outer darkness. You’ll go into that black bag, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of ant teeth. Turn away! Flee while you can!”
But not a single ant heeds my warning. Why? Because I’m so big they don’t even acknowledge my presence.
So I go backstage and start flicking the lights on and off. Thus, the heavens declare to them that someone is masterfully working the controls. But the ants just look up and don’t get it.
So I grab a couple of them and say, “You have to speak to your brothers. You have to tell them that a vacuum is on the way and that destruction is imminent. But even these prophet ants don’t clearly understand my message.
My next plan is to hope that maybe some of them will come to their senses and their consciences will stir them to see that they belong not in the sanctuary, but outside. Some do, and they say, “You know, guys, we really shouldn’t be in here.”
“Oh, come on,” the others say. “That’s old-fashioned.”
So I see I have only one option left to bring about their salvation: I need to become one of them. As an ant, I need to go into their midst and say, “Listen, guys. I know where I’m coming from. I know what happens in this sanctuary on Sunday afternoon. I’m the boss. You’re going to get sucked up. But if you follow me, I know where the back door is. I’ll lead you to salvation.” That is the Incarnation—God becoming Man, the Word becoming flesh.
When fallen sinful humanity was too dull to see the order of the Creator in His creation, and when they ignored His promptings in conscience, and when He sent prophets and they too were resisted, finally God came Himself in Jesus.
Jesus is the key to understanding God's word and revelation:
You will never understand the Old Testament, Paul’s epistles, or the Revelation of John if you don’t understand the language in which they were written. And the language is “in the Son.” This is where Bible teachers and students really miss the boat in many cases. They let the apostle Paul or the prophets interpret Jesus. Wrong. Jesus interprets the law. Jesus interprets Paul. Jesus interprets the Old Testament prophets. If you want the Bible to have a full message and if you want to share it effectively, you’ve got to understand that it’s written in the Son. That’s the key to unlocking the whole Bible. Any interpretation of any passage of Scripture that contradicts the nature of the Son as seen in the gospels is amiss. But those who look at everything in the Word through the lens of Jesus will be amazed at how clear the Word becomes.. . .
When you come to a crossroads of wondering what God’s will is, look at Calvary and be reminded once again that if God loved you enough to die for you, there is no doubt He will do what’s best for you.
“Why aren’t I hearing from God?” people ask. “I’m going to prayer meetings. I’m reading lots of good books. I’m reading the Bible.” The answer could be they’re not listening for Him through the Son.
Amazed to be standing in the presence of the miracle-worker and the lawgiver on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter said, “Let’s build booths for Elijah and Moses—and one for Jesus, too.”
But God interrupted Peter and said of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son. Hear ye Him.” And when Peter looked around, he “saw no man save Jesus only” (see Matthew 17:8)—for as vital as the law and the prophets might be, they are inconsequential in comparison to the Word made flesh. Therefore, as you study the Law and the prophets, the Gospels and the Epistles, look for Jesus in every passage. For truly in these last days, God has spoken. He has spoken in His Son.
Notice too that the writer of Hebrews refers to the times of his writing as the “last days.” Therefore we can say that the “last days” began sometime in close proximity to the writing of Hebrews up until our day. Some might question the duration of the last days and that it seems long, but to God a thousand years is as a day and a day as a thousand years (e.g. 2 Peter 3). To One in eternity "last days," holds a different perspective than to those living finitely. We are living in the “last days.” Come Lord Jesus!
whom He has appointed heir of all things,
Second, Jesus, God's Heir, owns all things. An "heir" (Greek kleronomos) is someone apportioned an inheritance, a possessor, inheritor. Humanly speaking a person inherits what is left behind by a parent. Since God is eternal and will never cease to exist He is simply condescending to the use of words that humanity can relate to. By using the idea of an "heir" God is simply stating that Jesus is the Possessor of all things. Jesus owns it all; everything in the universe.
Jesus is “appointed” by God. “Appointed” (Greek tithemi ) means to be set in place or be put in position. God has put Jesus in this position of prominence. Hebrews is a perfect revelation of the prominence of Jesus. Muhammad, or Krishna, nor any other figure is mentioned with such centrality. Jesus is the One appointed by God to represent Him. Who better to represent God than God Himself?
Jesus is the “heir of all things” because he is the “firstborn” (Col 1:15) in that He is in the preeminent position of humanity and therefore the heir who oversees all things. Jesus is eternal in nature. We will see this later in Hebrews (cf. Hebrews 13:8).
I like what Bible teacher Jon Courson comments on this revealed aspect of Jesus. He states:
The Father has willed everything to the Son, and we are His inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). This explains the parable Jesus told in Matthew 13 about a man who walked through a field, found a treasure, and bought the field in order to take out the treasure. What is that parable about? It’s not about us selling everything to buy the treasure of the gospel. No, for in an earlier parable in the same chapter, Jesus says the field is the world. Jesus bought the world with His own blood. Why? Because He wanted the world? No, because He wanted the treasure. What is the treasure? We are. We are His inheritance. Amazing!
You might not think of yourself in terms of "treasure," but Jesus does. From the beginning God has revealed in His word that His people are His "special treasure" (e.g. Exodus 19:5; Deut. 7:6). Remember that next time you feel worthless or like you're nothing. God sees you as "treasure."
through whom also He made the worlds;
Third, Jesus is our Creator. Jesus (e.g. John 1) and God the Father (e.g. Genesis 1) worked together in Creation. "The Father as the Architect (Genesis 1:1), the Son as the Contractor (John 1:1), and the Holy Spirit as the Carpenter (Genesis 1:2). The analogy is far from perfect, but the fact is all three Persons of the Godhead were involved in the creative process. Creation occurred from the Father, by the Son, through the Holy Spirit." 
“Worlds” (Greek aion ) means ages and by implication the worlds of the ages. Paul writes of Jesus' creative nature in Colossians stating, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).
3 who being the brightness of His glory
Fourth, Jesus is God's glorious reflection of Himself. Jesus reflects the brightness of the glory of God. “Brightness” (Greek apaugasma ) is reflected glory. If you want to see the glory of God look to Jesus. Jesus reflects the nature and therefore glory of God.
The glory of God was revealed to Moses when God walked before him, proclaimed His name, and permitted Moses to see God's back (Exodus 33 and 34). But God explained back then to Moses (Exodus 33:20) and Paul reiterated similarly (1 Tim. 6:15-16) that man cannot see God face to face in the fullness of His glory. For a man, as presently constituted, to see God in His complete glorious essence would be too much for him. Jesus however is the brightness of the glory of God. And when we are with Him in glory, having received glorified bodies, we will see God as we should (e.g. 1 Cor. 13:12). The apostle John explains this saying:
· 1 John 3:1–3 (NKJV) - Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
John is speaking of Jesus when he says this. We may not understand yet all of what this means. It is pretty heady stuff to contemplate the glory of God. Suffice it to say as God says in Hebrews, Jesus is, " the brightness of His glory."
and the express image of His person,
Fifth, Jesus is exactly God. “Express image” (Greek charackter ) means exact likeness. The idea is derived from how metal was imprinted with the image of Caesar's "express image," or exact likeness." The comparison made through the word is not of the image on the stamp to the human likeness but the stamp to the imprint made. Again we see God's condescending to humans with words chosen to help us understand that when we look at Jesus we see God as He actually is (compare John 14:8-9).
and upholding all things by the word of His power,
Sixth, Jesus is our Sustainer. Jesus “upholds” (Greek phero) or bears, carries, upholds “all things by the word of His power.” Creation was spoken into existence by God (Genesis 1-2). One of the prime attributes of God is His creative capability. But what follows from that is the attribute of God to maintain that which He has created. Both of these attributes are associated with Jesus here. Jesus is God.
God creates with His word (Genesis 1 - "Then God said. . ."). Jesus is God and therefore He creates with His words. When we think of the sustaining power of Jesus (compare Col. 1:15-17) to hold all things together we can apply such power to how the very smallest of sub-atomic particles of atoms are held together. We owe the universal order and cohesion to Jesus. God is orderly by nature (e.g. order of creation; order of the Tabernacle and Temple; order of God's sacrificial system and Law; and the order of His work in the church - 1 Cor. 14:33 and 40). AS the Second Person of the Trinity Jesus orders things too. But the upholding together of Jesus goes beyond the material universe.
Jesus sustains with His Word. Jesus holds our relationships together. Jesus holds our marriages, families and friendships together. When a tear in the fabric of our relationships occurs, we need to turn to Jesus for mending. And the particular instrument of mending Jesus uses to restore and strengthen relationships is His word or "the word of His power." God's word is our guide in life. God's word is also the needle used by Jesus to transplant His new hearts for our old sinful one, to suture our cuts and perform surgery on our soul. Jesus uses His Word to hold us together (e.g. Psalm 119).
I want to encourage you to get into God's word and let it get into you. "The Bible can be read aloud from cover to cover in seventy-one hours. That’s only twelve-and-a-half minutes a day for one year." There is no better and more spiritually beneficial discipline than to prayerfully read through the Bible each year. year after year you will grow deeper and deeper in your understanding of God and your relationship with God.
when He had by Himself purged our sins,
Seventh, Jesus alone is Our Purifier. Jesus “by Himself” and by Himself alone, “purged our sins.” “Purged” (Greek poieo) means lighten the ship of, have purged, shoot out, purged. Jesus threw out our sins at the cross. He did all that was necessary to make a way for our sins to be thrown away. Satan tries to throw back into our lives and thoughts the sinful things we, through Jesus, have thrown out. Don't let him do it! Don't take back what in Christ has been thrown away.
When it states specifically that Jesus purged our sins "by Himself," it is likely meant to address right from the start that no work needed to or could be added to the completed purifying work of Jesus. It is pointless to return to the old religious ritualistic works of the past when by faith all that is needed to receive purification from all sin is available in and through Jesus. The high priest and the priests of the Temple under the Old Covenant had to perform a lot of work to sacrifice animals and maintain the rituals. Those were all a shadow and illustration of what Jesus would fulfill on the cross. Now that Jesus had completed what God pictured and prophesied in the Old Covenant, they had fulfilled their purpose and all focus and reliance for salvation from sin could and should be placed on Jesus. Jesus alone is our Purifier.
sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Eighth, Jesus is our King. Jesus sat down at the “right hand of the Majesty on high” which is the highest position; a position equal with God. He sat down because His redemptive work to deal with sin was completed. On one can add to it through works or human authored traditions. Jesus' redemptive work is complete. All humanity is to do is by faith receive it as a gift of God's grace.
From the opening verses we are told that the work of redemption is completed in Jesus. This is important because later on it will become the basis for showing that there no longer is a need for animal sacrifice (Hebrews 7-10).
What is Jesus doing at the right hand of God? Sometimes He stands to welcome martyred saints as He did with Stephen (cf. Acts 7:54-56), but according to what is later stated in Hebrews, Jesus is interceding on our behalf before the Father (cf. Heb. 7:25; and also Romans 8:34). Jesus is praying for you and for me. Thank You Jesus. Your prayers get us through!
4 having become so much better than the angels,
Ninth, Jesus is Superior to angels. Angels are created beings (and this would include Lucifer or the devil). As such they are below their Creator. Jesus is eternal in nature; He has no beginning or end; He always was, always is; and always will be (cf. John 1; Rev. 1:8, 11; 22:12-13). No angel could claim what is claimed about Jesus in this first chapter of Hebrews. It is very clear from what God inspires and reveals in these opening words that Jesus is no angel.
Jesus is not an angel as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim. Jesus is not the brother of the archangel Michael as they claim. Jesus is not the brother of Lucifer like the Mormons say. Jesus is “so much better than angels.” “Better” (Greek kreitton) is a word that means of better in nature and quality. Eternal Jesus is better than finite created angels. When the Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons knock on your, take them to the book of Hebrews chapter one and two and show them who Jesus really is.
Another important interesting piece of information to deduce from the contrast of Jesus to angels is that the Old Covenant seems to have been provided to Moses by God through angels (cf. Deut. 33:2; Heb. 2:2; Gal. 3:19). But the New Covenant is delivered by God Himself in Jesus to humanity. This will be further noted later in our study of Hebrews but it should be mentioned here that the New Covenant is superior to the Old based on God's personal deliverance of it.
It's important we see Jesus for Who He is. He is not an angel. God did not send an "angel" to die on the cross. God sent His only Son, the Son of Man, the Perfect Representative sinless Man, God in the flesh, to atone by death on the cross. And we know Jesus' atoning substitutionary sacrifice on the cross was perfectly acceptable and met all of God's just requirements because He arose from the dead just as He said He would. God's revealed mystery of salvation is God manifested in Jesus dying on the cross for lost humanity (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:16).
as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Tenth, Jesus has a better resume than angels. Jesus is “better” than angels in that He has accomplished far more than they ever could, e.g. in creation, in sustaining what He has created, and at the cross and resurrection. And because of His redemptive work His name is exalted and everyone knee will bow before it (cf. Phil. 2:9-11).
5 For to which of the angels did He ever say:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?
Eleventh, Jesus is endorsed by the Father. Jesus is better than angels because He is God’s “My Son” (cf. Psalm 2:7). Cultists may try to say, "See, Jesus was 'begotten.' That means he had a beginning." But that is not the way the word is to be applied here. Similarly in Jeremiah 31:9 Ephraim is referred to as the firstborn of Joseph. But Manasseh was Joseph's firstborn. What gives? What gives is that the idea of a "firstborn" child is not limited to precedence but also is used to emphasis or express priority. While Manasseh was actually birthed first, Ephraim was given priority in inheritance and the outworking of God. This is how "begotten" is being used regarding Jesus here. (cf. also Genesis 48 and Jacob's blessing of Joseph's sons.)
“I will be to Him a Father,
And He shall be to Me a Son”?
God is Father to Jesus His Son (cf. 2 Sam. 7:14). No angel could ever make such a claim. As the direct offspring of the Father Jesus is by nature linked to the Father and therefore God.
6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:
“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
Twelfth, Jesus is worshipped as God. God instructs the angels to worship Jesus (Psalm 97:7). Worship is restricted to God alone (Deut. 6:13; Matthew 4:10). Therefore, again Jesus is asserted and equated to be God.
7 And of the angels He says:
“Who makes His angels spirits
And His ministers a flame of fire.”
8 But to the Son He says:
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
Thirteenth, Jesus is righteous as God. Angels and Jesus are contrasted (cf. Psalm 45:6-7). God makes His angels spirits; He creates and empowers them. But Jesus is eternal in nature not created. He is referred to as enthroned and “O God.” Jesus is “forever and ever.” Jesus holds the scepter of righteousness and rules the Kingdom. If God the Father refers to His Son Jesus as "O God," then that's the end of the story.
If we ever wonder how God will judge all individual humanity with all of their individual circumstances and do it justly, we need only look to this verse. The scepter or symbol of authority of Jesus, according to the Father, is a "scepter of righteousness." Jesus will judge righteously and equitably when the time comes to judge the world (cf. Rev. 16:7).
9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”
Fourteenth, Jesus is a reservoir of gladness. Because of Jesus' love of righteousness and hatred of lawlessness He was anointed with gladness. "Gladness" (Greek agalliasis) means gladness, exceeding joy, extreme joy, exulting joy. Jesus is a model for us here. His anointing with gladness and joy is directly linked to His love of righteousness and hatred of sin. "Happiness and holiness go hand in hand."  Jesus is described as the "Man of sorrows" by Isaiah (Isaiah 53:3). But He was also characterized a magnetic gladness and joy the drew people to Him. Jesus was and is holy. His holiness wasn't a stuffy legalism. Jesus had genuine joy and this was the fruit of His holy living. If we want to be joyful and glad, seek to walk as Jesus walked in holiness (e.g. 1 John 2:6).
Jesus is anointed “more than Your companions,” or more than angels or mere men. As God-Man He is greater not only than angels but men. And His greatness is revealed in His holy life that led to His happy life.
“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
Jesus is Creator.
11 They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment;
12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail.”
These words speak of the eternal nature of Jesus. One day Jesus will provide a New Heaven and a New Earth (cf. Rev. 21-22). But the One constant and eternal presence will be Jesus.
13 But to which of the angels has He ever said:
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?
Jesus is superior to angels. God told Jesus to sit at His right hand; the place of equal honor and glory. He said that to no angel because it would not have been appropriate to do so (cf. Psalm 110). Jesus is God. And Jesus, as God, incarnated to reveal God Himself to humanity in a very real, up front and personal, present way. Jesus is God Himself providing a way to come into the presence of God. Through Jesus we have fellowship with God (e.g. 1 John 1).
14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
Angels are God's servants. They have a place, a real place, in His work. Angels are used by God to protect (e.g. Psalm 91:11), they rejoice when sinners are saved (e.g. Luke 15), they bring people to their eternal places (Luke 16), and they open prison doors and set captives free (Acts 5 and 12). But Jesus is not counted among their number. Jesus is their Master. Jesus is superior and supremely above them. Jesus is God. Jesus is God's Supreme revelation of Himself.
As we come to the end of chapter one in Hebrews maybe you noticed something in the context that is a valuable lesson for us. From verse five to the end of the chapter eight verses of scripture are quoted or alluded to as the basis for what is being asserted about Jesus (verse 5: Psalm 2:7 and 2 Sam. 7:13-14; verse 6: Deut. 32:43 and Psalm 97:7; verse 7: Psalm 104:4; verse 8-9: Psalm 45:6-7; verses 10-12:Psalm 102:25-27; and verse 13: Psalm 110:1). What does this tell us? It tells us inspired scripture is the basis of God's revelation and should be quoted or referenced as the basis of any God ordained, God approved, God authorized authority about His truth. A point being made is as powerful and authoritative as it is based on scripture. Just like we see scripture referenced here to make a point and substantiate a point we should rely on scripture when we make points too. There is no getting around God's word. If we want the truth, if we want to know God, if we want to know His will, we must go too His word and base our decisions and doctrine on His word. Context teaches us this in this first chapter and therefore context is shown as an important aspect of God's word as well as our studies in God's word. Remember that as you continue in the study of His word and pursuit of living in His presence.
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