Summary: A look at Hebrews use of Scripture to prove his difficulties, and our need to use the same source.
The title of today’s message is “Christ superior to the angels.” To us this may seem to be a very obvious statement. Of course, Christ is superior to the angels, because of what we believe about him, what we have been taught about him. But in the first century, to the community that the author of Hebrews is writing, this is not an obvious statement. To say that Christ is superior to the angels is not an obvious statement because the author makes the point, and we believe this point, that the Son which God sends to the world must become man, must take human form. Later on in this letter we will get to the point of why he must be human for the sake of our redemption, but in today’s passage he wants to set up the sides of the debate which was going on in his church. If the Son of God must become man, how can he be superior to the angels?
Now to us this may seem like a pointless question. But to our minds we must discover the how and the why of Christ’s supremacy over the angels. But also we must look into how the author answers this important question for his own readers. And so it seeks to answer a foundational part of our belief: the Son of God and the Son of Man in one person, Jesus of Nazareth.
The answer comes in a very particular way. In the ten verses read this morning, there are seven different quotations from the Old Testament. From the Psalms, from Samuel, from Deuteronomy. And with each quotation from the OT he begins it in the same way. He does not say, “It is written.” He does not say, “The Scriptures write.” He does not say, “The psalms write.” He does not say, “David sings.” In each place the author writes, “GOD says…”
God says that the Son is higher than the angels.
God says that he will last forever and ever.
God says that he is exalted to the right hand.
God says that he is the same forever and ever.
God says he is the mediator of our creation.
Every word spoken, every action committed in the pages of the OT is an action that comes from the being and the personality of God. Everything we see in the OT comes from God. Whether it is from David’s mouth. Whether it is from a prophet’s mouth. Whether it is law or history. Whether it is warfare against the enemies, or the people walking through the Red Sea. Everything in those pages comes to us, not by accident, not by chance, not by luck, but it comes to us through the words spoken by almighty God. That God causes these things to happen, to be important in the story of our salvation.
Now we may not want to use the OT in the same way. We may not want to be as allegorical, as tangential as the author to Hebrews seems to be. But the important point that the author is trying to make here is that when you are looking for proofs of God’s action in the world, when you are looking for answers, where do you turn? You turn to a place where you are certain that God has spoken. And as Christians we are certain that God has spoken by his word. We have to start to take what God has said seriously, to take God’s revelation seriously. This is an important theme in Hebrews.
The author wants to set up his own way of taking the revelation seriously. He says I do not believe what I am told to believe. I do not believe what tradition has always taught me to believe. I do not believe just what I can see with my own eyes. I believe what God has spoken. And God has spoken to us about his Son. That every page of Scripture, a page given to us by God, is a page that speaks of Jesus Christ. Because every word that God speaks to us is a word that speaks of holiness, of mercy, of love, of redemption. That all of these things are spoken to us, and have been spoken to us from the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden. From the first instance of human sin, there are words spoken that say “Someday, the serpent’s head will be crushed. The people of God will be redeemed and be returned to paradise”
The author here trusts in something greater than himself, just as we trust in something greater than ourselves. We may not have the same concerns that this author had about angels, but we can still have the same trust that God has spoken to us in a deliberate and careful way. That God has spoken to us and said that his Son sits at the right hand; that his Son sustains all things by his powerful word; that his Son stood with him at the opening of creation; that even though all things will perish ,that God, his Son and his word endure forever.