Summary: “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”
JESUS THE BETTER WAY: BETTER THAN OUR LEGENDS
HEBREWS 1:1 – 2:4
BIG IDEA: “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”
As I was studying this book I remember saying to myself, “The Hebrews probably had a lot of problems accepting the writer’s assumptions and conclusions.” You see he takes personalities, emblems, and concepts that are very sacred to them and “demotes” them. He takes the very elements of the Hebrew faith and identity and says they are obsolete and replaces them with another – Jesus Christ.
Now what the writer did for them (or maybe more accurately TO them) is nothing short of what he does for/to us either, that may never be more obvious that in this chapter on legends and heroes.
You understand what I am saying right? We must be prepared to be offended by the Word of God today.
Having said that, let’s read from chapter 1.
HEBREWS 1:1 – 8
1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 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. 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. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. 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”? 6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7 In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.” 8 But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
It was Christmas again; Vickie and I spent what seemed like a very long time not just buying presents but wrapping them. But that Christmas Craig was so excited by the wrapping, and inside the wrapping the cardboard box, that he almost ignored the present itself. Indeed, though he seemed pleased in a way with the present, later that day we found him playing with …the box. He was using it as a prop for some of his smaller toys; namely army men and hot wheels cars. It worked well; even the wrapping paper was useful for hiding battalions of men and machinery. The fact that I can’t now remember what was in the box itself - the actual gift - makes the point. (Adapted from “Hebrews for Everyone,” N. T. Wright)
The book of Hebrews is determined to help the people it’s written to not make that same mistake. The wrapping had come off the gift; and the gift was Jesus himself, God’s own, unique son, sent to fulfill everything the law and the prophets had spoken of. They could now move on from the earlier stages of God’s purpose and gladly live out the new and complete purpose which had dawned.
All sorts of pressure was being applied to this little church. They were being pressured to return to the faith they had served before; to abandon this new-found Christianity with its strange claims and to go back to their old practices, beliefs and value systems.
Speaking of practices, beliefs, and value systems … Every culture has tools and emblems they use to pass on their history, practices, beliefs, and values to the next generation. These vary from society to society but always include heroic stories and heroic personalities. These stories become part of the psyche – the DNA – the instinctual values of the people. Words used to describe these stories would include –“heroes”, “myths”, and “legends.”
These legends pass on character and behavior that is considered admirable by the people in question. They have enormous power and potential. As I said, they shape culture, society, virtue, values, character, and justice; the society’s civic worldview. They also place parameters, restrictions and taboos on the society in question. Legends relate the past to the present. They connect humanity with the world and show them how to navigate it successfully.
Now do not equate legends with mere mythical moral stories like Aesop’s fables. Legends are often based upon history and actual events but they have stood the test of time and transcend specific moments; they seek to apply universally held principles to every age.