So much better than the angels! Heb 1:4
In the first 3 verses the pre-eminence of the Lord Jesus Christ is graphically displayed. Like the disciples at the mount of transfiguration, in our studies of we have we have climbed the hill and, I hope, gained a glimpse of His glory. Reflect on the view for a minute. We have seen that Jesus is:
• heir of all things
• creator of all things
• brightness of God’s glory
• perfect embodiment of God’s person
• one who holds the fabric of the universe together
• one who died and rose again to purge our sin
• one who is now seated at God’s right hand of the Majesty on high.
The writer now moves on to show that Christ is also infinitely superior to the angels. He probably did this because of the Jewish preoccupation with angels and their involvement in the giving of the law. (In Acts 7:53 Stephen said that Moses received the law by the direction of angels and Paul in Gal 3:19 said it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.) The Jews were right to hold angels in high esteem. To be told that the Messiah had become man made them think that He must have been inferior to the angels. They needed to see that Christ was God in human form, with a dignity and glory that was infinitely superior to that of the angels.
Scripture always depicts angels as holy, glorious and powerful creatures, far more so than men. And when someone is confronted by such powerful beings, there’s a tendency to awe and worship. The Apostle John almost made that mistake. In Revelation 22 we read: 8 I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” Angels are not to be worshipped; they are creatures who worship God.
This passage shows that, although angels are wonderful, powerful creatures, Christ is infinitely more wonderful and powerful. These verses are liberally sprinkled with quotations from the OT, particularly the Psalms, which prove the truth of what the writer says and the consistency of the gospel of Christ with God’s OT revelation. We won’t really look at these OT references, just the truths they proclaim. Interestingly the writer of Hebrews doesn’t put the words of scripture into the mouth of David or whoever penned them. He says, repeatedly, He said – meaning that God said, showing that God inspired David and others to write them down.
Verse 4 says that Jesus became superior to the angels. You need to look back to verse 3 to understand why. There it says He had by Himself purged our sins and the Father honoured Him by calling Him to sit down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He purchased our salvation at the cost of His own life and in this we see the Father’s love for the Son and His pleasure and pride in the work that His beloved Son completed on the earth.
Was Jesus promoted then as a reward for His faithful work, as the JWs teach? Just in case anyone jumps to such a false conclusion verse 4 also reminds us that in eternity past He inherited a more excellent name than they. He has always been the Father’s beloved son. What His works did was to demonstrate that the honour was well deserved, not just inherited. It is as if the son of a businessman joined the business and then worked his way up through the ranks, without any favouritism, until he was number 2 to his father. Where someone walks into that position everyone moans at the unfairness, where everyone can see that it was earned and merited, then they have no reason to complain. Jesus wonderfully earned what was His by right anyway.
Speaking of Christ’s exhaltation Paul said: Eph 1:19 He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
The writer goes on to make much of the Sonship of Christ. He is called the Firstborn. This does not imply that Christ was the first created creature as the JWs insist. John tells us 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. Now if Christ was with God in the beginning (i.e. before anything was created) and without Him nothing was made then, if Christ was created as the JWs teach, He must have created Himself before the beginning! How absolutely absurd. No this word is used to indicate His rank. It is used in this way elsewhere in Scripture. E.G. Solomon is described as the firstborn although he was certainly not David’s first son. The title is meant to indicate Christ’s rank and honour since the Jewish firstborn received the bulk of the inheritance and a special blessing.
You may think that when He said v5, Today I have begotten You , today referred to the day when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Paul however, applied this to the resurrection "God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’ Acts 13:33. The thought is probably that expressed by Paul in Rom.1: 4 Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. During His earthly life His glory was veiled by His humanity and brought into question by His death. However, His resurrection is the compelling proof that He always was the Son of God and perfectly completed the Father’s will.
How the Father loves and delights to honour His Son - the one that Men rejected and crucified!
The object of worship v6.
No holy angel has ever been prepared to accept Worship. (Rev 22:9 Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant") worship belongs only to God Himself (Ex 34:14 you shall worship no other god) yet here the Father explicitly commands the angels to worship His beloved Son. He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him .”What an amazing thing to do when He had declared I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images. Isa 42:8. While He will not allow false gods to steal His glory, He joyfully shares it with His beloved Son.
When did the Father tell the angels o worship Jesus? Verse 6 tells us that it was whenHe brought His firstborn into the world. Even as a man Jesus was fully entitled to the worship of all, and the angels in particular. That is why He accepted worship, eg Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jn 20:28. Jesus did not refuse worship as the angels did.
The early Church did not just admire Christ - it adored Him! Do we worship Him as He deserves here and now?
8 But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God …
This makes explicit what is implicit in all of the other descriptions of Christ in this chapter. He who made the universe, radiates Gods glory, bears His image and receives the worship due to God alone must Himself be God. This quote comes from Ps 45:6 where it is Jehovah (LORD) who will endure forever. The Greek equivalent of Jehovah is kurios – the word that Thomas used when He called Jesus “My Lord and my God!” The Jesus of the NT is the Jehovah of the OT – God incarnate.
How stark the contrast is! How vast the gulf which separates creature and Creator! The angels are spirits, but the Son is God. They are servants, but His is the throne. They are a flame of fire, the executioners of judgment, but He is the One who commissions and commands them. There is no argument for they worship Him and acknowledge His glory and greatness.
Rev 5:12 “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honour and glory and blessing!” 13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honour and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
The everlasting King vv8,12.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever
10 “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 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.”
His rule will be forever. No one will topple Him. This reminds me of the description in Daniel.
Dan 2:44 “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
How terrible it would be if Satan set up such a kingdom, where selfishness and greed were the norm, but wait a moment we are not far off that in our world now. Whether it is the democracies of the west or the dictatorships that we see in other parts of the world the main driving force seems to be selfishness and greed. The good thing is that these kingdoms will pass. One day, like the stone that destroyed the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the Lord will take up His rightful thrown. Rev 11:15 “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
Selfishness and greed will not mar His kingdom. As verse 8 puts it: A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your Kingdom. And this righteousness is not a matter of show, like politicians seeking election for He has 9 loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. What a wonderful kingdom that will be, where all government and law is based on righteousness and not self interest, political correctness or expediency. (Melchizedek means king of righteousness. I wonder if this is the seed of what is developed later about Melchizedek.)
Interestingly it is Jesus’ love of righteousness that God singled out for a reward. Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” When you think further, though, it is perhaps not so surprising since Christ would not have died to pay the penalty for our sins if He had not loved righteousness and us. If we pursued righteousness more and our own interests less then we too might enjoy the oil of gladness. For the fruit of the Spirit is…joy – Gal 5:22.
For now Jesus waits at the Father’s right hand in heaven. 13 But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”? (This is taken from Ps 110:1 and, interestingly, v4 speaks of Melchizedek) How the Father will delight to see those who denied Him – even Satan himself, fall before His Son as the vanquished. In that day every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father Phil.2:11. What a wonderful day that will be unless, of course, you are one that has resisted His love and righteousness in this life in which case there will be no joy, only fear, sorrow and resentment.
Amazingly this immensely great one is not ashamed to call Himself our Lord, Saviour and friend. What is our response to this revelation? Let us, like Thomas, worship Him from our hearts crying: “My Lord and my God.” And may this be no idle cry, but one which leads us to live as those who are indeed His grateful subjects. Let the truth stir us to worship, thanksgiving and devout service. Men may fail us or let us down, but Christ will never do so. It is to Him alone we owe our allegiance. It is His by right as the Son of God, but He also earned it when He died on the cross shedding His own precious blood that we might be saved.
Above all, don’t fight Him now, for one day you will surely acknowledge that He is Lord. If you live with Him as your Lord now then you will delight to see Him exalted and acknowledged by all. If you reject Him now then you will, in turn, be rejected by Him for all eternity. Don’t let that happen to you.
Isa 55:6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.