Summary: Communion is an incarnation of Christ
[Hebrews, Chapter 1, Verses 1 through 3]
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.
[Please be seated]
There are many forces around us that are simply too powerful to be apprehended directly.
If you look closely at your microwave, you’ll see there is a wire mesh coating on the door. Its job is to keep the microwave energy inside the oven, and not let it get out. That’s because microwaves are great for cooking food, but if they get too close, they can cook your organs too.
When the Space Shuttle launches, the closest that NASA will let anyone to the pad is a distance of over 3 miles. When those big engines start up, the noise they make is so loud that it will actually kill anything too close. (Any wildlife in the area is scared away by a horn they blow beforehand.) That’s how powerful the noise is.
And, whenever there’s a solar eclipse, you’ll often hear the warnings – don’t look straight at the sun. If you do, it may be the last thing you ever see. The sun is so bright, that it will literally burn itself on your retinas. Nothing else will ever pass through those eyes again.
There are some forces simply too big and too powerful to be safely understood in their fullness.
The Hebrews knew this was true about God. Throughout the Old Testament, God wanted to make himself known, and there were those who wanted to see him. But both sides knew that was not a safe proposition.
From the very beginning, we know that the God loved this insignificant little part of his creation. Even in the very second verse of Genesis, the author tells us that the very Spirit of God – the Ru’ach Elohim – floated over the waters of his creation. And before sin entered the equation, Adam and Eve and God could get together in the garden and relate directly.
But once sin entered in, seeing God was no longer so conducive to continued good health. It wasn’t that God had become any more or less holy, it was that we lost the power to safely apprehend Him.
Last night, we heard about Jacob’s vision of the stairway to heaven, and God himself descending to deliver the great news to Jacob that God loved him, God wanted to bless him, and that God was with him wherever he went. But that was only a vision. Years later, when Jacob encountered God, wrestling with him, Jacob didn’t really know who it was until the end.
When he found out whom he was wrestling, do you know what his reaction was? He was amazed. He had seen God, and yet he lived.
So, why is it that seeing God is a one way ticket to permanently being with him? I think there’s a simple explanation. My guess is that God is so beautiful, so holy and convicting; I suspect one look in his face would make me regret my own inadequacies so much, I couldn’t go on.
But this can present a bit of a problem for a God who loves us.
Later on, we hear about Moses. God loved Moses, and said, tell me what you want. Whatever it is – you can have it. So Moses says to God, “I just want to see you.” Can you do that for me? I think God gets a chuckle out of it, but he has tell Moses, “You can’t see me and live.” I’m just that holy.
So, you know what God does? He tells Moses, “I want you to hide in this rock, and then I’ll pass by. You can see just my back. I’ll do that for you.” All Moses ever gets is a glance at God’s back. And yet, when he returns to the people, his face is glowing so bright that the people make him put on a veil. They’re that scared.
Remember, these people are used to seeing God. All they need to do is look towards the center of the camp. By day, they’ll see a column of cloud, by night a pillar of fire. But even these symbols are simply indicators of God – reduced versions of his glory. The real thing is just too powerful.
When they dedicated the Temple in Solomon’s day, they recorded a funny incident. God’s glory – they called it the Shekinah glory – appeared as a column of smoke. And as it entered the Temple, we find that the whole area is covered. I just have to imagine that people had to have been overcome by the smoke that day. But they saw God.