The book of Hebrews begins by showing how God revealed Himself to men "in time past" -- to the fathers in the prophets. God dealt directly with the fathers of each household during the Patriarchal period [see Abraham Gen.12; Isaac Gen.26; Jacob Gen.28]. However, during the Mosaical period God expressed His will to men through prophets such as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, etc.. But these revelations were in differing proportions and made in different ways. As the prophet Isaiah said, "here a little, there a little" (Isaiah 28:10-13). To say the least the revelations of God "in time past" were far from perfect.
In contrast to the revelations "in time past" which were not complete the Hebrew writer now shows how God, "in these last days", speaks unto us by His Son, Jesus Christ. In the transfiguration of Matt. 17 God said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him" (v.5). Jesus Himself affirmed He was God's spokesman in John 5:19 and 12:49. Since Jesus is now God's spokesman, we should listen and heed the message which He speaks.
Seven facts about Jesus are presented to show He and His message are superior to the old spokesmen and the old message (v.2,3). (1) "whom he hath appointed heir of all things". As an heir inherits things from the father, so has Christ inherited all things from the heavenly Father (Psa.2:7,8; Jn.17:15). (2) "by whom also he made the worlds". The Son was present with the Father in the creation and the Son had an active part in that creation (Jn.1:1-3,10,14; 1 Cor.8:6; Col.1:16,17). (3) "who being the brightness of his glory". We see God the Father through the Son (Jn.1:18; 14:9). (4) "the express image of his person". Christ is the exact representation of the nature of God (Col.1:15; 1 Tim.3:16). (5) "upholding all things by the word of his power". The very word of the Son is powerful (Matt.8:26,27; 24:35; Rom.1:16; Col.1:17). (6) "when he had by himself purged our sins". Christ made purification from sins possible by the sacrifice of Himself. (7) "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high". Jesus is at the right hand of God reigning as King over God's kingdom (Eph.1:20-22).
Jesus is next shown to be superior to angels (v.4-14). Why does the Hebrew writer go to the trouble here to show superiority over angels? The word 'angel' means messenger. Genesis 19:15; 22:11 and Exodus 3:2 show angels worked as messengers of God. In fact, according to Deut.33:2; Acts 7:53; and Gal.3:19, angels had some part in revealing the Mosaical Law. Hebrews 2:2 refers to this law as "the word spoken through angels." So the function of angels is in the area of revelation. The Hebrew writer wants to show that Jesus, as God's messenger "in these last days", is superior to the angels, who were His messengers with the Old Law. (1) Jesus has a more excellent name than the angels (v.4,5). They are mere servants while Jesus is God's SON. [See also v.7; Eph.1:21 and Phil.2:9-11.] (2) The angels were instructed to worship Christ, not the other way around (v.6). (3) Jesus is addressed as God and His kingdom is to be for ever and ever (v.8,9). Jesus is God and King, not the angels. (4) Jesus is eternal (v.10-12). He laid the foundations of the earth and although the earth will perish, He will continue the same. (5) No angel has ever been invited to sit at the right hand of God (v.13). But Jesus as God's Son is now seated there (Eph.1:20-23). (6) Angels are ministering spirits doing service for those that shall receive eternal salvation (v.14). Jesus, however, is the one that has made such salvation possible.
If Jesus is so superior to the fathers, prophets and angels, then surely His message is also superior to the message revealed "in time past".
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Ogden, All Rights Reserved.
This page was last updated on Thursday, May 28, 1998.