Sunday, 9 September 2018

Pay Attention - Hebrews 1:5 - 2:4

Having started off talking about Christ, our author quickly gets into his/her argument starting with angels. Why angels? For Jewish Christians they would have been important. Remember key messages were given through the Old Testament by angels appearing to people, e.g. Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, Ezekiel etc. Angels generate curiosity - and the subject of angels has large scope for 'folk theology', i.e. things people believe without having any firm basis. Certainly the angel appearances are strange: sometimes bright shining figures, sometimes human, sometimes seeming to interchange with the Lord Himself! We will not try and deduce our own 'angelology' - but we can say that if God sends and angel to give you a message, then sit up and take note!

As we look through this chapter there are two technical points. First the author may quote just one verse from the Old Testament, but remember that in each case we should treat it like an internet hyperlink, i.e. it links to the whole surrounding passage and not just that one verse. Second the quote for verse 6 is from Deuteronomy 32:43 but if we look it up we don't find the words written in Hebrews. This is because the author is quoting from the Greek translation of the Old Testament that had a few differences.

The author's argument is all about a clear contrast: between angels on the one hand and what we can know about the Son on the other (see this attached sheet for a summary). Verse 7 reminds us that angels are merely ministering spirits, parts of God's wonderful creation at His disposal for His purposes.

Yet for the Son the author shows us:
  • v5 He is the Son, above kings and nations, with eternal reign set in place by God (n.b. the author is reading the Old Testament passages messianically, i.e. as hints given in the past of God's plans to send his anointed one for His big picture purposes)
  • v6 He is to be worshipped and celebrated: by humans, nations and angels alike (boil it down: the angels worship, the Son is worshipped!)
  • v8-9 He is God's sent one, anointed and chosen to rule for ever
  • v10-12 Creation comes and goes, but the Son remains: the Son was before creation and will be after it (boil it down: angels are created, Son is creator and heir).
  • v13 As we heard last week, the Son's work is complete - he is seated at the right hand of God in majesty
Hopefully that is enough for us to see that there is a big difference between angels and the Son - Jesus! With the Son clearly being superior, therefore pay attention to the message He brings! We would take note of an angel bringing a message, so how much more should we take note of the Son.

His message is about salvation: each and every one of us can be brought back, made clean, able to take part in God's purposes. In fact He is the message.

But what if we don't stay anchored to Him and His message, what if we don't keep our lines of communication with Him open? Then we should not be surprised if we drift off, and with that we run the risk of our lives crashing and burning.

The Son coming to earth, Jesus being born as a human, is a big event in the history of all creation. It is an announcement, a key message for all mankind. The Son coming in Jesus is the message - God come to earth to rescue mankind and redeem creation, to take it forward in His purposes. He is the message, the person, that we need to stay tuned to and anchored in. He is the message, the person, that we want to set every aspect of our lives to.

It is also the message that the first people who responded to Jesus saw and heard, and what they were then able to tell to people beyond Jesus' physical death and resurrection. This message was backed up by things happening all around Him: signs, wonders, miracles and other works of the Holy Spirit. These all acted as pointers or signs that it was indeed the Son, superior to angels, who was now at work among us. Those early followers soon discovered that the same kind of things continued to happen: signs, wonders and works of the Spirit. They continue to this day, as we now draw people's attention to Jesus the Message - God is among us. Signs/wonders/gifts of His Spirit accompany us as well tell about Jesus, acting as pointers to confirm our message is indeed true.

Our author starts by comparing Jesus to angels, in order to start unpacking the superiority and greatness of Jesus. How would we want to describe Jesus? If we were to tell someone who has never or hardly ever heard about Him, what are the key four or five words describing Him that we would want to get across?

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