5/17/15

The Superiority of Christ
Hebrews 1:4-14,

I had planed to continue on with what the Scriptures teach about the millennial reign of Christ and the Second Coming of Christ. However, that message got too long and involved, so I am developing it for an article in the Examiner.

So we will continue on with the second half of Hebrews chapter 1

Review:

We saw last time that this book was written to the Hebrews, the physical seed of Abraham, who had settled in Judea. It was written in order to deal with a specific problem. However, it applies to the church of all ages.

The author of Hebrews used the Old Testament Scriptures to prove that Christ is the promised Messiah, and the worship that was then taking place in Herod's Temple was a denial of Christ's redemptive work. In fact, after the crucifixion and resurrection that Temple worship was an abomination to God.

We do need to point out that the word "God" as used in Scripture means God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. These three are one, and the names are used interchangeably. All three are represented in the person of Jesus Christ, yet they are separate, which is a mystery of the Trinity.

We will also add that to emphasize any one aspect or characteristic of God over another is to make a god after our own imagination. That is, grace over law, or even the New Testament over the Old Testament.

Jude warns us that there are ungodly men who were ordained from the foundation of the world to corrupt, even under the name of Christian, the word of God, and lead God's people astray.

We also saw that Hebrews is the least known of all New Testament epistles, and it requires a good knowledge of the Law, Psalms, and the Prophets in order to understand it properly, which the people to whom it was written had. Without that understanding, all manner of strange doctrines can be developed.

The church generally rejects the authority of the Old Testament, which is probably why the book of Hebrews is ignored.

Hebrews clearly tells us that Jesus Christ gave his law through Moses.
To depart from his law is to depart from Jesus Christ.
Ignoring his law is to ignore Jesus Christ.

Ignorance of his law is ignorance of Jesus Christ, for it is the law that reveals who Christ is.

Hebrews was written to deal with those who desired to depart from the new Gospel Church and return to the glorious Temple and synagogue. It reminded them that “our God is a consuming fire” to those who depart from the faith. 12:29.

We will see that this book is a strong warning today for those who are tempted to depart from the fullness of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Scriptures as found in the Law, Prophets and the Psalms. It warns them that they are heirs of “a consuming fire.”

Vv. 1, 2, In the past, God spoke to the “fathers” through the prophets. God speaks to us “in these last days” by His Son.

"these last days" means we are now in history's last dispensation of time which started with the victory of Christ over death and hell.

V. 3, Tells us five things about the incarnate Son of God:

1) he is the brightness of God's glory. That is, He is the manifestation of God's glory as revealed in the Old Testament. The person of Christ Jesus was far more than what meets the eye.

2) he is the express image of God's person. He was and is the reality of who God is. All there is about God the Father that can be comprehended by human understanding is revealed in Jesus Christ.

3) Jesus Christ upholds all things by the word of his power. He sustains all things, and all things move in terms of his word. All things means all things in creation. He called everything into existence. He is the heir of all things, and he sustains everything moment by moment by the word of his power.

4) God the Son, Jesus Christ himself purged us from all our sins. He is our Redeemer King who made atonement for our sins.

5) Jesus is now at the right hand of God the Father seated as our ruler and our judge as well as our mediator. From his seat of ultimate power and authority, he is the judge of all men who will stand before him one day. He will remain there in his meditational work until all things are subdued unto himself.

(I was going to deal with I Corinthians 15:24-28, “then commeth the end”, today, but the message got too long, so I will have it in the next Examiner.)

Now we come to

Vv. 4-14.

V. 4 moves us to the next passage by introducing the subject of angels. Jesus Christ, who before his incarnation was God the Son, is much better than the angels. The angels are God's servants, but Jesus Christ was “much better than the angels.” Christ came as the Servant of the Father to do the Father's will in redemption. Having perfectly accomplished the will of the Father, he purged the sins of his people, and He now sits on the right hand of all power in the heavens.

Though it has been said that the Jews never worship angels, this passage shows us that angels figured heavily in their thinking. Today, we see a good bit of interest in angels, with not a few books written about angels. Many of those books do not even mention God.

We commonly receive advertisements urging us to invest in fancy and pretty images of angels with the promise of angelic help. Of course, those companies are trying to sell an unneeded product, so they imply all kinds of things about their images. Those images are a direct violation of the second commandment.

Human nature is ready to believe in angels because it is thought that they can get help when a need arises. That offer of supernatural help does not require worship of nor obedience to the Holy God of Scripture. That offer of help makes no mention of the Son of God.

Men will readily confess “God”, but that God has nothing to do with the Holy God of Scripture. With everything that is in him, fallen man seeks to remove God the Son from all thinking. He uses every means at his disposal to do his mischief, while God sits in the heavens and laughs at his foolish efforts

Psalms 121:2 “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”

Angels are believed to be creatures who can give men some benefits of God without God’s requirements upon them. So obviously they are more popular than the God of Scripture to the fallen nature.

Scriptures speak of Satan disguising himself as an angel of light. As an Angel of Light, he offers man supernatural powers, but those powers are anything but godly. We must beware of those who offer "angels" apart from the command word of the Lord God.

The message of Hebrews is the superior nature and work of Jesus Christ. A purpose of Hebrews is to eliminate any interests that would take man's attention from the mediation work and the supremacy of God the Son.

V. 3. Throughout Scripture, it is clear that the Son is preeminent, and he is Very God of Very God. He is God the Father revealed to man in a way he can understand. He is revealed, in human flesh.

Colossians 1:15 “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:”

John 14:9 “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”

He is far greater than the angels and greater than the prophets of old, for he is the creator of both.

His superiority over angels as shown in three ways:

First, he is God the Son whom the angels are to worship, 5-6;
Second, he is the heir of all things, 7-9;
Third, he is the "Creator of the world" and everything that is in it, 10-12.

Throughout history, God had never left himself without witnesses. But in these last days, he revealed Himself in His Son. The Son is superior to the angels because of his incarnation and death:

2:9 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

The Hebrews to whom this book is written highly regarded Moses. But they are told that the Son is greater than Moses, for Moses was only a servant in the house.

3:5 “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

Again, we are reminded of the purpose of the book. It was to encourage the new Christians not to return to the old manner of worship in the then standing Temple, which was now an abomination to God. Of course the reminder is good even today, warning the people of God not to return to their old manner of life, nor to return to their old manner of worship.

We are encouraged to hold fast in our confidence:

Since Jesus Christ came to bring many sons to glory and be their merciful High Priest and advocate before the Father, it was needful that he should be in all things likened to his brethren, and subject to the restrictions and temptations of a human man:

2:17 “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”

V. 5 quotes Psalms 2:7 “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”

Luke 3:22 “And the holy Ghost came down in a bodily shape like a dove, upon him, and there was a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son: in thee I am well pleased.”

1:5 refers to Christ's enthronement at the place of all power and authority.
1:6, Christ is called the first begotten and all the angels are commanded to worship him.

Psalms 97:1 “The Lord reigneth: let the earth rejoice: let the multitude of the isles be glad. 2 Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the foundation of his throne. 3 There shall go a fire before him, and burn up his enemies round about. 4 His lightnings gave light unto the world: the earth saw it and was afraid. 5 The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. 6 The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. 7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, and that glory in idols: worship him all ye gods.” “gods” here refers to all human authority.

No angel has been appointed "the heir of all things", but God the Son took on the body of flesh so that he could redeem his inheritance, which makes him head of all things to the church.

Ephesians 1:21 “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,”

Hebrews makes it clear that he is head of all things, of all creation. Let’s refer to just one verse out of 1 Corinthians 15,

V. 24 “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” Charles Hodge (1797-1887)

“When the end comes, Christ is to deliver up the kingdom to his Father. What does this mean? The Scriptures constantly teach that Christ’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and of his dominion there is no end. In what sense, then, can he be said to deliver up his kingdom? It must be remembered, that the Scriptures speak of a threefold kingdom as belonging to Christ. First. That which necessarily belongs to him as a divine person, extending over all creatures, and of which he can never divest himself. Second. That which belongs to him as the incarnate Son of God, extending over his own people. This also is everlasting. He will for ever remain the head and sovereign of the redeemed. Third. That dominion to which he was exalted after his resurrection, when all power in heaven and earth was committed to his hands. This kingdom, which he exercises as the Theanthropos, (the God-man. Christ as uniting of the Divine and human nature) and which extends over all principalities and powers, he is to deliver up when the work of redemption is accomplished. He was invested with this dominion in his mediatorial character for the purpose of carrying on his work to its consummation. When that is done, i. e. when he has subdued all his enemies, then he will no longer reign over the universe as Mediator, but only as God; while his headship over his people is to continue for ever.”

Three-fold kingdom of Christ:

1. All Creation, which it is a literal, physical kingdom.
2. Over his own people; that is, the "universal church of the Elect".
3. Over all power in heaven and earth, including all powers of darkness that are now operating. In other words, all principalities and powers are even now subject to his will as he works his plan of mediation and redemption. When the mediation work is completed, "then cometh the end", and he shall reign as God over his people for ever and ever.

Hebrews 1:7, the angels are God's powerful servants, and are compared to the power of fire. But they have no independent power. Their reasons for existence is to do God's will. Though they may have great power, they cannot issue a law nor bring judgment to any man on their own. The power or force they have is only because God so ordained their force.

This fact also includes the fallen angels, which make up the powers of darkness. They have no independent power. They must operate within the power that has been given to them by the One who has "all power", the Lord Jesus Christ, God with us.

V. 8, The Son is King over all creation, both heaven and earth. His throne is eternal, and his scepter, that is, the symbol of his royal power as King, is righteousness or justice. All his works and judgments are absolutely just and righteous.

Geneva: “The government of your kingdom is righteous.”

It was through his physical form here on earth that he revealed God's love of justice and his hatred of iniquity or lawlessness.

One of Bettie’s sisters has sunk into total apostasy, and her husband is a retired Presbyterian minister. One of their daughters "married" another girl. The mother has said that if God does not love her daughter, then she wants nothing to do with that God.

How many professed "Christians" have made the same statement. If God will not meet my expectations, then he is not my God? They are clearly apostate, and will have their place in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.

Iniquity, sin, or lawlessness is defined in 1 John 4:4 “Whosoever commiteth sin, transgresseth also the Law: for sin is the transgression of the Law.”

V. 9, “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

Psalms 45:7 “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

Jesus Christ gave the law through Moses at the Mont. While he walked here on this earth, he revealed his love for righteousness and his hatred of iniquity, or violation of the Law which he had revealed through Moses.

Exodus 20:6 “And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
Leviticus 22:31 “Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.
Psalms 119:104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
Amos 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

Those who love Jesus Christ will also love righteousness as he defined through Moses, and they will hate iniquity.

John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
Romans 12:9 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”

Jesus Christ hated iniquity, identified as hostility to God and his law. Because of his love for justice and his hatred for lawlessness, he was anointed with "oil of gladness" above all others. Throughout the history of Israel, the kings were anointed with oil. Likewise, the Father anointed the Son as the King over all created beings.

Vv. 10-12 quotes:

Psalms 102:26 “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: even they all shall wax old as doeth a garment: as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. 27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. 28 The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall stand fast in thy sight.”

Though all creation ages and when everything parishes, the Son remains the unchanging King forever.

V. 13, the Father has never said to an angel "Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool".

Psalms 110:1 “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The joy that was set before Jesus was his eternal kingship at the right hand of the power on high, from where all his enemies will be placed under his feet.

"Until I make thine enemies I footstool" shows that the destruction and submission of the enemies of the gospel of Christ will be total. The enemy will be slain by the Sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

Joshua 10:22 “Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave. 23 And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24 And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. 25 And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.”

2 Samuel 22:41 “Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.”
Psalms 18:40 “Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.”

Archaeology has found images carved in the rock of a Persian king placing his foot on the necks of his enemies.

V. 14. Worship or veneration of angels is clearly forbidden. They are simply ministering spirits sent to serve God's people, those "who shall be heirs of salvation". Giving special attention to angels undermines the worship, honor, and glory due to Jesus Christ. No angel could die for our sins, nor can any angel act independently of God on our behalf.

Revelation 19:10 “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Revelation 22:9 “Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”

"Angels" means "messengers." Angels are never given administrative power. They cannot give orders. They are only responsible for carrying out orders. Though our status is above angles, neither the church nor individual believers are given legislative powers. Only the incarnate Word of God has that power. Any honor or glory given to angels that is due to God alone, is to corrupt the Son of God.

V. 14. Angels are "sent forth to minister" to God’s elect, so our status is above angels. To exalt angels in any way means that we demean ourselves, and that we give glory to a servant.

There is an inborn desire to trust in superstition rather than the Spirit of God. The result is a desire give unbiblical power and honor to angels.

All kingly power, and authority to make laws and judge according to those laws has been given to the Son, Jesus Christ.

James 4:12 “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”
John 5:22 “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”

The entire focus of vv. 4-14 is on God's kingdom, and the Son of God who is on his throne from where he rules over the kingdom of God, which includes all physical and spiritual kingdoms. We see here the point of the text is not the salvation of the elect, but the focus is on the kingdom of God which involves far more than just heaven.

In chapter 4, the great Sabbath rest found only in Christ will be compared to the conquest of Canaan, and the fulfillment that is found in the pilgrimage to the great city of God.

We will see in Hebrews 11 that Abraham look for city with eternal foundations, "whose builder and maker is God." That city is a new creation of God's perfect justice. Jesus Christ rules that city in perfect justice, and we cannot belong to that kingdom if we despise his justice.

Christ was crucified as the "King of the Jews", and Caesar realized that Christ established a new law order on earth: a new kingdom on earth, a kingdom of justice and righteousness. Rome saw that Christ’s Kingdom would undermine Rome’s kingdom of injustice and debauchery, so Rome sought to stop this new kingdom of Christ through the most horrible persecution imaginable. The new people of Christ’s kingdom refused to speak allegiance to Rome.

Rather than stopping the kingdom, the persecution only expanded it.

Hebrews opens with a clear statement that Jesus Christ reigns from his eternal throne with his scepter of righteousness and justice. After the fall of Jerusalem, Christians became a persecuted group because Christ reigns with his "scepter of justice".

The ungodly rulers of our day see the same threat Rome saw, so they do everything possible to suppress and even remove any trace of true justice and righteousness as defined by the Incarnate Word of God. Even the name of Jesus Christ has been banned from any public, religious use.

According to the New York Times, the Islamic State, ISIS, is being funded by the US. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/is-washington-financing-terrorism-islamic-state-isis-mercenary-admits-getting-funds-from-us/5428594)

In other words, the West, particularly the US, is financing the worldwide war against Christianity. Can we expect anything else from those who are counseling together against the Lord and his Christ?

Christian law of righteousness and justice standards against humanistic law that seeks to control the world for the powers of darkness.

The wicked will do whatever is necessary to cast off the chains of God's law of righteousness and justice.

V. 8, tells us that their can be no justice apart from Jesus Christ and his laws of justice.

We must conclude therefore that any rule apart from him can never provide justice. Justice or righteousness is the expression of who Jesus Christ is. Justice can never be an expression of men's rule nor of man-made civil governments.

Rome saw that another law meant another ruler, which brought about the persecution of Christians. Though Paul told Christians to obey their rulers, Romans 13, it was not because of the rulers’ claim off “just rule”.

Regeneration must be the starting point of Christ's kingdom.

"Before it became the state religion, the profession of Christianity was treasonable under Roman law because the Christians refuse to acknowledge the state gods and the Emperor's dignity as high priest of the state religion; and this, of course, entailed refusal to participate in the public ceremonies, such as sacrificing to the Emperor's genius, which Roman citizens were obliged to perform. Thus Christians were liable to fall into the crime of perdullio whether or not they were Roman citizens, and to be treated as public enemies. (RJR)

Continually quoting from the Old Testament, the author of Hebrews makes it clear that our oath is to uphold and abide by God’s righteous law, not man’s law.