Matt 1:1-6, 16-17; Heb 1:1-5
SS Lesson for 12/06/2020
Devotional Scripture: Gal 3:26-4:7
Heritage connects people to the past and provides roots for understanding themselves in the larger world. In my case, my “Italianness” was always an important part of my self-identity. Growing up, it helped me understand that I shared a history with millions of other people, a history that began long before I was born. I felt this connection despite being adopted by a non-Italian family with no discernible Italian influences. Both Matthew and the writer of Hebrews concerned themselves with Jesus’ heritage. In that regard, the focus remained on God’s work in a specific family to bring about his purposes. Also, Jesus’ divine superiority to every created being was of utmost importance to emphasize. These two writers remind us that Jesus’ beginnings are both humble and unimaginably glorious.
From the exile in Babylon of 586 BC onward, Judea was rarely free of foreign powers that imposed their will on the nation. After Babylon came Persia, then Greece, and finally Rome. In about 38 BC, Rome declared Herod to be king of Judea. Herod imposed Greek and Roman culture onto the Jews, even erecting a temple to the goddess Roma in Caesarea Maritima. The Jews despised Herod not only for these acts but also because he wasn’t Jewish by heritage and thus not a rightful king. Matthew wrote against this background, which makes his genealogy more than a list of names. It is a link to a time when David’s line held the throne, saying something important about Jesus’ birthright. Hebrews is a bit unusual. It ends with greetings like an epistle (Hebrews 13:20-25), yet the beginning is unlike that of a normal letter (contrast its opening verses with those of Colossians, etc.). Its original readers were likely Christians of Jewish background who had been undergoing some persecution, which tempted them to give up on Christianity for old ways that had been superseded (10:32-39; etc.). We can almost hear the original readers’ questions that prompt our author to write chapter 1: “We know about angels; is Jesus as strong as they?” “He died; is he powerful enough to save?” The author of Hebrews has clear answers.
Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world;
Matt 1:1. From the very first words of his Gospel, Matthew recorded his central theme and character. Jesus Christ is the main character in Matthew’s presentation, and the opening verse connected Him back to two great covenants in Jewish history: the Davidic (2 Sam. 7) and the Abrahamic (Gen. 12; 15). If Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of these two great covenants, is He related to the rightful line? This is a question the Jews would have asked, so Matthew traced Jesus’ lineage in detail.
1:2-17. Matthew gave Jesus’ lineage through His legal father, Joseph (v. 16). Thus this genealogy traced Jesus’ right to the throne of David, which must come through Solomon and his descendants (v. 6). Of particular interest is the inclusion of Jeconiah (v. 11) of whom Jeremiah said, “Record this man as if childless” (Jer. 22:30). Jeremiah’s prophecy related to the actual occupation of the throne and the reception of blessing while on the throne. Though Jeconiah’s sons never occupied the throne, the line of rulership did pass through them. If Jesus had been a physical descendant of Jeconiah, He would not have been able to occupy David’s throne. Luke’s genealogy made it clear that Jesus was a physical descendant of David through another son named Nathan (Luke 3:31). But Joseph, a descendant of Solomon, was Jesus’ legal father, so Jesus’ right to the throne was traced through Joseph. Matthew traced Joseph’s line from Jeconiah through the latter’s son Shealtiel and grandson Zerubbabel (Matt. 1:12). Luke (3:27) also refers to Shealtiel, the father of Zerubbabel, in Mary’s line. Does Luke’s account, then, mean that Jesus was a physical descendant of Jeconiah, after all? No, because Luke’s Shealtiel and Zerubbabel were probably different persons from those two in Matthew. In Luke Shealtiel was the son of Neri, but Matthew’s Shealtiel was the son of Jeconiah. Another interesting fact about Matthew’s genealogy is the inclusion of four Old Testament women: Tamar (Matt. 1:3), Rahab (v. 5), Ruth (v. 5), and Solomon’s mother (v. 6), Bathsheba. All of these women (as well as most of the men) were questionable in some way. Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes (Gen. 38:24; Josh. 2:1), Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4), and Bathsheba committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-5). Matthew may have included these women in order to emphasize that God’s choices in dealing with people are all of His grace. Perhaps also he included these women in order to put Jewish pride in its place. When the fifth woman, Mary (Matt. 1:16), was mentioned in the genealogy, an important change occurred. The genealogy consistently repeated, the father of, until it came to Mary. At that point Matthew changed and said of whom was born Jesus. The “of whom” is a feminine relative pronoun (ex hēs), clearly indicating that Jesus was the physical Child of Mary but that Joseph was not His physical father. This miraculous conception and birth are explained in 1:18-25. Matthew obviously did not list every individual in the genealogy between Abraham and David (vv. 2-6), between David and the Exile (vv. 6-11), and between the Exile and Jesus (vv. 12-16). Instead he listed only 14 generations in each of these time periods (v. 17). Jewish reckoning did not require every name in order to satisfy a genealogy. But why did Matthew select 14 names in each period? Perhaps the best solution is that the name “David” in Hebrew numerology added up to 14. It should be noted that in the period from the Exile to the birth of Jesus (vv. 12-16) 13 new names appeared. Many scholars feel that Jeconiah (v. 12), though repeated from verse 11, provides the 14th name in this final period. Matthew’s genealogy answered the important question a Jew would rightfully ask about anyone who claimed to be King of the Jews. Is He a descendant of David through the rightful line of succession? Matthew answered yes!
Heb 1:1-2a. The central assertion of the Prologue is made here. Though God has variously (polymerōs kai polytropōs, lit., “by various means and in various ways”) revealed Himself in the past, Old Testament prophetic revelation has now received its end-times climax through God’s Son. However highly the readership regarded that former revelation, the writer implied they must now listen most closely to the Son.
1:2b-4. In a series of subordinate constructions which are part of a single sentence in the Greek, the author set forth the Son’s greatness. The unified structure of the writer’s sentence is hidden by the niv which breaks it down into several sentences. To begin with (v. 2b), the Son is the designated Heir of all things. This is obviously as it should be since He is also their Maker—the One through whom He made the universe (tous aiōnas, lit., “the ages,” also rendered “the universe” in 11:3). The reference to the Son’s heirship anticipates the thought of His future reign, of which the writer will say much. But the One who is both Creator and Heir is also a perfect reflection of the God who has spoken in Him. Moreover His Word is so powerful that all He has made is sustained by that Word. And it is this Person who has provided purification for sins and taken His seat at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (cf. 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). In doing so it is obvious He has attained an eminence far beyond anything the angels can claim. As might easily be expected in the Prologue, the writer struck notes which will be crucial to the unfolding of his argument in the body of the epistle. He implied that God’s revelation in the Son has a definitive quality which previous revelation lacked. Moreover the sacrifice for sins which such a One makes must necessarily be greater than other kinds of sacrifices. Finally the Son’s greatness makes preoccupation with angelic dignities entirely unnecessary. Though the Prologue contains no warning—the writer reserved those for later—it carries with it an implicit admonition: This is God’s supremely great Son; hear Him! (cf. 12:25-27). Drawing heavily on the witness of Old Testament revelation, the writer demonstrated the uniqueness of the Son. The title of Son, and the prerogatives it entails, elevate Him above all comparison with the angels. Those who see in Hebrews ties with sectarian Judaism point to the highly developed angelology of the Dead Sea sect. These verses offer an effective rebuttal against any tendency to give excessive prominence to angels.
1:5. The two questions in this verse show that the name Son belongs to Messiah in a sense in which it never belonged to the angels. Obviously “Son” is the superior name which Jesus “has inherited” (v. 4). But it is clear that the special sense of this name, in its kingly ramifications, is what basically concerns the writer.
The quotation in verse 5a is drawn from Psalm 2:7, while the quotation in Hebrews 1:5b comes from either 2 Samuel 7:14 or 1 Chronicles 17:13. Psalm 2 is an enthronement psalm in which God “adopts” the Davidic King as His “Son.” That this is what the writer to the Hebrews understood is confirmed in Hebrews 1:5a by the quotation from the Davidic Covenant. No doubt the “today” in the expression today I have become Your Father was understood by the author of Hebrews to refer to Messiah’s sitting at the right hand of God (cf. v. 3). Of course the Lord Jesus Christ has always been the eternal Son of God. In a collective sense, the angels are called “sons of God” in the Old Testament (Job 38:7, marg.), but the writer was thinking of the title Son in the sense of the Davidic Heir who is entitled to ask God for dominion over the whole earth (cf. Ps. 2:8). In this sense the title belongs uniquely to Jesus and not to the angels.
1:6. The prerogatives of the One who bears this superlative title are set forth beginning with this verse. Instead of the niv’s And again, when God brings His Firstborn into the world, it would be preferable to translate, “and when He again brings the Firstborn into the world.” The reference is to the Second Advent when the kingly prerogatives of the Son will be recognized with open angelic worship (cf. Ps. 97:7 where the lxx rendering “angels” correctly renders the text).
1:7-9. In a pair of contrasting quotations, the author juxtaposed the servant-hood of the angels (v. 7) and the eternal dominion of the Son (vv. 8-9). It is possible that, in line with one strand of Jewish thought about angels (cf. 2 Esdras 8:21-22), the writer understood the statement of Psalm 104:4 (quoted in Heb. 1:7) as suggesting that angels often blended their mutable natures with winds or fire as they performed the tasks God gave them. But in contrast with this mutability, the Son’s throne is eternal and immutable (v. 8). The quotation found in verses 8-9 is derived from Psalm 45:6-7 which describes the final triumph of God’s messianic King. The writer extended this citation further than the previous ones, no doubt because the statements of the psalmist served well to highlight truths on which the author of Hebrews desired to elaborate. The King the psalmist described had loved righteousness and hated wickedness. This points to the holiness and obedience of Christ while He was on earth, to which reference will be repeatedly made later (cf. Heb. 3:1-2; 5:7-8; 7:26; 9:14). And though this King thus deservedly enjoys a superlative joy, still He has companions in that joy. The reference to “companions” is likewise a significant theme for the writer. The same word metochoi (“companions or sharers”) is employed in 3:1, 14 of Christians (it is also used in 12:8). Since the King has attained His joy and dominion through a life of steadfast righteousness, it might be concluded that His companions will share His experience by that same means. This inference will later become quite clear (cf. 12:28).
1:10-12. The immutability of the King-Son is further stressed by the statements now quoted from Psalm 102:25-27. A simple “and” (kai, disguised a bit by niv’s He also says) links the quotation in these verses with that in Hebrews 1:8-9. That the author construed the words of Psalm 102 as likewise addressed to the Son cannot be reasonably doubted. The Son, then, is Lord and has created both earth and the heavens (cf. Heb. 1:2). But even when the present creation wears out like an old garment and is exchanged for a new one, the Son will remain unchanged. The reference here of course is to the transformation of the heavens and earth which will occur after the Millennium and will introduce the eternal state (2 Peter 3:10-13). Yet even after those cataclysmic events the Son’s years will never end. This certainly points to His personal eternality, but it is also likely that the word “years” stands for all that they contain for the Son, including an eternal throne and scepter as well as unending joy with His companions. The writer definitely taught that Messiah’s kingdom would survive the final “shaking” of the creation (cf. Heb. 12:26-28).
1:13-14. The writer drew this section to a climax with a final Old Testament quotation, one which is crucial to the entire thought of the epistle. It is taken from Psalm 110 which the author later employed in his elaboration of the Melchizedek priesthood of the Lord Jesus. Here he cited verse 1 of the psalm to highlight the final victory of the Son over His enemies. If the Son is to have an eternal throne (Heb. 1:8), such a victory obviously awaits Him. But the victory is His and not the angels’. Their role, by contrast, is to serve those who will inherit salvation. It should not be automatically assumed that “salvation” here refers to a believer’s past experience of regeneration. On the contrary it is something future as both the context and the words “will inherit” suggest. As always, the writer of Hebrews must be understood to reflect the ethos of Old Testament thought, especially so here where a chain of references to it form the core of his argument. And it is particularly in the Psalms, from which he chiefly quoted in this chapter, that the term “salvation” has a well-defined sense. In the Psalms this term occurs repeatedly to describe the deliverance of God’s people from the oppression of their enemies and their consequent enjoyment of God’s blessings. In the Septuagint, the Greek Bible so familiar to the writer, the word “salvation” (sōtēria) was used in this sense in Psalms 3:2, 8; 18:2, 35, 46, 50; 35:3; 37:39; 71:15; 118:14-15, 21; 132:16; and elsewhere. This meaning is uniquely suitable here where the Son’s own triumph over enemies has just been mentioned. That the readers were under external pressure there is little reason to doubt. They had endured persecution in the past and were exhorted not to give up now (Heb. 10:32-36). Here the writer reminded them that the final victory over all enemies belongs to God’s King and that the angels presently serve those who are destined to share in that victory, that is, to “inherit salvation.”
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.
4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.
5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,
6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.
The names Jesus, David, and Abraham all represent turning points in Israel’s history. Only by looking at the covenants associated with David and Abraham can a person properly understand Jesus’ importance as the fulfillment of those promises. Connecting Jesus to David foreshadows the rest of Matthew’s Gospel, where we learn that Jesus fulfilled the promises to David (examples: Matthew 2:20-21; 21:5). Abraham received the covenant that ultimately established the people of Israel. The story of Abraham is one of faithfulness—from both the patriarch and God (Genesis 12:1-7; 15; 17). Despite Isaac’s being the only son of promise (Genesis 17:19-21), Abraham was faithful in preparing to sacrifice him on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1-10). God showed his faithfulness to Abraham again by sending a ram to replace Isaac on the altar and then renewing the covenant (Genesis 22:11-18). After Abraham’s death, the covenant promise passed to Isaac. Little is said about Isaac, but his and Rebekah’s parenting style of playing favorites (Genesis 25:28) blighted his sons (Genesis 27:19-41). God met Jacob at Bethel and promised him land and children (Genesis 28:13-15), echoing promises made to Abraham (see Matthew 1:2). Of Jacob’s 12 sons, Judah (Genesis 49:8-10) unexpectedly inherited the promise of a royal line (see Matthew 1:6); he wasn’t the first-, second-, or even third-born son (Genesis 29:32-35). Further, he was born to Leah, who was “not loved” by her husband (Genesis 29:31).
(Adapted from the Standard Lesson Commentary)
1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son"?
26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
31 "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
In the English language the phrase right hand is rich in symbolism. It can mean the hand that is normally stronger (than the left). The Oxford English Dictionary cites a source from the year 1000 with this connotation. Another meaning is to symbolize friendship or alliance. This connotation is cited as early as 1591. We normally shake hands with the right hand. A third meaning is to indicate a person of usefulness or importance, an indispensable or efficient helper. We use the phrase right-hand man, a usage that goes back to 1537. In 1863 General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s left arm was amputated after a wound (which eventually proved fatal); to this General Robert E. Lee exclaimed, “You have lost your left arm, but I have lost my right!” A similar meaning is that the right hand is the position of honor. This is probably the meaning intended in Hebrews 1:3. After he had fulfilled his task on earth, Jesus ascended and was seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus represents the right hand of God in all ways—in strength, in alliance, and in honor. Do we hold Jesus in as much honor as the Father does?
20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
22 who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand — with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.
32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
In one sentence, the author sums up the whole of the Old Testament: God spoke to the readers ancestors from time to time, over many years, in many different ways. He spoke directly to some, as He did to Adam and Eve. He spoke through dreams and visions, such as those of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. He even spoke through Balaam’s donkey. But most often He spoke by means of the prophets, who then conveyed this revelation to the Israelites, the people of God. The Old Testament contained a written account of much of this revelation. The readers of Hebrews were familiar with this revelation, so that the author of this book will feel free to refer to it often, expecting his readers to know what he is talking about.
It is the next words – those found at the beginning of verse two – which come with boldness and authority: “In these last days He has spoken to us by his Son.” We would do well to observe that the author is not belittling the truth or the value of this Old Testament revelation. It is entirely true and authoritative – God spoke. It anticipates and is fully consistent with God’s speaking by His Son. But while there is a clear emphasis on the continuity of God’s revelation to men, there is also a very clear element of contrast. Thus, we can summarize these contrasts in this way:
In olden times Now, in these last days
To our fathers To us By various means By one means At various times At one point in time Partially Fully and once for all Through the prophets Through His Son Through prophets who spoke for God Through Jesus, who spoke as God
Let me make one clarification. When the author writes that God has spoken by (or in) His Son, he does not refer only to the words that Jesus has spoken – those words in red in some Bibles. The author means for us to understand that God revealed Himself to us by our Lord’s character, by His words, and by His deeds. Jesus reveals God to man by His entire being.
God has spoken through His Son (literally “through Son”. We know, of course, that this “son” is His Son, Jesus Christ. But what does it mean to be the Son? Put a different way, “So God has spoken through the Son, why should I listen to Him?” Who is the Son, that He deserves to be heard? The author is about to tell us. These powerful words, stated in such eloquent Greek, declare that Jesus Christ is absolutely unique, so unique that He stands apart from and above every other creature, including the angels. Jesus Christ is someone to whom we should pay close attention. This point will be driven home in Hebrews 2:1-4, but for now let us look at those things which make the Son unique, which set Him apart from and above the angels.
The Son has been appointed heir of all things. An heir is one who will inherit something from another. An heir is one who is related to the one through whom the inheritance will come. In a sense, an heir is one who is designated or appointed as such, usually by means of a will. The Son has been “appointed” as such by the Father. It may well be that the author is thinking of this Old Testament text (Psalm 2:8).
Because the author has set out to show the superiority of the Son to the angels, my mind was drawn to one angel (Lucifer) who sought to possess “all things” in a very different way (Isaiah 14:12-15).
The Son, the Lord Jesus, is designated by the Father to be the heir to the throne, and thus to rule over all creation. Satan first sought to seize the throne, and then later he arrogantly claimed to possess it, promising to hand it over to the Son if He would bow down in worship (see Matthew 4:8-10). The Father who sits on the throne is the One who deserves all glory and honor and praise (Revelation 4:9-11).
It is He who has designated the Son as the heir. And, let us not forget that those who are the “sons of God” by faith in Jesus Christ are joint heirs with Him and will reign with Him (Romans 8:16-17; see also Galatians 4:7 and Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:9-10).
The Son is the One through whom the Father created the universe. The writer to the Hebrews is certainly not alone in declaring the Lord Jesus to be the Creator (John 1:1-3).
Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live (1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:15-16).
15How aptly Moffatt put it when he wrote, “. . . ‘what the Son was to possess he had been instrumental in making’ (Moffatt).” It is little wonder that the One through whom all things have come into being should inherit them (Romans 11:36).
We should also go on to say that if Jesus, the Son, is Creator then He surely is not a part of creation in the sense that He is a created being (as are the angels). He was there, in the beginning, before the angels were called into being. How much greater is the Creator than that which He creates.
The Son is the radiance of the Father’s glory. One of the first times we encounter God’s glory is found in Exodus 16, when God’s glory is revealed in response to the grumbling of the Israelites. You can see why this produced fear. The glory of God appears at Mount Sinai, and once again produces fear, prompting the Israelites to keep their distance (Exodus 19 and 24). Actually, God’s glory was so terrifying that the people wanted Moses to mediate for them, so that they would not encounter God in such close proximity (Deuteronomy 5:22-27).
God’s glory was frightening, causing men to keep their distance. Even Moses could not look fully on His glory (Exodus 33:18-23).
Moses reflected this glory but, as Paul is determined to make very clear to us, the evidence of that glory faded (2 Corinthians 3:12-13).
When the Son of God took on human flesh at His incarnation, He manifested God’s glory to men. Thus John could write (John 1:14).
And to this the Apostle Paul says a hearty “Amen!” (2 Corinthians 4:5-6).
It is this to which the writer to the Hebrews refers. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, displays the glory of God to men. That glory was not usually evident in spectacular ways, but there were those rare occasions when the curtain was lifted, and greater outward evidences of it were seen, such as at His baptism16 and at His transfiguration.17 And what glory He now displays from heaven (Revelation 1:12-19).
This One – the Son – is He who radiates the glory of God, and yet this glory does not force men to keep their distance (as was the case in the Old Testament); it beckons men, women and children to draw near, as so many have done.
The Son is the manifestation of the Father’s essence. The reason why the Son radiates the glory of God is that He is of one essence with the Father. This was a topic of great debate in the Arian Controversy, and our text in Hebrews was one of the primary texts that the church fathers employed to refute the Arian error that Jesus was “like the Father” but not of the same essence. The Bible clearly indicates that the two are of the same essence, as implied or indicated elsewhere in Scripture (John 14:9)
26 Eight days later the disciples were again together in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” 28 Thomas replied to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)
Among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15).
For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).
And so the faithful commentators observe:
“Just as the glory is really in the effulgence, so the being (Gk. hypostasis) of God is really in Christ, who is its impress, its exact representation and embodiment.”
“What God essentially is, is made manifest in Christ. To see Christ is to see what the Father is like.”
The Son upholds all things by His powerful Word. In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, we read the repeated statement, “Then God said, ‘Let there be . . . .’” We know that God spoke a word, calling all creation to order. The writer to the Hebrews is well aware of this, for later in his epistle he writes,
By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible (Hebrews 11:3, emphasis mine).
What God starts, God sustains. And so it is that we know that just as our Lord was the One through whom God made the universe, so He is the One who sustains it (Colossians 1:16-17).
Those who reject Jesus as the Promised Messiah want to have nothing to do with Him. They want to be left alone. Worse yet, they want Him to go away. It is such folks who cried, “Away with Him!” It seems to me that at least in some aspects of the Great Tribulation, our Lord gives men what they have asked for by withdrawing His hand from sustaining the cosmos. The Savior who is also the Sustainer of the Universe keeps silent, letting the universe spin out of control (Mark 13:24-25).
In reading Hannah’s prayer this past week, I noted that she associated God’s power as Creator with His power as Protector and Provider (1 Samuel 2:8-9).
He Who created the universe sustains it, and it is He Who also created me, physically and spiritually. Surely I can trust Him to sustain me, just as He does His cosmic creation.
The Son accomplished cleansing for sins. The first major event after creation is the fall of mankind. Sin enters the world, along with its deadly consequences. The Old Testament law and the sacrificial system did not solve the sin problem; it merely served to put off the consequences until a permanent solution arrived. It was the Son of God who removed sin once for all (Acts 10:38-43; Acts 13:38-39; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
The writer does not take this occasion to delve deeply into the atoning work of Jesus for that matter will be taken up much more fully later in the book (this is, after all, the author’s introduction to the book). He accomplished a remedy for sin. It is something that is already done. As our Lord Himself put it, “It is finished!”
The Son sat down at the Father’s right hand. It is only after our Lord accomplished cleansing for sins that He sat down. That is because He had finished His work of cleansing sins. But the author wants us to know more than just that the Son sat down. He wants us to take note of where the Son was seated – at the right hand of the Father. The right hand is the hand of power. The right hand of God is the place of access and intercession. It is at the right hand of the Father that the Son will await the Father’s indication that it is time for the Son to subdue His enemies and assume His throne.
So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear (Acts 2:33).
God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look!” he said. “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56)
The right hand of the Father is the place from which one may intercede on behalf of others:
Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).
Matthew told his readers about Jesus’ human heritage: Jesus is the king promised to bless all nations. The major theme is God’s faithfulness, which situates Jesus as the final step in God’s fulfillment of his old and new covenant promises. The theme of covenant promises prepares us for the message and mission. The author of Hebrews, by comparison, focused on Jesus’ divine heritage. When Jesus finished his earthly ministry, he was honored by the Father, further indicating the importance of accepting his message. Through these texts, the Holy Spirit directs us to pay attention to Jesus’ message. He is God’s Son, greater than any angel or prophet. But he is also God himself.
The Firstborn - In the Old Testament, an heir was principally a son, particularly the firstborn, who held the birthright. This meant it entitled him to a larger portion than the other siblings (Deut. 21:17). The New Testament says Jesus Christ is God's "firstborn/' the heir of all things in the universe. The Christ child is the recipient of all the Father has. God Himself verified this fact when He said at Jesus' Transfiguration, "This is my Son, listen to Him" (Luke 9:35).
Jesus' Family Tree - Both Matthew's and Luke's Gospels include a family tree for Jesus. Those who questioned Jesus' validity as a descendant of King David could search His genealogy and see His bloodline connection to King David. Matthew started Jesus' genealogy line with Abraham and ended it with His mother, Mary. All this detail was recorded with one primary objective: to prove Jesus was the promised Messiah. Matthew also emphasized Jesus' name, which means Savior, the Anointed One, the one called of God to redeem the lost.
Jesus' Identity - The author of the Book of Hebrews joined with the Gospel writers in confirming Jesus' identity. Before Christ walked the earth, the Scriptures highlighted several ways to hear God's voice and come to know Him, especially through the prophets. However, when Christ came, we could "see" God. Jesus visited earth to put God on display. He became both God and man to show what the Father is truly like.
Jesus' Favor - The world was created through Jesus, and to this day, He is the one sustaining it (Col. 1:17). After He accomplished His work on earth, dying for the sins of humanity, He returned to heaven where He now sits at the Father's right hand. This places His status far above any other being in heaven or on earth. Jesus, God's heir, is given all of the highest heavenly privileges. It's incredible such a One desires to speak to mere mortals. But He does and delights in doing so. He will even soften hard hearts and open closed ears to listen to His voice. Simply amazing.