23 November – Additional Notes
HEBREWS 1: WHAT’S AN ANGEL?
Right from the outset, this first century letter minces no words. It’s written to people who know that there’s a Creator God. They know that He’s involved in world affairs. They know that He speaks through special people who were called prophets, at various times and in various ways. [v1] So with that issue out of the way, the writer deals a heavy blow:
“…but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe.” [v2]
Ok, wow! This is a very serious statement to write in a public letter to any Hebrew willing to read it. Two thousand years later, it remains an incredibly serious matter. In fact, this is the issue of all issues that, if resolved, will instantaneously unite half the world’s population.
To understand this extraordinary public statement, remember that, by the time the letter was written, all the arguments against the resurrection of Jesus were discredited. Among the Hebrews, a time came when someone could stand up and say, enough is enough guys. With weak arguments, you have a choice to keep refuting what was clearly performed before everyone who was there at the time. Or, you can believe that, what was previously foretold, actually did happen…
“The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, He was astonished and appalled that there was no one to intervene or intercede; so His own arm achieved salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him.”[a]
This was His right-hand man – His “righteous right arm” that He kept referring to throughout His epic storyline. This wasn’t an appendage but a person. His own righteousness sustained Him through His death process but also Father God’s righteousness sustained Him through death and on to resurrection – just as the ancient prophet Daniel’s vision predicted.[b]
“When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” [v3]
At the time of this letter to the Hebrews living in the second half of the first century AD – those Hebrews as yet hadn’t figured out where Jesus’ body went. No-one found it after He “went missing” that first Easter. Now this writer to the Hebrews is not holding back. He’s short-tempered with his fellow countrymen and he’s blasting them with their own scripture. Beginning first with telling them His name. [v4]
Anyone can come and go and claim anything they want, but whose name are they using? And what authority do they have to use that name? Ancient laws were sealed and made irrevocable by using the King’s signet ring.[c] But this One has come with the Creator God’s Own Name. [v4] The Name is not borrowed like a signet ring. It’s not temporarily used to get a job done. The Creator God’s Name is actually inside Him. Said another way, He embodies the Name of Father God.
“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to Him and listen to what He says. Do not rebel against Him; for He will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is IN Him…truly obey His voice and do all what I say…”[d]
The question on the lips of people even today is: Who is He?
“…to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”[f]
The writer to the Hebrews knew that they’d need the whole of Scripture – not just the books that Moses wrote – to answer with confidence the question “Who?” Again, this is a crucial point today. Of the three world religions that believe in the Creator God, two revere the Law Books of Moses but seem to forget bothering with The Writings and The Prophets. Yet everything that took place at the turning point in history, took place so that “the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled”.[e]
In keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, the Creator’s Global Plan is now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God. Why? So that all the Gentiles (anyone and everyone indiscriminately) might come to the obedience that comes from faith.[g] This was the plan from the beginning and it is woven into the fabric of history in every book, beginning with those that Moses wrote but gradually unfolding through everything the prophets wrote, right through to people like Malachi.[h]
To begin his argument before people who should surely know their own Scripture, this writer to the Hebrews poses a series of questions using the books of Deuteronomy, Samuel, Chronicles and Psalms. He’s taking his readers right back to where the story began – to the identity of The Angel of the Exodus. He uses the rest of Hebrews 1 to explain what’s an angel. The difference between one angel among a host of God’s angels, and the One who was to be “set above His companions” [v9], embody God’s Name, and be called God’s Son.
So all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.[i] We must, therefore, pay the most careful attention to what we’ve heard, so that we don’t drift down the wrong road.[j]
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Isaiah 59:15-16
[b] Daniel 7:13
[c] Esther 8:8
[d] Exodus 23:20-22a
[e] Matthew 26:56
[f] Isaiah 9:6
[g] Romans 16:25b-26
[h] Malachi 3:1 and 4:2
[i] 2 Timothy 3:16
[j] Hebrews 2:1