Now I want us to kind of pick up where we left off last Sunday, and that was with some very explicit statements from the angels in Luke 2. So let’s go back to Luke chapter 2 where we pick up the narrative in verse 8.
“There were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’”
Now we focused on the word “Christ,” and I told you last week that’s not Jesus’ last name, that identifies Him as the Messiah. That is the word “Anointed One.” In the Old Testament, Messiah was the Anointed One; and when Christ came as the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies, the angel says, “The Anointed One has arrived.” He is the Savior and the Redeemer. He is the Deliverer. But He is, in particular, the Anointed One. That’s what the word “Christ” means. So all through the New Testament you see Him identified with that title: Christ, the Anointed One.
And I pointed out to you last time that in the Old Testament there were three separate men who received an anointing for special service. There were the prophets and the priests and the kings. They were anointed with oil for unique service, a symbol of God putting on them responsibility to function under His direction and sovereignty. Prophets were anointed, priests were anointed, kings were anointed. But there was Promised One who would be the greatest prophet and the greatest priest and the greatest king: the Anointed One. And the angel says there in the book of Luke, “The Savior, Christ the Lord, has come.” He is the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King, and we looked into that last time.
Now the message of the angel is that this is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy; and to see that clearly, I want you to go now to Hebrews chapter 1 where we were last time, and I want you stay with me in this because this is a very, very powerful portion of Scripture. Let me remind you of the opening verses: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” That introduces Christ as the ultimate Prophet, whose revelation transcends that of the Old Testament prophets.
This prophet is also the heir of all things. He is the one who made the world. He is the one who best reveals God because He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature. No prophet in the Old Testament could represent God the way that the Lord Jesus did. In Him we see the fullness of Godhead bodily. So He is the ultimate Prophet, as the one who is the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of His nature. He is the full and complete revelation of God, transcending all other prophets.
And then he says, “He upholds all things by the word of His power.” He is a prophet whose word has more power than any who ever spoke. He spoke the worlds into existence, and He sustains the universe by the word of His power. That’s how powerful this Prophet is.
Secondly, he introduces Him as a priest in verse 3, “when He made purification of sins.” He came and came to the cross, and there He provided a sacrifice that satisfied God on behalf of the elect, and made the sacrifice for their sins that satisfied God so that He could grant forgiveness and salvation to those who believe. No priest was ever able to offer a final sacrifice. He offered one sacrifice, the sacrifice of Himself, and completed redemption for all who would believe.
There is no priest like Him. We said last time that priests had to keep offering sacrifices day after day, after day, after day; year after year, after year. None of them satisfied God; they simply showed the futility of any human effort and pointed to the future when an acceptable sacrifice would come offered by a perfectly righteous priest. That was Christ offering Himself.
And then, says the writer of Hebrews at the end of verse 3, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” That presents Him as King. He is a prophet like no other, He is a priest like no other, and He is a king like no other, for He alone occupies the right hand of the throne of God.
Now we said last time that He is the Prophet who revealed God, because He is God. He is the Priest who reconciled to God by providing a satisfactory sacrifice on behalf of His people. And He is the King who reigns with God. He is all of these because He is God, He is the Creator, He is the exact radiance of God’s glory and representation of His nature.
This is massive, massive truth, written to Jewish readers, as obviously as indicated by the title of this letter. The whole epistle of Hebrews is a presentation of the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ. The whole point of this entire book of thirteen chapters is to show how Jesus is preeminent, how He is superior to everyone who has ever lived or will ever live.
Having said that, it might seem a bit odd to come to verse 4 and read this: “having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” Now that seems like sort of falling off the high ground. Most people when they think of angels think of some rather infantile plump little beings that circulate in the air with blank looks on their face and look virtually impotent, powerless, and somewhat indifferent.
Why? If you’re going to write an epistle and you’re going to go through the laborious reasoning that the writer of Hebrews goes through to prove the superiority of Jesus Christ, why, after such an incredible introduction that identifies Him as the Promised Prophet, Priest, King, a prophet like no other, a priest like no other, a king like no other, why does he say to prove that that He’s better than angels? That just seems a little weak; but that’s because we don’t understand angels.
The intention of the writer is this: He’s going to validate the Son of God by making sure you understand His relationship to angels. He is much better than angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Jesus’ relation to the angels flows through this passage all the way down to chapter 2, verse 9. This is a huge issue. This is where the write of Hebrews begins to prove the deity of Jesus Christ, the Messiahship of Christ, that He is God’s Anointed Prophet, Priest, and King.
And I know for many people it would seem like a minor issue to connect Him with angels. Why would he prove the preeminence of Christ in His relationship to angels? Well, obviously, he thinks it’s the priority. He thinks it’s the most important defense he can give. And the answer as to why is he’s writing to Jews, and he’s writing to Jews who knew the Old Testament history of angels.
Over a hundred times in the Old Testament angels are seen, and to say to a Jewish person or to write this letter to Jewish readers and say, “Jesus is much better than angels, Jesus has a more excellent name than angels,” would be shocking, it would be stunning, and frankly, it would be blasphemous. Angels were the closest thing to God. The Jews knew about that.
Way back in the book of Job, written in the patriarchal era, in Job chapter 38, “The Lord says out of the whirlwind, ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?’ – talking about creation – ‘Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? Or what were its bases sunk on? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?’” So He’s saying to Job, “Where were you when I created the world and the angels were there singing?” The angels were at the creation.
Angels in the book of Exodus guarded the ark of the covenant. They guarded the Holy of Holies. Angels were placed at the entrance to the garden of Eden, in fact, with a powerful, deadly sword, to prevent anyone from coming into the now cursed garden to eat of the tree of life. That’s what it says in Genesis 3. Angels were very threatening and powerful beings.
It was an angel who appeared to Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, to give her a message from God. It was an angelic messenger who gave her in spite of the sin, in spite of the fact that Ismael was an illegitimate son and not a covenant child. God nonetheless through an angel in Genesis 16 gave to Hagar a promise, a temporal promise of blessing.
Lest you think that angels are benign bystanders, in Genesis chapter 19, angels came to Sodom and said they were going to literally burn it to ashes. And it was angels who rescued Lot and his wife and his two daughters; and the angels literally took them by hand and led them out. It was an angel who stopped Abraham from driving a dagger into the heart of his son Isaac. It was an angel who at that point affirmed to Abraham the Abrahamic covenant, Genesis 22. It was an angel who helped Isaac find a bride, Genesis 24.
Jacob saw angels ascending and descending from heaven on a ladder. And what was that about? That was simply a symbolic demonstration that God’s angels are coming and going on behalf of God’s purposes and will in the world. They are engaged not only in heaven, but on earth doing God’s will, Genesis 28. When Jacob blessed Joseph, he spoke of “the angel who had redeemed me from evil.” An angel had rescued him. It was an angel that appeared to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3. It was an angel of God that led Israel with a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire in the wanderings in the wilderness.
Just a couple of passages that I’ll read you. In Exodus 23, verse 20. And the Jews would know all this. “Behold, I’m going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way as you go into the Promised Land, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Be on your guard before him and obey his voice.” That’s a powerful angel. “He’s going to lead you, he’s going to command you, and you’re going to follow him, and you’re going to obey his voice. Do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. This angel will offer you no forgiveness for your disobedience.
“But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them.” That is a powerful angel, an angel who speaks for God, who acts for God.
In Exodus chapter 32 and verse 30, “The next day Moses said to the people, ‘You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I’m going up to the Lord, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, ‘Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they’ve made a gold god for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sins – and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. But now go, lead the people where I told you. Behold, here’s My angel again, shall go before you; nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.’ Then the Lord smote the people, because of what they did with the calf that Aaron had made.” Powerful, powerful angel, to speak for God, to be obeyed, and to participate even in judgment on the disobedient.
Numbers 20 says it was an angel who brought Israel out of Egypt. Numbers 22 tells us about an angel who kept Balaam from cursing Israel. In Judges chapter 2 it was an angel that confirmed God’s covenant: “I will never break My covenant with you,” the angel spoke. It was an angel who appeared to Gideon in Judges 6; it was an angel who said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”
Manoah, the father of Samson, was confronted by an angel, and that angel said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” Judges 13:18. It was angel of judgment that killed 70,000 people, and was about to destroy the city of Jerusalem when God stopped him, 2 Samuel 24. Why? Punishment for David’s faithless census, as he wanted to depend on the strength of his troops rather than on his God.
It was an angel who ministered to Elijah when, in 1 Kings 19, he was running from Jezebel. In 2 Kings 19, this is amazing, it was an angel who slaughtered 185,000 Assyrians, attacking Jerusalem – one angel. Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.” Psalm 35:5 and 6, “Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord – which the angel of the Lord has driven.” Psalm 78:49, “He sent upon them His burning anger, He did not even spare their soul from death,” a band of destroying angels. They appear on a number of occasions for the purpose of judgment and destruction.
On the other hand, Psalm 91:11, “He will give His angel charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.” Or Psalm 103:20, “Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!” The holy angels are perfectly obedient, supernaturally powerful, and they are dispatched with the message of God whether it’s a message of blessing affirmation of the covenant, or judgment. Psalm 148:2 says, “Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts!” Isaiah 63:8 and 9, “So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them.” Angels delivered people.
Angels of destruction are mentioned in Ezekiel 8 through 11. In the description of the millennial temple in Ezekiel 40 it’s angels who measure the millennial temple. In Daniel chapter 3, the angels are very active in the life of Daniel. In Daniel chapter 3 in the fiery furnace it’s an angel that appears there. The fourth chapter of Daniel you have angels called watchers; these are judgment angels. In Daniel chapter 6 you have angels who shut the mouths of lions.
Zechariah 1 says angels patrol the earth for God. That’s an incredible passage, Zechariah 1:12. Maybe I should read it to you, it’s marvelous. “Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hoses, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the city if Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?’ O Lord, answer the angel who is speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words. So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, ‘Proclaim, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion. but I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster.” Therefore thus says the Lord: I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,” declares the Lord, “and a measuring line be stretched over Jerusalem.”’
And again, proclaim, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.”’” These are the patrolling angels who move about the earth to do the purposes of God. Back in verse 11, “The angel of the Lord standing in the myrtle trees says, ‘We have patrolled the earth.’” Angels speak for God; you see that in Zechariah 2, Zechariah 3, Zechariah 4, Zechariah 5, Zechariah 6, Zechariah 12. Deuteronomy 33:2 says they are a massive host, ten thousand holy ones. Psalm 68:17 says, “The chariots of God are twenty thousands, and thousands upon thousands.”
Summing it all up, angels are holy, heavenly spirits who serve God as revealers, as guides, as patrollers, as watchers, as interpreters, intercessors, comforters, counselors, judges, protectors, punishers, executioners, even teachers, and certainly, worshipers. They appear as God’s agents described as light, fire, shining metal, precious stones, clothed in linen with golden sashes. They are dazzling super beings with massive power. Daniel 7:10, Daniel saw thousands of thousands, and ten thousand time ten thousand standing before God. Sometimes called living creatures, sometimes called cherubim, sometimes called seraphim.
They were present at the giving of the law. Look at chapter 2 of Hebrews, and verse 2: “For is the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,” – he’s referring to the law – “if no one could escape the consequences of violating the law which was spoken through angels, they were there in the giving of the law.”
In the book of Acts and chapter 7, verse 53, Stephen says, “You who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” The angels played a role in the giving of the law at Sinai, and they, of course, as we read, were to hold the people accountable for obedience to it. Galatians 3:19, “Why the law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels.” The angels played a role in the brining of the law of God down on Mount Sinai.
Go to Isaiah 6 and you see angels surrounding the throne of God, and they’re saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” So it’s not surprising that when you open the New Testament there are angels everywhere. An angel appears to Mary. An angel appears to Elizabeth. An angel appears to the shepherds, and then a whole host of angels. Angels make the announcements; they come from the throne of God.
Many traditions too, by the way, developed about angels. Jews believed in ancient times, some still do, that angels were the mediators between God and men. Traditionally, Jews believes angels were the instrument of bringing God’s Word. Because of their role in the law, Jews believed that angels were working God’s will in human life. They believed that angels were some kind of ethereal creatures made out of fiery substance and blazing light. The Jews believed they were created but unable to procreate. They are often called God’s council. God met with the angels in council, and they interpret Genesis where it says, “Let Us make man in Our image,” as God referring to angels because they deny the Trinity. So the angels are the council that God was talking about at creation. They name angels. Some are named in the Bible: Gabriel and Michael, Lucifer. But they have other presence angels named: Raphael, Uriel, other names.
There’s a tradition that 200 angels control the stars, that there are other angels that control the succession of time, that mighty angels rule the sea, that angels have responsibilities. There are angels of frost and dew, and rain and snow, and hail and thunder and lightning. There are recording angels who write everything down. There are death angels. There are national angels that have responsibility for nations. There are guardian angels. Some rabbis said, “Every blade of grass has its own angel.”
Some Jews worshiped angels. Paul denounces the worship of angels in Colossians chapter 2, verse 18. And in the book of Revelation, chapter 19 and chapter 22, to worship angels is forbidden. As John reacts to an angelic revelation by giving worship he is reprimanded for worshiping an angel. So no surprise then that at the arrival of the Son of God there is a flurry of angelic activity.
Interestingly enough, after that flurry around the birth of Christ, angels disappear. In chapter 4, we find that the Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus; it’s as if the Holy Spirit took over, and they’re really pushed into the background, the angels. They don’t appear again until Gethsemane where they come back and assure Jesus in His sorrow of their loyal worship.
So with all that in mind, let’s go back to verse 4: “having become as much better than angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” He’s not better than angels, He’s – what? – much better than angels. This is the foundation argument of this entire letter. Oh, we saw, down in chapter 2, verse 9, as well as in verse 7, that He was for a little while made lower than the angels, that He might suffer death. But after that, exalted, crowned with glory and honor.
He, in His nature, is much better than angels, much higher than angels. The writer of Hebrews is going to prove it five ways. We can’t get into depth, but I want to touch these for you. “Name” is the first way, “name,” verse 5: “For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You?’”
Now angels are called sons of God; we saw that collectively as are human beings in the sense that they were created by God, but no single angel was ever called the son of God. No angel ever had that relationship to God. And so he quotes here, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You,” from Psalm 2. Psalm 2, verse 7, “I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’ Ask of Me, and I’ll give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” This is the Father identifying the Son. No angel ever was told that he is God’s Son. He also makes reference to 2 Samuel 7:14, 2 Samuel 7:14, where God will be a father to the offspring of David who will be the Messiah.
No angel ever had such a relation to God. What this tells us is that His life is God’s life. He is the eternal Son, the second member of the Trinity. If the man Jesus permanently or by nature was lower than the angels, then He would not be the Messiah. He could not be the Son of God. The Holy Spirit then assures us that even though He was for a little while lower than the angels, He is the Son of God.
In John 5:18, when Jesus claimed to be God’s Son, the people immediately charged Him with blasphemy because He made Himself equal with God. They understood that. Son of God mean you bear the nature of God, you are one with God in essence and nature. This is the very crime for which they killed Him.
Matthew 27:40, “If You be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” For He said, “I am the Son of God.” That was mockery. Son of God didn’t mean anything less than deity, sharing the essential nature of God. Son of God is a title of deity, a title of deity. This is His name: Son.
A theme of Hebrews 1 is the absolute superiority of the Son of God; and we’ve seen the flow of the argument. Son of God revealed Himself in ways that transcended the prophets, verse 1. The Son of God is both creator and heir of all things; the Son of God is the express manifestation of God, the very brightness of His glory; the Son is the sustainer of all things; the Son is the Redeemer; the Son is seated at the Father’s right hand; and the Son is superior to angels. The Jews regarded the term “Son of God” as blasphemy because it was a declaration of deity. Yes, He was a son by birth, Luke 3. Yes, He was declared a son by resurrection. But He is a son by nature since He bears the very essence of His Father.
So He has a much better name than they, back to verse 4, “a much more excellent name than they.” What is that name? Verse 5: “You’re My Son. You’re My Son.” He’s better than angels because of His name: He’s a son. He bears the nature of God. Angels are created beings; He is the uncreated, eternal Son.
Not just His name, but His position. Look at verse 6: “And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him.’” That’s a quote from Psalm 97:7. Even though Jesus Christ the eternal Word humbled Himself and was made for a time lower than the angels, the angels are commanded to worship Him. God says even when He brought His firstborn, the prōtotokos, the premier one, into the world, let all the angels of God worship Him. That affirms that He is God because the only one higher than angels is God Himself. He is always to be worshiped as God. This is the proof that Jesus is God: He has a name that is above angels, “Son”; and He is the one angels worship.
You see the term “firstborn” there? That’s a Greek word, prōtotokos. It simply means the premier one, the one in the seat of honor and the seat of dignity. And certainly He is in the seat of honor and dignity. After all, He is the radiance of the glory of God, the expressed representation of His person. He is the one who created everything, upholds everything, and reigns over everything. When He returns, angelic praise will be completely dominating the new heaven and the new earth.
In the book of Revelation just a couple of passages. We get a picture of how the angels worship Him now as they always have. Revelation 4, verse 7, “The first creature was like a lion, the second creature like a calf, third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle.” Those are angelic beings. “The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,” – this is these intelligent, heavenly beings, these angels saying – ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him” – these represent the redeemed saints – “who sit on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’”
And again in the next chapter of Revelation, “I looked,” – John says in verse 11 – “and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads,” – that’s a term for twenty thousand or ten thousand times ten thousand – “and thousands of thousands, and they were saying, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’ And every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ And the living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped.” Angelic worship. And if you’re greater than angels, you’re God, because only God is greater than angels.
So He is given a name that is above angels. He is given a position that is above angels; angels worship Him. The third thing is that He is, by nature, superior. Look at verse 7: “And of the angels He says, ‘Who makes’ – that means they’re created, poieō – ‘they were created as winds, and as ministers.’”
Yes, as winds, they are spirit beings; as a flame of fire, they have power. That may even be emblematic of their holiness. But the point to make here is that they are created; that’s what the word “makes” means, and they are ministers. The actual Greek word here means assistance or servers, servers. They are invisible, powerful, rapid. They bring judgment, they can destroy. Matthew 13:41 and 42, you have a picture of angels throwing people into eternal hell. So they have a different nature; they are created beings, created to serve.
Verse 8, “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions. You are not created. You, O God, are forever and ever.’” So His nature is the eternal reality that belongs only to God. And by the way, that’s taken out of Psalm 45.
The angels are the servants of God and the servants of the Son of God, and the Son is God. His kingdom is an eternal kingdom. His scepter means that He will reign in the eternal kingdom. He is the one who, as God, is perfect, verse 9: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions.” There we see the anointed statement.
He is sinless – holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, Hebrews 7 says. He loves righteousness, He hates lawlessness. The two are inseparable; you can’t love righteousness and tolerate lawlessness. So this is the perfection of the Anointed One: God’s perfect Prophet, Priest, and King. And so He’s anointed above His companions, meaning the angels. Angels are rulers, they’re great powers. They serve God, they’re created beings. But the Son is eternal.
So what do we have up to now, just in verse 9? Christ’s deity is established: His exalted position, His eternal nature, His kingship, the excellence of His rule, the perfection of His character, the submission to God as a willing son. We have the announcement of His coronation. We have the full declaration of His preeminence.
The fourth proof borrowed from the Old Testament is His eternality, verse 10, taken from Psalm 102: “And You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end.” That’s taken from, as I said, Psalm 102, verses 25 to 27.
“In the beginning,” – that’s a very important statement; in the beginning the Son didn’t come into existence – “in the beginning He laid the foundation of the earth,” – which means that He was alive in existence eternally; and when creation came, He, of course, being the eternal God created the universe. “You, Lord, in the beginning,” – which means – “You were there before anything existed, You laid the foundation of the earth. You created the heavens, and You transcend them because You are eternal.”
We all know that the creation of this earth was for a season for a time, because we’re reminded again that it’s going to disappear. It’s going to roll up; and you have that descriptively laid out in the book of Revelation, you can follow that. But verses 11 and 12 go back again to Psalm 102. This is predicted that the earth will not last forever, it will be changed, it has a short shelf life.
One final statement. He is superior to angels because of His name, “Son.” Because of His position, or rank, He is to be worshiped by angels. Because of His nature, He is eternal God, because of the fact that He has transcended time and all creation and consummation as the eternal One, which is simply an aspect of His nature. But finally, He is superior to angels because of His destiny, His exaltation.
Verse 13, the writer reaches back to Psalm 110:1, “But to which of the angels has He ever said, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet’?” He never said that to an angel. He never put an angel in that position. He never elevated an angel to that high, majestic throne, never. Why? Because verse 14 says, “Are they not all serving spirits, ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” They’re to care for the saints. They’re to do the bidding of God.
Hebrews 13:2 talks about entertaining angels unaware. Angels are actively engaged in ministering to God’s people. So the Son of God is superior to angels. This is not minor, this is major, because the only one above the angels was God, around whose throne the angels were gathered.
Christ’s deity then is established by His divine names (Son, Lord, Christ, God), by His divine work (creation, sustaining, governing, redeeming, purifying), by His divine attributes (omniscience, omnipotence, immutability, eternality), by divine worship. He’s worshiped by all, including the most elevated beings in heaven, the holy angels.
So what is the implication of all this? Look at chapter 2 just briefly: “For this reason, for this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” Does this get your attention? It should. You’d better pay attention to what we have heard. And what have we heard? Well, we’ve heard about the preeminence of the Son of God, who made the only sacrifice for sin, who suffered death for us. We need to pay close attention to what we have heard and not drift away from it; for salvation comes only in the name and through the work of Christ.
If we had time I could take you through the rest of the book of Hebrews where the writer continually goes back and says, “You’d better listen. You’d better listen.” Chapter 4, verse 2 is an illustration: “Indeed we have good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” You’d better not let that happen. You’d better not listen and not believe, or it’ll be impossible, chapter 6 says, for you to be renewed to repentance. Or chapter 10 says there’s no other sacrifice for you if you reject Christ. You have the truth: Christ is the preeminent one, and the only sacrifice for sin and the only Savior. For this reason, because of the preeminence of Christ, listen.
There’s a second reason, verse 2: “For if the word spoken through angels” – that’s the law at Sinai – “proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” if people couldn’t escape the law’s penalty. So you’d better listen, listen because of the preeminence of Christ. Listen because of the certainty of judgment. How are you going to escape from the penalty of the law? It’s going to come crushing down on you in time and eternity if you neglect the salvation that is in Christ and in Christ alone.
Listen: because of the preeminence of Christ, because of the certainty of judgment, and a third motive, because of the confirmation of God. Verse 3: “After it was at first spoken through the Lord,” – this is the good news of salvation – “it was confirmed to us by those who heard,” – the apostles – “God testified with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” God attested to the truth concerning Christ and the gospel by the miracles of Jesus and the miracles the apostles did.
Peter made that the point in his sermon on Day of Pentecost: “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst.” The miracles in the life of Jesus and the apostles were the confirmation of God. Don’t neglect the gospel of Christ. Don’t turn your back on Him.
Chapter 3, verse 7, he says, “Therefore just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, do not harden your hearts.” Over in chapter 3, verse 15, he repeats it again, borrowing from Psalm 95, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Down in chapter 4 and verse 7, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” That’s the final message: “Don’t harden your heart.”
You have the proof of the preeminence of Christ, the certainty of judgment, and the confirmation of God. So listen to this final word from Hebrews 12:25, “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, must less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
Look, we expect this kingdom to crumble, don’t we, this kingdom to shake. It’s being shaken; and if you’re a part of that kingdom and that kingdom alone, you’re shaken into the very consuming wrath of God. Don’t refuse the warnings to come to Christ.
Our Father, we’re so grateful for Your Word. This is the very argument that You ordained. This is what You wrote. This is from heaven. I only could wish that I could be of a better steward of it. But by Your Holy Spirit, Lord, seal these truths to every heart, and may they understand that Jesus Christ the preeminent One, the perfect Prophet, Priest, and King, is the Savior and the only Savior. And may no one who hears this harden their heart and suffer the judgment that came on Israel in the past when their hearts were hard.
There is no escape if we neglect so great a salvation. And the word “neglect” is important because I think we may assume that what’s important is that we not resent the gospel, that we not deny the gospel; no, that we not neglect it. Most people aren’t hostile toward it, they’re indifferent; and therein lies their damnation. So seal to our hearts this truth. And I pray, Lord, over this Christmas time the gospel will go forth, and many will hear and escape, escape in Christ who alone is our safety. This we pray in His name and for His glory. Amen.
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