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Hebrews 1:1-4: The Greatest Revelation Print E-mail
Hebrews
Sunday, 04 September 2016

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Jesus Christ is better than anything or anyone in all of creation. Nothing compares to our Savior. No one is greater than Him. If I offered each of you two gifts this morning, in the first was a dollar bill and the second contained a check for one million dollars, which would you choose? What if I offered you two cars, my green truck or a new Lamborghini, which would you want? Or maybe two vacations, one a week in a tent out behind the Church or one on a beach in Hawaii, which would you choose? It is not hard to figure out which one of those is better than the other. We see the value of a million dollars over one dollar, or a Lamborghini over my old green truck, or a trip to Hawaii over sleeping in a tent out back. One is clearly greater than the other. The author of Hebrews wants us to see that Jesus is greater than all. He is better than anything or anyone.

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In our passage this morning, we see that Jesus is the greatest revelation of God. He is the supreme revealer of God. Why would the author begin his book in this way? In order to answer this, we need to make a few comments about the background of this book. We do not know who exactly wrote the book of Hebrews. Many think that Paul wrote it (although that seems unlikely). Some think that Apollos or Peter or Luke or someone else wrote it, but none of these are extremely convincing. So it is impossible to be certain. We do know that the author is well versed in the Hebrew Scriptures, what we call the Old Testament, and is seemingly writing to a group of Jewish Christians, which explains the name of the book.

And what is the purpose of this book? The author is writing to encourage his original readers (and to us as well) to hold fast to their faith in Jesus. It seems that some of these professing believers were being tempted to abandon their faith in Christ and return to Judaism, perhaps to avoid persecution. But the author does not want them to make this grave mistake. So he writes to show them the superiority of Christ to all else. He is the greatest revelation, the greatest salvation, the greatest rest, the greatest high priest, the greatest sacrifice. All of the promises find their fulfillment in Him.

The author begins by showing that Jesus is the greatest revelation of God. God has spoken in the past and now He has spoken in His Son. Letís look closer at these two ideas.

God spoke by the prophets (v. 1)

It is good news that our God is not silent. He is the God who speaks to His people. The author of Hebrews focuses on the two major ways that God has done that in 1:1-4. He begins with Godís revelation through the prophets. Look at verse 1. Three descriptions are offered here of Godís revelation. First, we are told when this revelation happened: long ago. God spoke through the prophets in the past, a long time before his readers lived. Second, we see who God spoke to, namely our fathers. This indicates the people of Israel, the people of the Old Covenant that God revealed Himself to. Third, we see the messengers by which He spoke: by the prophets. I think the author is referencing those who wrote the Old Testament Scriptures. They recorded Godís revelations of Himself. He did this at many times and in many ways. The prophets write about God speaking with Abraham and appearing to Moses and fighting for David. They write about smoke and fire and a still, small voice. They write about victory and defeat, sin and obedience, blessings and curses.

In all these ways and more God reveals Himself through the prophets. In short, the author is referencing the revelations of God in the Old Testament. We can read those passages and see God. We should read the stories of Abraham and Moses and David and learn about God. God has spoken by the prophets and we should listen. Yet, as the author points out next, we must listen to them in light of Godís further revelation.

He has spoken by His Son (v. 2-4)

The focus of the author of Hebrews will be on the superiority of Godís revelation through His Son. Look at verse 2a. Notice the descriptions that the author gives of this revelation. First, this revelation has happened in these last days. We are now living in the last days. They began when Jesus came the first time and they will end when He returns. Second, the revelation of God through Jesus has been given to us. The prophets spoke to the fathers but Jesus has spoken to us. Third, the messenger in this instance is not prophets (or angels, see v. 4ff) but his Son. The Son has revealed the Father in a fuller, more complete, sense, which is why this revelation is greater. The author goes on to give us seven descriptive statements about the Son and how He has revealed the Father to us. What does he say?

The Son is the heir of all things. Look at verse 2b. The author has Psalm 2:8 in mind which says: Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the end of the earth your possession. Jesus is the anointed One of God that is spoken about in Psalm 2. He owns all things. Everything ultimately belongs to Him.

The Son is the agent of creation. Look at verse 2c. Jesus is the heir of all things because He is the One through whom all things were made. When God the Father created the world, He did it through the Son. Thus, Paul can say of Jesus: For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. He is the creator and heir of all things.

The Son is the radiance of the glory of God. Look at verse 3a. When people looked at Christ, they beheld glory. This happens most clearly at His transfiguration (see Mark 9:2-13), but it was also true during His entire life on the earth. John writes: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (1:14). To see Jesus was to see the glory of God in human form.

Not only that, but the Son is the exact imprint of his nature. Look at verse 3b. Jesus has the same nature, the same deity, as the Father. He is the full expression of God. Paul calls him the image of the invisible God and says that in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:15, 19). And Jesus told Philip: Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9). If you want to see the Father, then He has fully revealed Himself in His Son, which is why His revelation is the greatest.

The Son is the sustainer of the universe. Look at verse 3c. Jesus created the world, owns the world, and upholds the world. Everything that we know exists because Christ made it and Christ continues to uphold it. Without His continuing word of power, everything would cease to exist. He is not like the Deist god, who created everything and then left it to itself. Jesus is currently bringing about His providential purposes for all of creation. The truth is, you cannot exist apart from Christ. You can ignore Him and reject Him and pretend like He does not exist, but without Him you could not breathe. He is worthy of our songs because He gives us breath and life. He is worthy of our obedience because He gives us every day and every second. We live for Him because our life is from Him.

If we stopped here, we would have no problem coming up with reasons to worship and praise and love Christ. But this is not the end. Look at verse 3d. The heirs of all things, God in the flesh, the Creator and sustainer of the universe, has made purification for sins. The One through whom you exist is the One who paid the price for your sins. The One who gives you every breath that you breathe, breathed His last on a Roman cross and tasted death in your place. The One who gave men life died so that men might live again, forgiven and new. All your sins have been paid for by Christ. How do I know? Because when He was done, after He died and rose again, He ascended to the right hand of God and sat down. This tells us that the work of purification is complete. No more sacrifice or payment is necessary. Jesus paid it all. How could we not want to give our all for Him in response? How could we not want to turn from our sins and trust in Him for salvation? How could we not want to live our lives for the One who made an end of all our sin? How glorious is our Savior!

Finally, the Son has a name that is superior to angels. Look at verse 4. The author began with the revelation of God that came by the prophets, which we said was a reference to Old Testament Scriptures. The angels also played a role in that revelation (see Exodus 3:2, Isaiah 63:9, Acts 7:38-39, and Galatians 3:19). As we will consider more next week, the author is arguing that the Son is the greater revelation, even than that of angels.

Conclusion
The author of Hebrews has written this exhortation to encourage his readers to hold fast to faith in Jesus. He begins by arguing that Jesusí revelation of God is greater than that of the prophets and the angels. What they spoke was true and he is not telling us to ignore the Old Testament in any way. Yet, we must understand it in light of Christ. We must read our Bibles in light of Jesus, the One who made purification for our sins and sat down at the right hand of God. The One who is Creator and Sustainer and sovereign over all. To try and follow God without Him will never work. To forsake faith in Him to go back to something that was pointing forward to Him in the first place would be disaster. Rather, the author is saying to us all: ĎListen to Jesus. Listen to all that He has said about the Father. Listen to all that He has done to reveal the Father. Listen to His life and His death and His resurrection. For in Him you will find life and the forgiveness of sins.í May we listen to our Savior and follow hard after Him all our days. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 September 2016 )

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