“From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” (Psalm 90:2)
Introduction (Hebrews 1:1-6)
The introduction to the book of Hebrews is different from the other books of the New Testament. We are immediately brought into the presence of the Mighty God with the use of the venerable, awesome, and majestic name - “God.” This sudden introduction to “Almighty God,” or “Jehovah God” alerts us to the fact that something very important is to follow. God revealed Himself and spoke to Israel through the prophets. To each one was committed some new characteristic of God, but this was still an incomplete picture of who God was. The full revelation of God came by His Son, Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews 1:1-2, two new revelations are evident: characteristics of both indefiniteness and definiteness. Note the phrases of indefiniteness that are repeated in this beginning section: “God, who of various times…in diverse manners…spoke in times past…unto the fathers…by the prophets.” No definite period, way or method, date or year, person, or specific prophet is identified or named. Everything mentioned seems purposely indefinite. The reason for this is that no person, place, time, or theme should occupy the mind that ought to be focused on Jesus Christ, God’s own son, the final revelation of God to men. Yet notice how in Hebrews 1:2 the Holy Spirit delights to present, in a definite way, the glories of the Son of God. The author employs phrases like “Hath in these last days… Spoken unto us…By His Son.” These are all in definite identified times, with particular audiences and by a certain speaker. Immediately following this revelation in this first section of Hebrews 1, the author continues by unveiling seven of the excelling glories of Christ that are important to understand.
The Future Ruler of the Universe
“Whom He hath appointed Heir of all things.” (Hebrews 1:2)
It is interesting that the first glory mentioned does not relate to some great event of the past or some wonder of the present, but looks forward unto ages unborn and places the despised Man of Calvary on the throne of the future universe. Great changes lie ahead for this world system: empires and kingdoms will fall, kings, queens, and rulers will be dethroned, and anarchy will prevail. This poor old world will struggle like a drunken man to its doom. Amidst this dark and uncertain background, one thing is certain: Jesus Christ is the appointed “Heir of all things.” Within a short distance from where He died on a Roman cross, this same Jesus will sit on a throne and rule the universe from sea to sea, “and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (See Luke 1:53). The beloved child of God, the one “who having not seen we love” is the destined ruler of the universe. (See 1 Peter 1:8) God has decreed this, and it shall be seen in heaven, earth, and hell, that the Lord Jesus, our precious Savior, is “Lord of all.” (See Acts 10:36) As Psalm 90:2 praises, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”
The Creator of the World
“…By whom also He made the world.” (Hebrews 1:2)
God’s agent in the creation was His Son, “by whom also He made the world.” Incredibly, we swing from the ages yet unborn to the first event recorded in the beginning of time, the creation event. Genesis 1:1, the beginning of the biblical story records how, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” In John 1:1-3, John witnesses to the fact that Jesus was God, the mighty creator of all things. He was present with God in eternity past, for, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
Paul also attests to this glory of Jesus in Colossians 1:16-17 when he says, “by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Scientists have indeed struggled for decades to prove the theory of evolution in their speculations. As they advance, their positions adjust frequently. One scientist has been quoted as saying, “The riddle of the universe remains unread.”
Despite the uncertainty and controversy among evolutionists, the humblest believer knows more than scientific intelligentsia. Hebrews 11:3 speaks of this. The author claims, “through faith we understand that the worlds were formed by the Word of God.” Because “God spoke, and the worlds were,” for the believer this statement should settle the origin of the universe through their faith in God. The Lord Jesus created the stellar heavens, the atmospheres, heaven, the earth, the human race, and the divine plan for the ages. He made everything both spiritual and physical! As the hymn Down from His Glory declares, so we should declare, “The great Creator became my Savior. And all God’s fullness dwelleth in Him.”
The Eternal Son of the Highest
“Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” (Hebrews 1:3)
History shows us that all great men simply cannot measure up to God. Their characters are flawed in many ways. Even great people in history like Lord Byron or Alexander the Great were still mere humans. But what do we find when we closely examine the character of the Ruler of the future, the great Creator of the past? A dual simile is required to express this glory. In Hebrews 1:3, the author uses the phrase, “Who being the brightness of God’s glory.” The writer here is conveying that the Lord Jesus is the shining forth, effulgence and radiance of His glory. All the perfections found in God, the Father, are found in Him also.
In John 1:17-19, John declares, “No one has ever seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” In 1 Timothy 3:16, Paul exclaims, “Great is the mystery and revelation of God’s likeness.” Yet we do and can know God through His Son, Jesus. Indeed, all that we are to know of God, or shall ever understand of Him in this life, is revealed in and through His Son. As Paul says in Colossians 2:9, “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” In Hebrews 1:3, the author continues describing Jesus as “the express image of God’s person.” Therefore, Jesus Christ is the die-stamped image of the invisible God, the only true revealer of the glory and grace of God, His Father. “He is the visible expression of the invisible God.” (See Colossians 1:15)
The Present Upholder of the Universe
“Upholding all things by the Word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3)
With mind-boggling speed the Spirit traverses the space between the Creator of the world and the Consummator of the ages—then centers on the present. Scientists are discovering regularly the vastness of the universe. The stronger the telescope, the more worlds they are discovering. There are untold millions of stars in the heavens, many more stars in the heavens than people of earth, each of which travel at unbelievable speed through a countless firmament on a predetermined course, guided and controlled by an unseen and all-powerful Christ. Paul says, “By Him all things consist” and hold together. (Colossians 1:17) He, in His greatness, threw the stars into space, knows their number, and calls them by name (Psalm 147:4). He upholds them by the word of His power. Yet the same Jesus knows when a sparrow dies (Matthew 10:29) and even cares for the infinitesimal parts of life, for example, even the very hairs of our head are numbered. He does all of this despite the fact that worlds are hanging on His very hands.
The Great Sin-Purger
“When He had by Himself purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3)
This next glory is the most precious of all. The Creator and Sustainer also became our Sin-bearer. Three things are implied in this statement in Hebrews 1:3. First, sin is the greatest blight or tragedy that has ruined the human race. As Paul quotes in Romans 3:10-13 from various Old Testament scriptures, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit.” Mankind often does not think of sin, or fear sin or its ultimate consequences; many times men are blinded to it. Yet sin has eternal consequences.
In God’s eyes, sin is a serious matter, because it is the sin of rejecting Christ that sends people to a Christless hell forever. Sin darkens the soul and separates us eternally from God. So, the only way the sin question could be settled was for the holy son of God to be made sin for us on the cross, and to purge our sin by His precious life’s blood. As the Creator and Sustainer He only had to speak and make it so, yet he was beat to death and had to die an ignominious death on a Roman cross. It is overwhelming and defies human thought to grasp how the Lord of life and glory would condescend to become the sacrificed Lamb of Calvary. Let us praise Him for this mighty sacrifice and gift to us, just as the hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross says, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Secondly, Christ who “purged our sin” has suffered for us. Purging sin implies pain, anguish, sorrow, and woe. Josephus, the historian, wrote that on the last great Passover, when the Savior died, 250,000 lambs were slain. Yet what these 250,000 lambs could not do, the Lamb of God did on the altar of Calvary, when “He purged our sins.” (Hebrews 1:3) The Lord’s blood was so valuable, and His death so precious that God accepted it as the price for the forgiveness of sin to all who believe. But what a price! Not only was there the pent-up anger of the devil, demons, and men, but also there was the indescribable and relentless wrath of the Holy God, which wrapped Him in darkness and ultimately paid from His spotless soul the full price, which included abandonment.
Thirdly, Jesus experienced solitude for the purging of our sins. Hebrews 1:3 claims this purging of sin was “by Himself.” Job 38:7 says that “at Creation the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” At Jesus’ birth, the angels sang glory to God in praise for the Son of God. Yet in the redemption of sinners, hanging on the cross, the Son of God was alone upon the cross. The Psalmist describes the Lord’s feelings on the cross in His solitude in Psalm 102: “I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.” In the occasion of Jesus’ brightest glory on the mount of transfiguration, “Jesus was found alone” and the disciples “saw no man except Jesus only.” (Luke 9:36 and Matthew 17:8) And in the moment of deepest sorrow on Calvary, Jesus was grieved and all alone. His last and painful cry to Heaven was, “My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken me?” All of the people surrounding him had forsaken him and left him alone there to die. Even His father, God, forsook the darling of the bosom on the cross of shame, in order that He might never forsake us in the lake of fire in a Christless hell. Psalm 88:13 laments as if Jesus is lamenting from the cross, “Loved one and friend, you have put far from me and my acquaintances into darkness.”
The Exalted Prince in Glory
“He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High.” (Hebrews 1:3)
Finally, we have the exaltation of the victorious Savior who holds the scepter of unveiled power. This posture phrase, “sat down,” indicates that the work He came to do was completed and finished. Peter declares in his sermon following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension in Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Jesus work on earth was done and His messiahship confirmed through his death on the cross and victory over death in His resurrection.
While on earth, the Lord did not have a true home, because His place was indeed going to be at the right hand of His Father. He said, “The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20) Even when Jesus died, as Isaiah says, “they made His grave with the wicked” because His enemies would have wanted Him buried as a felon. Yet knowing His true home to be with God, God saw to it “that He was with the right in His death.” (Isaiah 53:9) From His humble cradle birth to the cross, the Lord endured much shameful treatment and suffering. But from the moment He cried, “It is finished,” no unholy word flowed from Him. Then loving hands took Him down from the cross, wrapped His body in a linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb. He rose from the grave the third day and showed Himself to individual believers as well as five hundred brethren at one time. In his ascension, He lifted up His hands, blessed His followers, and was carried up into heaven. Men on earth placed Jesus between two thieves on a cross. But God “set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities, and might, and dominion, and every name that is names, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)
The Coming Savior-King
“But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Hebrews 1:6)
In this final glory of the risen Christ, the phrase “He again brings” refers to Jesus’ second coming. When Jehovah brought the Lord into the world the first time, it was via a lowly cattle shed, as an unknown baby and stranger. He came from the glory of heaven to a life of shame, sorrow, woe, and death. Yet when God brings Him again, He will be worshipped and adored by angels and men in all nations of the world. Jesus’ first coming on earth was as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, in order to die for sinners. However, the second time He comes it will be as King of kings and Lord of lords. As the bridegroom, He will call the bride home to glory to reign in righteousness for evermore.
The last great revelation in world history was the appearance of the Christ “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). The next great event will be the appearing in the clouds of the crucified, risen and exalted Savior to call His own dead from the grave, change all His own who are alive and bring them to be with Himself. This event will take place soon, as 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 describes, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Let us all revel and rejoice in this glorious resurrection that awaits us as believers in the risen Christ!