Angels take a back seat to Jesus
See God in the Son1 A long time ago, God used to talk to our people through prophets who delivered God’s messages at different times and in many ways. 2 It’s different now. In these last days, God speaks to each of us through his Son. The Son is God’s heir. The Son has now inherited everything there was to inherit. He created the universe, too.
Look at the Son to see God in all his glory.
In the Son, we see what God is like.
With a word, the Son holds the universe in place
He washed us clean of all our sins.
Then he took his seat at the right hand of Greatness.
Imagine God telling an angel this4 He is so much more than an angel. His name tells that story. 5 Did God ever tell an angel,
“You are my Son.
As of today, I’m your Father”?
“I’ll be a Father to him.
He’ll be a Son to me”?
“He sends angels, like he sends the wind.
He sends them as a message, like he sometimes does with fire.”
“You will rule your kingdom forever, God.
Justice is the hallmark of your reign.
That’s why God chose you over all your associates.
That’s why he anointed you with joy.” 10 This, too:
“Lord, when it all began you were there.
You laid the foundation for what became the earth.
You hung the sky with your creativity.
Everything up there came from you.
Like old clothes, they’ll fall apart.
12 You’ll fold them up like a worn-out robe.
You’ll change them, like you change clothes you wear.
But you’ll never change who you are.
You’ll never wear out, fall apart, or end.” 13 Tell me, to what angel has God ever said this?
“Pull up a throne and sit beside me.
Stay here on my right side and watch.
I’m going to make your enemies bow so low
That you could use them as footstools.”
Some prophets gave a sermon. Others acted out their warnings. When Ezekiel’s wife died, he didn’t mourn; God’s orders (Ezekiel 24:16). This was to illustrate that when invaders come to destroy Jerusalem, they won’t allow Jews to observe their mourning customs. God told another prophet, “Go, and marry an unfaithful woman and have unfaithful children, because the people in this country have been completely unfaithful to the Lord” (Hosea 1:2 New Century Version).
Jews and Christians alike wrote about two ages. The first age: Old Testament times and the few centuries afterward, until the Messiah’s arrival. The second age: when end-time predictions of the prophets began to happen—such as the arrival of Jesus as the Messiah and Rome’s complete destruction of Jerusalem and the last Jewish Temple in AD 70. Romans leveled the walls and buildings and then banned Jewish survivors from the site. Some say Daniel predicted it would happen: “The people of the leader who is to come will destroy the city and the holy place. The end of the city will come like a flood, and war will continue until the end. God has ordered that place to be completely destroyed” (Daniel 9:26 New Century Version). Romans rebuilt a city there a generation later, in the AD 130s. Emperor Hadrian named it Aelia Capitolina and built a temple to Jupiter on the hilltop where the Jewish Temple once stood. That idolatrous worship center desecrated the holy site. Arabs conquered the city 600 years later and built what is now Jerusalem’s most famous landmark: a Muslim shrine called the Dome of the Rock.
Some scholars say the writer may have pulled some of these lines from the lyrics of worship songs. One hint is all the quotes he borrowed from Psalm lyrics throughout the rest of this chapter. “Right hand” in ancient times meant the highest place of honor, such as a seat beside the king. “Greatness” or “Majesty,” is a reference to God the Father, many scholars say.
The writer seems to quote Psalm 2:7.
2 Samuel 7:14.
Usually translated “firstborn.” Also, “supreme Son” (New Living Translation).
Jesus changed Jewish religion, according to the anonymous writer of Hebrews. In the past, “God used to talk to our people through prophets” but now “In these last days, God speaks to each of us through his Son” (1:1-2). “Last days?” Why call them “last days” when there’s 2,000 years to go, or more? Pick a theory or add your own.
- The writer thought Jesus was coming back soon. Oops.
- His readers were facing persecution and death—their last days.
- The era after Jesus is the era of “last days,” however long it lasts.
- God knows; I’m okay with that.
Hebrews seems written for, well, Hebrews. He seems to target Jewish Christians and Jews he wants to convert to Christianity. What do you see in Hebrews 1:1-4 that you think would upset a tradition-minded Jew?
What should we make of God telling Jesus, “As of today, I’m your Father” (1:5). But yesterday, you were something less? Maybe St. Peter’s backup at the Pearly Gates? Should we cut the writer some slack because he seems to be quoting from the lyrics of an ancient Jewish song, Psalm 2:7?
Why do you think the writer jumps into a spiel about why Jesus is better than angels?
Through Hebrews 1, the writer plucks several Old Testament Bible verses that seem to do a good job of describing Jesus. But Jesus wasn’t who the Old Testament writers were talking about. So, does the Hebrews writer cherry pick the Jewish Bible and serve it as a bowl of sliced apples—something it’s not? If so, how do you think he might defend his approach to squeezing Jesus into the Old Testament?
This writer has a tough job, trying to sell a divine Messiah—the only Son of God, no less—to Jews. Selling snowballs to Alaskans might be easier, and certainly less dangerous. In the 14 verses of Hebrews 1, what can you find that might encourage a tradition-minded Jew to keep reading this letter?
Just for fun, if you were an angel, is there anything in this chapter that would insult you?