A book about the Heavenly Christ who has responsibility For Us
I‘ve been wanting to get into Hebrews for a long time. This is one of the best books in the Bible as far as letting us behold Christ in His power as God describes him. Furthermore, Hebrews is a book for the church! Some people try to say it‘s not but you‘ll see as we go through it that many of the things it discusses are truths that only be be enjoyed by the church.
Without the Book of Hebrews, you don‘t have a clear view of the heavenly ministry of Christ. From the Gospels and Acts we know He ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God, But that’s not the end of the story! Everything he went through up until that point was to prepare him for His heavenly ministry as our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews has a wonderful revelation of how His life responds to our need. One of the reasons people want to put it away and say it‘s a tribulation book (not for the church) is because they recognize that the church is not under the law and that we are eternally secure in Christ. There are a couple verses in Hebrews that are used by legalists that seem to imply you could lose your salvation. So some will say that it must be for a different time. The hesitancy about Hebrews springs from the desire to keep us in grace. However, the verses that legalists use to bring people into bondage are actually found in the context of some of the most assuring passages of scirpture about the security of the believer in Christ! In fact, Hebrews is the single book that most clearly demonstrates that the responsiblity of our salvation from start to finish rests fully on the shoulders of Christ!
I believe this is why the enemy fights strongly against this book. By taking a few passages found in Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 and twisting them, he stigmatized the whole book so that people will shy away from it altogether. It is true that some of the most severe sounding warnings in the New Testament come from the Book of Hebrews. However the enemy knows how to put the „EmphAsis on the wrong SyllAble“. He has taken certain verses and filled them with terror for people. In context they‘re not scary and they actually say the opposite of what everyone has been led to fear!
A Book About God’s Speaking
Hebrews is a book about Gods speaking which is in His Son. This speaking is focused on His Son and is His pesent heavenly speaking, the speaking of the One from heaven. After Christ accomplished His work through His incarnation, human living, death, resurrection and ascension, He was enthroned. Now God is speaking in This One after He has finished His work of redemption and has sat down at the right hand of God. Everything has been accomplished, and now there‘s a set of truths that come out as a heavenly speaking that we‘re accountable for. Really, this speaking in Christ is the gospel.
Hebrews is all about believing God’s speaking in His Son; heeding it and drawing near boldly to God based on faith in what He has said. If there are warnings in Hebrews, they are about shrinking back to old things that God said in the past, (represented by the temple and Old Testament levitical system of the priesthood) and rejecting what God is saying in Christ. God warns against rejecting present truth and rejecting His revelation of the Person and work of Christ. This is what legalism does. Legalism associates you with God but it‘s based on things He said in the past. These things which He said were pictures and shadows and foreshadows of Christ himself. So he used to speak in many portions and many ways through the prophets to the Fathers, but now He is speaking in Christ! Everybody has to hear His present voice and heed what he says and drop what He used to say in favor of what He saying now and then interpret what Heused to say in the light of what he‘s saying now. It’s not that what He used to say was wrong and what He says now is right. However the revelation in the Bible is progressive, and we must be established in „present truth“ (2 Peter 1:12). Everything the Bible says was presented step by step to lead to present truth, and present truth always shines light on everything God has said before. Former truth always points to what He is saying most clearly now. The prophetic word is likened to a light that shines brighter and brighter (2 Peter 1:19), and God’s speaking in the ascended Christ shines the brightest of all!
When Jesus was transfigured Moses and Elijah (representing the prophets and the law) stood next to him and were talking to him about His death and resurrection. Peter fregot excited and said „Lord, should we make Tabernacles for them? Isn‘t it wonderful? we‘ll make 3 Tabernacles, one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah“ as if he was putting them all on an equal plane. But then a voice sounded out of heaven: „THis is my beloved Son, hear him.“ Then Moses and Elijah disappeared after that voice came out. That means that Gods focus is on Christ and He is superior. He is what the law and the prophets pointed to. Now He is the Reality and God has spoken in Him!
Hebrews is all about God’s speaking in Christ. The main thing that He is speaking to us in Hebrews is that we should now come near with boldness. We now have access to the Holy of Holies, the very mercy seat, the very throne of God. We can come forward all the way in through a new and living way that‘s been established through the death and resurrection of Christ.
Hebrews shows us that
because of what God has accomplished in Christ, you can get closer to God than
any angel ever could. You‘re closer to God than the Cherubim. You‘re closer to
God than any of the angels (who are now youre ministering servants). You have
been brought into the Holy of Holies and you should, based on that truth,
approach God with boldness in contrast with shrinking back to legalism and old
religion. We‘ll get into all this.
God’s Speaking “In Son”
Heb 1:1-5 God, who at sundry times (or various times) and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
Going forward you‘ll see a continual emphasis on what God has said. “God Said” and everything He says is about His Son. In verse 5: For unto which of the angels said He at any time, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?““
Christ as the Subject of God’s Speaking
The emphasis is Gods speaking and the focus of this speaking is His Son. Even more interesting, when verse 2 says He has spoken to us “in His Son” The Greek literally says “In Son” This is an interesting way of saying it. The Son is not only the subject of His speaking but is the instrument of His speaking. You might say, “well God hasn‘t spoken to me.” But here it says that God has spoken to us in these last days. He used to speak in the prophets and used to speak in various ways to the fathers in diverse ways. But now he‘s spoken in Son.
Do you know that you‘ve heard from The Father? Perhaps you are unsure. Consider this. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? If you say “yes I do” then you must understand that you have heard from God. Remember the Lord’s conversation with Peter in Matthew 16.
Mat 16:13-17 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? (14) And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (15) He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (16) And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (17) And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Here we see quite cleary that the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God is not arrived at by flesh and blood but by revelation from the Father. Furthermore the church is to be built upon this revelation (and confession). The church is being built on Jesus Christ as the cornerstone and it‘s through the revelation of who He is that we are brought into the church. Nobody can do that, nobody can bring you into a revelation of the Son of God except the Father. And that‘s made clear throughout John (John 6:44) No one comes to me except the father who sent me draws him. And Matthew 11:27 says “no man knoweth the Son, but the Father, nether knoweth any man the Father, save the Son and whomever the Son will reveal Him”.
It takes the spirit of wisdom and revelation for you to know Christ. And that comes from God. My favorite verse in 1 John 5 says: He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God is born of God, and then it says that “we have this testimony in ourselves“ and “the spirit is the one who testifies“. (1 John 5:6,10)
The way you know that you‘ve heard from God is that you have the Spirit in you testifying that Jesus is the Son of God and that testimony is God Himself speaking in you! You can know that God has spoken to you. The problem is that He’s not necessarily speaking to you about what you want to hear, so you think He hasn‘t spoken. But no, He only cares about speaking about His Son. That is the subject, the content of His speaking.
So yes, God has spoken to you but it‘s not, “go down to the store and get this or that”. He does give some individual leadings but a lot of people think, “the Lord hasn‘t spoken to me”. Yes, God has spoken to you but the content of His speaking and the subject of His speaking and the meaning of His speaking is Christ!
He has revealed His Person and His work. That is the subject of Gods speaking if you can believe that. Somebody I used to listen to said: “The whole universe is going be shocked when God pulls back the veil and we see how central Christ is to Gods economy, how much God is entirely focused on Christ and has nothing else to say.” He has nothing else to say, he has nothing else to tell you. There‘s nothing else he wants to talk to you about, you know, he really doesn‘t. Fellowship with the father is about the Son. Fellowship is the enjoyment of the Son with the Father. The Father enjoys His Son the beloved and loves Him and sees you in Him and has placed you in Him and now speaks to you by breathing life into you and shining light in you as he reveals His Son to you. And that‘s good news.
God speaking in Christ as the Heir to the sons as the co-heirs
(2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Ever since Jesus was ascended to heaven it‘s been the last days, and these last days spoken to us by His Son whom he hath appointed heir of all things. Christ is the heir, he is the rightful heir and the whole question in the universe is: Who gets to inherit it? God created the universe and the angels thought they could have it and then God created man and gave him dominion. That was extremely upsetting to some of the angels. They had to watch God create this man out of clay, yet in His image with His likeness, given dominion, and designated that he was the Son of God. Adam was this one that God created and was called the Son of God. In this sense he is a type of Christ and eventually God knew that Christ His beloved Son was going to be born into humanity. Christ already was the heir as the heavenly Son of God but now as we will see He‘s also the heir as the “firstborn from the dead” – as a human being. He was appointed the heir of all things and He was also the instrument by whom God made the world. In eternity past God said: “I want to create the universe” And He did it through the Son. When he said: Let there be light, that speaking was the word which was Christ himself. This is all about Gods speaking. In the last days he‘s spoken to us by His Son and He‘s appointed him as the heir of everything and we‘re co-heirs with him, too.
One of the subjects in Hebrews is that He‘s bringing the heirs into glory. We are the heirs of the salvation which he accomplished and we‘re sharing His inheritance. He made the worlds through him. These are the worlds that we will inherit, not just world, WORLDS, the whole universe.
The Instrument of God Speaking
Christ – God’s Engraving Seal to Impress His Substance Into Us
(2b)Who (Christ) being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.
“Express image” here is an amazing word. I looked up the Greek word: express image of His person is G5481,’charakter’. That word interestingly means and impress like a king who has a seal that has a symbol on the seal that represents His signature. That seal is an engraving tool and that‘s what this is. The reference is an engraving tool that bears an image that represents the identity of the engraver, the one who “stamps” the image. This is Gods expression. Christ is the image of God and He’s “the engraving seal.”
The express image of God’s very person is likened to God’s engraving tool, with which God makes His seal. What is he sealing with that engraving tool? Is it just envelopes? No! It‘s people. We were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and Corinthians 2 verse 3 says that “we are epistles of Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.” That Spirit is the ink and Christ is the image. God puts that ink on our spirits and then presses the image of His Son into us.
You want to know how God is speaking to you? Yes, it‘s revealing the Son to you but remember John says: “In him was life and the life was the light of man.” So the light shines and that means Christ is shining on you. He is revealed to you, and this causes you to behold Him. Prior to this shining He was just a historical figure, or a myth. But then God shined Christ on you, and you beheld Him, and believed in Him. That is God’s light shining on you. But the shining has life in it. So the life comes forth in the shining! You see the image of Christ you see that engraving “image” and you know that‘s the image of God, the expression of God. Yet from Gods perspective he‘s pressing that image into you, onto your spirit. He’s pressing His seal into you, which is saturated with the “ink” of the Holy Spirit to impress the image of Christ into you. Just as a king would put wax on an envelope and then use the engraving tool, the „xaraktḗr“ to impress His royal seal on it to show that this letter is from the king. It has His signature on it which it was pressed into the hot wax with the engraving seal. The letter is “sealed” and bears the king’s seal. In God’s sealing of us, the wax is the spirit and the image is Christ himself pressed into you by the Father. One translation says that He is the “radiance of God’s glory and the impress of His substance.” God’s speaking is by shining and impressing Himself into you.
This is how God speaks in Son, that‘s why I said he doesn‘t just speak by His Son. He speaks in Son. It‘s more than just an audible. It comes to you as a revelation of Christ and as he‘s revealed to you more and more God is pressing him into your being and that image is showing up on you. You can‘t see the effect of this “pressing” but God can, the angels can and the enemy can! Eventually in glory when the flesh is transformed into our body of glory we‘re going to be conformed to the image of Christ because of this sealing work of the spirit that‘s been going on. I believe it happens the one time we were sealed, yes, but then through our life, all the glimpses we get of Christ as God shines on him, every time we‘re sealed more, the image is pressed more definitely into us and takes on a greater clarity, just a more distinct impression of that image. I think it‘s beautiful.
So, the verse says He’s the “brightness of His glory” and the “express image of his person.” God has spoken in this one. Being the brightness of Gods glory means that God shined in this Person. One translation says he‘s the “outshining of the glory”, or the “Radiance of God’s glory.” This is Christ who is the lamp containing the light. In the New Jersualem, it is said there will be no need of the light of sun or moon because God is the light and Christ is the lamp. God shines in Christ to illuminate us. Then he‘s the express image of His Person. Here comes the life, right? “In him is life and the life is the light of man.” God shines on us and in that shining as we behold Christ! We‘re transformed from glory to glory because he‘s pressing the image of Christ into us through His Son as the engraving tool. That‘s how he speaks and as he‘s doing it we‘re becoming epistles of Christ, written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God. The spirit is the ink and Christ is the pen if you will.
The Enthroned God Man
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (the impress of His Substance) and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
He is said to be “upholding all things things by the word of His power” so God’s means of operation is speaking. This is all about speaking! “When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Now the purging of our sins is past tense and he‘s making this emphatic that it is a finished work, and he‘s associating it with the throne of God. Christ sat down after He purged our sins. He purged them Himself. We could not deal with sin. Only He could purge them, and after He did so, He sat down. It is finished! Furthermore, His authority backs the whole thing up.
He couldn‘t obtain that throne (as a man) until he had purified our sin. He already had the throne as the Son of God in eternity past he had the authority but now he‘s incarnated, He’s become a man, lived a human life that was perfectly righteous as we‘ll see and because of that righteousness He was qualified for resurrection. Furthermore as the Seed of the Woman, Seed of Abraham and the Seed of David and the Last Adam, He was fully qualified to be the representative of the Human race with all of the titles to earthly authority to pay the price. Romans 5 shows us that one Man (adam) forfeited the title deed through one transgression, and through this man’s obedience, righteousness comes. He was qualified in every way for his redemptive death.
When he gave himself over to death for our sins and purged them He was then righteously raised from the dead and presented His blood for us in Heaven. That death and resurrection qualified him to take the throne not just as the Son of God but also as the Son of man. We will talk more about this. But today there is a human being, a glorified human being, a genuine representative of the Human race who has been resurrected and glorified – sitting on the very throne of majesty and because of that you can bet your sins have been purged. As the Son of God in eternity past that throne is His. But through His incarnation, human living, death, resurrection and ascension, He glorified Humanity and uplifited it to that place that He enjoyed – the status that He had in His divinity. As a man, He’s been “made so much better than the angels.”
Heb 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
This is again speaking of His humanity. In the past, in eternity past he was already higher than the angels, they all knew that but this is the one who became a man. Hebrews reveals what He‘s done after He‘s ascended.
When the apostles saw him go up in the cloud they didn‘t know what He had done only until the Father had revealed all of this truth by showing it to Paul. Could we even know what happened in the heavens? Jesus didn‘t talk about this on earth. This is the heavenly revelation of the heavenly Christ, the glorified Son of man who‘s seated at the right hand of God after made purification of our sins.
That man has been made better than angels as he is by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. He is the heir of all things but even more importantly He inherited the most excellent name. At that name every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that he is Lord. Remember, all of this is still about His speaking. God is speaking in Son. He is the heir of all things. He created the worlds. He upholds everything. He is the radiance of God’s glory, and in Him is the life which is the light of man. God speaks in Christ, and shines in Christ, and He is the impress of God’s substance. God impresses Himself into us by this speaking, so that Christ, His image, shows up in us, and we become God’s epistles. This speaking is about His Son who has once and for all purged our sins. It is the speaking about His person and His work. And this Person has become a man so that He may glorify humanity. As the representative of a new, redeemed humanity that’s sins have been purged, He has been righteously enthroned on the very throne of God. This authority backs God’s speaking concerning our redemption, and for that reason we must heed this speaking and believe it!