Title: God Speaks Through His Son
Text: Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Date: September 24-25, 2016
The Book of Hebrews. Very, very important book of the Bible. Very insignificant because it was written to strengthen our faith in Jesus. You see Jesus in the Book of Hebrews is like in no other place in theBible. He really brings together a deep understanding of the connection of the Old Testament and the New Testament, layered together and you see Christ just revealed through it in a very, very powerful way. It's therefore, one of the most important books of the entireBible and many people, I think, find Hebrews, theBook of Hebrews difficult to understand. But when you have the Old Testament as a backdrop and see how they relate together it just as revealing Jesus in a very wonderful way. Now there is deep, deep spiritual application as well.
Now, there's a lot of debate about who wrote theBook of Hebrews. It doesn't name a writer like some of the other letters that we have. I would give you my personal opinion, for whatever that is worth, which isn't a whole lot but my personal opinion is that Paul is the one who wrote it although other names such as Apollos or Peter, John have been proposed or someone else. So, it's not definitive. No one can give a definitive answer but as the title suggests it was written to Hebrews or Jews, in other words, and particularly, Christian Jews. Those who have received Jesus Christ but are from Judaism.
Many believe that this was specifically written for the church that was actually in the city of Jerusalem, the very birthplace and center of Christianity, but now in trouble. They were Christians, they have certainly taken hold of the Gospel but there was pressure, there was confusion. What would we do with our Judaism? What do we do with the Old Testament Jewish laws? Should we continue going to the Temple? Should we bring sacrifices like we did in the past? And so, he writes this letter to strengthen their faith, to establish Jesus as over all things, superior in all things, to strengthen their faith because they're pressured to return to Judaism. And in no uncertain terms the writer calls them out and warns them of the dangers of unbelief. And so he reveals Jesus. He just speaks about Jesus in a very wonderful and powerful way. And Jesus is the center of God's plan for man. This is important to recognize. Jesus is the very center of God's plan for man.
Many of you know we have an Iranian church and they meet here on Sunday afternoons and Pastor Kaveh, who has been pastoring that for many, many years, he has led hundreds, if not thousands of Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ. And in fact, he will be part of the baptism that we're having on Wednesday and several of former Muslims are being baptized this week and we're very excited about that. One of the things that Pastor Kaveh has told me, as he's talked to me about how he shared the faith with Muslims and he says "I do not attack Islam. That is not my approach. I do not attack Islam. What I do is I show them Jesus and I just reveal Jesus over and over and over. When they see Jesus as God has revealed Him through the Scriptures they come to fall in love with this Jesus, who is the Redeemer of their souls." And so, it is very, very important for us to understand Jesus is the center of our faith. And this book, really, establishes the superiority of Christ over all things. When you understand God's heart for us through His Son, our faith is tremendously strengthened as well.
All right. Let's read Hebrews 1, the first 4 verses and then later I'm going to read chapter 2, the first 4 verses of that chapter. Let's just start with chapter 1 beginning with verse 1 and I will tell you he does not waste any time. Right from the very beginning of this book he just goes after it in a very amazing in-depth, powerful way. Let's read starting in verse 1. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers and the prophets in many portion and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His son whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom also, He made the world.” I mean, he just goes right after it, very beginning. “He is the radiance of God's glory and He is the exact representation of His nature”, I love that verse, “and He upholds all things by the word of His power. And when He had made purification of sins He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high having become as much better than the angels as He has interested a more excellent name than they.”
I. God Reveals Himself
I mean, very beginning of this book he just launches in to a picture of Jesus Christ as the amazing declaration of who God is. Here's the point that he's making: God is revealing Himself and He does this through Jesus Christ. God reveals Himself. In trying to explain why there are different religions in the world someone came up with an analogy, and you probably heard of this analogy. Someone came up with an analogy that God is like an elephant and four blind man, each holding a different part of the elephant, are trying to define it. "An elephant is like a thick, strong snake," says the one holding the trunk. "No, you're very wrong," says the one holding the leg. "An elephant is like the trunk of a great tree." "No, you're both wrong," says another blind man. "An elephant is like a great wall" standing, of course, holding on to the side of the elephant. Then the fourth one, holding on to the tail. "It's quite plain that you're all wrong because an elephant is like a rope with a tassel on the end," holding on the tail. The point of the analogy is that in a similar way no individual religion can absolutely define God and that all should be viewed as equally valid. But “Houston, we have a problem” and I'll tell you what the problem is.
First of all, can we recognize something? All four blind men were wrong. An elephant is none of those things. Can we just establish that? An elephant is none of those things. Every single one of them were wrong. Number 2. The elephant remains silent there. God is not silent. God speaks and God reveals Himself and He tells us long ago, God spoke to the fathers through the prophets in many portions and in many ways. Now, God had a very special relationship with Israel, called them His chosen people and He revealed Himself to the prophets. You can go through the entire Old Testament, which we did, and you'll see this in a very wonderful, powerful way. But in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, who is the Creator of all things, the world and all things within it. So, right out at the gate at the very beginning verse, he throws a dagger right into the heart of the argument. God reveals Himself through His Son. He is the heir of all things. He is superior over all. He is the creator of the world.
A. He is the exact representation of His nature
And I love verse 3 where it says that He is the exact representation of His nature. This is very important because God sends forth His son, He sends forth His son to reveal His heart, who He is. We must know who God is. And so it tells us in verse 3, and I love the picture He gives to us, He is the radiance of His glory. When you think of radiance, of glory, you know of the glory of God being sent forth, emanating of the glory of God. He is that which is sent forth. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." He was sent by God as the radiance of His glory that we might know His heart. That we might know God. God reveals Himself and He does that through His son. In fact, in Colossians 1:15, which we were studying fairly recently, he wrote it this way, “He is the image of the invisible God.”
You know, going back to the Old Testament, there is a story that gives us a great insight. At one point, Moses, as he is leading the people of Israel through the course of the desert, he had a request of God. He said, "If I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You." God granted this request. Then he asked an astounding question. With brave boldness he said, "May I ask one more thing? Please, let me see Your glory." Now, this was the great question. This is the very thing he wanted more than anything. Please, let me see Your glory.
So God responds to this. You cannot see My face or no one can see Me and live but I will place you in the cleft of a rock. Many believe that this is a picture of Jesus Christ. I will place you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand and My glory will pass by. In other words, I will leave My glory behind and you will see that. You know, that's an interesting picture for us. What follows behind you? What follows behind? It's a great question.
When you come to a living room and there's an empty bag of popcorn and empty glasses and some snack wrappers you might say a teenager has come by this way. Or if you come in to a bedroom and there are socks and dirty clothes and the towel on the floor you might say a husband has passed by this way. But when God comes into your life, He leaves behind His glory. This is really an amazing thing. Books could be written on this topic. It is a very important and rich topic to understand. He sends forth His Son as the radiance of His glory and when God comes in to your life through His Son, Jesus Christ, He leaves His glory. The presence of God in your life is transforming in power. And He writes so much of it. We are being transformed from glory to glory, Paul wrote. If you could only understand the glory... oh my goodness, so much can be said on it.
Look at 2 Corinthians 3 sometime. It is amazing to understand because He sends forth His Son as the radiance of His glory that we might know God. I want to know you Lord. Show me the way, show me the glory. We need to know God's heart because how you see God is going to determine how you respond to God. See, some people, they see God as a God who doesn't care. And so, they don't care. Some people see God as angry and so they'd become angry. Some people see God as the judge so they become judgmental. Some people see God as the giver of law so they become legalistic. Some people see God as love and grace and kindness and forgiveness and they become those things. How we see God is so very important.
You know what? One point, one of the disciples, Philip, he asked a question to Jesus very, very similar to what Moses asked. He said, "Show us the Father and that's enough for us.” Show us the Father. We want to see Him. See, in John 14:9-10, Jesus responds. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” He is the radiance of His glory, the exact representation of His nature. “How do you say show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am the Father and I am the Father and the Father is me?”
B. He has a more excellent name
In fact, going back to Hebrews 1, I love in verse 4 where he tells us that He has a more excellent name. Now, He's making here a direct comparison. He has inherited a more excellent name than the angels. Now, the Jewish view of angels, you have to see, was extremely high. From the earliest chapters of the Bible, God used angels to carry forth His message, to accomplish His will. And so, angels were seen as very significant and very powerful.
In the early days of the Church there was even a false doctrine called Gnosticism, that was permeating through and it was teaching that men could only be saved from this evil material world through special knowledge or enlightenment. But this doctrine also had this intricate hierarchy of powerful angelic beings. And so, the writer of Hebrews here, he speaks about the superiority of Christ over all things and says that He has been given a name that is more excellent because He has a name above all other names.
Isn't that what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:9-11? We can grasp the significance. He says it this way, "For this reason also, God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name. That at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” That pretty much includes everyone “and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” He has a name which is above every other name. Now the name Jesus was actually common. It would be the name Joshua, is exactly the same name as Joshua. “Yeshua”, we sometimes say. Very common name, Joshua is a common name. Jesus was a common name. So what made it powerful? What made it superior is when it's understood as Jesus, the Son of God. That is the significance to the name. There's power in this name of Jesus who is the living Son of God.
I remember when I was a young boy and I had this dream. You know some dreams just stay with you all your life. So significant. And I had this dream. Remember now the context, we were living way out in the country and in my dream, there was this evil presence. Very dark. Evil. I could just sense the demonic, Satanic presence in this darkness. Remember the context. We were living in the country. It was behind the chicken house. And it was dark. There were trees. And there was this lurking, dark presence that was moving behind the chicken house and getting nearer and nearer to the house, and thus nearer and nearer to me. And I had this tremendous increasing presence of fear because of this darkness that was lurking and beginning to come near and I felt the demonic, the Satanic power and presence behind it.
And in me was this desire. I've felt in my spirit, if I could just name the name of Jesus, I had this urge, I just wanted to name the name of Jesus. I felt there was such power in the name of Jesus. My mother was so faithful in making sure that we got the church and heard the Gospel and have the Scriptures taught to us. And so in my dream, you know how it is in your dream when you want to say something but you can't cause you're sleeping. I was prevented. I could not say the name of Jesus and so this lurking power got closer and closer and I finally just blurted out, you know. “Jesus!” I'm sure everybody thought I was weird because I'm having a strange feeling but it was amazing what happens. The light and glory of God just came to me in a beautiful peaceful way.
I don't know about you. I remember significant things like that and they taught me a great lesson about the presence of God in my life. See, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. The Scriptures says the name of Jesus is so powerful. In fact, in Matthew 16:15-17, Jesus just asked the disciples "Who do the people say I am?" And then He turned and said to them "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Now that is a declaration right there. You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you Simon. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but My Father who is in heaven revealed this to you.” He is the Son.
In fact, I tell you, this is the very reason that He was crucified. This is the reason that we was crucified. In John 19:7, the Jews answered to Pilate, "We have a law and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God." Now, this is just a significant and powerful understanding.
By the way, in case you are not knowledgeable or understanding, Islam is very offended of the idea that Jesus is called the Son of God. Very offended. It's like rending the heavens so offended just thinking of the idea that you would ever even imagine that Jesus is considered to be the Son of God because in their view of things, everything, all things, all creation are nothing other than slaves and never will be anything other than slaves unto God.
And so Jesus comes and says, "When you pray you say ‘My Father.’" He taught us when you pray you say "My Father". Jesus is the Son of God and says to us that God has received you as a son or a daughter of God Himself. That's why Paul wrote "God has not given to us a spirit of fear but has given to us a spirit of power and love and a sound mind by which we say "Abba, Father." That's like the most intimate way of calling God your papa, your father, your daddy. Oh, the depth of this is absolutely amazing. Do you understand the richness of Jesus who was sent to you? God speaks through His Son.
II. Pay Close Attention
Therefore, notice in chapter 2, verse 1. "Therefore", he tells us, "pay close attention, therefore." Now, let's read the first verses of chapter 2. For this reason, after establishing who Jesus is in such a powerful way he says, "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard. God speaks through His Son. We must pay much closer attention to what we've heard lest we drift away from it." Now, that's a key phrase, I want to look at that. “For if the words spoken to angels proved unalterable and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation that was given to us through His son?”
He just said He's greater than angels. After all, “after it was, at the first, spoken to the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard it and then God, also bearing witness with Him both by signs and wonders and various miracles and by the gift of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” In other words, God spoke through His Son. It was confirmed by the testimony of the disciples and then He confirmed it through the testimony, besides miracles and wonders, of the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the message of God's heart to mankind. He has confirmed it. Remember what He said in another place, in the Book of Acts. God is calling all men everywhere to repent because He has fixed the day in which He will judge the world having furnished proof, see I love that phrase, having furnished proof by raising Jesus from the dead.
All right. He's telling us in Hebrews 2 we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it. In many ways, that's like the theme of the entire Book of Hebrews. He establishes the superiority of the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. And then He calls us to faith. Don't drift away from it. Strengthen your faith. Anchor your soul to this. Anchor your soul to the Rock. Who is that which was sent of God?
A. Have ears that want to hear
In other words, when He says to pay much closer attention he's saying. "Have ears that want to hear." That's the idea. Have ears that want to hear. See, the idea in the Greek here is helpful. He's actually got a play on words. If you could see them the Greek you could see the play. Pay close attention, and He uses there for that phrase, a boating term. And the idea is to anchor. To pay close attention is to anchor your attention onto that. You've locked on. You're like you're tethered like an anchor would be to a rock. You are anchored to it. A boating term is so helpful.
And then he adds the idea "lest you drift away from it" because there is a danger in drifting away if you do not fix your attention, fix your heart on this rock. There is a tributary river that flows into that Niagara River, a swollen river. As you're going from the swollen river into that Niagara river there's a sign for boaters because remember, this is the Niagara river and this is, of course, upstream of the famous Niagara Falls, horseshoe falls, that falls a 180 feet. And so, as you're entering into the Niagara River upstream of the falls there is a sign for boaters, "Do you have an anchor?" And then, as to make the point exceptionally clear it follows with another phrase below it. “Do you know how to use it?” Because the idea is very clear. It's not only what you're drifting from, it's what you're drifting toward. The danger that he tells us here is not only what we would drift from but what we would be drifting toward. And so, he tells us to fix your eyes. You fix your attention. You fix your soul on this like anchored to it. He's using this play on this.
And that reminds me of when I was going to Multnomah University. I was taking this class by the retired president, Willard Aldridge, an older gentlemen and I will be straight up, he was not known to hold your attention. Do you know what I mean? When you take classes, you want to take classes from those that are interesting and dynamic. But I took this class and I'm taking notes and one day, something changed. I could sense it. I'm taking notes and he began to speak differently and I looked up and I put my pen down. I could see his heart was breaking. And I looked around to see if anyone else noticed. I said, "Don't you see? Don't you see?" And he began to speak deeply from his soul as he's describing these missionaries that he knows who lived with a people, who had to pick their sustenance out of the dump. And these missionaries have chosen to live amongst them, to minister the Gospel there amongst them.
And he's speaking about this and his heart is breaking about it and my attention is absolutely anchored to what he is saying because he then began to tie it and connect it to Jesus Christ. Do you see? What a picture of Jesus is found there? We are picking our sustenance out of the dump and He comes to be amongst us. He comes to be with us. He comes to live our existence with us that He might speak the life. That He might speak the heart of God. That He might speak life to us and he's breaking his heart as he described and my attention was fixed upon us because the significance, you see.
Pay closer attention. Be anchored to this word lest you drift away from it, he says. The Jewish believers were in danger of their faith drifting. The winds were blowing against them. There was pressure from those around them to return to Judaism, to keeping the law instead of abiding in the Son. Today, people are in danger of their faith drifting and their lives moving toward the world. Cares concerning anxieties of life. Deceitfulness of riches. Desire for other things. They choke out the Word and it bears no fruit, Jesus said.
And in chapter 4, we'll get their soon, he makes this comparison to Israel and he gives this warning about being attentive to the word. Notice what he says, Hebrews 4:2, “For indeed, we have had good news preached to us just as they also.” Israel had good news preached to them, we had good news preached to us “but the word that they heard did not profit them because it was not united by faith in those who heard it.” There's that idea. You have ears that want to hear.
See, Jesus said something similar. In many places He said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." You have ears that want to hear. You're like anchored on this because of the significance. Jesus, in using that parable where He described the Word of God being sown just like a farmer sowing his seed and described different earth conditions. Different people receive it differently. Some are hard, some have thin soil and they're offended when the difficulties of life come but in Luke 8:15, He said, "The seed that fell in the good soil, these are the one who have heard the word in honest and good heart", but get this, "they hold it fast."
Very similar principle. "They hold on to it fast and they're the ones who bear fruit with perseverance." They have anchored their soul to this Rock. They have paid close attention because God has sent forth His Son. The very center of God's plan for man is the sending forth of His Son and they pay close attention.
B. Don’t neglect so great a salvation
In fact, he ends, in chapter 2:4, by telling us don't neglect so great a salvation. See, Hebrews 2:4, don't neglect so great a salvation after it was first spoken to the Lord. It was confirmed. Give heed to this. Don't neglect it. Even in the Book of Romans, he makes a declaration that God has revealed Himself to everyone through nature. And therefore, He calls every person into account for what they have seen and what God has revealed. Notice in Romans1:19-20, “that which is known about God is evident within them for God make it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and His divine nature,” get this, “have been clearly seen. Being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse.” See, when God sends forth His Word He expects a response. When God sends forth His Word He expects a response. When God knocks on the door of your heart He expects a response. When God sends forth His Son, He expects a response. See, God's offer of life is the great salvation. Be careful, He says, not to neglect so great a salvation. Jesus is unique. Jesus is the Heir of all things. His name is above every other name. He's unique. He's the Creator of the universe. He's been given a name. He is the only begotten Son.
See, it's not like God offers a spiritual buffet and you get to walk through the buffet choosing whatever items that may fit your taste. I'll take a little Allah and perhaps a little Joseph Smith. Could you pass me a little Buddha? I'll pass on hell but do you have any extra evangelism please? It's not like a spiritual buffet.
He writes the superiority of Jesus because God has spoken to us in His only begotten Son. In Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else.” I don't think you could be more plain than this. “There is no salvation in no one else for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Get that phrase? We must be saved. Do not neglect so great a salvation. Anchor your soul to this rock. Pay close attention to these words of life lest you drift away from it. Do not neglect.
See, people neglect the great salvation when they forget what they have. This is not a religion. This is not a set of principles. This is not a set of standards that judge your life. This is a relationship to Abba, God Almighty. God has given to us an opportunity to have a great salvation because it is a personal relationship to God as our Abba. See, people, when they dilute their relationship or dilute their faith to this religion they're missing out on the significance of the relationships. That's why Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life. No one come to the Father but through me.” He's giving us an opportunity to have a relationship to Abba, the Almighty.
Relationship is a good word. When we think about relationships, a marriage relationship in particular, relationships don't die only once. They die from neglect. Hurts, wounds, unforgiveness, cares, concerns of life choke that relationship and it dies by neglect in small degrees. And so, He's giving us this similar picture for us. Do not neglect so great a salvation. The significance of it. God is your Abba, Father. Do not allow your life to drift because what you're drifting toward is a very dangerous thing. And so He called us to understand this is the Son of the Living God. God speaks through Him. Fix and anchor to this Rock because the life that He gives to you is the glory of God revealed.