Reader: “Long ago God spoke many times.”
Response: “And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son.”
Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-4
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
By now are you beginning to get the picture of how significant a role the Old Testament prophets played in the revealing of God’s grand design for restoration of all of creation? The writer of Hebrews packs so much in these four short verses built around the main clause, “God spoke.” Genesis opens with “In the beginning God created . . . and God said . . .” Our God acts and our God speaks in a variety of ways. Buddah doesn’t speak. Mohammed doesn’t speak. Confucious doesn’t speak. God speaks! God is persistent in speaking and he is also creative! The writer has set up the different ways God spoke in the “long ago,” contrasting it with how he has spoken in the present era (the era of the writing of Hebrews).
Think about the various ways God spoke in the First Testament. Of course with the voices of the prophets, but he also spoke in dreams, visions, stories, commands, angelic appearances, theophanies, short dramatizations―breaking pottery or burying things in the ground for example. He even had a donkey speak! God speaking in these final days (the historical era inaugurated by the birth of Jesus) was through his Son. The message was crystal clear, God not only spoke, he had come in the flesh. Along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Son is the creator and sustainer of the entire universe. The Son is God. The Son radiates God’s own glory.
This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word for “radiates” is used. It is different from all the other words for shine. This unique brightness is not reflective from another source, but rather a dazzling brilliance that comes from within the Son. As God incarnate, he is the source of the brilliance, another affirmation of the deity of Christ. The Son radiates the Father’s glory in the world. The unapproachable light of God is approachable only through the incarnate Christ. (The writer of Hebrews is seeking to show that Jesus, as God’s Son, is superior in every way to the Old Covenant and fulfills it completely. Notice, he carries Jesus’ work all the way through the ascension to his sitting down at the right hand of God the Father, indicating his work of redemption is finished. The high priest never sat down as his work was never finished.) The writer then concludes this short preamble stating Jesus’ superiority to angels. That may seem a little strange to us, but for the Jewish reader, it was a significant statement. Angels were often messengers of God in the Old Testament and held in high esteem. Jesus is superior to the angels. These four verses give a marvelous picture of God’s Son, making his humble birth in a stable all the more wondrous and surprising.
Music: “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” Mississippi College Singers
Bonus: (Leave it to the Mormons . . . except for the theology!!)
“Angels from the Realms of Glory” BYU Idaho Dept. of Music
Eternal Light, before whom all darkness is light, and, in comparison with whom, every other light is but darkness, may it please Thee to send forth Thy light and Thy truth, that they may lead us. Purify, we pray Thee, our souls from all impure imaginations, that Thy most beautiful and radiant holy image may again be renewed within us, and, by contemplating Thy glorious perfections, we may feel daily improved within us that Divine similitude. Till this most blessed day break, and the shadows of this world fly away, let Thy Spirit be continually with us, and may we feel the powerful effects of Thy Divine grace constantly directing and supporting our steps; that all our endeavors, throughout the whole remaining part of our lives, may serve to promote the honor of Thy blessed Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord―Amen. ―Robert Leighton (1611-1684) adapted Daniel Sharp, Prayers Ancient and Modern p.353