Friday, December 16, 2022

Friday, December 16, 2022

Reader: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel. For he has visited and redeemed his people . . .”

Response:  “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Scripture:  Hebrews 1:4-14

This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names. For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus:

   “You are my Son.

      Today I have become your Father.”

   God also said,

   “I will be his Father,

      and he will be my Son.”

 And when he brought his firstborn Son into the world, God said,

   “Let all of God’s angels worship him.”

 Regarding the angels, he says,

   “He sends his angels like the winds,

      his servants like flames of fire.”

 But to the Son he says,

   “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.

      You rule with a scepter of justice.

 You love justice and hate evil.

      Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you,

      pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

 He also says to the Son,

   “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth

      and made the heavens with your hands.

 They will perish, but you remain forever.

      They will wear out like old clothing.

 You will fold them up like a cloak

      and discard them like old clothing.

   But you are always the same;

      you will live forever.”

 And God never said to any of the angels,

   “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand

      until I humble your enemies,

      making them a footstool under your feet.”

 Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.

Some thoughts:     

First-century Jews, the people to whom this letter was written, had a fascination with angels and regarded them highly as being involved in God’s messages to his people and particularly in the giving of the law to Moses. (Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19) So the writer of Hebrews wants to make clear that Jesus, God’s Son, is superior to angels. Remember, the Jewish readers are trying to see how Jesus fits into what they have believed. That is why there is so much attention given to Jesus’ position in relation to angels.

In fact, angels are to worship the Son of God. While the Son is related to God the Father, the angels are not. Whenever angels appear in Scripture, it is always to deliver a message from God. The last book in the Old Testament, Malachi, is Hebrew for “messenger.” The angels were carriers of messages from God to his people. 

The angel Gabriel who spoke to Daniel in the First Testament is the same angel who hundreds of years later came to Zechariah to tell of John’s birth. He also came to Mary at the annunciation. An angel came to Joseph to tell him of Mary’s Holy Spirit pregnancy. A host of angels came to the shepherds in the fields to give them the message that a Savior had been born. The Jewish Christians were aware of all of this and now the writer was making an exclamation point, Jesus is not only the messenger of God, he is the message of God personified! To understand God’s message most clearly, focus on Jesus; God has come to earth in human flesh. Can you imagine how difficult this would be to grasp for the Jewish readers? This story did not fit into anything they were expecting or could have anticipated.  

There is no god in the history of the world who has ever communicated personally and directly to humans in human language as a human being. Can you begin to see the challenge of a radical, unimaginable shift and impact on Jewish thinking this truth of ‘God in human flesh’ had as it began to sink in? Giving up the old way of thinking about God was disturbing to many people and a great joy to others. The same is true today. As we study the Scriptures, how is our thinking about God being challenged? Or are we set with a fixed image of who God is poured in cement (with rebar!)? Remember, we are in the process of becoming Christ-like. Process in this case means change. The word for it is sanctification. We need to always be growing in our understanding of our Lord.

Music: “Lo, How A Rose”  Pacific Chorale

Prayer:Almighty God, in this hour of quietness I seek communion with Thee. From the fret and fever of the day’s business, from the world’s discordant noises, from the praise and blame of men, from the confused thoughts and vain imaginations of my own heart, I would now turn aside and seek the quietness of Thy presence. All day long have I toiled and striven; but now, in stillness of heart and in the clear light of Thine eternity, I would ponder the pattern my life has been weaving. Gracious God, I seek Thy presence, beseeching Thee to create a little pool of heavenly peace within my heart ere I lie down to sleep this evening. Let all the day’s excitements and anxieties now give place to a time of inward recollection, as I wait upon Thee and meditate upon Thy dear Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ. Amen.   –John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer, p.27