Reader: “Your throne, O God,”
Response: “endures forever and ever.”
Scripture: Hebrews 1:8-12
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.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
During this season of Lent, we turn attention to Jesus’ journey to the cross bringing about redemption for the whole created order, that is, not only the salvation of people, but also the restoration of a fallen creation. It is always important to view any aspect of Jesus’ life and ministry in the larger context than a single event. In our passage in Hebrews, we read of this fuller picture. Let’s take in a closer look at the structure.
In contrasting the superiority of Jesus over the angels, who were held in highest esteem by the Jews, the writer of Hebrews harkens to two of the Psalms, 45 and 102. He addresses three roles Jesus plays, that of ruler, creator and ultimate judge of all creation. Jesus is addressed as God and reigns from an everlasting throne. Jesus is our divine, eternal Ruler. He rules with perfect justice which he loves. Because of our limitations, it doesn’t always look that way. We do know he hates evil. But again, from our finite perspective, it seems that evil often escapes justice.
Of Christ, the psalmist writes that God the Father has anointed you, remembering that Messiah means “the anointed one.” Throughout the Scriptures, oil often represents the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Not only is Jesus the Ruler, he is Creator as this middle portion of our text declares. This material is taken from Psalm 102. The earth and all the heavens are the handiwork of the Son of God.
Think of everything you see as you go through today as belonging to Jesus. I often go for walks at night and wonder at the vastness and beauty of the sky. I saw Mars so clearly last night. It’s 140 million miles away. Traveling at the speed of light, it would take about 12 ½ minutes to get there! It takes a second and a half to get to the moon! The speed of light is circling the earth at the equator seven times per second! Astronomy measures distances in light “years,” the distance light travels in a year at the speed of light! Our Jesus spoke the universe into being! Sometimes I think the purpose of the vastness of the universe is to give finite people a sense of the magnitude of our God. Think of the sheer difference in size of one person compared to the scope of the cosmos! This creation will perish but he is eternal. He is our God! To help us out in every way, God became incarnate in Jesus Christ.
Finally, our Savior is also Judge and will bring creation to an end. He folds it up like a piece of clothing. There are some fascinating mathematical principles here in regards to “folding up the skies,” but are too complicated to explain in this forum and are outside our purposes. We have to leave it that our God is beyond what we can grasp, yet simple enough that a child can understand the gospel.
Our pericope closes with the foundational “you are always the same forever,” harkening to the later passage in Hebrews, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb.13:8) The word “forever” occurs three times in this passage; forever Ruling, forever beyond creation, forever Savior. In all the swirl of whatever is going on in the world today, Jesus is the same solid, eternal Rock beyond the ages. We can trust him as our ruler, creator and judge. We’re in good hands!
Music: “The Omnipotence” Schubert Hour of Power Choir
You are God and we praise you; you are the Lord and we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father; all creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, cherubim and seraphim sing in endless praise, Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might; Heaven and earth are full of your glory. The glorious company of apostles praise you; the noble fellowship of prophets praise you; the white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the whole world the holy church acclaims you, Father of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit advocate and guide. To you eternal God, three in one we give you praise. Amen.-Te Deum, 4th century