SCRIPTURE: HEBREWS 1
Today we get to start a new book, the Book of Hebrews. It is a general epistle. That means it was not written to a particular individual like 1 Timothy was for example. It also was not written to a specific church like Colossians was for example. Instead it was written to a group of people that were scattered around like 1 Peter was for example. By the title of the book, we can assume that this letter was written to Christ followers who came out of Judaism. There is also some evidence that it was also written to some extent to those who still adhered to the Jewish religion. In other words, this letter could have been used as an apologetic to help convince those who were not saved to accept Jesus.
In many ways, the book of Hebrews has one theme. That theme is Jesus is better. Throughout the book we see Jesus compared to a lot of different things including a lot of things and people from the Old Testament. But it doesn’t matter what you compare Jesus to. Jesus is better.
As the book opens we read where God had spoken many times in many ways. The many times idea speaks to the progressive prophetic revelations of the Old Testament. Those revelations were not constant. There were times God would raise up a prophet and speak through him. There were other times in the Old Testament that it seems God was not speaking additional revelation through a prophet. The many ways idea speaks to things like covenants, a legal code, a burning bush, angels, a fiery mountain, dreams, visions, signs, wonders, a still, small voice, etc. One thing to remember here is all of this evidence of how much God truly does want us to know Him and to know what He has to say.
But now God has spoken to us through His Son. Jesus is not merely the instrument through which God’s message is communicated. He is actually the message itself. God’s final revelation is the person of His Son. So, even as important as the Old Testament prophets were, Jesus is better. By the way, the messages of the prophets were progressive. The message of Jesus is final. There is no further revelation from God.
In verse 4, we are reminded that Jesus is superior to the angels. The Bible is full of angelic activity: some of it from fallen angels; some of it from the good guys. The holy angels accomplished a lot throughout the pages of Scripture. By the way, I think they are still accomplishing a lot today. But none of them is as great as Jesus. And none of them could accomplish what Jesus did. Much of the rest of the chapter has to do with a comparison between Jesus and the holy angels.
You might wonder why so much space is given to the comparison of Jesus and angels. There are a couple of reasons. One is there is some evidence of angel worship among the Jewish people at that time. The other reason is just the prominent place angels held in the theology of first century Jewish thought. As a result, those with a Jewish background needed to be reminded of the superiority of Jesus.
That doesn’t mean angels weren’t or aren’t important. As verse 14 says, they are ministering spirits sent to serve in behalf of those who are saved and who will one day inherit the fullness of their salvation.