Better than Angels!

ps10424cAmerican Christians like to read about angels, as the present flurry of news concerning Alex Malarkey’s retraction of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven indicates. The Bible is a much more reliable place to learn about angels, though even there you are likely left with unanswered questions. One of the lengthier passages dealing with angels is Hebrews 1:5-14, but even there the angels though an important topic, are introduced to show the way that Christ is better than they are.

The Son is one of a kind. He alone is addressed as “Son.” Note the force of the negative argument: Scripture must speak in areas of doctrine and worship. Its silence indicates that the title “son” does not belong to angels. Rather, only Christ is addressed this way. Hebrews quotes Psalm 2:7. Sonship, in an additional, messianic sense, began with the resurrection of Christ, Acts. 13:33. “He will be my Son” ultimately is addressed to Christ. The original statement (2 Samuel 7:14) applied to Solomon, David’s son, but that is only a partial fulfillment. Solomon fell far short of the perfection needed. Christ is the heir to David’s throne, Luke 1:32; the triumphal entry. The language, in its fullness, belongs to Christ. Here, as at some other points, Hebrews does not make a theological point and then support it by quoting Scripture. Rather, the quotations from Scripture carry the flow of thought, and he intersperses some comments.

He alone deserves worship. The angels worship him, v.6. The quote is from the Septuagint translation of Deuteronomy 32:43; see also Psalm 97:7. The reference is to the worship of Christ by angelic beings, and the occasion is his entry into the world. Those to whom some of the readers were comparing Christ are commanded to worship him. He is Lord of the angels, v.7. The quote is from Psalm 104:4. Christ is the one who makes the angels what they are. He alone reigns. He holds the scepter, Hebrews 1:8-9. The reference in Psalm 45:6,7 to God is applied to Christ. Christ rules. He is active today, Hebrews 1:3. Take seriously his kingship. Christ is higher than the angels. He is set above his fellows. He creates and judges, Hebrews 1:10-12. Again we have an Old Testament quote, originally applying to Jahweh is spoken of as applying to Christ, Psalm 102:25-27. Christ is Creator, Hebrews 1:2; John 1:1-3. Earth and heaven are temporal, but the Son remains. Christ overlooks the rise and fall of the universe. He rolls up the universe in the way that you fold a garment. Christ is the Judge. How do you stand before him? He alone sits at the right hand, v.13. The place of honor belongs to him alone. Psalm 110 is prominent in Hebrews. Christ rules in spite of the opposition of foes. He is the only King. In a relativistic world that aqttmpts to redefine sexuality and marriage, and even wh t it means to be human, remember that you are who you are because this King has created you and rules over you. Do you acknowledge his rule?

But, what about the angels? The angels serve. Christ makes the angels servants. Hebrews makes a contrast with Jewish speculation about angels. Christ makes the angels servants. The emphasis is on Christ’s activity, on his sovereignty. He makes the angels his servants, Psalm 104:4. The angels are active servants: Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Psalm 103:20. However, to focus on the angels is to focus on the frame, not on the portrait.

Christ sends angels to serve you. The angels do serve. They served Christ, Matthew 4:11, and they serve those who belong to him, Psalm 91:11,12. They serve you, who are heirs of salvation. That salvation is something that you receive, Romans 8:17. You are an heir. Hebrews wants you to consider whether you have taken what Christ offers.

While it’s wonderful to be served by angels, it’s far better to be a fellow-heir with the Son, the true and righteous King.

 

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“How inescapable, once again, is the contrast between the Son and the angels! He is the Lord God; they offer him worship and homage. He is the Creator; they are his creatures. He is infinite in being and power; they are finite and dependent. Though all else should pass away, he remains, ‘the same yesterday, and today, and forever’ (Heb. 13:8).” (Philip Edgecumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 68).

 

“The service of the angels, then is honorable and glorious. But the honor and glory of their service is not to be compared with the honor and glory of the Son’s rule.” (Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 72).

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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