GOD’S WORD CONCERNING THE ANGELS AND CONCERNING THE CHRIST CONTRASTED (continued)
In quoting Psalm 97:7 the writer speaks of God’s bringing in the “Firstbegotten into the world.” We observe that the term Firstbegotten is not the same as “Onlybegotten.” The latter refers to the personal subsistency of the person of the Son in the intertrinitarian life of God, and the relationship of the eternal Son to the person of the Father and of the Holy Spirit in the Godhead, while the former refers to the place of the eternal Son in God’s decree and providence in history. This is evident from such a Scripture passage as Romans 829 “…that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Christ is, according to Colossians 1:15, the Firstborn of all creatures; he is such as the Firstborn out of the dead, (Idem 18) and as he is exalted at the right hand of the Majesty of God on high.
Evidently the bringing in of the Firstborn of God refers not simply to his birth and nativity at Bethlehem, (born from the virgin Mary), but must refer to Christ’s exaltation, and final glorious manifestation in the last day, when the Son of Man shall come with all the holy angels (Matthew 25:31). Truely this greatness of the ‘Firstborn does not wait absolutely till that time of the final return of Christ in his Parousia and the eternal state of all things. How could it! Jacob already sees this greatness of the Christ in relationship to the angels in his dream at Bethel, (Genesis 28:10-12) and Christ refers to this at the very beginning of his earthly ministry when he says to Nathanael “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, (in an abiding state of being open) and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:51) Did not the very heavens open at Bethlehem- Ephratha in that wondrous night of Jesus’ birth when an angel announced the glad-tidings, “For unto you is born this day a Savior which is Christ the Lord?” And were there not suddenly a multitude of the heavenly hosts with the shepherds, saying “Glory to God in the highest ?” And was this song not really the song of Israel, all through the Old Testament dispensation, and has it not been sung with more understanding and hope ever afterwards? However, how much greater will this song be enhanced when Jesus shall sit upon his throne in his kingdom of glory in the ages to come. Then we shall see him in all his glory face to face – then when the sacerdotal prayer as recorded in John 17:24 will be fulfilled, the holy utterance from his pure lips “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of she world.” Such love the LORD never had for an angel; all the angels must fall prostrate before him. The royal diadem has been placed by God himself upon his head; he is crowned Lord of all!
THE EVERLASTING THRONE AND KINGDOM OF CHRIST Hebrews 1:8-9.
All Unitarians and monarchians, past and present, deny the diety of Christ. Yes, they will allow him to be “divine” because he is so human. These infidels are legions upon legions. They are antichrists who deny the faith of the fathers. (I John 2:18;4:3) These must not be allowed to enter our home, neither must we bid them Godspeed. Nevertheless Psalm 45:6 clearly teaches that Jesus is “God.” He is the true God and eternal life. (I John 5:20) That is exactly what the Spirit of Christ calls him in Psalm 45:6 as quoted here in Hebrews 1:8, where we read “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” And this “O God” is addressed to the Son! Yes, there it stands: God, the Son. He is very God of God. His is an everlasting throne, kingdom and dominion. All other thrones in history toppled, but His throne shall stand forever. His is the kingdom, power and glory forever.
The very idea and nature of a “throne” is that it represents the rule and dominion of God over the creature. God does not have a throne in relationship to Himself. A throne finds its place in the inhabitable world of God. And with the throne belongs the scepter the emblem of divines authority to rule over the church and over the nations. This scepter is a scepter of righteousness. The Christ of God loved righteousness, even in the depths of hell. In his blood and atonement it is established forever.
Only such a throne, established in righteousness, can endure forever. And therefore the kingdoms of the world always disappear. Such was the case with the great kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. It was because the iniquity of their sin was found out and had come up before God. However, the writer to the Hebrews also signals another viewpoint here. It is that the heavens and the earth, which are now, are in their very nature such that they cannot endure forever. The writer quotes Psalm 102:25-27 and draws a contrast between the earthly present constitution and nature of things and the abiding kingdom of Christ which shall not end. When this present creation shall cease, the kingdom of Christ abides in a kingdom in the New heaven and in the new earth. Writes the Psalmist in the afore-mentioned Psalm “Of old thou hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” Thus the eternal kingdom of the everlasting king is contrasted with all that is transitory and fades away. Here are strong teachings concerning the last things on God’s agenda with the world, and concerning the eternal state. This is the death-blow to all the cultism of post-millenialism of every hue and color, which deny the resurrection, and the renewal of all things. The kingdom of Christ is heavenly. The very heavens under which we dwell and the earth which has soaked up the blood of saints will vanish away and grow old. God will change it for new garments and raiments to exhibit His glory in Christ.
The reason why the earthly must vanish is that it is not eternal. It is itself a part of the history of the coming of the Son of God. Over against this we have the eternity of God and of the Christ of God. God does not change and His years do not end. Such a King is given us from the God of Israel, who is the God of the living, and not of the dead.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?”
KEYNOTE EXHORTATION TO THE HEBREWSHebrews 2:1God has spoken. He had spoken of old time by the prophets to the fathers. In these last days He has spoken unto us in His Son. That is the prejudice of faith; it is the end of all contradiction; truly is is the last and only court of appeal. Well may we take that speaking of God seriously. When the writer says “therefore” he stops to exhort the readers to take this word of God seriously by pointing out the sanction which God gives to His word both in the Old and in the New Testaments. If the word of God was to be taken seriously in the Old Testament, it must be taken far more seriously in the New Testament. Here we see the warning finger of God raised to us.
The writer to the Hebrews will utter more warnings in this letter which must be heeded by the hearers. However, in our passage the warning is of a general nature; it is not concerning some particular fault or sin, but refers to the basic attitude toward God, His word and toward those who have spoken it, be they angels or men. For it is with the living God with whom we have to do. For if we do not have or maintain this basic attitude of faith. and obedience to the word of God, all the instruction which the writer has given, and which he will give together with the admonitions will be of no avail. Then the readers and hearers will be like an empty vessel, because they are like the forgetful hearers. The figure of speech employed in the Greek is that of “flowing through” like waters through a sieve.
Who does not think in this connection of the repeated warnings of Moses to the children of Israel to whom the oracles of God had been intrusted. Writes he in Deut. 4:9“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget these things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them to thy sons and thy. son’s sons, specially the day thou stoodest before Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.” As Moses warned Israel of old time, standing at the beginning of the era of the types and shadows, so the writer to the Hebrews warns the church in the New Testament dispensation in, regard to all the words of God, both in their promisory nature and in their fulfillment.
Moses’ exhortation was the “keynote” for all the prophets after them. In this passage we hear the echo, so to speak, of that warning of Moses to the church of the New Testament dispensation, for it is the same God speaking in both of them.
Moreover, here this necessity of hearing and heeding is intensified. The reason is that God’s speaking in His Son is so much greater and more glorious than it could ever be in Moses. Hence, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which have been heard, preached in the gospel. For the greater the things heard, the greater the disobedience and the divine retribution by the sovereign Judge of all the earth.
THE THINGS SPOKEN THROUGH ANGELS STEDFAST AND SURE Hebrews 2:2 There were many appearances of angels in the Old Testament dispensation to the fathers, and none of these appearances of individual angels to the saints of old need be excluded from what is here stated. Yet it seems to me that the writer here has reference to the particular appearance of the angels at the occasion of the law-giving at Sinai. This is evident not only from the fact of the distinction made in Heb. 1:1 of the twofold speaking of God, respectively to the fathers and to US, but equally evident from the fact that the entire book of Hebrews contrasts the Old Covenant under the types and shadows with the New Testament in Christ Jesus, a King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Since this Old Covenant begins with Moses at Mount Sinai with the law-giving, and since there on Horeb God gave the law through angels in the hand of a Mediator, Moses, we hold that the writer is speaking of what God spoke through angels to Moses and thus to us at Mount Sinai. (Gal. 3:19b)