CHRIST’S RELATIONSHIP TO GOD AND TO ALL THINGS PROVEN FROM THE PSALMS (continued)Hebrews 1:5
The writer cites one more key-passage from the Psalms to prove the point that God never spoke to the angels nor of the angels as He does concerning His Son, the Christ of God who came into the world. He quotes the very significant passage from II Samuel 7:14 which reads as follows: “and again: I shall be unto him unto a Father, and He shall be unto me a Son.”
This passage is found in a very significant setting in the history of Israel and of King David. It is a direct word of God through the prophet Nathan to David. It contains the great promise of God to David concerning David’s throne; David’s throne shall endure forever. And God’s word is here a correction both of King David and of the prophet’s word to David. Nathan and David were both in error, even in their best intentions and in their holiest aspirations.
The situation was as follows. David was, at the time here referred to, established as king in Jerusalem. All the enemies had been subdued by the LORD before David and his armies. It was “when king David sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies.” It was then that David had concern about the LORD’S house, particularly concerning the Ark of God. That Ark of God “dwelleth between curtains.” David had brought up the Ark from the house of Abinadab, and finally the Ark had come to its resting-place in Zion. David had rebuilt the tent and placed the Ark in its place in the holiest of all. But now David is troubled. For David was living in a beautiful house; he dwelt in a palace made of cedar wood brought from Lebanon. The contrast of tent and palace disturbed David’s soul. The result was that he resolved to build a house for the LORD, so that the Ark of the Covenant might too dwell in a more respectable dwelling place. Before he actually proceeded to build this contemplated house for the LORD he inquired of the prophet Nathan. Said he “See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.” (II Samuel 7:2) And Nathan had given his blessing to this planned building of a house of cedar for the Lord.
However, they were both in error. They did not really understand the blueprint of God for the New Jerusalem. They were thinking only in the terms of the earthly city. They did not look to the end of the promise of God to Abraham, not understanding the design of God in his promise to Abraham, that is, they did not see that the entire institution of the types and shadows in general, and of the earthly tabernacle in particular, was “till the Seed should come.” (Galatians 3:19) They were not submitting their thinking and planning to the fact that God is the architect and builder of the city which has foundations. (Hebrews 11:10) They are really thinking the things of man and not the things of God; High and noble as their plans and thoughts seemed to be, they were nonetheless not according to God. They were both very much in error.
It was here that the Lord spoke in “visions.” (Psalm 89:19) God unfolds the deep things of the Spirit at this point and causes the searchlight of prophecy to shine across the ages of Israel’s history to come. As the Psalmist puts it “I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” This chosen one is the Son of God, the Heir of all things. And the Lord came and spoke to Nathan the prophet. He speaks to him the same basic message and promise which He made to the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He sheds new light upon this same promise here in this critical hour of David’s resolution to build the LORD’S Altar a house of cedar. Later, many years later, the LORD will have Isaiah prophesy concerning this promise as it relates to the LORD’s dwelling-place. Cries the prophet in Isaiah 66:1-2, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” David would build the LORD such an house on earthly mount Zion in the typical land of Canaan. But he is wrong. Many years later Stephen will stand before the Sanhedrin in this very city and proclaim in their ears the words of God spoken through Isaiah and paraphrase it as follows “But the Most High does not dwell (kataoikei) in something made by man’s hands” (Acts 7:47-48) All attempts to make the Lord dwell permanently in such a house must by its very logic lead to idolatry, and deny that God is a Spirit, and that they who worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth. Thus did Jesus proclaim the hour at hand when men would no longer worship on either Samaria’s mount nor on the earthly mount in Jerusalem. (John 4:21) Such is the Divine design of God in the history of David and of the Ark which dwelt “within curtains.”
There is one point in which the Lord agrees with David’s purpose. The Ark is here not really at the final resting-place. Truly, a house must be built; however, the Lord will not allow David to build Him a house, which is impossible. Says the LORD through Nathan to David “Furthermore, I tell thee that Jehovah will build thee an house.” (II Samuel 7:11; I Chronicles 17:10b) And this house did not really refer to Solomon’s building of the beautiful temple of cedar overlaid with gold, but most emphatically referred to the house of many mansions which Christ prepared for us in the heavens. (John 14:1-2).
In the first place because God in all of the dealings with Israel never spoke to them concerning their building him a house. In all the wanderings in the desert from Sinai on, through the period of the judges till this very day, did He ever speak of Israel building Him a house? Preposterous! Nay, it is just the other way around. Moses made the tabernacle after the pattern which the LORD showed him on the mountain. The earthly was but a pattern of the better and the heavenly. We shall have abundant opportunity to see more of this in the book of Hebrews. Our point is that the entire book of Hebrews and the New Testament teaching is contained in this Word of God through Nathan to David. And the very heart of this passage in II Samuel 7:1-17 is given here in Hebrews 1:5b. The key to the understanding of the promise concerning David’s Son to build the house for David is here given. This Son is not really Solomon but must be the Christ. He stands in the relationship to God of a son; He is the Heir of all things. Such is the place of the Son in God’s covenant with man. For the “house” which the LORD will build is the tabernacle of God with Man in Immanuel, God-with-us! The Son is here not viewed primarily as the Son in relationship to the Father in the inter-trinitarian life, but rather as the Son in the flesh, a Brother amongst the brethren, the First-born Son, the First-born of all creatures as the First-born out of the dead! Thus he has received a name above the angels He is the builder of the house, because he is God in the flesh. As God spake to and concerning this Son, the Heir, he never spoke concerning any of the angels. Only concerning this Son in the flesh did God speak to David saying “He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (II Samuel 7:13) Hear, then, the angel Gabriel speak to Mary in the annunciation of Christ’s birth, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)
GOD’S WORD CONCERNING THE ANGELS AND CONCERNING THE CHRIST CONTRASTED Hebrews 1:7-9,14
The writer contrasts the Word of God concerning angels and concerning the Son in these verses. The writer once more does so by quoting from the Psalms. He also makes a positive statement in the form of a question at the end of this Chapter concerning the angels, where we read ‘”Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them, who shall be heirs of salvation?” This question is put in such a form that an affirmative answer is presupposed.
Perhaps we should best begin by calling attention to the implication of this question in verse 14. The writer here speaks of the very nature and office of the angels of God. Angels, as their very name indicates are messengers, messengers from God’s throne to earth to the heirs of the promise, more particularly as these heirs are about to inherit salvation. This places the angels in one bold stroke in a subordinate position not only to Christ the great Heir, but also in a subordinate position to the heirs with Christ, the church. They are thoroughly adapted to their office. They are spirits and their movement is not limited to the earthly as is that of the saints on earth. They are pictured as ascending and descending from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth in Jacob’s dream at Bethel. (Genesis 28:10-22) They do appear in the form of a man at times and at different occasions in the Scriptures. But ever they are “spirits,” moral rational spirits who minister in God’s temple. Theirs is a formal ministry. It is the heavenly liturgy (leiturgika) before the throne of God, as they ever behold the face of the heavenly Father of the heirs of salvation. (Matthew 18:10) and they ever rejoice over the repentance of one sinner (Luke 15:10) and they stoop down in rapt attention beholding the work of God in the suffering to come upon the Christ and the eternal glory to follow. (I Peter 1:12) They are interested “spirits” who see the manifold wisdom of God displayed in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:10) And these angels ever minister to the needs of the saints, even as they ministered (diakonia) to the needs of Christ while on earth in his humiliation and suffering. (Matthew 4:11)
How could God ever have spoken to the exalted ministering spirits about His throne as He speaks to His Son? Nay, He could only command the angels to bow down and worship and glorify the Son as they glorify God Himself. Yes, all the angels of God must worship Christ, the First-begotten of God. Thus did God speak through David the prophet in Psalm 97:7where we read “Confounded be all they that serve him all ye gods.” The KJV here translates from the original Hebrew Scriptures. The writer to the Hebrews here quotes from the Septuagint translation which reads “worship him all ye angels of him” but adds “angels of God.” We hold that the Spirit here interprets the sense and meaning of the Psalm as given in the Hebrew version of the Psalm. The contrast in the Psalm is “idol” or the “Son.” If he is not the eternal “Son” then worshipping him would be idolatry. But now he is exalted above the angels. No angels will permit any man to worship them (Revelation 22:8-9) But the Son of God in the flesh can be worshipped. All the angels must; they are not in a class with the Son of God. In this Son dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily. Such is the Christ as he came into the flesh, the effulgence of God’s glory, the expressed image of His being.