Dear radio friends,
In our program last week we saw that God has spoken very beautifully and powerfully in His Son, that is, in the giving of His Son to be born for us sinners in the manger of Bethlehem. Mary, the virgin, held in her arms Him who is God of gods and yet, now, united with us in the flesh. He is the great I AM who, with His hand, would calm the storm, heal the lame, give sight to the blind, raise the dead, and who would go to the cross to bear the unbearable burden of our sins and earn for us the unimaginable grace and blessing of the pardon of all of our sins and everlasting righteousness.
And, last week, we were called by the apostle in Hebrews 1:1-3 to hear the Word that God has spoken, the marvelous Word that He has spoken in His Son in the incarnation, when the eternal Son was made flesh, the wonderful Word that God has spoken to us in the birth of Jesus Christ. For in that birth, God has spoken powerfully of His eternal love, as the apostle Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Today we want to continue looking into this fascinating first chapter of the book of Hebrews, where we see the excellency of Jesus Christ, or the supremacy of God’s Son, the majesty and the glory of Jesus Christ, whom angels, the purest created beings that we know, worship. There is enough for us in the manger of Bethlehem to be in awe over to all eternity. Therefore, there is also a distinct warning as we look into the Scriptures concerning the majesty of Jesus Christ and the wonder of His birth. It is a warning against complacency. It is a warning against dullness and apathy. Complacency toward Jesus Christ is tantamount to blasphemy. Apathy toward Jesus Christ is blasphemy. Indifferent to the Son of God who has saved us? Indifferent to the One whom angels worship? If sorrows, trials, and burdens so weigh down upon us that our hearts cannot be moved to glorify God’s grace in His Son, then shame upon us.
The thinking of the Hebrews, that is, the converted Jewish Christians, had evidently gone haywire concerning angels. Something was askew in their minds. Perhaps they were thinking that Jesus was an angel. That something was wrong in their thinking is seen by how much space the apostle Paul gives to setting things straight in chapter 1:4-2:9. There he is getting the thinking straight on who Jesus Christ is and also the relation He has to angels. He is talking there about how angels worship God the Son.
Who are angels? The angels here in this passage, we are told, have two purposes. They were made, first of all, to glorify Jesus Christ. Secondly, they were made to serve you and me. They lift up our eyes to the majesty of Jesus Christ. They magnify Him for who He is. They point us in the right direction. They show the amazing grace and glory that God is revealing in His Son Jesus Christ. But angels, secondly, have a ministry, a ministry to us Christians who live in the twenty-first century and who are heirs of salvation by God’s grace. They are given to reveal to us the sufficiency of Jesus and to minister unto us.
Now, in verse 6 of Hebrews 1 we read the following: “And again, when he (that is, God) bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” And they did. Luke 2:13, 14 tells us that there was suddenly, with the angel who had appeared to the shepherds, a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest.” The apostle Paul in Hebrews 1:6 is quoting from Psalm 97:7, where we read, “worship him, all ye gods,” that is, all ye angels. And, throughout the whole chapter of Hebrews 1 the apostle Paul is quoting from the Psalms, the book that the Hebrew Christians would know the best. And he is quoting from the book of Psalms to show how excellent is Jesus Christ. “All ye angels,” record the Psalms, “all ye angels, ye innumerable company of angels, ye myriad of angels, worship Him, God the Son.”
And they did. On the night in which Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem there was never anything like it since the creation of the world, when the sons of God, the angels, sang the praises and the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Oh, what that must have been like on the hills of Bethlehem! The angels had been praising God the Son since their creation. They had been privy to God’s eternal counsel and plan. They knew that God’s grace would be seen in the giving of His Son into human flesh for us. And now, they see it come to pass. They see the wonderful grace of God taking place now upon earth when Mary laid Him in a manger and God laid upon His Son in the flesh all the iniquity of God’s children. They saw this amazing grace and they praised God. They saw Jesus as the victorious Son.
We need to follow carefully what the apostle Paul is saying if we are to grasp that the angels worshiped Jesus in Bethlehem as the victorious Son of God. In verse 3 of Hebrews 1, the apostle’s point is that Christ, after He had purged our sins, that is, accomplished the will of the Father for our redemption, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high enthroned over all things. He gave His life to purify us from our sins. And then God highly exalted Him, through the ascension, and put Jesus Christ at His right hand.
Then we have verse 4: “Being made (that is, Christ) so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” So Jesus Christ is so much better than the angels. How is He better? The answer is: so much better as He hath obtained an inheritance, having been given a name more excellent than they.
Now, what does that mean? In the Old Testament, when a king was enthroned, an acclamation was given by a prophet that now he was actually taking up his throne and his inheritance (which had been his by birth). When Jesus Christ had triumphed over sin and Satan and ascended, God made an acclamation: “You are My Son, above the kings of earth enthroned.” And so the apostle says in Hebrews 1:5, “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”
To which of the angels did God say, “Thou art My Son”? Jesus is so much better than the angels in that He is declared to be God’s Son, heir of all the kingdom of God. He is declared the victorious Son. He had always been God’s Son, but now, through the manger, through the cross, and through His ascension, He is the victorious Son. He is the One who has triumphed over our sin. He is the One who hath fulfilled the will of His Father. God now declares that He is the victorious Son. He is the death-defeating Son. He is the sin-crushing Son. To which of the angels did God ever say that?
There is a great gulf between Jesus and the angels. The angels worship Him as the victorious Son of God, as the Son of God who is exalted and who is the conqueror. Already in the manger, when He is within the arms of the virgin Mary, already then the angels saw Him as the One riding forth as the champion of God, powered by God’s love, motivated by God’s grace to engage in the battle against our sin and to obtain the eternal victory. And therefore, when God brought Jesus into the world, He said, “Let all the angels of God worship Him as My victorious Son.”
This is very important. There is a huge issue in the world today. Do you worship Him, Jesus, as the victorious Son of God, clothed in majesty and honor? This is the test whether or not we are the Christian church. This is what separates Christianity from Judaism and from Islam and from the cults. These all say that Jesus is not God the Son, Jesus is not to be worshiped. They belittle Jesus. Are you a Christian? Are we the Christian church? Then we bow in worship with the angels before Jesus Christ as the only Oneworthy of worship, the only Savior, the only One exalted, the only One who is the conqueror of sin. There is no other conqueror of sin and therefore there is no other worthy of honor, worship, and glory than Jesus Christ.
Is your faith real? Do you worship Him? Do you stand in awe before Him? Are you filled with trembling at His majesty? Do you feel within your heart the impulse of His grace that you must obey, serve, and honor Him in all that you do? He is God’s victorious Son.
The angels worship Him. They worship Him as the enthroned God. That is what the apostle Paul brings out in the verses that are following here in Hebrews 1. That is very important because there would be lurking in us the question: I thought we were to worship God only. Jesus said to Satan when he tempted Him: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.” The apostle Paul knows that. So he goes on to say to us that Jesus is God.
We read in Hebrews 1:7, “And of the angels he (God) saith, Who maketh his angels spirits (winds), and his ministers (angels) a flame of fire.” He has made His angels to go about in power and flaming fire of holiness and purity. But, verse 8, in contrast: “unto the Son he (God) saith, Thy throne, O God (God calls His Son O God), is for ever and ever.” There the apostle is quoting from Psalm 45:6, 7. That is staggering. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever…therefore God, even thy God, hath blessed thee,” says the apostle. In other words, Paul is quoting from the Psalms to show very clearly that Jesus, who came in the manger, is God. He is God of gods. God says to Him, “Thou art God.”
Yes, the angels then see Him as the victorious Son of God upon the throne. But they see Him as God. Do you worship Jesus as God? The beautiful mystery of the Trinity is that Jesus, God’s Son, is God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God in the flesh. And the angels worship Him as God in the flesh. Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you know that He is God? Do you obey Him as God? Or is Jesus Christ merely an idea, a notion, a name? Do you swear by His name? Do you use the words “Jesus Christ”? Do you take God’s name in vain?
The angels worship Him as the enthroned God. They worship His, says the apostle as he goes on to quote more of the Old Testament Scriptures in verses 10-12 of Hebrews 1, they worship Him as the creator of the universe. All that can be said of God as the creator of the universe can be said of Jesus. They worship Him as the preserver of all things right now (v. 3). Jesus Christ upholds all things by the word of His power.
The book of Hebrews has a most exalted view of Jesus. He is God’s Son. He is the victor over sin. He is the enthroned God. Our minds whirl. Our minds swim in all of the majesty. He is God of gods, true God, second person of the Trinity. He is enthroned, He is the creator, He is now made flesh for us. He is born of a virgin to do for us what we could not do. He is the Lord of the cross. He is not an angel. He is not merely a man. He is not God-like. He is not the best man ever. He is my God and my Savior and myRedeemer.
Do you have an appropriate sense of reverence and awe for Jesus Christ? Or do you belittle Him by neglecting Him?
The psalmist says in Psalm 2: “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way.” Jesus Christ is the treasure, Savior God. He is the only joy. He is the only true master. You are to think upon Him and you are to keep close to Him in fellowship throughout every day. He is the One worthy of adoration, trust, praise, and glory.
When you hear a comedian, perhaps a comedian who wants to make people laugh, tell a joke, and he says to the audience that as a little boy, when he grew up, he thought his name was Jesus Christ because his father would say, “Jesus Christ, where have you been?”—when you hear that, do you think that is funny? Do you get drawn in by that? Do you listen? That kind of “funny” destroys the universe. The trivialization of Jesus Christ is the horrible sin that will bring the destruction of this world. The world is going to come to ruin by trifling with God’s Son, with His infinite holiness, and infinite honor, majesty, and glory as the one and only Savior to be worshiped, trusted, honored, and obeyed.
How great is Jesus Christ to you? He is creator, He is God. He is victor. He upholds all things at this very moment. He is the One who has purified us from all of our sins through a perfect offering upon the cross. He is almighty God. Bow down and worship.
Do you have a passion for the supremacy of God in Jesus Christ His Son? Or when you read the Bible, do you flip over the pages and go away soon after you have read the Bible and love what the world loves? Are you saturated with His glory and power?
And do we want so to live that when others see us called by His name, they too might honor and magnify Him as God and Savior?
The point of the passage of Hebrews 1, as I have said now a couple of times, is that Jesus Christ is no angel. He is not merely a great man. He is God. The victorious Son of God. The enthroned God. And angels do His bidding.
The apostle says, “Are they not ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who are the heirs of salvation?” Angels worship Jesus Christ by doing Jesus’ will. And Jesus sends them forth, says the apostle, for you, child of God. You are the target. There is one Lord Jesus Christ. There is one victor. He is God. He is to be worshiped. There are myriads of angels, and He sends them forth as His servants to minister unto you and me who are the heirs of gracious salvation.
Angels surround us, according to the Scriptures. They are sent to minister to us. The apostle Paul refers to this only briefly in I Corinthians 11:10, when he speaks of how worship services should be conducted with reverence. He says this must be the case because of angels. Every Sunday, when the church worships, angels are present. They are present throughout our lives. Jesus said that the angels of God behold the little ones who trust in Him. The psalmist said in Psalm 91 that He hath given His angels charge concerning us. Elisha the prophet said to his servant, “There are more with us than there be with them.” Children, angels watch you sing in church. They observe the church services. Maybe they contend with demons. Angels are hushed when the Word is read. They rejoice over the tears of repentance caused by God’s gracious work. They are ashamed whenever there is indifference to the majesty of Jesus Christ.
And angels, then, as I said earlier, point us in the right direction. They were there when God the Son came into the world in Bethlehem. They guide us, they show us. They burst forth in praise and adoration before Him. They saw God’s Son come mighty to save. They saw Him bow His head under our woe and sin. They saw Him come in love to deliver us poor sinners and to redeem our souls unto God. They saw the majesty of God’s Son now in flesh. And they marveled over the wonder, the infinite wonder, of the love of God.
Angels that night worshiped Him. And they continue to do so. Angels lead the way. All hail the power of Jesus’ name; O magnify Him; glory to the Son of David; Hosanna to the Son of David. All angels bow down before His majesty. Son of God, conqueror.
And, child of God, redeemed by His precious blood, saved by His irresistible grace, child of God, why should the angels outdo you? Oh, let us praise Him!
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy precious Word and we pray that Thou wilt now bind it to our hearts and souls. In Jesus’ name, Amen.