Hebrews 1:4-14

11 Jun 2023

Hebrews 1:4-14

Passage Hebrews 1:4-14

Speaker Ben Tanner


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.


So we're going to have the reading and then Ben's going to come and speak to us. Thanks.

Sorry for the delay.

Hebrews 1414 so he came as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, you are my son? Today I have become your father. Or again, I will be his father, and he will be my son. And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, let all God's angels worship him.

In speaking of the angels, he says he makes his angels spirits and his servants flames of fire. But about the sun, he says, your throne, o God, will last forever and ever. A sceptre of justice will be the sceptre of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore, God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.

He also says, in the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain. They will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe, like a garment, they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.

To which of the angels did God ever say, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Thanks so much, Matthew, for reading that for us. Do keep your service sheets open. That passage on the back of your service sheets. Oh, thanks, Ali. And you can cheque that.

What I'm saying is there in the scriptures. As we go. I'm just going to pray for us, to ask God to help us to understand what's a really rich passage. Father God, thank you so much for this day. Thank you that we can be here together.

Thank you that you're not a God who leaves us guessing as to what you're like. But you show us in your word, Lord. I ask that as we now look at it, that you would show us Jesus, Father. Help us where we underestimate him. Help us to see him in all his glory, where we're tempted to turn from him to other things.

Would we drink richly of the goodness of Jesus, I pray. Amen. Amen. Well, welcome. Let me add my welcome to Ali's.

If we've not met, I'm Ben and really excited to catch up with you over coffee at the end. Please do stick around for that. If you're joining us for the first time today or the first time in a while. We are in the book of Hebrews. We started it last week, and last week we saw that the writer to the Hebrews talks about God speaking in the past in lots of kind of various parts, if you like.

I heard this this week and I thought, it's just so helpful, I couldn't say it. I could not say it. If you like. The Old Testament is a bit like stepping stones. In other words, solid ground.

Absolutely true, but not complete. And the thing about stepping stones is that you walk across them in order to get somewhere, don't you? Jesus Christ is like the solid ground. The final word that you get to, and what we're going to see today is the rise of the Hebrews, is going to take us to a few different stepping stones in order to continue his point, which is, Jesus is better. We might be tempted to go and look anywhere else.

And the writer's point is always, no, Jesus is better. Jesus is better today than the Angels. A few weeks ago, Sheffield Wednesday, that amazing football team went and became the. Became the victors of the playoffs for League one. It was a wonderful moment.

We didn't go, but we watched it on the screen and all that morning, we and the kids were in the car and we were chatting away and we were singing some chants. One of my favourite ones is, we've got Bannon. Barry Bannon. I just don't think you understand. The little scottish man is better than Zidane.

We've got Barry Bannon. And now that might be completely alien to all of you. You might not have a clue who Barry Bannon is. In fact, if you don't, it makes this illustration even better. But we were sat there in the car and we were singing this, and after a while, the kids said, who's Zidane?

Oh, yes, that's quite important. He's one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen. He's a really good footballer. Oh, right. A few moments later, one of the kids said, is he.

Is it rude to Zidane that we say that Barry Bannon is better than him? And we kind of had to say, well, no, just being compared with Zidane is an amazing feat in and of itself. We don't actually think he's better than Zidane, but what the writer to the Hebrews does today is he says, do you know what? I'm going to compare Jesus with the most glorious thing in all creation, in order that he wouldn't just be compared with the angels, but he would far exceed them in our estimation. At verse four, he said.

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he's inherited is superior to theirs. That word superior just keeps coming up in the Book of Hebrews. And in order to do this, what we need to do is we kind of need to think back to how the first readers of this would have understood those words. You see, angels, to us, sounds a bit like the kind of fat baby with a bow and arrow who kind of sits on something. And perhaps that's a slightly unhelpful view of what angels are.

Actually, some of our imagery is also slightly unhelpful. There's a real helpfulness about having some angels around our communion table at the front. We can talk about that and geek out on it at another time. And yet there's a possibility that we misunderstand angels. You see, angels are not tame beings.

They're not small beings. When the Lord God removed Adam and Eve from the garden, he placed an angel there with a flaming sword. This is a scary creature. These are creatures who, when they are given corporeal, visible status, people fall down in front of them absolutely terrified. If an angel was to appear in here right now, we would be on the floor, our knees would be knocking.

It would be really very scary indeed, because angels. Angels are scary. You know, in the Bible, when angels turn up, almost always, what do they start by? Saying? Do not fear.

You know that you're a fairly scary being if that's your opening. You know, if I walk into the pub tonight and I walk in and I'm like, do not fear. People would think. Probably think I was mad, and they might be right. But, you know, you're a scary being when that's the thing that you lead with, don't you?

Here we have angels, massive, scary, supernatural beings. And the writer wants to say, yeah, but Jesus is better. And he does. So looking at those stepping stones, we've got seven quotes from the Old Testament here in this passage. And what he does is he puts three of them into kind of pairs, so six into three pairs, and then puts one at the end.

And he's wanting to say that Jesus is better, really, in four areas, at least. There's more than that, but four areas that we'll look at today. He wants to say, look, jesus is better in relation to his father. Verse five. For to which of the angels did God ever say, you're my son?

Today I become your father? Or again, I will be his father, and he will be my son? The writer of the Hebrews says, look, angels are sometimes known as sons of God. That sometimes happens in the Old Testament collectively. But to none of them does God the father say, you are my son.

And what's happening here is the writer to Hebrews is picking up on something that happens a number of times in the Old Testament scriptures. I don't know if you've ever been on road trips where you've listened to the radio, and if you've got one of those ones where you kind of twist the dial to get to the right station, then what happens is you're kind of listening along to Radio one, maybe, and as you're going along, every so often another radio channel might kind of cut in and you'll hear just a little bit of something else that is going on. As we go through the Old Testament, and particularly a number of times in the psalms, because it's both God's word and David's word, the writer to the Hebrews identifies times when we hear just a little bit of God speaking within the Trinity. It's not by mistake, it's on purpose. And here, as he picks up in some of these psalms, he says, look, yes, this is David writing these psalms.

But actually this is a conversation within the Trinity. As the father turns to the Son, says, you are my son today. I have become your father. He says, this son, Jesus Christ, has a different relation to the Father than anything else than any of the angels. That being said, some of us will be thinking, okay, what's the today bit all about there?

Or again, when God brings him into the introduces his firstborn in verse six, what's that all about? Or the I will be again. First century hearers would have understood this very well. In those days, what you would have is when you had a child, they would grow up. Of course, they were always your child, but they would come to a point when they would be kind of presented to society.

This is Josiah, son of Ben. This is Bethany, daughter of Ben. And they would be presented as, this is my child. And the writers of the Hebrews, just as he spoke last week about Jesus ascending to the right hand of the father, his death and resurrection and ascension, he says, look, that's like God saying, I'm presenting my son here. This is my son.

Today. I will be his father. He's presented. Jesus says, there's a difference between the angels and Jesus. In Isaiah six, we have this beautiful picture of heaven.

And there you get these angels, and they're described as having six wings. And with two, they kind of COVID themselves with two, they fly. That's the kind of standard use for wings, isn't it? And then with the other two, they cover their faces, because even these angels can't look at the very glory of God. There's that hymn, isn't there, about the angels downward cast, their burning eye at mysteries so bright they can't look at the glory of God.

Jesus is the eternal son of God. Think of angels here. Jesus is better. He's got a better relation to his father. He's got a better relation to worship as well.

It says this. There's six. And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, let all God's angels worship him. And speaking of the angels, he says he makes his angels spirits and servants flames of fire. He says, look, there is a difference in worship between angels and the son.

Angels don't receive worship. In fact, there's a time in revelation when John gets kind of all excited and starts bowing down to an angel, and the angel's horrified, says, don't worship me, worship God. The angels don't receive worship. They themselves worship the sun. It'd be a bit like this.

Let's imagine Barry Bannon comes on in here, and he sits down here in this front row. And I don't know about you, I'd quite like to chat with Barry Bannon. I quite like to sit down and say, what was it like there in Wembley Stadium? And you've been there, and you've been an instrumental part and an amazing football. Wow.

It would be great. I would love spending time with Barry Bannon. Imagine I was away chatting with Barry, and then Zidane walks in and sits down. Who would Barry be interested in chatting with? Ben at the front?

No, he'd want to go and speak to Zidane, wouldn't he? He'd be like, no, of course, he's one of the greatest footballers. I want to go and speak to him. Imagine if the press got word of this and they come on down and, wow, you know, all Saints Totley has got, as Barry Bannon and Zidane, both here on the same day. Who would they want?

They'd want to speak to Zidane, wouldn't they? Of course, they'd probably want to have a chat with Barry, too. But Zidane's the main attraction. If we're tempted to worship the angels, the angels themselves say we're worshipping the sun. He's better.

He's better. So he's better in terms of his relation to his father, he's better in terms of his worship, he's better in terms of his eternal nature. That's the next two quotes. Verse eight through to the end of verse twelve. He says, starting off again, the radio channel is tuned in to God speaking to God here.

And he says, your throne, o God, will last forever and ever. Notice how God speaks about this son, o God, he says, he carries on verse nine. Therefore, God, your God, has set you above your companions. Let's pause there for a moment. If we divide creation on the main line, that needs to be divided, God and not God, what we see is that angels and us and everything else here is in the not God category.

And here, this son Jesus is in the God category. He's called God, and that means that he goes on eternally back. Did he see? Sorry. Eternally forward, your throne will last forever and ever.

It means that this Jesus who's on the God side of the category will go on forever and ever. Everything on the created side of the category that is dependent on God. Jesus has life in and of himself. He says that in the book of John, he's self sufficient entirely. Everything else is dependent on that God continuing to uphold it.

Jesus is on the God side. Angels, they're on the created side. He carries on. In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth. Notice again that God, not God, distinction.

This Jesus, he's called Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth.

He says, as you go back, if you keep going back, there was a time when you weren't, and then there was a time when your parents weren't, and then there was a time as you go far enough, back when humans weren't. Keep going back. There was a time when the angels weren't. But no matter how far back you go, you never come to a time when Jesus wasn't. He has always, always, he laid the foundations of the earth.

And no matter how far forward we go, everything else perishes and will wear out like a garment. They'll be rolled up like a robe. They'll be changed. But you remain the same and will never end. As far back as you want to go.

As far forward as you want to go. Jesus sits there remaining as the Lord, the God, the one on that side of the equation. Equation.

Worship angels. They depend on the very one who is better than them. On Jesus you worship angels. They worship the one who is better than them. On Jesus, you worship angels.

They are not the son of God, but they also have a different destiny. Verse 13. To which of the angels did God ever say, sit at my right hand. Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. You see, this son is an heir of all things.

We saw that again last week, didn't we? He's the king of kings, the one who will remain triumphant, the one who sits at God's right hand. His destiny is one of kingship. What's the destiny of the angels? Verse 14.

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? They serve. And that's not a bad thing. It's a wonderful thing, but they're not sitting on the throne. Go through the scriptures, you never see an angel sitting on the throne.

You see Jesus, but amazingly, you also see Jesus people. Now, we don't become all the things that Jesus is, but we do reign with him. And those angels that we might be tempted to worship if we saw them here, they serve not just Jesus, but God's people. It's an incredible place to be. The writer to the Hebrews saying, why would you go anywhere else but to serve this Jesus?

Now, some of us are sitting here and we're thinking, do you know what? I am? That's really interesting. But if I'm really honest with you, Ben, I didn't come in here with a distinct possibility of angel worship. I mean, maybe some of us did.

I don't want to prejudge things, but I'm guessing that might not be where you came in. But here's the thing. What the writer to the Hebrews does is he's like an expert debater. He takes the best of the argument. He says, what's the most worshipful thing that I could possibly think of?

An angel. And I'm going to show you that Jesus is better. If that's true of angels, how much more true is it of those things that we might turn away from Jesus towards? How much more true is it of Jesus that he is better than angels? Yes, he's better than angels.

He's also better than that feeling of having paid the mortgage off that I might run off after. If he's better than angels, he's much, much better than that social status that I clamour for. If he's better than angels, he's much, much better than standing on the pitch of Wembley and having 10,000 people chanting your name. He's better than that business deal. He's better than those things that we run off after.

He's better than those secret sins that we might want to run off after. Jesus is better.

A few years ago, apparently the queen was out for a walk with the former queen was out for a walk with her royal protection officer, a dude called Richard Gryphon. And apparently she often would go for walks when she was up in Scotland with him. And Richard Gryphon recounts the time he said that she would often go for lunchtime picnics and very often it would just be the police officer and her Majesty one of those picnics. I went out with her and we had a lovely picnic and a lovely chat and then we went out for a little walk, just the two of us. Normally there would be no others in the area, I'm told, but on that particular day, Gryphon and the queen came across two Americans on a walking holiday.

It was clear from the moment we first stopped, he said, that they hadn't recognised the queen, which is fine. And the american gentleman was telling the queen where he'd come from and where they were going next and where they'd been to in Britain, he continues, and he could see it coming. Sure enough, he said to her Majesty, where do you live? She said, well, I live in London, but I've got a holiday home just on the other side of these hills. This was followed up with a question about how long the queen had been visiting, to which she replied that she'd been visiting for over 80 years.

So he said, wow, if you've been coming for 80 years, you must have seen the queen.

Gryphon continued, as quick as a flash, she said, well, I haven't, but dick here meets her regularly. So the guy said to me, you met the queen, what's she like? At this point, Gryphon had been working with the Queen for a long time and he gave a cheeky answer that she could be cantankerous but had a lovely sense of humour. Afterward, the American put his arm around Griffin's shoulder and asked the queen to take a picture of them, which she did anyway. He said, we swapped places and I took a picture of them with the queen and we never let on.

We waved goodbye and Her Majesty said to me, I'd love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to his friends in America. Hopefully somebody tells him who I am.

I love thinking of that conversation. You know, you can imagine, can't you, them showing off the faces. Oh, and he was with this, with this lady as well, and they the queen. You can imagine how embarrassing it would be. There you were, you're speaking to the police officer when the queen was right there.

Imagine what it would be like as we walk into the throne room of heaven. And we say, Jesus, you were good. But actually, I was more interested in this or that or how I'm doing or how my business is doing, how my family is doing. Yes, I could have listened to you. But in my eyes, something else was better.

Writer to the Hebrews says, don't do that. Jesus is superior. And amazingly, you get to enjoy him as a Christian. Let's pray together, shall we?

In vain, the firstborn seraphine tries to sound the depths of love divine Father, there is such a difference between your son and the angels. There is such a marked difference between your son and anything or anyone else that we would possibly put in his place. Show us, as Ali was talking about earlier, where we are playing with the rapper and missing the toy, where we're chatting to the bodyguard and missing the queen. Oh, father, I pray that you would enlarge our view of Jesus in your eyes. The answer here is not to make angels less grand, but to see that Jesus is more.

It's not to make the things of this world dimmer, but to make Jesus brighter in our eyes. And so would you do that? Would we enjoy him, and would we glorify him as the king of kings, the one son of God, the eternal begotten, not created son. And like the angels, would we downward bend our glistening eye at mysteries so bright, for we pray it in his name, which is above all names. Amen.