Let’s turn to the first chapter of Hebrews.
There has been quite a bit of discussion as to the authorship of this book of Hebrews. And many different suggestions have been offered by different scholars. Needless to say, we don't know. There was no autograph on it. So we don’t know for certain who was the author of the book of Hebrews. It is my own personal opinion that Paul the apostle was the author. It seems to have a Pauline style. However, that is only my opinion, which is worthless. It's only what God says that you can put your real confidence in. So, whenever I say something, I like to let you know that it is my own thought, and you can throw it out if you want and say, “Well, that's just what he thinks.” You should be doing that. You should prove all things and hold fast that which is good. For what it is worth, it would seem that Paul was the author to me, but a lot of people see different authorships in any number. The author is not so important, because, in reality, the Holy Spirit is the author. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16).
This is a book written, of course, as the title would indicate to the Hebrews, to the Hebrew believers. Now, in the church in Jerusalem there remained a strange and interesting adherence by many within the church to the Jewish laws. In fact, they were seeking to press the Jewish laws on the Gentiles. At times they would come to the Gentile believers, such as those in Antioch, and they would disrupt the fellowship declaring to them unless you are circumcised and you keep the law of Moses you can’t be saved. Within Jerusalem there was a mixture of Judaism and Christianity. They remained Jews in their cultural practices, in their keeping of the cultural aspects of the Jewish law: not eating with Gentiles, the forbidding of eating certain meats, and so forth. This was a continued practice within the church of Jerusalem, going to the temple, going to temple worship. There were those who had, for a time, embraced Jesus Christ, who were actually going back to offering sacrifices in the temple worship again.
So the author of the book of Hebrews addresses the issue of Hebrew Christianity, and of the danger of turning away from Jesus Christ and trying to find salvation under the Jewish religious system once again. So we’ll find the warnings about those who have tasted of the heavenly things, the kingdom to come, who have gone back and tried to offer sacrifices before the priests for sins again. And showing that there is no other sacrifice; Christ is the one, once and for all.
But the book begins with the assumption of the existence of God, which is something that is assumed always in the Bible, never sought to be proved. It would be ridiculous for God to try to prove that He exists. Even as it would be ridiculous for you to try and prove that you exist. However, sometimes a person is put in that strange position. If your birth was not recorded, then you would have a difficult time proving that you exist to the United States government. You would have to go through all kinds of legal hassles to prove that you exist. So some people have had that problem of proving their existence. It seems rather ridiculous that I would have to prove to someone that I am existing. Here I am.
So with God, He did not seek to prove He existed. The Bible doesn’t seek to prove that He existed. God's Word to us, the fact that He gives His Word to us, testifies of His existence. How could He speak to man if He did not exist? So, the existence of God is assumed, and then the fact that God has spoken to man is also assumed; two assumptions.
God, who at different times and in different ways spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets (1:1),
So the acknowledgement that God has spoken, different times, different ways. The Bible, the Old Testament, is the record of the different places and the different ways by which God has spoken to man. In the book of Genesis, we find God speaking to man by angels. There were no prophets in the book of Genesis, but God was speaking to man through angels; they were the messengers. The word angel has as its root messenger. God's messengers to man.
Then God began to speak through anointed men, such as Moses. And as the people said to Moses, “Now you go up into the mountain and you get the Word of God and you bring it down to us. We don’t want to approach that place. It is terrifying, and we will obey all that God commands you to say to us.” So God spoke to them through Moses, through Joshua.
Then God spoke to them through the priests. So many times they wanted to know the mind and the will of the Lord, and they would come to the priest, who would inquire of the Lord through the Urim and the Thummim. And God would speak through the priest. And then as time progressed, God raised up prophets, and God spoke to the people through the prophets. And so, the Old Testament: the various times, the various ways. Sometimes God spoke to them in very interesting ways. And as Chuck gets into his class on Ezekiel, you’ll find some very fascinating ways by which God spoke to man through Ezekiel: lying on one side for a long period of time and then rolling over and lying on his other side.
And so God has spoken, various ways, various times.
But in these last days he has spoken unto us by his own dear Son [or unto us by His Son] (1:2),
God's final revelation was given to man through Jesus Christ. In other words, all that we need to know about God we can know about Him through Jesus Christ. The revelation of God up until the time of Jesus Christ was often misunderstood and often not complete. Jesus came to bring to man the final, the ultimate message of God. The ultimate understanding of God. So all that man is to know about God can be discovered in and through Jesus Christ. "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son."
Now, this revelation to us through His Son is superior than all of the other revelations. His revelation through the Son is superior than the revelation through angels. And that is what we’ll be covering tonight. The first two chapters, the superiority of the Son over the angels and thus, of the revelation through the Son than through the angels.
In chapter 3 he will show us the superiority of God speaking to us through Jesus over that of Moses. For Moses, being a man, was able to lead the people to the Land of Promise, but he was not able to lead them in. He pointed to the land. He brought them to the land; he could not lead them into the land.
The revelation of God through Jesus is superior to that of Joshua, who, though he led them into the land, was not able to bring them into the rest (chapter 4). And then beginning with chapter 5, the superiority of Jesus over the priesthood. This will carry us through chapter 10, as we see the priesthood of Christ compared to the Levitical Priesthood and showing the better covenant, the better way, the better sacrifice through Jesus Christ, the superiority of Christ to the priesthood.
And so God in different ways, in different times spoke to our fathers, but in these last days He has spoken unto us by His Son.
whom [and now we find seven facts declared concerning Jesus Christ:] he hath appointed heir of all things (1:2),
God's kingdom is yet to come, a glorious kingdom indeed. Through the prophets God revealed some of the aspects of His kingdom. He opened little windows and they looked on ahead into this time warp kind of an experience. They could see the glories of God's kingdom, an earth where men lived together in peace. An earth that wasn't cursed by commerce, but every man could freely take what he needed. Everyone's needs were supplied. Men lived together in love and in harmony. A world in which there were no sick people, no physical impairments: where the lame would leap for joy, where the dumb would be singing praises unto God, and the blind would behold the glory of God. The prophets saw into this glorious age and this glorious kingdom of which the Father has ordained to put His Son over this kingdom. He shall reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. "He shall sit upon the throne of David to order it and establish it in righteousness and in justice from henceforth even forevermore and the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this" (Isaiah 9:7). So they foresaw this glorious age that God was going to bring to pass. Christ, the heir of all things, and we who are in Christ, adopted as sons through Him, have become joint heirs with Christ. So, God has appointed Him heir of all things.
by whom also he made the worlds (1:2);
Jesus Christ was the agent by which God created the worlds, the universe. "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God and all things were made by Him, without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3). Colossians tells us that He made all things. It was by Him and for Him were all things created. And by Him all things are held together, Colossians. And so, He is declared here to be the Creator.
Next of all,
Who being the brightness of his glory (1:3),
In some of these Bibles that you have, you'll find in the notes there the word effulgence. But, what does effulgence mean? The Greek word literally is a combination of two Greek words, the first being off and the second being shining. He is the off-shining of God.
There is surrounding God a glorious brilliance. The glory of God so bright that man cannot perceive it. Brilliant to see; a light unapproachable by man we are told, this shining forth of God. In heaven we’re not going to need any light of the sun or the moon, for the Lamb shall be the light. The glory, the outshining of God, through Jesus Christ will light up heaven. There’ll just be a glow about everything. Everything will just be glowing as you get there. Glowing with the presence of God, the Shekinah of God that lit the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle in the Old Testament.
You remember as they made the tabernacle as the priest came from the outer court into the holy place as he enters now into the tent itself. This first room was some fifteen by thirty feet. On the right hand side the table of showbread with the twelve loaves of bread, one for each tribe. In front of the curtain, the veil that went into the Holy of Holies, was the altar of incense. On the left hand side the seven golden candlesticks representing the Holy Spirit as we find in the book of Revelation. And these seven golden candlesticks lit the holy place, but when he went behind the curtain into the Holy of Holies, there was no light in there. There was the Ark of the Covenant and the cherubim, but it was lit by the presence of God, just the glow of God's presence. Now, Jesus is the off-shining of God, the brightness, just that off-shining of God’s glory is there in Christ.
he is the express image of his person (1:3),
Jesus said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). He is the express image of His person, or as we might say today concerning a kid, he's the spitting image of his old man. The express image of God. So he who has the Son has the Father. He who rejects the Son, rejects the Father also. He is the express image of the person of God. You cannot love God and hate His Son. You cannot receive God and reject His Son. They come as a package. To have one is to have the other. Read I John. You deny the Son, you deny the Father. He is the express image of His person.
he is upholding all things by the word of his power (1:3),
Now, it is interesting to me that in the beginning when God created the universe, He created it by divine fiat. That is, He declared it into existence. "And God said, ‘Light be,’ and light was" (Genesis 1:3). Literally from the Hebrew, owr hayah owr, light be and light was. He spoke it into existence. And God said, “Let there be a firmament dividing the waters." And God said, "Let the dry land appear." He spoke these things into existence. And so the worlds were created by the word of His power, but the worlds are also being held together by the word of His power.
And as we mentioned this morning, in atomic structure there is an interesting phenomena and that is positive clusters, or positive charges clustered together in the nucleus of an atom that’s contrary to Coulomb's Law of Electricity that tells us there is a repelling force of positive charges. If you had one tablespoon full of positive charges, just solid positive charges, and you set it at the South Pole and you had another tablespoon full of positive charges and you set it at the North Pole, it would take thirty thousand tons of pressure to hold the positive charges at the poles, because at that distance the pressure of the repelling force of positive charges would be so great that it would be pushing away from each other, and so it would take thirty thousand tons of pressure to hold them on the poles. Try and put positive poles together of magnets and you'll find that it takes force to hold them together. You can put them together, but you have to hold them there by force, because the natural law of positive charges is that of repelling each other. Yet, within the nucleus of an atom clustered together are these positive charges defying the Law of Electricity.
We have learned how to upset the balance of the nucleus of an atom and allow the positive charges to follow their natural instinct of repelling and we have the atomic bomb; we have atomic fission. What we're doing is just upsetting the balance, the structure in the nucleus of an atom, and allowing the positive charges to be released. We know the tremendous power that was unleashed when we allowed the positive charges to follow their natural bent in the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now that same power that was released, equal power is necessary to hold those atoms together.
So He has created an interesting universe that has a self-destruct mechanism within it. They talk about the Big Bang, but all that has to happen for another Big Bang to take place in the universe is for Him to just let go. It's all being held together by the word of His power. He said, "Let there be firmament, let there be dry land," and it appeared. It is there, and all He would have to say is, “Let it go.” And that force that is holding together the atoms, the positive charges within the nucleus, if it were released you'd just have a horrendous bang, and the positive charges would be heading to the vast infinite edges of space as they’d be pushing away from each other. You really wonder how powerful is the word of God that He could speak the universe into existence, but just as easily, He could speak the universe out of existence. How awesome is the God that we serve. Jesus Christ the express image of His person, upholding all things by the word of His power.
when he by himself purged our sins (1:3), It is interesting, we talk about God speaking to man through angels. Even in the New Testament God spoke to men by angels. It was an angel of the Lord that came to Mary and told her that she was going to bear the Messiah. And then during the life of Jesus the angels spoke. The angel told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel warned Joseph to take the child and flee to Egypt because Herod was going to seek to kill the child. And when Jesus, after He was tempted by the devil, the angels came and ministered unto Him. And there in the Garden of Gethsemane the angels ministered unto Him. But when He was upon the cross, there were no angels ministering to Him. That was a task He had to accomplish by Himself.
It was significant in the Old Testament that on the Day of Atonement the high priest was the only one who could offer the sacrifices unto God that day. During the regular daily sacrifices there were different priests that would offer sacrifices unto the Lord, but on the Day of Atonement when the sacrifices were to be offered for the sins of the people, the nation, only the high priest could serve that day. He had to do all of the butchering of some twenty-seven animals or so that were offered that particular day. Then he would have to go alone into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the offering to make atonement for the sins of the people.
Significant, because Jesus, in making atonement for us, had to go it alone. No angels to comfort or succor Him there, but alone He bore our sin and our guilt and died in our place. He made atonement for you and for me. And so, "had by himself purged our sins."
has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (1:3);
We see Jesus sitting down now, sitting down at the right hand of God. We are going to be told in chapter 2 of His waiting there until all things have been brought into subjection unto Him.
Now we begin in this point in chapter 1 discovering the superiority of God's revelation through Jesus Christ, the superiority of Jesus Christ over the angels.
The Jehovah Witnesses teach that Jesus Christ was Michael the archangel, but here we're going to find out that Jesus is definitely superior to an angelic being. He is not an angelic being elevated to a divine state. He was in the beginning with God and thought it not robbery or something to be grasped to be equal with God. He has coexisted with the Father from the beginning. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
The Mormons would make Him a cherub, the brother of Lucifer. Lucifer was the anointed cherub. And being a brother of Lucifer, when God wanted to redeem the world, He called for these two brothers to offer their plans of redemption. And when they offered their plans of redemption, the Father chose the plan that Jesus offered. It made His brother, Lucifer, very angry. He came down and was determined to disrupt the plan of his brother, Jesus, through sibling rivalry. We will learn that Jesus is much higher than Lucifer. In fact, He is not an opposite to Lucifer at all. He's not the good angel and Lucifer the bad angel, or the good brother and Lucifer the bad brother. It's terrible to bring Lucifer to that elevation of an opposite of God or an opposite of Jesus. So many times we think of them, God and Satan, as opposites. Not at all. They are totally in different categories completely. God--self-existent, eternal, Creator; whereas Satan is a creation of God and does not come into the same category at all as God. Lucifer would be an opposite to Michael, the archangel, and they're going to be tussling. They've tussled in the past. They’ve tussled over the body of Moses. There was a big dispute between Michael and Lucifer over the body of Moses. Michael didn't bring a railing accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you" (Jude 9).
When the angel was sent to Daniel with a message from God, and Satan captured the angel and held him captive, Michael came and set him free. (Note Daniel 10:12-14) "That great Prince came and he set me free. I've come now to bring you the message," the angel told Daniel. Michael and Satan have come into conflict before, and in the book of Revelation they're going to come into conflict again. Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon and his angels.
Jesus is not the opposite of Satan; Michael would be. Jesus, again, is the express image of the person of God. He is the off-shining of the glory of God. He is that which we see of God.
So he was made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, [that is, did God say,] Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? (1:4-5)
Psalm 2:7 God declared of Him, "Thou art my Son, this day hath I begotten thee." God could never say that of Lucifer. God would never say that of Michael. It was said only of Jesus Christ. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee."
I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? (1:5)
The prophecy is in II Samuel the seventh chapter, of God to David when David said he wanted to build a house for God. Nathan had to tell David that God wouldn't allow him to build the house because his hands were bloodied with war. "But you tell David that I'm going to build him a house and I shall raise up of David a seed and He shall sit upon the throne forever and I will be to Him a Father and He shall be to me a Son." God's declaration to David concerning the seed that should rise up from David and reign over the world. With that announcement, David was speechless. As David knelt before God he said, "What can I say? I was nothing. I was only a shepherd kid chasing after sheep and You called me to rule over Your people. Now You've spoken of the kingdom to come. Oh God, what can I say?" And David, probably the most articulate person in the history of man, was speechless before the grace and the goodness of God.
It's glorious whenever God reveals His love and goodness to us to the point where you just become speechless. As Savonarola said, "Worship, when it reaches the ultimate, words are impossible." God, You're too much! What can David say? And again, and he is making several quotations. And it is interesting this fellow had a tremendous grasp of the Old Testament Scriptures.
And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him (1:6).
You won't find this in your Old Testament, but it is in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was a translation of the Hebrew into the Greek by seventy Hebrew scholars, thus the term Septuagint, who wanted the people to be able to have the Scriptures in a language they could understand. And so they translated the Hebrew into the Greek after the return from the Babylonian captivity. It was called the Septuagint version. It is the Greek version of the Old Testament. And in Deuteronomy 32:43 of the Septuagint, this translation comes from that. "And let all of the angels of God worship Him." Now he has never said this of any angel before but of the Son.
And of angels [what did God say of angels?], He made his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom (1:7-8).
Now, here is an interesting thing: Psalm 45:6 and 7 where God calls Jesus, God. John calls Him God in the gospel; Paul calls Him God; Thomas called Him God, "my Lord and my God"; and now God calls Him God. It's a shame the Jehovah's Witnesses have such trouble calling Him God when Jehovah Himself calls Him God.
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows (1:8-9).
Going back to verse 7, “and of his angels he saith, ‘Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire.’” That is a quotation from Psalm 104:4. It is interesting that we will talk a little bit more about the angels and the ministry of the angels in verse 14, and I’ll wait till we get there to bring it up.
And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands (1:10).
Quotation from Psalm 102.
They shall perish; but you remain: and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail (1:11-12).
Talking now about the eternal nature of the Son. Even the universe is going to grow old. The universe is growing old. The universe is gradually in a state of entropy, deterioration. The sun is giving off 1,200,000 tons of mass every second. Given enough time, the sun will flicker out and die. The fire will go out in enough time. The heavens grow old like a garment, but You remain. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word will never pass away" (Matthew 24:35). The universe, the material universe, is going to pass away. Seeing then that all these things are going to be dissolved, speaking of the material universe, what manner of persons ought we to be? If the material universe is going to pass away and dissolve, it's important that we be spiritual men and spiritual women and that our stock be in spiritual things and not in the material things, because they will pass. Lord, You've existed. You shall exist. You're forever. You are the same; Your years shall not fail.
But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? (1:13)
He never said that to any angels, and yet to the Son in Psalm 110:l. Speaking of the angels,
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (1:14)
The angels are first of all ministering spirits. And that first term recognizes their ministry unto God. In Isaiah, as he saw the throne of God, he saw the seraphim as they were worshipping God saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." In the book of Revelation, chapter 4, when John saw the heavenly scene, he saw the cherubim around the throne of God saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." Their first ministry is to God, in the worship of God, there in the heavenly scene. But God dispatches them to His children to minister to us or to serve us at particular times of need.
When in Isaiah, as Isaiah was beholding in chapter 6 the scene of the throne of God and the seraphim saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," and as they are declaring the holiness of God, here is Isaiah realizing I’m a sinful man. Here is the holiness of God and he realized how utterably wicked he was. "Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among the people of unclean lips." And God dispatched one of the seraphim with a live coal from the altar, and he touched the lips of Isaiah and he said, “Now you are clean.” So, you see, there was a ministering spirit there worshipping God saying, "Holy, holy, holy," and when Isaiah cries out, “I’m unclean,” then God dispatches him to serve man. So the angels exist, first of all, to serve God, but are dispatched to be ministering spirits to those who are heirs of salvation. Now in Psalms it said, "He will give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all of thy ways. To bear thee up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone" (Psalm 91:11-12). So these angels are actually ministering spirits, but God never said to the angels or to any particular angels, "Let the angels of God worship Him,” nor did He say to any angel, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool." Because they are servants. Jesus is not there as a servant. He is there reigning. And a vast difference over the angels who worship and serve God continually there in the presence of God and Jesus who sits there to be worshipped and to be served, reigning there upon the throne.
Therefore we ought to take the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip (2:1).
More literally, “we should drift away from them.”
God has spoken unto us by His Son, the complete revelation. We had better give the more earnest heed to what God has said through the Son than what He said through angels or through prophets or through others. We better give more earnest heed to these things which we've heard, lest at any time we should drift away from them. And that was the danger with the Hebrew believers, of drifting away from this position of salvation through the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Going back again to the law to seek to be justified before the Lord. That was the danger of their position. You better take the more earnest heed to these things which we have heard that you not drift away from them.
For if the word spoken by angels [who are an inferior medium of revelation] was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and then was confirmed unto us by those that heard him (2:2-3);
So, let's take the more earnest heed at the things which we have heard, the things which Jesus has taught us concerning salvation, concerning God's plan of salvation for man through faith in Jesus Christ. For it was Jesus who said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:16-17). "And this is the condemnation, that light came into the world, but they would not come to the light, for men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). So the finish of that chapter, "For he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). We'd better take the more earnest heed to the things which Jesus has spoken to us. For if the words that the angels spoke was steadfast, if what they said was true and it held, their word held, the things are true, and they hold true, then how much more the things that were taught us by Jesus Christ.
How are we going to escape if we neglect this great salvation? How are you going to be saved? You can't go back to the law. For under the law every transgression received a just recompense of reward. Under the law you get what's coming to you. That's what the law is all about. Jesus taught us the grace of God and the forgiveness of our sins through our faith and trust in Him. So we better take the more earnest heed. We better not drift away from this, as some of the Jewish Christians were prone to do, drifting away from the truth in Christ and seeking again to be justified by the works and the deeds of the law.
So Jesus, first of all, proclaimed this glorious message of salvation, and then those who heard Him, the disciples, confirmed the things to us that Jesus said.
God also bore them witness, both with signs and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will? (2:4)
The word was first spoken by Jesus, the word of faith, salvation through faith. It was confirmed by the disciples who had heard Jesus. Then God Himself confirms the witness with the signs and the wonders, and the miracles, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that were operated by those apostles who had heard the message from Jesus and declared the message. God proving it now to be true. Yes, they are of God and here’s the proof--the signs, the wonders, the different miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Notice, “the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His will." Again, as Paul talks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians, chapter 12, he says, “The Holy Spirit dividing to each man severally as He wills." I cannot buy this that you have all the gifts of the Spirit and all you have to do is exercise them whenever the need arises. The gifts of the Spirit are operated only as God wills. The Spirit divides them severally as He wills. I don't control the gifts of the Spirit in my life. That is, I can't say, "Well, this is the gift I am going to exercise now." It's a work of the Holy Spirit, and it remains in the sovereign work of God's Spirit within my life.
For unto the angels has he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak (2:5).
The angels aren't going to be ruling the world that is to come. They will still be serving.
But one in a certain place testified, saying, [and of course we know who that one was. It was David the psalmist.] What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? (2:6)
David was an outdoorsman. If any of you fellows are outdoorsmen, then you’ll love David. He was a man’s man; loved the outdoors, a great hunter, a great sportsman. He spent a lot of nights sleeping under the stars in a time when there was no smog nor powerful city lights that dimmed your vision of the heavens. But under those black Judean skies lit by the brilliance of the stars and planets and galaxies, he often would look up. And as he would look up at the vast universe above his head, he would think, "How nothing I am." And so in Psalm 8, "When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers. The moon and the stars which you have ordained, what is man, that you are mindful of him?" “God, who am I that You should even think about me?”
Have you ever had that overwhelming experience of sleeping out up in the mountains or by a stream or out in the desert where you can see the Milky Way and you can see what looks like jillions of stars, and as you begin to contemplate the heavens above your head, this Psalm really speaks to me. I've had this experience. I've considered the heavens, the work of God's fingers and these stars and all that God has ordained, and I've thought, “Wow! What am I?” This planet Earth is like a little speck of dust revolving around the sun, rotating on its axis out here in a little corner of the Milky Way Galaxy. Our sun being one of the billions of stars within the galaxy. Here am I just a little speck of dust on this little speck of dust. I'm so insignificant in the whole world, especially when you get out there in the desert and you hear a coyotes over the hill and you think you hear rattlers nearby. You’re lying there in the cot, and all you hear are the sounds of the desert and the quietness in the sky above your head, and it seems like there is no one within a thousand miles, and you think, “Who am I that God would even think about me? What is man that you are mindful of him or the son of man that you should visit him? Who am I that God should visit me? That He should come to me. That I should have the privilege of just having God come to me? That I might worship Him and talk to Him and fellowship with Him and feel His presence? Who am I, God, that You should even be mindful of me or that You should come and visit me? And I feel your presence and your closeness and your nearness.”
Speaking of man:
You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and you did set him over the works of thy hands (2:7):
So man was created a little lower than the angels.
Angels are ministering spirits. They can take on a bodily form, but they are not restricted by a body as we are restricted by our bodies. You see, our body, made up of atoms, experience the repelling force of atoms when we walk into a wall. You want to know the repelling force of positive charges? Run into the wall.
Now, theoretically you should be able to run right through that wall, because there is much more space in that wall than solid matter. There is much more space in your body than solid matter. If you would reduce the solid matter of your body to just plain solid matter, you'd be the size of a microscopic speck of dust. You’d weigh the same. You’d just collapse the atoms in your body. And you’d be the size of a speck of dust. You're just a bunch of blown-up atoms.
You see, there is very little matter to the electrons. Two and one half quintillion of them could be lined up, single file, and only be one inch long. If you would count them, it would take you 19,000,000 years, counting day and night, at the rate of 250 per minute. Very little mass to an electron. There is a little more mass to a proton.
The distance at which the electrons revolve around the nucleus of the atom are such that if the nucleus of the atom was the size of a basketball, if you would blow it up and expand it to the size of a basketball, the electron that is spinning around it would be 3,000 miles away. That's how much space there is between the nucleus of the atom and the electrons that revolve around it. So there's more space than there is solid matter, but we have this other problem of the repellency of positive charges that keep us from passing through the wall.
However, it would be possible if you were made up of a different molecular structure to walk right on through that wall and leave it unimpaired. Now the resurrected body of Jesus evidently was of a different molecular structure, because the disciples were all in the room and the doors were shut, yet Jesus suddenly appeared right in the room with them.
Now, according to scientists, it would be possible for two worlds to coexist at the same time and in the same place; both of them passing through each other, both of them unconscious of the other’s existence, but just made up of different molecular structures. So there could be another whole world right here. Some super jet could be flying through here right now with a lot of passengers on board heading for some continent far away. And there they went and you weren't even aware of it.
Now, interesting concept. I like it because I believe that it is true that there are two worlds that coexist side by side, passing through each other. On our part we are unconscious of the other’s existence, but it is real. There is the world of the spirit, and these spirits are all around us. Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who are heirs of salvation? For the most part we are totally unaware of their presence, and yet, they are here passing through, passing by, helping, strengthening, ministering, reaching out and giving the helping hand. They're conscious of our existence, but we're unconscious of theirs.
Heaven isn't that far away. I think it's right here only in a different molecular structure. We think, “Oh, the throne of God, it must be way…” You get there in the desert at night and you see with the sky above and you think, “Whooee! How many million light years out there and how far do my prayers have to travel to get to God?” If God dwells at the other end of His universe and I could speed my prayers on a ray of light, it would take them twelve billion years to get there, and by the time I got my answer it would be too late.
Paul said concerning God, "For in Him we live, and we move and we have our being." He's all around us. We often are unconscious of His existence because we don't see. But nevertheless, He is here and in Him we live, we move, we have our being. We're surrounded by Him. He's just in a different molecular structure. Passing through, passing by. It’s all perfectly scientific.
And so God made man a little lower than the angels and He crowned him with glory and honor, and He did set him over the works of His hands. God said to Adam, "I give you dominion over the fish of the sea, the fowl of the air, every moving and creeping thing. Have dominion over them." So God placed man over the works of His hands.
He hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him (2:8).
But what do we see?
We see Jesus, [who also became a man,] who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death (2:9),
He had to become a man in order to redeem man. He had to become next of kin in order to redeem that which man had forfeited to Satan--the world itself. We see Jesus made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. As God, He could not die. He had to become a man and take on the limitations. So we see Him now,
crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man (2:9).
There you have what redemption is all about. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). For God laid upon Him the iniquities of us all and He tasted death for every man. This is talking about spiritual death. And as we told you the difference between the earthly understanding of death and the spiritual definition of death, is that from an earthly standpoint, death is the separation of a man's consciousness from his body. When you are in a terminal state and they connect the EEG probes to your shaved head and they watch the monitor. And when the little line reads flat they say, “There is no brain activity.” They watch the flat line for twenty-four hours, and then they pull the plug and pronounce the man dead. There is no brain activity for twenty-four hours. When they pull the plug they will watch the line. Because if there is any life at all, even in that state your brain will start searching for oxygen, and if there is any flutter at all then they plug the oxygen back in. They say, “Well, not quite gone yet. The brain started searching for oxygen.” When the consciousness has been separated from the body, they say you are dead. But from a biblical standpoint, when your consciousness is separated from God, you are dead. The man who lives without the consciousness of God is spiritually dead.
Jesus tasted of death for every man. You remember on the cross He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" At that point, when our sins were placed upon Him, He suffered the consequence of our sins. Being forsaken of God, He suffered death for us. And so, we see Jesus, “who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
Because He tasted death for me, I don't have to taste death. I will not taste death. Jesus said, "If you live and believe in Me, you will never die." I will never die. I’m talking of it in a biblical sense. I will never be separated from God. I don't have to be. Jesus took my sin and He tasted death for me, that I don't have to taste that spiritual death. Oh, I'm going to move. My spirit is going to move out of this old tent one of these days. It's going to move into the new building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. That will be a day of rejoicing and blessing. But I won't die, because I'll never be separated from God. Oh, the papers might read, “Chuck Smith died,” but that's because those reporters don't know enough about it. Poor reporting again. They’ve reported poorly on me many times in the past. I hope that some reporter has enough sense when my spirit moves out of this tent to write in the paper, “Chuck Smith moved out of an old worn-out tent, a raggedy old tent full of holes, into a beautiful new mansion.” "A building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (II Corinthians 5:1).
So Jesus tasted of death for every man, which means that you don't have to taste death. He was forsaken of God so that you won't have to be forsaken of God, because He took upon Himself your sins and the consequence of your sins, that separation from God. For as the prophet said, "Behold the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot hear. But your sins have separated you from God” (Isaiah 59:1). That is the effect of sin, but Jesus tasted of death for every man.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things (2:10),
Notice the place of Jesus. All things are for Him. This is told us in Colossians 1, all things were made by Him and for Him. He is before all things and by Him all things are held together. Here again, the same declaration concerning Jesus. All things are by Him, and all things, here it declares, are for Him. And by whom are all things. He is the Creator, but He is more than that. He is the object of creation.
As in the book of Revelation, the twenty-four elders announced the worthiness of God to receive the glory offered by the cherubim, “for thou hast created all things, and for thy good pleasure they are and were created.” Created by Him, yes, but more than that, I was created for Him. Your life will never be complete or never be satisfied until you start living for Him. As long as you live for yourself, you'll find your life will be empty, meaningless, frustrating. But the minute you start living for Him, your life becomes rich and fulfilling.
“It became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,”
in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation complete through sufferings (2:10).
And so there was a work of God being wrought through the sufferings of Christ. In Isaiah the fifty-third chapter, as he prophesies the sufferings of Jesus, “For it pleased the Father to bruise Him.” Now, here is “the captain of our salvation made complete,” and we’ll understand this as we get to the end of the chapter, how He has become complete through His suffering. Because it is through His sufferings that He can understand what it is to experience suffering.
How can anyone ever really comfort you at the loss of your dearest friend if they’ve never lost anybody they know? If they don't know what the grief is of having a child die, how can they comfort you in your death if they don’t know what it is to experience it themselves? Those who have been through the experience are those who know what you are feeling. They are able to empathize with you and really minister to you because they have been there. They know what it is about. They know what it is to have such grief that your stomach aches. They know what it is to have such grief that you feel like you can't swallow, you're going to choke to death because of the ache that is there and just hangs there in your throat.
Jesus, because He suffered, made complete our captain of our salvation, because now He is able to understand, and thus, to help us when we are in need and trouble.
For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one (2:11):
In other words, we have been made one together with Jesus Christ. That's what the word fellowship means. Coming into fellowship with our Lord.
for which cause he is not ashamed to call them his brothers (2:11),
If we only realized what Jesus has done for us. Suffered, tasted death for us, and now He calls us His brothers. We are one together with Him.
Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brothers, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And, Behold I and the children which God hath given me (2:12-13).
So here, “I and the children which God hath given me.” Jesus made the way for each of us to come into the presence of God and to become a part of the kingdom of God by tasting death for us, by bearing our sin and our iniquity, by purging us Himself from our sin. And now to present us as brothers, joint heirs with Him, unto the Father to share together with Him the glories of God's eternal kingdom.
No wonder David said, "What shall I render unto God for all of His benefits unto me?" When I think of what Jesus has done for me, what can I do for Him to show my thanksgiving, my appreciation for tasting of death for me, by bearing the guilt of my sin and by taking the penalty that belonged to me? By granting me this glorious privilege of being an heir with Him of God's eternal kingdom. What in the world can I render unto God to show my love and appreciation for such things? I feel such a beggar sometimes. I have nothing to offer Him. He has done all for me and I have so little to give to Him. But all He wants is that I just give Him my heart and my life. That means more to Him than any bucks that I could ever drop in the plate. Just give Him yourself, give Me your love, spend some time with Me. Turn off your T.V. and spend some time with Me. That is all He is asking, fellowship with you. Give me some time. And we even fail there.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood (2:14),
You see, I’m made up of flesh and blood. This body, made a little lower than the angels.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood,”
he also himself likewise took part of the same (2:14);
He came in a body of flesh. He shed His blood for my sins. He took on the limitations of a body of flesh. He experienced the same pain of weariness that you experience in a body of flesh, knew what it was to be tired, knew what it was to stub His toe, knew what it was to hit His finger with a hammer, knew what it was to experience the restrictions and the limitations and the pain and the sufferings that we have in a body of flesh and blood. He partook of the same.
that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (2:14);
So Jesus through His death…the word destroyed, katargeo, or put out of business, he who had the power of death, that is, the devil. He who brought death to mankind by tempting Eve and Adam. Satan no longer has a hold over me because of sin. I've been made righteous through Jesus Christ. Satan, then, has no more claim upon me as far as death because of my sin, because Jesus has cleansed me from my unrighteousness and has made me righteous before God. And so through His death He put out of business the one who had the power of death, the claim of death upon me, that is, the devil.
And he delivered them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (2:15).
That is, the bondage of sin and the slavery to sin.
For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took upon himself the seed of Abraham (2:16).
He became as a man.
Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brothers, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (2:17-18).
Our great high priest, Jesus Christ, understands us, and that's important. He understands us because He came in a body of flesh and He experienced the limitations and all of this body of flesh. He was made like us in order that He might be merciful. He has mercy upon me. He knows what it is to go through the hassles of life. He knows what it is to be hungry. He knows what it is not to have money for taxes. He knows what it is to be pressed unjustly for taxes by the government. He knows these things that we've experienced, these things that we chafe under. He knows what it's about, and thus, He is merciful. In that He Himself has suffered, He is able to also minister to us and to help us when we're tempted. He knows what it is. He has experienced it.
The Bible says that God knows our frame. He understands we're but dust. God help us to understand that. So many times we see ourselves with our cape and the "S" on our chest, “Super Saint,” able to leap over the buildings with a single bound, faster than a speeding bullet. Here I am, the Super Saint. The Bible warns us about that kind of a feeling or attitude, "Let a man take heed when he thinks he stands, lest he falls." The only way I stand is by Him holding me up, but when He is holding me up, I can't fall.
"When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers" (Psalm 8:3). Now, if you get up tomorrow morning about four o'clock, providing this cloud cover is gone, and you go outside, over here in the southwestern sky you will see the constellation Orion. If you look at the left shoulder of Orion you'll see that great star Betelgeuse. It is 465,000,000 miles in diameter. That means if the sun was in the middle of Betelgeuse and the earth was rotating around it, you'd have 200,000,000 miles to spare inside the thing to get to the edge of it. That star Betelgeuse is estimated to be traveling at the speed of nineteen miles per second. What force do you suppose it took to get Betelgeuse into orbit? That large a body, that large a mass, 465,000,000 miles in diameter, what kind of a force or thrust got it going that fast, nineteen miles a second? David said, "When I consider the heavens, the work of Your fingers," so I see God just sort of flicking Betelgeuse out there.
The Bible says underneath of us are the everlasting arms. If God can flick out Betelgeuse with His finger, surely He can hold me up with His arms. I don't have to worry about falling; the eternal God, the Creator of the heaven and the earth holds me. He loves me. I’m His child. He sent His son in order to redeem me from my sin that He might make me an heir of His eternal kingdom. Oh, that God would grant to us a more complete comprehension of the depth of the riches of love that God extended towards us and continues to extend to us in and through Jesus Christ our Lord. All that I need is found in Him and He is more than sufficient for the task of preserving me and presenting me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. What does He want from me in return? Just some time to spend in communion, fellowshipping together. How little to ask when He has given so much.
Shall we pray.
Father, we feel much like David as we stand here on our tiptoes and try to catch a glimpse over the fence of the vastness of the riches of the grace of God and the love of God towards us. God, we feel so unworthy, so undeserving of all that You’ve done for us. What is man that You are mindful of him? Who am I, Lord, that You should visit me? And yet, You died for me. You rose again. You live for me as You make intercession for me there at the right hand of the Father. You uphold me with the right hand of Your power. You keep me day by day. Oh God, my God, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth, and how I love You tonight. Teach us Your ways, Lord, that we might walk in Your truth and bring glory unto the praise of Thy grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Just a little throw-in here. It’s an article out of the paper. The scientists are puzzled by a galaxy with the energy of 2,000,000,000 suns. I like these little things. A galaxy that is only faintly visible from Earth by telescope has been found to emit as much energy as 2,000,000,000 suns, but the source of the energy remains a mystery, astronomers said Monday. The galaxy known as ARP220 and 300,000,000 light years from the earth was discovered in 1966, dated from an orbiting infrared telescope launched in 1983, has revealed that the galaxy is a rare formation, because ninety-nine percent of its energy is emitted in the form of heat rather than visible light, said Dr B. Thomas Sophur for the California Institute of Technology. Most of ARP220’s energy is in the infrared part of the spectrum and the amount of energy it emits makes it the most luminous infrared galaxy ever discovered. Sophur also told the Annual Convention of American Astronomical Society an infrared galaxy is one that emits more energy in the form of heat than light. The Milky Way emits amounts equal in heat and light so it is not an infrared galaxy. But that is interesting, 2,000,000,000 more energy than the sun. We’ll take a visit to ARP220 one of these days, check that thing out. You know that vast universe out there just holds a lot of interesting things that we’ll be able to explore and discover. Oh, I don’t want to go to heaven and sit on a cloud, twiddle my thumbs and play the harp. Well, I’ll tell you what, there is going to be a lot more excitement than that as we discover the vastness of God’s love and grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. God bless you. Spend some time with Him. Take time to just sit and commune, worship and fellowship, and thus, may you have a very profitable week as you grow in your walk and relationship with Him.