Hebrews 1:1 God Spoke in Time Past

Hebrews 1:1   God Spoke in Time Past                                            WC McCarter
In the New Year, I would like to direct your attention to the Scripture where we learn about the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ. What better message to hear in a New Year than the message that Christ has appeared in these last days? God has spoken completely and finally in the One who is His Son. He has purged our sins and now reigns supreme. As great as you may think that the angels are, He is far greater. The author of Hebrews begins his letter (sermon) by declaring that Jesus Christ is far better than the angels. The Jews of the first century had an obsession with angels much like our culture today. Angels are considered awesome beings, superior, elegant, authoritative, kind, and much more. However great you may think angels are, the book of Hebrews says, Christ is considerably more excellent. Today we will focus on the preliminary work that God did as He spoke in time past. This sermon will lead us into next week’s message as we ponder what God has done in history.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
God Spoke in Time Past
God has always been a God who speaks. It has always been the word of His mouth that has determined all things. Remember the very beginning of God’s revelation. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Verse three of that first chapter says, “Then God said. . . .” Many Scriptures reiterate this fact. For example, Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
The author of Hebrews places special emphasis on the fact that God is the One who has spoken. This is made apparent when we contrast the way the Apostle Paul introduces scriptural quotes and when the Hebrew’s author does. Paul often asserts, “The Scriptures say. . . .” On the other hand, Hebrews often stresses, “He says. . . .”
God has consistently spoken throughout the ages to one generation after another. That the revelations of God are from time past would have signified authenticity and integrity for the first century mind. In other words, because the Scriptures are old their authority is well-founded.
Various Times and Various Ways
God’s previous revelation was at “various times and various ways.” You see, God’s revelations during the Old Testament period (which is most of human history) came by way of dreams, visions, mighty acts, appearances, commands, promises, and more. It came by who knows how many men who were moved by the Spirit to write holy Scripture. As glorious as those revelations and events were, they are now seen as incomplete when compared to the final revelation that has come through the One who is Son.
Those revelations were only partial and incomplete which is demonstrated by the fact that they came in many parts. One writer has referred to this as “multiplicity as incompleteness.” About this he has written, “What might have been thought richness before Christ is now seen as the preliminary revelation that it was” (Cockerill, 89).
To the Fathers
When God spoke, we are told that He spoke to the Fathers. What can we learn from this? As Hebrews chapter eleven shows and chapter twelve verse one states, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. “The fathers” refers to more than simply the patriarchs of Israel. The term refers to all of the men and women of faith who have gone before us. There are many who have gone before us. We are not alone. We are not facing anything new. Christians have, for hundreds of years, met the same challenges we encounter during our lives. They were tempted to sin. They struggled in their faith. Their marriages were not always rosy. Their finances were not always stable. But they continued on because God’s word was revealed. We, too, will carry on because God’s word stands forever.
By the Prophets
In Israel’s history there were many prophets. There were more than just the writing prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. Many of the forefathers are referred to as prophets like Noah, Abraham, Moses, as well as Hosea, Joel, Amos, and many others. I have always believed that the diversity of persons who delivered and wrote the Scriptures was a validating sign of the authority of the Old Testament. Maybe I am right about that, but when you compare the many prophets to the Son of God, they pale in comparison.
Conclusion and Application
1. God has spoken. We should hear and obey His word. It’s as simple as that.
            Why is it so difficult to heed His word?
2. Because God has spoken, and now He has spoken definitively in the Son, we can press on.
            What we have heard is true and we can go on with that assurance.
Since the beginning of time God has spoken, but He has spoken no clearer and more complete than in the One who is His Son. That is the subject of our sermon next week.