Hebrews 1:5-14 Jesus Christ: Angels Worship Him WC McCarter
Do you ever find yourself letting your mind wander when you are reading your Bible? Maybe you begin to read the Bible, but you quickly put it aside because it is too difficult or you end up more confused after you read than when you first began. Maybe you even fall asleep when reading your Bible. Why is that the case with many Christians? I think there are several reasons. Let me give you a few: we do not first pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds to give us understanding of the Scriptures, we do not have the right mind-set when we approach the Bible, we are often tired (around bed time) when we decide to spend a few minutes reading, etc.
One of the most difficult things about studying the Bible is trying to interpret the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament. People shy away from studying the book of Hebrews because it uses the OT so much. Sometimes we read a sentence in the New and look to the reference in the Old and they do not line up. Why is that? Well, there are a few things that may be going on: the New may quote the Old; the NT author may be paraphrasing the Old; and lastly, our OT’s are translated from the Hebrew Masoretic texts, yet the NT author may be quoting the Septuagint (Greek OT). That last thing is what happens in the book of Hebrews. The author was well versed in the Greek language, and he uses the Greek OT as his Bible. Today, we encounter several OT quotations about the Christ. In verses one through four, we encountered seven details about the Son of God. In verses five through fourteen, we encounter seven OT references about the Son (five being from the Psalms). As we saw last week, verse four introduced our subject for today: Christ is far better than the angels. Jesus Christ is a more excellent name. The one point that I would like for you to remember today is found in the title of the sermon: Angels worship Jesus Christ, not the other way around. How can we be clear that Christ is far greater than the angels? Angels worship Him.
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Christ’s Unique Sonship (5)
In verse five, we see two OT quotes about Christ’s unique Sonship in relation to God the Father. He is to be categorized with God rather than men. Was Jesus fully humanity when He came to earth to sacrifice Himself? Yes, that is true of Him. But before time began, in eternity past- Christ has been the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” The OT sometimes calls angels, “sons of God.” Yet, none of the angels have ever been given the title “Son” (the [singular] Son). Christ was Son even before the incarnation, but He has been powerfully declared Son by the Father when He was seated at God’s right hand. The two OT quotes in this verse come from Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. Both of these verses refer to an earthly king of Israel in OT times, but the author of Hebrews shows us that Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of them. He is the Son who has been made King of the universe. What does it mean that today He has been begotten? On the third day when He was resurrected combined with the day that He ascended back to glory, the Father declared to all of creation what has always been an eternal truth: “Jesus Christ is my Son, today I have begotten Him. I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son.”
By asking us this question (“to which of the angels did He ever say. . . ?), the author of Hebrews is not trying to figure something out. He does not need our help in discerning the place of Jesus Christ. He heard from the Apostles and was inspired by the Holy Spirit to proclaim with great emphasis through a rhetorical question that God the Father has never spoken to an angel in the way that He has Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the unique and superior Son of God. No one shares this unique place with Him, not even the angels.
Angels Worship Him (6-7)
For Christ to be “Firstborn” is to continue the Sonship language. This does not mean that Christ is the descendant of God the Father, and it does not mean that He was the first creature of the universe. “In this Old Testament context [Psalm 89:27] it is a title of honour expressing priority of rank” (O’Brien, 69). The OT verse quoted in verse six comes from Psalm 97. The Psalm is calling on all the angels to worship God. Thus, the author of Hebrews is calling Jesus Christ “God.” Angels are to worship the Son. For me, it is a done deal when the argument gets to this point. If angels are to worship Christ, then He must be far greater than any of them. In fact, the picture is that of Christ sitting on His throne as King of the universe while being worshipped and served by His angels who are ministering spirits. They come and go as He pleases. They work and do as He sees fit. The verse quoted in verse seven says just that. May I remind you that Christ is not only King of the universe, but He is the Creator of all things (including the angels). In the first paragraph of the chapter, we were told that Christ is the heir of all things and that He made the worlds. He upholds all things by the word of His power. Angels are subservient to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of all things, the King of the universe.
The Son’s Work is Complete (8-12)
In verses eight through twelve, we get two more OT quotes that are quite lengthy. They come from Psalms 45 and 102. Here we see that Christ is explicitly called God. Notice His royal state in the words throne, scepter, and kingdom (Morris, 19). What we learn from these verses is that Christ does not belong to the created order (O’Brien, 72). He is set apart and above the universe. The original context of the statement, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” originally referred to a Davidic king. It does not seem appropriate to call a mere human “God,” does it? I think it is because the statement was ultimately intended to refer to Christ. He is God, whose throne endures forever. The reason that David’s throne lasts forever is because Jesus is sitting on it forever! The creation, we know, will wear out, but Christ will remain. He will never change, but will always be the same. “He began the universe and he will finish it” (Morris, 19).
Better than the Angels (13-14)
The most famous of the OT quotes comes at the end of our passage. Psalm 110:1 is quoted in reference to Christ. This Psalm is used often in the NT to show the might and authority of the Son. God has never said to any angel that He would seat them on a throne at His right hand. In fact, they are the ones who are commissioned to work in order to destroy Christ’s enemies. They are serving Him for all eternity. They are no more than servants. Christ sits down, but they are constantly moving and working to accomplish His purposes in the universe.
Not only do the angels serve Christ, but they serve His brethren. The angles serve you! They are working to help you get to the finish line. They are constantly protecting you, helping you, and serving you. They want you to be saved because their Creator and King wants you to be saved.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Put angels in their proper place. They are created for two tasks: worship Christ and serve believers. They are mighty beings, but they are merely created.
(2) It is an awesome thing to consider the salvation to which we have been called. We are being saved by the mighty work of Jesus Christ and He has even sent His angels to serve us to that end!
(3) The most important thing you can do with chapter one of the book of Hebrews is to see the big picture of Jesus Christ. We have now seen together that Christ sits in a unique position. He is outside and above all of creation because He is, in fact, the Creator. He is the heir of all things, the One who brought the worlds into existence, and He upholds all things by His powerful word! He is the Son of God in a way that no angel or man ever was or is. He is not an angel, but is worshipped and served by angels. He has sat down on His throne because His work is finished, and yet the angels continue to minister as He sees fit.
The Lord Jesus Christ is not an angel. . .
He is Creator. He is Savior. He is King. He is Son. He is God!