Our Hope is Jesus

Hebrews 1:7-14

The prize jewel in the treasure chest of Hebrews is Jesus.
The writer of Hebrews wastes no time in introducing us to Jesus Christ, the subject of his book.

Rarely has so much been said in so short a span as in the first three verses of Hebrews 1.
In fewer than 100 words, the writer of Hebrews declares the unrivaled superiority of Jesus
over every other form or word of revelation God has given to men.
And God has given many such words.

From the very start, He took the initiative to make Himself known to His creation. (Genesis 3:9)
In diverse ways and on numerous occasions throughout the ages, God has given man
as much knowledge of Himself as could be understood at the time.

In chapter 1, verse one is a very interesting phrase which says, "In many portions and in many ways."
It indicates that in the past God has spoken in bits and pieces.
But never was anything revealed to everyone.
Meeting man at whatever level of understanding God gave a piece of the puzzle
to this person and another to that person.

Yet over a great span of time, these various fragments fitted together
in an ever-expanding revelation of God of Himself.
For instance a look back to the time when men thought there were many gods,
believing them to be whimsical, religion consisted pretty much of appeasing these capricious deities.

Then in the Old Testament the message was delivered to a chosen nation to say
here are not many Gods – but only one God.
And He is not capricious, He is dependable.

But in what way is He dependable?
The prophet Amos said, "I know we can depend on His justice.
His justice is as stern as the laws of the desert in which I keep my sheep.
God is like a plumb line.
Anything not true to the plumb line will eventually topple over."

The prophet Hosea said, "Yes, that's true, but God is more than just.
Even after my wife Gomer proved untrue to me, not once but several times, I loved her.
When she was about to be sold as a slave, I bought her back.
God is greater than I.
If I could love Gomer in spite of her infidelity, God can and does love Israel,
though Israel has often been unfaithful to Him

The prophet Jonah said, "Yes, that's true.
But God loves more than Israel.
He told me to go to Nineveh to preach, but I didn't want to go.
The Ninevites were our enemies.
So I went to Joppa, and bought a ticket to Tarshish, heading as far in the other direction is possible.
But I discovered you can't run away from God.
He turned me around, send me back to Nineveh, and there to preach.

A great spiritual awakening took place.
One day, as I examined a gourd destroyed by worms, God's truth flashed in on me.
I realized if I could be concerned about a gourd vine, God could be concerned about something
infinitely more precious – the soul of the pagan Ninevites

Then the prophet Jeremiah drew a picture of God.
"I see him as a potter, patiently remaking a marred vessel."
The prophet Isaiah went a step farther, and painted a more accurate portrait.
God is like a suffering servant who took upon Himself the sins of the world.

Still, the Hebrew people as a whole could not understand a God of vengeance.
They could grasp a God of seven thunders – such a deity appeared to them.
But God willing to be afflicted with their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities
was beyond their comprehension.

Then, one day, that picture of the suffering servant is flesh.
God who "in many and various ways" have spoken to the fathers by the prophets,
spoke at long last through His Son."

No longer did man need to ask, "What is God like?"
They see Him revealed in the life – on the cross.

It's important to remember none of these great and good men of the Old Testament
had the whole picture.
They grasp it in bits and pieces.
A glorious truth here, inside came to them in various modes – such as dreams
– visions and even audible voices.

Then, for a period of 300 years or so, God stopped speaking through the prophets.
And then, suddenly, at just the right moment (Galatians 4:4-5) God spoke again.
This time in a life – the life of His Son.

Through that Son, God gave more than bits and pieces of revelation of Himself.
In Jesus the world saw more than various shades and hues of light.
They saw pure light.
They saw the Light of the world Himself.

The Bible is God's unfolding self revelation.
It proceeds step-by-step.
There is a steady progression up to the person of Jesus Christ.
Beyond Him, progression stops.
Jesus is God's last word to the world.

Without being flippant, we can look at Him and say, "That's all there is, folks; there isn't any more."

God who, in various ways and in different times, in bits and pieces, spoke to the prophets,
has in these last days, these gospel days, these good news days, spoken through His Son.
In His Son, God Has Given the dearest, truest, fineness, purest, clearest word about Himself.

Introducing Jesus Christ

His superiority

Obviously, this raises questions.
Who is this Son?
How does He stand in relation to the Father?
What are His credentials?
What makes Him superior to the prophets?
The writer of Hebrews answers these questions by making six staggering statements about Jesus.

1. He is "heir of all things." (1, 2)

Think about that.
And the Scripture said that He was heir of God's things, we would have read the obvious.
To learn that He is heir of all things is incredible.
The glory, the riches, and the greatness of God – all these things – He is heir.

2. He is also the architect of the ages "through whom also He [God] made the world." (1: 2)
This Son is not merely the historical Jesus.
He is pre-existent.
He is pre-incarnate.
He is the one who said, "Before Abraham was born, I am." (John 8:58)

Jesus is the clue to all that is.
He is the explanation of creation.
He is the interpreter of history.
He is the one who alone gives meaning and sense to it all.

3. More than that Jesus "is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…" (1: 3)
No one has ever seen God's full glory.
Even what we have in Jesus is a scaled-down version.
It is something that we humans can perceive.

Like a two-way mirror, Christ at one and the same time, reveals and conceals.
God looks at Jesus and sees His glory concealed there.
Man looks at Jesus and sees God's glory revealed there.

An ancient hymn declares:
"The Sun of God in glory beams
Too bright for us to scan,
But we can face the light that streams
From the mild Son of man."

Jesus scales down God's glory so we can perceive it.

4. At the same time, Jesus faithfully reproduces the Fathers nature,
bearing "the exact representation of His nature." (1:3)
Do you ever wonder what God is like?
Then look at Jesus.
Whatever God is like, He is nothing less than Jesus.
The Son is a perfect die-cut of the Father.
What God is in heaven, Jesus was on earth.

He is the heir of all things.
He is the architect of the universe.
He is the reflection of God's glory.
He is the perfect reproduction of the Fathers nature.

5. He also, at this very moment, "upholds all things by the word of His power." (1: 3)
Jesus is the glue which sticks life together.
He is that which keeps it from flying apart.
This also is a source of hope.

The One who acted to create is acting to operate.
He who made creation knows how to make it work.
That is what He is currently doing – holding things together by the word of His power.

6. However fantastic that is, it is nothing compared to the next statement that the author of Hebrews makes.
This truly is good news to saved sinners.
He "purged our sins." (1: 3)

Or, as a newer translation puts it, "… made purification of sins, and He sat down
at the right hand of the Majesty on high

There are two things about that which are precious to us.

First, Jesus makes us clean.
What is there about our sin that so appalls us?
Is it not the sins of contamination with which it leaves us?
The most ugly aspect of our sin is that it makes us feel unclean – unworthy.
And unable to gain access to God.

The good news is this: "The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)
And Romans 8:1 assures us, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

The blessed assurances that this is so the second thing which exhilarate us.
When Jesus made purification for our sin, "He sat down." (Verse 3)
It is as if He said: "All that needs to be done for the salvation of sinners has been done."
"It is finished!" (John 19:30

Please notice that not one of these staggering things said of Jesus could be said of the prophets.
Nor could they be said of man.

The prophets were the friends of God.
Jesus was the Son of God.
The prophets grasped a part of God's part.
Jesus was God's plan.
The prophets pointed the way to truth and life.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6)

Therefore, He is superior to the prophets with their piecemeal, partial revelation.
Revelation is real – complete – final.

His Supremacy

The Book of Hebrews is not content to merely say that Jesus is superior.
He goes on to insist that He is supreme.
Not only is He greater than the prophets, but He is also greater than all created things,
up to and including angels. (1:5)

To a contemporary reader, this reference to angels may seem irrelevant.
But when we understand who angels are and what they did in the mind of the ancient Jews,
a precious truth emerges.

Angels are "ministering spirits." (1: 14)
They are God's glorious messengers.
Newer translations of Hebrews 1:7 describe them as having the characteristic of wind and fire.
Swift. Effective. Elusive.

Angels are the crown of God's creation in heaven.
So, when the writer of the Book of Hebrews says that Jesus is greater than the angels,
who are next to God, he is saying that Jesus is God Himself.
He is utterly and absolutely without peer.
He is supreme.

This assertion is made through a series of proof texts demonstrating "Thou",
in a unique and exclusive sense that Jesus is for real.

Jesus is the Son, the angels are servants.
Jesus is the message, the angels are messengers.
Jesus is Sovereign, the angels are subject.
Jesus is Superior, yes!
Even more – He is supreme.

His Deity

We read in Hebrews 1: 5, "For to which of the angels did He [God] ever say,
'Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee

Here is a direct reference to the deity of Jesus.
If anything can be said of a son, it is that he is of the same species as his father.
By saying of Jesus, "Thou art my Son," God is declaring Chrst's origin to be divine.

His Dignity

The Book of Hebrews also calls attention to His dignity.
At His birth, angels bowed down and worshiped Jesus. (1: 6)
Obviously, this makes Him superior to angels because the lesser always worships the greater.
It is they who worshiped and continued to worship Him.
Not He who worships them.

His Majesty, Eternity and Equity

Of the Son, God said, "Thy throne, O God" – His majesty – "is forever and ever" – His eternity
– "and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom – His equity
. (1: 8)
There is hope.
This regal One who reigns is without end shall dispense justice which is just!

His Immutability

Unlike the heavens with scroll and the stars which turned cold, the Scripture says of Jesus,
"But thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end." (1: 12)
He is changeless.

His Sovereignty and Glory

To sum up his argument for the unrivaled supremacy of Jesus, the author of Hebrews refers
to the time of His coming again.
After the custom of Eastern potentates who put their foot on the neck of a conquered enemy
to symbolize victory, the Lord Jesus will one day enter His ultimate and final glory.
He will sit at the right of the Father with His enemies as a footstool. (1:13)

It is all here in this first chapter of Hebrews.
His deity. His dignity. His majesty. His eternity. His equity. His immutability. His sovereignty.
His ultimate glory.
Jesus is not only superior, He is supreme.
Greater than the prophets.
Greater than the angels.

This is to say that Jesus is for real.
He is God Himself!

His Sufficiency

Therefore, He is sufficient.
This is the primary point that the Book of Hebrews makes.
The writer exalts Jesus' superiority and supremacy to emphasize His sufficiency.

The author of Hebrews is addressing a group of believers on the verge of becoming dropouts.
They are on the verge of forsaking their liberty in Christ.
There on the verge of returning to the legalism of pre-Christian days.
Instead of clinging to Jesus only, they were tempted to practice a religion of Jesus-plus.
Jesus plus a dab of Judaism here.
Jesus plus a touch of humanism there.

He is urging them not to make that mistake.
He is telling them that not only isn't necessary – it won't do any good.
There is no such thing as Jesus-plus.
Jesus is for real.
He is Son, not a servant.
He is sovereign, not a subject.

So Christians need not and must not think in terms of Jesus-plus.
He is superior.
He is supreme.
Best of all, He is sufficient, making possible an immediate and ultimate relationship with God
and with nothing between – not even angels.

It was important for those Hebrew Christians to know this, and to have this reason for the hope within them.
They were under tremendous pressures to turn back.
Their peers, their families, their religious leaders, life itself, the residual effects of the Adamic nature
within them – all were pressuring them to turn back from liberty in Christ to legalism.
If they were to stand tall in the face of this kind of coercion, they had to know for sure
on whom or what they were standing.

Was Jesus a fake or was He for real?
Was Jesus sufficient, or did they need a religion of Jesus-plus.
The answer came through the Book of Hebrews for them and us.
Jesus is for real!

He is sufficient.
He has done what not even angels could do.
He has cleansed us from our sin.
He has removed all barriers between ourselves and God.
He has given us instant and immediate access to the Heavenly Father.

This is an important message that we need today.
We have our own way of putting things between ourselves and God.
Sometimes it is a person.
Sometimes it is a particular pastor.
Sometimes it is a spouse.
Sometimes it is a child.
Sometimes it is a Christian folk hero like a favorite evangelist or a popular leader.

Sometimes it is a place.
Sometimes it's beautiful church.
Sometimes it's the great outdoors.
Sometimes it's sports.

Sometimes some of these things make God comparable for us.
We whittle Him down to size.
We make Him understandable and logical.

But, putting God in a box is terribly dangerous.
If our formula or jargon or timetable is proved ineffective, everything goes up in smoke.
We don't want this to happen, so we cling defensively to our little box.

There are times we put a person, a place, or thing before God.
In this way we create a God big enough to help us if we are in trouble,
but small enough to fit the markers of our puny minds.

But, such a God is not the God that is.
He is greater than our theological formulations.
He is greater than our religious jargon.
And, if we are to have a reason for the hope that is within us, we must know Him as He is.

We cannot be like the man who, when asked what he believed answered:
"I believe what my church believes."
The next question was "what does your church believe?"
He answered blushingly, "I guess my church believes what I believe!"

The tragedy of that little story is obvious.
Many church members are borderline, spiritual illiterates.
Their lack of biblical understanding is appalling

And, while we may laugh at the deacon who thought the Epistles were the wives of the Apostles,
the story really isn't funny.

The opponents of the Christian faith – the followers of the "isms," know what they believe.
They put the average Christian to shame when it comes to articulating their convictions.
That's why we need a reason for the hope that is within us.
We need to know all there is to know about this One who is for real and in whom we have believed.

If you and I are going to stand true under the mounting pressures of our time,
we must be sure about Him upon whom we stand.
Listen – and mark it down – and never forget it – Jesus is for real.
He is all-sufficient.
Therefore… "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard,
lest we drift away from it.
For… how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation
." (2:1-3)

Escape what?
No, that is not the issue.

Escaping hell and going to heaven are a matter of grace, not works.
"For by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
not as a result of works, that no one should boast
." (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

Our salvation is not at stake.
That was taken care of at the cross, if we have been to the cross.
From that point on, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39)
"Nothing can pluck you out of the Father's hand." (John 10:28)

This is the issue.
Having been at the cross, and taking Jesus as our Saviour, and having been cleansed of sin
and have been given eternal life.

What are we going to do about it?
What are you going to do about it?

Right believing unsupported by right doing is as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
Conversion is only the first step in the Christian life.
From that point on we must grow, and go forward in grace.
If we neglect this great salvation, and permit it to go to seed, we cannot escape the consequences
of that neglect.

Sermon was adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White