Daily Thoughts from Hebrews: Worship the Son

…having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:4-6, ESV)

From our perspective this part of Hebrews seems a bit odd.  The author is comparing what Scripture says about angels versus what it says about the Son.  Why?  If you were a first century Jew you would know.  There was biblical evidence that angelic beings were involved in the giving of the Law, though the evidence points more toward the Angel of Yahweh being the one involved, and evidence that he is indeed the Son of God.  There was also abundant speculation about angels and some heretical Jewish beliefs gave angels near divine status.  If this congregation of Jewish believers in Messiah are considering going back to status quo Judaism it is likely that some of their relatives, rabbis and others are arguing with them that Jesus may just be one of these angels, or at least they may be arguing that divine beings were involved in the revealing of their faith and therefore it was divinely sanctioned in contrast to Christianity.

So the author of Hebrews begins disposing with the arguments of unbelieving Jews as to the superiority of status quo Judaism versus Christianity.  The first argument is that Jesus has inherited a more excellent name than the angels, the name ‘Son’.  To demonstrate this he quotes Psalm 2:7.  Psalm 2 is a psalm about God’s establishment of His king over Israel as the ruler of all the nations.  The psalm pictures the Gentile nations that are currently under Israel’s dominion plotting how to overthrow God’s anointed (‘messiah’ means ‘anointed one’).  Yahweh laughs in derision of their hapless plot, reminding them that He declared this king of Israel His “Son,” a common expression used in other cultures of gods adopting the king of their people as their leader, begetting this king, treating him as the god’s own offspring.  Other cultures used this as a reason for viewing their king as a god, but not Israel.

Yahweh is the only God, and His king is responsive to Him and He grants the king victory over his enemies.  To come, as the psalm says, and “kiss the Son” is to acknowledge the king’s sovereignty and Yahweh’s sovereignty.  So for Israel this psalm was a picture of the ideal king, the offspring of David, who would rule the nations with a rod of iron.  And they could not help but anticipate that this would be ultimately fulfilled in that supreme king, the Messiah, when he came.  He would fulfill all the promises God gave to David of a perpetual kingdom (see 2 Samuel 7).  What not all of them may have understood was that Messiah would fulfill this psalm in a greater way than previous Davidic kings would.  He would be the “Son” in a literal way that human kings were not.  And this is the same concept in the quote from 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 89:26,27, which the author of Hebrews quotes next, saying “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”.

In contrast to the Messiah being designated the Son of God, the firstborn, that is, the one who has received the inheritance upon his ascension to the throne, the angels are commanded to worship him.  This obviously shows their inferiority to the Son.   There is, admittedly, a problem finding this quotation in Deuteronomy 32 in its form made here in Hebrews.  Perhaps the quote is more from Psalm 97:7 in which the Greek translation of it uses the term “angels” instead of “gods”.  The point, however, is that the author of Hebrews sees Jesus’ designation as Son of God to mean Jesus is equal to God and thus deserving of worship.

All prophetic history has pointed to Jesus being the Son of God, the fulfillment of Israel’s expectations that a son of David who was also Son of God would rule forever over all the nations.  How can we see that come to pass and face each day as if it is just another day of humdrum life.  We know this Son of God and have been redeemed by him.  To live must be Christ.

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