Daily Thoughts from Hebrews: Where Angels Fear to Tread

Of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.  You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

And,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.  But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

And to which of the angels has he ever said,

“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:7-14, ESV)

Jesus is the Son, and angels are required to worship him.  This is the author of Hebrews’ first salvo in refuting any arguments that would say the gospel of Christ is inferior to the practice of Judaism his readers are being tempted to return to.  Now he contrasts how the angels are described in Scripture with how the Son of God is described.

Angels are described as ministers or servants, called to serve believers, in fact.  This is how they serve God.  Jesus, on the other hand, is described as “God” whose throne is forever and whose kingdom is ruled by uprightness, as the Lord who created all things and never changes.  He is the one who sits at God’s right hand, the highest possible position of honor.

Interestingly, the first two quotes from Psalm 45 are addressed, in the original setting, to an Israelite king upon his wedding.  But the consciousness of Israel was such that they expected their kings to prefigure the Messiah, and what was nominally true of their king would be phenomenally true of Messiah.   So, though the human king might be addressed as “God” because of the position of authority he has under God, the Messiah will indeed be the Almighty God.

The quote from Psalm 110, however, is different in that it seems to be addressed directly to the Messiah rather than to any existing Israelite king.  This psalm will be further expounded throughout the letter.  It is a key passage the author goes to over and over to demonstrate Jesus’ superiority, not only to angels, but to the Aaronic priesthood and its ritual.  Jesus used this passage to confound the Pharisees and Sadducees after they tried to trip him up with their favorite problem issues (Matthew 22).

Were you to argue in your own context why Christianity is superior to the beliefs of your former life, the beliefs you used to make sense of the world, what would you argue?

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