Good morning. Last week we began a new sermon series through the book of Hebrews. This morning we will pick up where we left off. But before we do, I want to quickly address a question that was posed to me by a member of the congregation last Sunday following the message. While preaching I made the statement that “God still speaks to people today in a variety of ways”. Is this true or not?
Some people argue that if God still speaks to people today, then the Bible by itself is not complete. The LORD could have or might still say something new or different than that which is contained in the Word of God. This gives credibility to false teachers and religions, such as those espoused by Muhamed or Joseph Smith who both claimed that God spoke to them and told them things that were clearly in conflict with the teachings of the Bible. If you believe that God still speaks to people in this sense, it opens a huge can of worms.
This is not what I meant by the statement, and am happy to give a clarification for anyone who misunderstood. I do believe that the revelation of God was completed in Christ. There is nothing else that God intends to reveal to mankind other than that which is already recorded in the Scriptures. This is why there are warnings not to add to, omit, or alter any part of the Bible.
Though God still speaks, He has already said everything that He intends to say. Therefore when He addresses us today He is either repeating, reinforcing, revealing, or reminding us of things that He has already said. When we hear His voice through the wooing of the Holy Spirit, through the teachings of another person, or perhaps in some other manner, we must understand this. God will not lead anyone to do or say anything that violates, ignores, or appends what is already revealed in the Bible.
I do believe that God still speaks to people today. I have personally heard Him speaking to me in many of the same ways that He used during the Old Testament. But what He is saying is not new or different than that which He has said in the past… Rather it is the same revelation, which was fully clarified and completed in Christ, being spoken to one generation after another both on an individual and corporate level. I hope this explanation was helpful. Okay, moving on...
The writer opened his letter to the Hebrews by describing Jesus as a superior messenger to the prophets who came before Him. In this uplifting description, the writer stated that Jesus had become “much better than the angels” (v4). In today’s sermon, we are going to see the evidence that supports this statement by reviewing 7 Old Testament quotations cited in the remainder of the chapter. I have titled this message, “Better than Angels”.
I. EQUAL (verse 5)
The first quotation comes from Psalm 2:7. This psalm describes the reign of God’s anointed Son, Jesus Christ, over the nations of the earth. In Acts 13:33 Paul cited this verse in one of his sermons to refer to the resurrection of Christ. The word “begotten” is translated from the Greek root “gennao”. While it usually refers to physical birth, it can also mean “to bring forth” or “cause to arise”. Unlike the angels, Jesus was not created or brought into being at some specific point. Rather He has always existed and was “brought forth” (or revealed) at the proper time. Jesus is the second person of the Godhead, wholly divine and co-equal with the Father.
The second quotation comes from 2 Samuel 7:14. This Old Testament passage lays out the promise that God made to establish David’s throne forever. While the verse literally refers to Solomon, ultimately it points to Jesus as the Son through whom the Davidic kingdom will continue eternally. God the Father did not promise this position or authority to the angels, but rather exclusively to His only begotten Son. There are a few verses in the Bible in which angels are called sons of God, but not in the sense that Jesus is described here.
II. EXALTED (verses 6-7, 9)
While there is some dispute, the third quotation likely comes from either Psalm 97:7 or Deuteronomy 32:43 (as written in the Septuagint). When Jesus comes into the world again, perhaps alluding to His future return, all of the angels will worship Him. In either citation, it is abundantly clear that God has exalted Jesus far above the angels. As His subordinates they will all submit to and ascribe worship to the Son of God.
The fourth quotation is taken from Psalm 104:4. God describes the angels as “His” winds and again as “His” flames of fire. They are twice said to be “His” which carries the meaning of subjection to Him, and subsequently to Christ who has been exalted above them. Angels are simply messengers and ministers who serve under the rule of and at the discretion of the Lord. They act in accordance to God’s sovereign control, like the winds and the lightning.
The fifth quotation comes from Psalm 45:6-7. This is a Messianic psalm that pictures Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church. Verse 7 of this psalm states that God the Father has anointed Jesus and exalted Him to a place that is “above Your companions”. Again, Jesus is described as have a greater station than the angels. While they may be groomsmen, attendants, or serve in other capacities at the wedding only Jesus is the bridegroom.
III. ETERNAL (verses 10-12)
The sixth quotation refers to Psalm 102:25-27. The psalmist is talking about the brevity of life and how quickly it comes and goes. In contrast, he states that God was present before creation and made the heavens and the earth. He will continue to exist even after the universe is no more. Though everything else eventually grows old and wears out, God is eternal. Just as a person changes their clothes, so also the old creation will be someday replaced with a new creation. Even in this, God remains eternal and unchanging forever.
Last we we read several verses that show Jesus at present and working during creation. Like his Father, Jesus already existed in the beginning. He created the angels sometime prior to the creation of mankind. The distinction is obvious - while Jesus is eternal, the angels had a beginning. Again this sets Jesus apart from and above the angels.
IV. ENTHRONED (verses 8, 13)
Going back to the fifth quotation (Psalm 45:6-7), this time the focus is placed on verse 6. This statements describes the Son’s throne as one which lasts forever. Jesus has been seated in the Heavenly places and crowned as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He has received a scepter of uprightness, an ornamental staff that designates Him as the ruling monarch of God’s kingdom.
The seventh and final quotation in this chapter comes from Psalm 110:1. God the Father tells His Son to be seated at His right hand while He awaits the final destruction of His enemies. The crushing defeat of Christ’s adversaries (sin, death, the grave, Satan) has already been accomplished, but has not yet been fully realized. The picture is of Jesus sitting enthroned in glory, patiently waiting until the appointed moment of His victorious return.
CONCLUSION (verse 14)
The writer of Hebrews concludes chapter 1 by stating that angels are ministering spirits who have been sent out to serve those who will inherit salvation. They are not only servants of God, by will also be servants of redeemed humanity. While angels are certainly fascinating to consider, they pale in comparison the Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. He is divine and a co-equal Person of the Trinity. He has been exalted far above the angels and exercises authority over them. He is pre-existent and was active in the creation of the angels as well as humanity. Furthermore, Jesus is enthroned in Heaven where angels presently worship and serve Him.
Angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. They encouraged and ministered to Him during His temptation in the wilderness. They strengthened Him as He agonized in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were present at the tomb to proclaim His resurrection from the dead. They even stood by at the Mount of Olives after the ascension and promised that Jesus would someday return in like manner. On every occasion, their actions and words plainly declared the superiority of Christ.
Some people have become entangled in the worship of angels. Our culture seems preoccupied with them. Angels are depicted in statues, ornaments, artwork, and jewelry. They are characterized in books, on television, and in the movies. Be careful not to get hung up on angels. They are not God. Remember this: “Jesus is better than angels!”