The Good Ol’ Days
That temptation was no different for the Christians in Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago. Persecuted for their faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ, the Jewish believers wanted to run back to the Hebrew traditions and practices on which they were raised – the good ol’ days! Their experiences with God, their revelation of Him, all came from the context of the Jewish traditions. The writer of Hebrews skillfully exhorted them to return to Jesus, who is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and [who] upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3) These words would have significant meaning to the Hebrews, because it was framed as a comparison to the ways in which God had revealed Himself to the Jews in the past: creation, prophets, and angels.
The Heavens Declare
The first way God reveals Himself to us is through His creation. Our very nature and existence reveal to us God’s glory! "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1). His handiwork does not merely point us to His intelligence and attention to detail, but it reveals to us even those qualities of God which are not seen by the naked eye. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” (Romans 1:20) The earth, the sky, the animals, and our own human bodies and souls are witnesses to us of the glory and goodness of our Lord God.
Gloria in excelsis Deo
God sent the angels, literally messengers, to speak, guide, fight, or protect God’s people on His behalf. The Lord occasionally even applied the word angel to himself when He appeared (for example Gen 22:11-18). The Lord appeared, spoke, or otherwise displayed His power and glory through the angels. It is important to note that the angels did nothing on their own but were specifically appointed by God to carry out tasks and bring messages, like “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
A Burning Fire
Likewise, God appointed prophets to be messengers on His behalf. When a prophet spoke, he was speaking in the name of the Lord to God’s people about His person, His power, and His commands. No easy task, but the power and truth of God compelled them. Jeremiah said, “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” –Jeremiah 20:9 And what was their overarching message? “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” –Habakkuk 2:14
Based on the messengers God chose, the phrase “at many times and in many ways” (Hebrews 1:1) perfectly sums up God’s revelation before Christ. The Hebrews’ prior experience of God’s revelation -- through nature, angels, and prophets -- would cause their ears to perk up when the writer of Hebrews used all the same markings -- God’s glory, God’s power, God’s words – to exalt Christ. However, the author took it further. What creation displayed, what the angels radiated, what the prophets proclaimed…Jesus IS! Jesus is the SOURCE of the glory, the EXACT IMPRINT of God’s nature. Through Jesus the world was created, through Jesus God’s glory radiates, and through the word of his power the universe holds together.
The heavens, the earth, the angels, and the prophets are all “mirrors” that reflect the nature and essence of God. Yet Jesus surpasses everything as the display of God’s glory and truth. In fact, it was through Him that all these representations of God came to be! “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16).
The author of Hebrews brought his hearers to the logical conclusion: If Jesus has come to deliver us from our sins, and in the face of danger we run back to a system which falls woefully short in every way; if we go back to the messengers of God, instead of looking to God Himself in our presence, then “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)
- Think about times in your own life when you have experienced and seen the truth and goodness of God. Remember that Jesus is not only superior to all these, but He is the source and power of them.
- Think about the things you run to for security and peace when trials come. In your heart are you looking to those things for salvation?
- Pray. Father, help me to look to Jesus, who is the radiance of your glory and the exact imprint of your nature, for my salvation. May I accept no substitutes.
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