Chapter One

Who is the Messiah?  What really was/is He?

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (1:1)

The writer begins with a summation of the entire Old Testament record.  All of the key players/writers in the Old Testament were called prophets.  Abraham (Gen 20:7) Moses (Num 12:6) David (Acts 4:25) and, of course, the prophets who compiled much of the historical record are all called “prophets.”  The point made here is that God spoke to the temporal realm from the eternal realm through the revelation that the prophets received.  God revealed certain eternal truths to these human beings who were instructed to give these revelations to their fellow humans.  The purpose behind much of the Old Testament prophetic ordinances were designed to point the children of Israel to the temporal manifestations of the eternal, that is to say, the law.  When the people would turn to the law, they would see the eternal and become the people of God reflecting His realm of love by their obedience to His Commandments.  This would make them different from all other nations.  Moses spoke this revelation that he received from the eternal realm into the temporal like this, “The Lord your God commands you this day to follow all these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all of your heart and with all of your soul.  You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways that you will keep his decrees, commands, and laws, and that you will obey him.  And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands.  He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame, and honor high above all the nations he had made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.’ (Duet 26: 16-19) Heaven would be released on earth through the obedience to the principles of love set forth in the law.  This would make Israel unique.  Isaiah said it this way, “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritits, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their god?  Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?  To the law and to the testimony!  If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” (Isaiah 8:19)  Notice that the people were enticed away from following God by a variety of spiritual practices; but, the proper response was to turn not to other spiritual practices but to turn to the law and the testimony as it was sent from the eternal realm in language and practical applications that the people of the temporal realm could comprehend.  God revealed all that was necessary from the spiritual/eternal realm for the people in the revelation of the temporal i.e.:  the law.  Moses also stated, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Duet 29:29)  On and on we could continue quoting Old Testament passages of this manner but, the point is well made.  This was the manner of God speaking to humanity before the advent of Messiah.

has in these last days spoken to us by His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory , and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the world of His power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (1:2-4)

In the beginning of the gospel of John, Messiah is referred to as the logos (logos).  What does this mean?  The writer of Hebrews agrees with this concept, the difficult lies in explaining the matter.  It is very difficult to put this concept into a language that is understandable.  When God created the universe, he spoke it into existence.  When he spoke, it was a spiritual power that created all that He purposed to do.  This spiritual power is “the word.”  One could think of it as an “agent of creation.”  This Word, Power, or Agent was with God and was God.  This Agent of God then “put on flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) That force wrapped itself up into humanity to speak directly to us from the eternal realms.  Jesus was the “express image of His person” meaning that He was the incarnate spiritual power that manifested itself among humans as God.   He represented the eternal realm.  He is the expression of the realm of God.  All that this realm is capable of manifesting was manifested by Him.  Hence, Jesus could tell the disciples that “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”(John 14)  This power revealed the eternal power of heaven to us.  It was a much superior revelation than that which was given to the prophets because it eliminated the middle man.   David Stern, author of the Jewish New Testament Commentary, writes, “The Word which was with God and…was God is not named as such in Genesis but is immediately seen in action; ‘And God said, Let there be light’ (Gen 1:3)…This expressing, this speaking, this ‘word’ is God…’Word’ translates Greek logos…it corresponds to Aramaic ‘memra’ (also “word”), a technical theological term used by the rabbis in the centuries before and after Yeshua when speaking of God’s expression of himself.  In the Septuagint logos translates Hebrew Davar, which can mean not only ‘word’ but ‘thing’ or ‘matter’; thus Messianic Jew Richard Wurmbrand has suggested this midrashic understanding of the phrase of this verse; ‘In the beginning was the Real Thing.’…literally, ‘the Word became flesh.’  It is not that a man named Yeshua, who grew up in Nazareth; one day decided he was God.  Rather, the Word, who was with God and was God, gave up the glory (he) had with (the Father) before the world existed (17:5) and “emptied himself’, in that he took form of a slave by becoming like human beings are (Phil. 2:7)…It is God the Word, then, who decided to become man, not the other way around.’” (1)  Messiah was the express image of the eternal.  He represented that realm.  The writer of Hebrews uses two words to describe Jesus here.  They are “brightness” and “express image”.  The Nelson Study Bible comments, “These two expressions occur only here in the New Testament.  The Greek word for brightness expresses the e brilliance emanating from a glorious source of light, such as the beams of the sun.  Christ, as the effulgence of God’s glory, is the radiance of God, revealing God’s glory to humanity.  The Greek word translated express image can mean the instrument used in engraving or stampings, but usually it means the image engraved or stamped.  In this context, the word means that Christ is the exact representation of God’s nature.  Since God’s essence, nature and being are invisible, the Son reveals God to us, for he is an exact visible likeness of God.” (2)  The linguistics of the text  supports our conclusion.

In these last days, He spoke to us from eternity through Messiah, this being who was the “Word made flesh.” (John 1:14)  His mission was to extend the realms of love toward us, while we were the enemies of God (Romans 5:10).  Humanity did not deserve this revelation; but, it received it because of God’s great love for us. (John 3:16).  He would make the sacrifice on our behalf that would purify our sins through the shedding of His blood. (Levi 17:11)  This is a theme that the writer of Hebrews will return too throughout the work.  That this being, this God-man, extended to humanity the love that is expressed in heaven for us by sacrificing Himself on behalf of our sins, which purifies us in the eyes of God.  Upon returning to heaven, He sat down at the right hand of God but something had changed about Him.

He returned to heaven not as the “logos” that had left; but, He underwent a metamorphosis that qualified Him for a different ministry.  The moment that He became a human he could no longer return to that previous pre-incarnate state.  We will return to this theme throughout this work but suffice it to say here that:  He departed heaven to become human and when He was resurrected, He didn’t become the spiritual force that had departed heaven, He was something different.  He now had a resurrected body that He could not just “leave behind”.  It had to follow Him off planet earth.  Something new was born.  This is a new creation of a new being in the eternal realms. (2 Cor 5:17)  Thus, Christ is referred to as the “first fruits from the dead.”(I Cor 15:20; James 1:18; Rev 14:4).    This is why His ministry is that much more superior to any angel.  He accomplished so much more than the angelic forces could accomplish because of His incarnation.  He is superior to all the angels.  His ministry is the most superior ministry of the eternal realms.  His expression of love into the temporal realms by His Sacrifice has had such an impact on the eternal realm that He has become the “heir of all things.”

Next, the writer will give a long list of Old Testament quotes that validate the point that we have just emphasized above.  Not much commentary is necessary here.  In light of the above commentary all the supporting verses quoted by the writer just make good sense.  However, there is one interesting detail that is present.  The very fact that the writer quotes from the Old Testament writings validates the authority of the Tanach (the Jewish designation for the Old Testament).   If the law and the prophets were “done away with”, the writer of Hebrews would not quote from them on an authoritative basis because they would have lost their validity with the resurrection.  Obviously, this is not the case as the writer quotes them as and with authority.  In quoting from it, the writer validates the Old Testament and sets it up as the measuring device against which the work of Messiah is to be explained.

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (1:14)

From an eternal perspective this verse just makes perfect sense.  In the eternal realms, the personalities that live there are so saturated with love that their natural response toward humanity, particularly those humans who are citizens of that same realm (Philippians 3:20), the angelic natural response would be to minister to those individuals.  To minister would be the “knee-jerk” response of the spiritual beings that live and operate in the eternal realms.  This point sums up the writers initial thesis.  The eternal realm has moved to express love towards humanity.  It began with the prophets, the law, the angelic visitations of the Old Testament.  It then progressed to where God Himself intervened on behalf of humanity.  The ministry of God Himself, that is, the Messiah, was superior to that of the angels.  And almost as an afterthought he states, they minister to us but Messiah ministry towards us is of a much greater and superior level.  Too this, the angels is heaven will agree and will rejoice of the repentance of sinners (Luke 15:7 & 10).

Endnotes

  1. Stern, David
  2. Nelson study bible, page 2077.
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