The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1, verse 3.
Where do you start with that? How about at the beginning, especially since that dovetails on the ‘beginning’ theme from the last blog entry?
First off, we don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews. Some old Bibles list Paul as the author, but more recent scholarship has disproven that. According to my Concordia NIV translation, the author might have been Paul’s companion, Barnabas. Or it might also have been Apollos (Paul’s contemporary) or Bartholomew, one of the other disciples. In truth, we just don’t know and it doesn’t really matter.
Piecing together the ‘news’ from Hebrews and comparing it to the other New Testament books shows that the book was written to Jewish converts who were familiar with both the Pentateuch and the Talmud; this too is from Concordia. The new believers were also familiar with the events of First Century Judea (in the rise of the Christian faith). The writer apparently penned the book to encourage & teach believers in the new churches that grew in the Mediterranean region.
Finally, Concordia also says that the book is a practical guide to practical faith. As we walk through Hebrews, you’ll probably notice that the author talks about what faith means, tying it to events and people throughout Biblical history. This was practical knowledge that the Jewish converts in the early church could use. If you read it, you’ll probably find the same thing.
What does all this have to do with verse 3? When you consider that all of Scripture is God’s word – God’s very thoughts and words transcribed by men who were divinely inspired by Him – you get to remember that these words are things God Himself is saying. They are thoughts that come from Jesus’ heart. When you read them, you’re getting a communication directly from God through Jesus’ Spirit.
Hold onto that thought, then merge it with the knowledge that those words truly represent who God is. In absorbing them, you take part in His goodness. You see how He is above, over, around, and through all things. This universe He created (just by speaking) is something He created as an expression of His love, of His nature. What’s more, He created it all, then hand-made humans like you and I to take part in it. To oversee and tend to it; to help it grow and flourish. God is still over all creation, keeping it alive and in place through His powerful love, but He made human beings to be his partners in tending to it. He’s the source of life…we are His keepers of it.
This isn’t some esoteric theory; it’s not a speculation with millions of years of holes between transition points. This is God’s fact, the very essence of nature. In the days of the Bible, people would have been more open to this concept even as other pagan beliefs about the origin of the world would have been present (just as evolution is in our day). God plainly stated in Genesis “this is what happened. This is how it all went down.” He spoke plainly so people could understand plainly how God still held things together in Himself even in their day. He hadn’t deserted His people. If anything, He took their Creator-creation relationship to a new level.
The writer of Hebrews uses that fact to transition us through the idea that this same God, this same Jesus who is God and was present in creation, is the same Jesus who had just recently walked the earth. Who showed His divine nature and died for all sins. Who rose to heaven on His human death and is there now, fully present and fully alive, at the same time His Spirit is fully here, fully then and now, fully present and fully alive. Fully inspiring all we think, do and say in the same way He did for the Hebrews of first century Judea. Indeed, for all people of all times. That’s practical knowledge we can use to live.
Where do you start with that? Perhaps the better question would be “how would it end?” Soon we get to see that there is no ending to it, and that’s the biggest miracle blessing of all
For more reading: John 14, Colossians 1:17, Titus 2:14, Mark 16:19.
Lord, You are the magnificent Creator of all that I know. I believe in You, that You are present now and forever, that You’re over and through nature, and that You made this place to be an expression of Your beautiful being. Thank You for all these blessings!