“Angels all around. to keep you from harm, to guide and direct you, till your safe in God’s arms.” That’s how one song goes. Angels today have been romanticized, crafted into beings that cater to our earth-bound needs and desires. The Hebrews being addressed by this letter would have a different perspective for sure, much more aligned with the direct intervention of God’s message and guidance back through the centuries of the Old Testament history of their people.
We don’t want to sensationalize the existence and impact of angels in our world or past history, but we also don’t want to miss their importance. Recall the angels announcing Jesus’ birth to the shepherds then being surrounded with a heavenly host of angels singing God’s praises. This is a more recent example of the significant place they held in God’s program and being His messengers.
We are surrounded today by God’s provision. It may on rare occasion involve direct action of an angel, but more often God minister’s to us through the church and each other. We relax in His care, and stand in awe of His marvelous ways.
This world is a noisy place. We know we are here as a part of God’s plan, but we do feel the pull. Godless messages abound, constant temptation to question and disregard parts of God’s revealed truth. We know we are safe in the Savior though, and we seek to grow in Him and show Him to the needy world around us.
The angels on that remarkable night of Jesus’ birth must have been amazed. They sang at the top of their lungs about the great redemptive work God was accomplishing in His Son. They were carrying on a tradition that had been happening since they had been created declaring the glories and message of God.
Interesting that the writer to the Hebrews chooses to begin his treatise on the rich superiority of Jesus Christ as our Savior by comparing Him to the angels. They are a special part of God’s creation, but then, so are we. There is a great message that needs to be heard in the world around us, and we need to carry on that tradition of being God’s messengers. Be sure the message gets heard loud and clear!
The Jews and Angels
After the primary statement of 1:1-4, the writer settles into a line of thinking that goes all the way to 10:18 – “Christ is better… let me explain.” He is going to lay down several layers of evidence to support – the first layer deals with Jewish belief system related to angels, covered in1:5-2:18.
Why does the writer start his development of truth on angels? Perhaps some Jewish traditions led to a fixation, a dependency on angels to provide something tangible to hold onto for their faith. Traditions that elevate man-made things are always dangerous.
Angels in the Old Testament:
- Angels are a real part of God’s creation – they existed before Creation and were active beginning in the Garden
- They are a key part in God executing His plan for mankind
- Read Gen 19, Lot in Sodom
- Gen 32:1ff – Jacob wrestles with God’s angel on his way to meet Esau; Compare Hosea 12:4
- Psa 91:11 is background to 1:14 – the Son/Messiah rules, the angels do what? They are a blessing to believers
- Angels are the closest man gets to hearing from someone who has “been there” (heaven)
- Angels are a “Messenger” – this term carried over to Greek – “angel” is used 94x in the NT (NAS)
Look for 7 OT quotes in these verses and consider how each of those passages relates to the Messiah and angels.
- 1:6-7, Angels are servants
- Psalm 104 – the majesty of God
- The angels “minister” that majesty
- They worship and serve the Son, Jesus is God’s Son
- 1:8-12, Angels aren’t eternal
- They haven’t existed eternally, they are created beings
- Christ is the Creator
- Compare with Christ Who is a “priest forever”, Heb. 7:17-28
- 1:13-14, Angels aren’t the Son
- Christ is on the throne, at the right hand of God, the supreme and sovereign King of Kings
- His ministry is permanent, Rom. 8:34; 1 Jn. 2:2
- Angels are ministering spirits, not at the throne
1. From Heb 1:5, when was the Son born?
2. According to Exo 34:14, how is Heb 1:6 right in saying the Son is God?
3. Why is it right to refer to Jesus Christ as “first born” in Heb 1:6?
4. Heb 1:8-9 quotes Psa 45:6-7. In what ways is Psalm “messianic”?
5. In Heb 1:9, why the Son set above His companions?
6. What does Heb 1:10-12 declare about the Son?
7. How does Psa 110:1 apply to the Son in Heb 1:13?
8. What is the main contrast between angels and the Son as seen in Heb 1:5-14?
9. What is the major transition in the book of Hebrews that occurs in Heb 10?
10. Write down key words and a summary or what each warning passage is about.