Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. (Hebrews 1:1–2 NRSV)
Key Observation: From the very moment God started to create to the moment that Christ will bring his eternal kingdom, Jesus is God’s last Word for the universe.
Understanding the Word
The book of Hebrews is in many ways one of the most puzzling books in the New Testament. We do not know who wrote it, and we are unsure of the church to which it was written. Experts on the book disagree on when it was written and whether its recipients were primarily Jewish or non-Jewish. Many think that its first twelve chapters were meant to be read as a sermon to a congregation the author hoped to visit in the near future.
The first chapter begins majestically, with an almost hymn-like contrast of Christ with the angels. Next to God himself, surely angels are the most exalted of God’s creations. Yet next to Christ, they are nothing. They are only servants in the kingdom of the universe. To show the glory of the age that Christ is inaugurating, Hebrews 1 shows us how much more glorious Jesus is than the angels, the stewards of the age that is now passing away.
The first two verses of Hebrews present a contrast. In the past, God spoke to his people in many different ways. He spoke to his people through human prophets in Israel. He spoke to them through angels. He led them through the wilderness with a pillar of fire and a wandering cloud.In days recent to the author, God had inaugurated a new Word: Jesus. He is not just one of many but the one Word. This final Word was the Son of God, the King to restore the rule of God on earth as it is in heaven. For centuries Israel had been without a king. They had hoped for God to give them full control of their land back.
In Jesus, they received a King greater than they could have possibly imagined. They received a people that was much bigger than those who had Jewish blood. They became part of a kingdom that was not only bigger than the land of Israel, not only bigger than the Roman Empire, but a kingdom that consisted of the whole universe, of all things both seen and unseen. The previous ways that God had spoken were “many and various.” Now God had spoken a singular, final Word in Jesus.
Jesus the Son spans the whole of history. On the one hand, he is the “heir of all things.” Everything that exists in the creation will be his when the kingdom fully comes. God has bequeathed it to him as his Son. In 1 Corinthians 15:26–27, we learn that God has destined everything in this world to be put under Christ’s feet, including death. So when Hebrews says that Jesus is the heir of everything, it truly means that Christ will rule over everything that God has made.
Then we learn that Jesus was actually at the beginning of the creation as well. This Son who is heir of everything was also the One through whom God created the worlds. Christians have long taken this statement to mean that Jesus must have existed before he came to earth as Christ. In fact, we believe that Jesus is God. In some mysterious way, even though there is only one God, God exists as three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 1:2 tells us that Christ was the agent of creation. Some Jewish writings from the time of the New Testament speak of God creating the world by means of his wisdom. An Old Testament example of this way of thinking is Proverbs 8:22–31, where God’s wisdom is pictured at his side helping him create the world.
Might the author of Hebrews have been hinting to this congregation that Jesus was God’s wisdom for the world, the One who gives meaning to everything? Jesus is the Word God spoke to heal the world.So begins this majestic sermon. Jesus is at the beginning and end of history. Jesus is God’s last Word for the universe. We know that we are about to hear God’s answer to all the world’s questions and problems. We are about to know the secret to the universe from the beginning to the end of time. That answer and that secret is Jesus Christ.
Questions for Reflection
1.Have you ever pondered the awesomeness of Christ? How great is this One who spans time from eternity past to eternity future! Are you living with an awe proper to his greatness?
2. How different would your community of faith look if Jesus were truly King? What is God calling you to do to make any needed changes?
3. Since Jesus is, in fact, God’s wisdom for the universe, should we not share that wisdom with as many people as we can? Are you excited to let God’s wisdom speak to everyone and every part of your own life?
Did you find this entry helpful? It is part of Ken Schenck’s Bible study, The Letter to the Hebrews (OneBook Daily-Weekly). This eight week book study with accompanying video sessions is perfect for Sunday School or small groups. It is a perfect study for anyone seeking to: 1) Be encouraged to press on in the midst of a culture that’s unfriendly to the Christian life, 2) See more clearly Jesus’s sacrifice and what it meant for abolishing the Jewish system of the Old Testament. Quantity discounts are available for group studies. Get your copies from our store here.