Hebrews 1:5-14 – Jesus is way better than angels are… the sequel!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 17, 2012 AM
How do you measure a man? The measure of a man can be different for different folks. Clay Aiken sang, “Would he walk on the water? Would he run through fire? Would he stand before you, when it’s down to the wire? Would he give his life up to be all he can? Is that, is that, is that how you measure a man?” Country singer Jack Ingram sang, “Do the best you can do, love many, trust few. Work hard for the money in your hands — that’s the measure of a man.” Sadly, both reflect the world’s view of manhood. Yet when we look at the life of Jesus, a real man’s man, we see something quite different. Jesus’ measure is found in whom he is and what he did, and when we look at these facts we soon discover that Jesus is way better than angels are!
People in the first century were extremely superstitious. They burned incense and candles, put up small shrines to remember their dead, hung carvings or depictions of angels or gods for good luck in their homes or to remind them of the deity they worshiped. You know, kind of like dream-catchers, wind chimes, candles and incense, crosses and paintings, and the roadside shrines for the dead enlightened people use nowadays! In fact, some of these folks were going back to their old way of life instead of following their faith in Christ. The author of Hebrews wanted them to know what the measure of Jesus was, and to understand that he was way better than their superstition and worship of angels. Let’s discover what he says and why…
During my poetic song-writing days I penned a few lines concerning what a father says to his son before he leaves home, “Be it for better or for worse, whether a blessing or a curse, no matter where you walk, no matter where you run, you will always be my son.” While it is rather pathetic poetry, it is true. It is true for us mere mortals and it is true for Jesus Christ as well. Hebrews teaches us that Jesus is way better than angels are, because…
I. Angels are not God’s Son! (Vv. 1:5-6, 13-14)
1. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14 NIV)
1) Drawing heavily on the witness of Old Testament the writer establishes the uniqueness of the Son. In fact, just using the title of Son, and the privilege it entails, elevates Jesus above all and any comparison with mere angels. The author, using Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14, asks, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’”? Of course the answer is “none”. The first quotation is directed at David in referring to the fact he would not be able to build the temple, Solomon would. Yet, Solomon for sure did not receive all the blessings God infers here. They would be fulfilled in the future by David’s descendent Jesus. The second reference refers to the Messiah to come. These verses offer an effective rebuttal against any tendency to give excessive prominence to angels. It was known that all of creation, including the angels would adore him. Therefore, “when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’” He continues this thought by finishing with a questioning quote from Psalm 110:1, “To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’”? Satan wanted this position and more but this place of power and prominence is only reserved for God’s own Son Jesus. After all “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” And the answer to this is, “Yes!” Angels serve the redeemed, the children of God, us because of his Son! The only conclusion that anyone could possibly come to is that angels are not God’s Son, only Jesus is!
EXAMPLE: My father was very practical, pragmatic, and down-to-earth kind of guy. He related that “A car is simply a tool to get me from one place to the next.” He saw his vehicles the same as the wrenches he used to fix them! I find it kind of humorous that some folks, me included, will personalize their cars by giving them human names and characteristics. It is called personification or anthropomorphism. We do it with our cell phones, cartoon characters, stuffed animals, cars and such. As one blogger wrote, “I know it’s true, because my computer tapped me on the shoulder and whispered it in my ear!” While angels are powerful beings sent by God, they are created beings who serve the saints of God! That is what they were created to do, nothing more. No angel will ever sit on the throne of God, only God’s Son can! Jesus is way better than angels are because angels are not God’s Son, only he is!
We do not become angels when we die, angels only do what God asks them to do, and they can never inherit eternal life. Jesus was no angel, he is God’s son. The author of Hebrews continues his comparison of Jesus and angels by reminding his listeners that angels were created to worship and serve their Creator. He makes the case that Jesus is way better than angels are because…
II. God’s Son is not His servant! (Vv. 1:7-9)
1. “Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.” (Psalms 103:20 NIV)
1) In a couple of diverse quotations, Hebrews contrasted the servant-nature of the angels and the eternal authority of the royal Son. The author understood the context of Psalm104:4, “He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire” suggesting that angels, seraphim, often blended their changeable natures with winds or fire as they performed the tasks God gave them. But in contrast with this variability, the Son’s throne is eternal and unchanging, “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” We discover that the quotation from verses 8 and 9 are directly taken from Psalm 45:6-7, “Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Psalms 45:6-7 NIV) While one can have companions in life, but companions are not actual members of one’s family. My dog Molly is a wonderful companion and while she thinks she is human and a family member she actually is not. The same is true for Jesus and his heavenly companions of angels. Only Jesus was “anointed with the oil of joy!” This reference points to the holiness and obedience of Christ while he walked this earth and to his heavenly kingship! While Jesus has many companions in heaven, they are not God’s Son. Only God’s Son rules and reigns on God’s throne with the scepter of God’s kingdom! As the king is above his personal court attendants so is Jesus above the servant angels who worship around his throne! Jesus is way better than angels are because God’s Son is not His servant!
EXAMPLE: My father taught my brother and me that it was the duty of every man to be a gentleman around the opposite sex. We were taught to open doors, pull out their chairs, stand when a woman entered a room, to walk on the street-side, and to use polite language. We never wore our hats at the table and removed them when speaking to females. It was what was expected of a man around a woman. We live in a day and age where we think everyone is equal, therefore we can be just as crass and equally ill mannered with all ages and sexes. When we asked my father why we had to do these things, he responded, “It is expected of you. It is your place as a gentleman to mind your manners.” And that was that. While angels are the heavenly companions of Jesus, they are the servants of God. Those that minster before the throne of God are not equal with God’s One and Only Son. They know their place and he knows his. They do what is expected of them period. Jesus is way better than angels are because God’s Son is not His servant!
Now the angels are very wondrous, glorious beings, far more excellent than men are, and the scripture always represents them as superb and powerful creatures. We know of no being but God himself that is higher than the angels are. In fact the Jews believed that the law was ordained by angels and it should be held in high esteem. (Galatians 3:19) However, the comparison between Jesus Christ and the holy angels prove that Jesus is way better than angels are because…
III. God’s Son begins and ends His Father’s work! (Vv. 1:10-12)
1. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV)
1) The eternal nature of Jesus is established by the fact that again he created all things, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” (Psalm 102:25) Remember, John wrote concerning Jesus that “He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:2-3 NIV) All of creation, including the serving angels, “will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.” God never wears out, he never changes, and he is eternal. Everything we own, could ever own, will ever own will one day wear out! In fact, every day I am reminded that I am wearing out! And angels, who are created beings, will one day wear out as well! The truth is: that even when the present creation wears out like an old garment and is exchanged for a new one, the Son will remain unchanged. Jesus “will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” The interesting idea is that when the new heaven and earth are created, so too will the ministering spirits, angels, be recreated! Are angels eternal? No, only God is eternal. Jesus was there when the foundations were formed and he will be there to “roll up” all of creation as well! Jesus would tell the Apostle John, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13 NIV) Jesus will see salvation finished because he is its author. Peter would say, “Even angels long to look into these things,” (1 Peter 1:12) but they cannot! Jesus is way better than angels are because God’s Son begins and ends His Father’s work!
EXAMPLE: I never understood what my father did when he went off to work each morning until one day he invited me to join him at his workplace. I joined him at the garage. I found the husky smell of gasoline, oil, and cleanser. Each tool had its place; rags were used then put into a barrel where they were picked up to be cleaned later. People came and went, asking my father’s opinion of what was wrong with their vehicles. What amazed me most was that my father could diagnose a problem, begin to fix it, and finally complete it by making the car run just like new. It remained a mystery until I learned some of my father’s tricks of the trade. Jesus never had to learn the “tricks of the trade” of his Heavenly Father because Jesus is God. “I and the Father are one,” (John 10:30) he related to his followers. Jesus is way better than angels are because God’s Son begins and ends His Father’s work!
Jesus is way better than angels are because angels are not God’s Son, only he is! Jesus is way better than angels are because God’s Son is not His servant! Jesus is way better than angels are because God’s Son begins and ends His Father’s work!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.