God Has Come to Us

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Sermon # in the series: Hebrews
Scripture: Hebrews 1:1- 2:4
Speaker: Pastor Fred Provencher

Exegetical Idea

Subject: Why does the writer want us to know that Jesus is the unique Son of God and greater than even the angels?

Complement: He warns us not to drift away or ignore the message of salvation that come through the Son.
Preaching Idea: God has spoken to us in Jesus and we need to stop the drift and re-center our lives on him.
Comments: there is a long string of scriptures in chapter 1 to show that Jesus, as Son of God, is greater than any angels.  But I do not think this is because the writer is concerned that the people are worshipping angels.  I think he wants them to see that Jesus, as the message of God, is greater than the OT covenant put into place by angels.  His main concern is drift and spiritual dullness.  His readers have been Christians for a few years now and they are starting to lose their excitement.  They are being drawn back to Judaism which is safe and familiar.  He wants to draw them back and so he reminds them about the great majesty of Jesus.

This point is easy to transfer to our world. We often drift away from Christ. Christian in particular don’t deny Christ, they just stop paying attention to him.  The remedy to this is exalting and worshipping Jesus in all his majesty.  The homiletical (preaching) challenge is to carry the sermon with some tension until you can get to chapter 2 and reveal WHY the writer is telling you this about Jesus and angels. I chose to quickly move over the OT quotes as something that buttresses the argument that Jesus is unique to get to the writers warning: we must pay more careful attention.

You can pull a lot out of 2:1-4 about the reliability of the witness. Jesus spoke; it was confirmed by those who heard him and commended by signs, miracles and gifts of the Spirit. But we did not have much time to examine this.

Sermon—Flow of Thought

Introduction – When angel speaks you tend to listen because it is probably a message from God.

I was living in a small town outside Colorado Springs and it seemed that we  never got a call after 8:30 in the evening.  If the phone rang at 9:00 if felt like 2 am and you knew it was serious.  This is back in the days before cell phones when people called your “land line” which in those days was called your “phone number.” Anyway no one called after 9 pm, so when the phone rang one night at 10 pm, I knew something strange or terrible or both was happening. On the other end of the line was a young woman who said she was on the streets in Co Springs and that a man named Daniel told her to call me because I would tell her about God.

Now what happened when I finally found this girl, who she was and what happened, is a much longer story, and for another time. But what I want you to know is that a man named Daniel told her to call me at 10 pm even though she was about 40 minutes from my house. And I didn’t know anyone named Daniel – I mean no one.  I was a second year seminary student at Denver Seminary.  I had a youth group of six kids in a church of 80 people. The church had been around for 2 years;  I had only lived in Colorado for 18 months.  No one in my church was named Daniel.  No one in my wife’s company named Daniel knew me well enough to give out my phone number and the seminary I attended was a hour in the opposite direction. And I didn’t know anyone named Daniel at Seminary.  No one on earth could have known me and known this girl and known my number and connected us. Who was Daniel?

It wasn’t until later that I started thinking “Was Daniel like, some messenger from God?  Was he like an angel or something?” Now before you stop listening and write me off as hallucinating,  you would be surprised how many people have stories like this.  Ask a few people and you wont get more than 3 or 4 before you hear a “mysterious man” or “angel” story. Christians might call them angels and others might not know what to call them, but many people have stories.  All I knew was that some how God had gotten a message to me from some unknown, perhaps supernatural person, and that I was going to get in my car, drive to downtown Colorado Springs and meet this girl at a Denny’s.

Because, when an angel speaks, you listen – it is probably a message from God.

Now I want you to hold onto that story and that truth as we begin our new series.  We are in the book of Hebrews and we will be moving through it this Fall until Advent. Turn there and I will give you some background information. The book of Hebrews is complex, but at the heart of it is the truth that God has communicated with us.  The writer of this letter wants you to know that God has a message for us, but instead of starting with angels he starts with the Son of God.

God spoke to us in the past through the prophets but now he has spoken through the Son who is embodiment of his glory.

The letter of Hebrews is really a written sermon, but it was written to a group of people living near Rome around 30 years after the resurrection of Christ. They were starting to get a hard time from the people around them.

In the past God spoke through the prophets in different ways and different places. This refers to the way God revealed himself through the OT.  In narrative and song, in law, psalm, proverb and prophetic warning, God revealed himself to his people and through his people to the world.

On of the central facts of the universe is that God has reached out to us.

God has revealed himself to us.  God is greater that we are and we cannot know anything about him through our own reasoning except perhaps that he exists.  The universe declares that God exists and that he is beautiful and good.  But we cannot know much more. God reveals himself and he did so through the story of his dealings with his ancient people the Jews.  He spoke in various way, but all because he wants us to know him and to follow him.

Now God has spoken through “one who is a Son” (literal trans). This son is unlike any other person. He is the heir of all things because he helped create all that is.  There is nothing in the universe which is not his, which he is not Lord over. There is no country, no people, no creative endeavor or corporate entity where his truth is not still truth. There is no scientific truth that does not exclaim the truth about him, no beautiful object or song that does not reflect his beauty.  He is heir of all things because he is the creator of all things.  The scriptures declare that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In Proverbs it says that wisdom was with God when he created everything, but talks about wisdom as if it were a person.  In the New Testament we realize that Jesus is the son of God and the wisdom of God who was with God at the creation and through whom God created all things.

But Hebrews tells us more.  This itinerant rabbi who spoke in parables, cast out demons, healed and raised people from the dead was actually the radiance of God’s glory.  Jesus is God in the flesh and looking at him is like looking at the rays of the sun.  To look up into the sun is to feel the warmth and see the brightness.  It is not exactly looking into the sun, but it is looking into the sun, for the radiance of the sunslight is the sun.  And the life and actions of Jesus is God.  To look at Jesus is to look at God.  And then after revealing all of that to us, he acted as the ultimate high priest and offered a perfect sacrifice for sins, an offering of his own human divine blood as payment for any sin anywhere by anyone.

Illustration:

Jesus offered purification for sins and then he sat down –like a tennis player who has just won a grand slam match, he sits down in the chair at the center of the stadium, the match is over. He has won, and he sits, having accomplished his mission. There is no more tennis to play.  He is champion. So Jesus when he rose from the dead ascended to heaven and sat down.  The work of revealing the father, the work of atoning for sin, the work of crushing the power of death is over.

Transition Application:

You see he was more than just an angel, or a messenger of God. He was more than a prophet as the Muslims would say, more than one of many manifestations of god-ness as the Hindus would say, more than a Son of one of the gods as the Mormons would say, more than a created being at the Jehovah’s Witnesses would say.  He and only he is God himself in the flesh, one with the father and yet not the father.

The people in the church who received this letter saw the ten commandments as authoritative because they were given through angels, so the author offers a string of OT verses meant to show that Jesus as THE son of God is superior to angels – even though angels were pretty great.

The scriptures reveal that the son of God is greater than the angels who are servants of God.

The writer strings together several verses meant to show that the Son is greater than an angels.

In this he points to the truth that Jesus is the unique son of God. The phrase “son of god” is not just a phrase like “we are all children of God.” He is the Son with authority and power.

He shows us that the Son is eternal, again reminding us that only God is eternal and therefore this Son is also God.

Here is the whole point of all of this: Remember the story I gave you at the beginning? Remember how you might be motivated to follow a message that came from an angel? The Jewish Christians felt this way about the 10 commandments, the Kosher laws and the Sabbath regulations – they have been given through angels. But now the writer of Hebrews is saying Jesus is greater than angels so his revelation is even more important.
Transition: Why would he beings saying that.  I mean, what is he worried about?
We need to be careful not to drift away from the salvation that we have heard but receive it and live it as God’s call to us.

The command that grows out of all these majestic truths is this:  We should not drift

The contrast is clear. If the commandment put into place by angels is something that would make you take notice, why would you drift from Christ?  And we do drift from Christ don’t we?  We don’t put him in the center of our lives do we?  The Jewish Christians were drawn away by Jewish customs.  They seemed noble and familiar to them.  They were at risk from walking away from the deepest most important message God had given, the forgiving message of his Son.  They were drifting from devotion to the Son of God because Judaism seemed safer.

Application:

So the question is, what do we drift to?  What pulls us away from really devoting ourselves to Christ?  The opening verses of this letter are meant to remind us that whatever it is, if you are drifting from Christ, then you don’t understand Christ.

  • We might say that we are so busy with work that just don’t get a chance to think about God.  Your work place is probably not very religious.  I understand that, but remember that Jesus is the heir and creator of all things. That means he is God over your work because there are no “un-Jesus” places or realms on earth.
  • Your call is to find out how to live as a follower of Christ in the place where God has put you.  You must pray and seek to find out what difference Jesus makes in your workplace, because he does make a difference.
  • He is the heir and creator of everything so no matter what you study — economics, science, mathematics, literature — you are studying a world created by God through Christ.  Beauty, harmony, sin and evil are all understood through Christ,
  • You might say I am not good enough to follow Christ.  I am too guilty or broken. The writer reminds you that Jesus offered purification for sins. The sat down because your sin has already been atoned for.
  • Maybe your persistent sin is from looking for life from someplace other than the One who is the author of life and the Giver of abundant life.

Conclusion

Maybe you know quite well how you are drifting.  Here now is the call to return to the most powerful one on the planet, the God who knows you, died for you, rules over you and calls you to follow.

 

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