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Archive for the 'Highlights in Hebrew' Category

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Highlights in Hebrews

Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 2 - Hebrews 1:1-3
The real history of Jesus


In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 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.

In just these three verses the writer sets out the full story of Jesus. He did not begin in Mary’s womb. He had been around for all the ages since the beginning of this world of ours-and even before that. Jesus was God, part of the Trinity, so he had to have existed before he was born a baby in Bethlehem. In his magnificent opening verses John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Our writer here says in 1:2. “he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” Paul, in Colossians 1:16, 17 manages to surpass that when he says:

 
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

It is very difficult to work out how it all worked. Jesus was, at that stage, not human. He was in heaven, working for the creation and establishment of the universe and, in particular, this world. In the Old Testament there are several ways in which aspects of God, parts of his essential identity, are referred to. He is Word, Wisdom and Spirit. John says Jesus was the Word (John 1:1). Matthew strongly hints that he was Wisdom in his 11:19, “ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” He was an integral part of the Spirit as Luke 4:18 says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me”. In Proverbs 8: 30 it is said of Wisdom that at the creation that she was ‘at his side’.

From all these glories Jesus descended that he might provide ‘purification for sins’, a very shorthand way of talking about all he did on this world of ours living as both God and man at the same time. The writer could have spoken of his ministry, his death and his resurrection but he chooses just those three words, ‘purification for sins’, to stand for those the greatest moments, probably just 3 years of them, of all time. Only then did he ascend to heaven and sit down at the right hand of God on high. From then on there was, and is, a man in heaven.

His role there is to ‘hold all things together’ (Colossians 1:17), to look after his people, to direct their prayers, particularly when they run out of ability to pray. There he waits the Father’s signal that it is time for him to return to earth and set up the New Heavens and the New Earth that we are promised. I wonder whether he is impatient for that day to come or whether he rests calmly in the confidence of his Father God.

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00:0000:00
Highlights in Hebrews

Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 1 - Hebrews 1:3
Jesus: the image of God

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.

The word ‘better’ is oft-en seen as dominant in the book of Hebrews (I call it a book because it does not read like a letter or epistle. It is more like a treatise, but that is an unduly posh word!). But it is not the subject of this wonderful book; that is Jesus. The writer (no one knows who that was) starts his thesis with the statement that Jesus was ‘the exact representation of his being’. The ‘his’ is God. Like all good Christian thinking, writing and preaching everything starts with God.

One problem they had in those days was that they had not worked out how to advertise! They had no billboards lining the streets, no newspapers printed every day, no televisions to annoy us with their perpetual breaks for adverts, really very few opportunities to say what they were good at. Only the Emperor had an opportunity and that was with the coins. Everyone knew what the current emperor looked like because his image had been stamped on every coin. The coin was made of a comparatively soft metal. The stamp was made of very hard metal so that it could be pushed down under pressure on the face of the coin and thus you had the face of the emperor. This was what Jesus referred to in Matthew 22: 18 - 21 when he said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Which rather caught them out because they were admitting that they had the picture of an idol in whatever they used in place of pockets.

The primary reference of the exact representation has to be to the character and actions of Jesus. He was supremely oriented to other people. He cared for them, he healed them; he showed great grace and mercy towards them. He set a completely new standard of human behaviour focused on love. That is what God was, and is, like. Most paintings that attempt to show God get it completely wrong. They portray a big old white man with a long beard looking very stern and judgmental. No! If we want to know what God is like we have to look at Jesus because if he is the exact representation of God that has to be what God is like: Jesus, probably a small brown man looking rather scruffy and dirty because he walked so many miles on dusty tracks is the nearest we can get to what God looked like. But we can get much closer in the non-visual things that matter so much more. He was a God of love indeed he was Love. So all those lovely things that Jesus did as he walked this earth reflect the personality of God himself.

Click or Tap here to listen to or save this as an audio mp3 file

~

You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

Please do click or tap here to visit our Amazon site!

Click or tap on the appropriate link below to subscribe, share or download our iPhone App!
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