August 24, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“The Son of God radiates the glory of God and is the exact representation of His being thereby sustaining all things by His powerful Word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of Heaven returning as superior to the angels and bearing the name that is greater than theirs.” (Hebrews 1.3-4)
As Paul writes this introduction to the treatise of “the superiority of Christ in all things,” he is, in effect, turning on the light of wisdom and understanding. Christ is superior to all others (apart from the Trinity, of course) because He traversed the path of Heaven and earth. He speaks of the Christ as being the Son of God and the Son of man because that is who and what He is. Here the echo of David’s song of praise found in “Song of Worship #8,” where he sings “What is humanity that You are mindful of them and human beings that You would care for them. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You have made them rulers over the works of Your hands and put everything under their feet.” David is singing a Messianic hymn anticipating what was true in his life in that present day and what was yet to come in the days to follow. And Jesus of Nazareth, the descendent of David through Mary, was the Christ of God who was made to dwell among God’s people in a position of power, dominion and authority just a half step below that of the angels. He was, of course, as the Son of “man” the Son of God. As the Son of God, He was far superior to that of the angels being seated at the right hand of God. His place was authenticated by His sojourn in the land of promise which God loved, redeemed, reconciled and repurposed through His Son. He laid down His life in Heaven to lay down His life on earth. No greater love is there than this, God’s word declares, “Than a human being lay down their own life for the sake of another.” No greater love except that such sacrifice be intended to honor and glorify God and fulfill His purpose of authentic love through a saving grace. Have mercy!
Paul would amplify this understanding in his letter to the Church in Ephesus professing “But, to each of us has been given grace as Christ apportioned it. This is why God says: When He ascended on High, He took many who had been captives and gave gifts to His people. (Psalm 68.18) What does it mean then that “He ascended” except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended from Heaven is the very One who ascended higher than all those in Heaven, in order to fill the whole universe [and fulfill all righteousness- my addition.] (Ephesians 4.7-9) What follows that affirmation is the result of such authority to which the resurrected Jesus, the Christ of God, dispensed in the realm of humanity for the purpose of equipping the “saints” for service as a priesthood of all believers. The intent was that all would work together to attain to the full measure and maturity as was intended by God in His creation of them from the beginning. That purpose was to be “clothed in righteousness” for righteousness’ sake. It was not meant to be “an elevated status” meaning that God’s people were “above such things” as righteous works or work that proclaimed the righteousness of God. It meant that in all things, the righteousness of God was to be the benchmark for one’s identity and one’s productivity. Certainly we would understand that even in this broken world, with fractured views of one’s self, God can work all things together for good in those who call upon the name of the Lord and are called by the name of the Lord.
What is Paul hoping to stir within those who receive the Word of the Lord through him? I believe it can be nothing less than we are not to settle for less. Our true place on earth is to be just a little less than the heavenly beings! What is their purpose on earth but to serve by God’s command the ministry to those who are in need whether they know they are in need or not. Call them “guardian angels,” if you wish but in all reality they are God’s “ministering angels.” We see them in the announcement to Mary and Joseph concerning the birth of Jesus. We see them in the announcement to the shepherds of the royal flocks in the early morning hours of the Sunday after Passover when Jesus was born. We see them in the wilderness after Jesus sojourned there for forty days following His baptism in the Jordan River and was sorely tempted in His human nature by the Tempter himself without regard to God’s providence and word made known in Jesus as the Christ. If that is their purpose on earth, then it should be our purpose as well. I believe it gives us a more vivid insight into the true and authentic meaning of “worship.” Paul captures this by delineating the “offices” to which the people of God in Christ were assigned being: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Each of these “offices” have a function within the scope of worship as to that which belongs only to the One True God. Now who leads the worship of Heaven and earth? Who used to lead worship in Heaven, even the worship that included the Son and the Spirit as well as God? It was, of course, the Tempter, Lucifer, the Accuser, Satan, the Devil.
But, no longer! Christ leads the worship not of Himself but of the Father who has been made known in Him and through Him to all people. And through His death, He is made known to all past generations. And through His resurrection, He is made known to all future generations. He alone is able to sit as the right hand of God and dispense justice, mercy and judgement with all objectivity and fairness as no other on earth or in Heaven can do, apart from God. In Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, God’s will is personalized and definitely revealed so that all those who walk by faith and not by sight can assist in leading this worship of Yahweh Elohim with Christ. It is by this truth, that Satan is further highlighted as the defeated one. All he is left with is the opportunity to lead the worship of self whose purpose is to worship him alone. We see that in the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. For all the promises Satan makes to Jesus that would sound like elevating and empowering His own position with power, dominion and authority on earth it came with the singular caveat: bow down and worship me. The lure to lust one’s own prominence is nothing more or less than the seduction to worship that which is not of God. Thus, we take our cues from the very words of Jesus to “not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, to worship God alone and serve Him only and finally to not tempt God to be anything other than who God is and what God has determined to be best for all concerned thereby showing ‘trust in the Lord with all one’s heart, mind soul and strength and not lean upon your own understanding.’” And when we do that, we show our resistance to the Devil and he will flee and take the sting of death with him so that life in God is all that remains.
Sounds like good advice and wise counsel to me. Jesus would call this “light and salt.” We can reflect more on that tomorrow! Shalom.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
We thank You God, for the promise that has been made and fulfilled to us in Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Your Son. He has shown us the light of Your Word and fed us with the meat of Your gospel. We take them in so they can become manifested in us to generations present and yet to come. All this we do for Your glory in the name of Jesus the Christ. AMEN.