Daily Bible Reading for Monday, January 22nd:



7 Reasons Christ is King

The Lists of Hebrews
A Study of the book of Hebrews
Lesson 1
Lesson Text: Hebrews 1

Intro

We just do not know the author of Hebrews – There are plenty of great guesses and reasons to favor who the author might be, but instead of self-credit, he jumped right into the text with urgency. So we will too.

Hebrews opens with the writer explaining the superiority of Christ over all of the devices of the Jews – the law, the prophets – Judaism in general. Some of the Jews worked hard to discredit Christ as the one they were expecting as was written in the prophets, but many came to realize the truth.

Hebrews was written to encourage new Christians, mostly those converted from Judaism, during a difficult time. (Old Testament Scripture and History are repeated in every chapter) It also deals rather sharply with those who know Christ but are falling back to the old way despite what they have learned.

Discouragement

The converts were discouraged and therefore drifting away, disobeying, and disengaging.  We get the feeling from Hebrews 10:26-29 they were getting downright disrespectful.

Discouragement is an emotion that can take on its own life and can dominate us. Anyone that has been discouraged with anything about the church can probably relate. The momentum of discouragement looks something like:

  • Things are not going like they should, so why should I keep ______ (Studying, Participating, Praying)?
  • Discouragement grows larger as we slip farther
  • It becomes easier to forget just why Christ is in our lives
  • We do more and more outside of his authority

The Hebrews writer seems to recognize this and jumps right into a review of why Christ is our Lord and has all authority of his church (cf. Matthew 28:18). We will introduce Hebrews the same way that the inspired writer did – by reviewing Christ’s qualifications as the King of kings.

The Credentials of Christ

Hebrews 1:1-3 is a quick list of seven reasons Christ is the church’s sole authority.

It is reasonable to require some credentials before submitting to someone that claims to be authoritative in anything.

  • Who do you let work on the electricity in your house? A certified electrician or the guy you met in Home Depot picking out light switch covers?
  • Who would you pull over for in a traffic stop? The car with a trooper logo and a blue light or the beat up Chevy flashing its headlights.
  • Who would you allow to perform surgery on you?
  • Or give you investment advice?

Following Christ is no different, and even he did not expect you to follow him blindly. In fact, he told us to count the cost while we were are thinking about it. (Luke 14:26-33) But…

He does expect us to follow him totally!

The Hebrews writer spent a large portion of the letter reminding Christians who Christ is, and for the Jewish converts, why he is better than the old ways. These are the seven listed credentials of Christ’s authority:

  • He is the heir of all things
  • He is the Creator of all things
  • He radiates excellence
  • He is the Image of God
  • He is the sustaining force
  • He purchased our sins
  • He sits at God’s right hand

As we think about these points in a little more detail, consider how much the writer’s case would be weakened if one of these were not true. It might explain why those outside of the church have a hard time accepting him as the Lord.

He is the heir of all things

The Hebrews writer begins the letter by establishing Christ as the King of kings. He also makes it clear this is not just about earthly things, but of heaven, the universe –

all things.

These are listed from lowest to highest, starting with the idea of his being a son and appointed as the heir.

Family fortunes have always passed through the bloodlines just like legal authority in the world’s kingdoms. By this logic, the only begotten son of God is therefore his rightful heir. The writer no doubt had these verses in mind as he labeled Christ the heir of all things:

  • Psalm 2:8 – … I will make the nations your heritage …
  • Zechariah 9:9-10 – … And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.
  • Hebrews 1:5 – You are my Son, today I have begotten you (Points back to Psalm 2:7. Paul quotes it in Acts 13:33)
  • Hebrews 1:5 – I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son (2 Samuel 7:14 – The seed that was promised to David was not Solomon but Jesus Christ)

Since the Jews have denied Christ’s Sonship from the beginning, these strong proofs from the old Law were meant to show them (even remind them) that the idea of a Son of God is not a new idea.

The Creator of All Things

Through Christ, God created the world. (Hebrews 1:2) This credential of Christ is a human right that has never been challenged in the history of man. Whatever one creates is his, by law, by courtesy, and common sense. That said, we can prove Christ as the creator very easily.

  • In Colossians 1:16-17 we see that Paul fully understood Christ to be God. In these verses he says that Christ is the Creator of the universe, he was the sole end of his own work, he was prior to all creation, and he is the preserver of all things.
  • John 1:3 credits Christ with creation. Nothing is possible except through him.
  • Genesis 1:26 says that man was made in “our” image. The understanding of the existence of the Godhead has been there from the beginning.
  • John 17:5 records Jesus remembering the glory he felt with God before the beginning.

As Creator, his authority is absolute. Those who turn away from him, like those Hebrews the letter is written to, are turning away from the only one who offers salvation.

His Excellence of Character

The dignity of our Lord doesn’t depend on the fact that he created the world or even inherited it. He is the reflection of God. There was once time when there was no creation, but there has never been a time when God had no glory. It is that intangible essence of God that would have been hard to grasp if there had never been a Christ.

The Hebrews writer attempts to capture that essence through the words we have translated as radiance or effulgence. (Hebrews 1:3) The idea is that Christ shines forth like a brilliant light – certainly this is the inspiration of the many painters through time that rendered Jesus in the middle of light. The audience of the letter was sure to remember how Moses’ face shone after being in the presence of God. Those present at the transfiguration of Christ must have witnessed something similar.

The Image of God

The Son of God bore the exact image of his father. How much extra credit do we give the sons of famous men when they strongly favor their fathers? Something about the genetic similarities causes us to expect so much more from them. How much more then would that apply to image of God?

When the writer said that Christ was the “imprint of His nature,” he was communicating something along the lines of the die that strikes a coin or a branding iron making its owner’s exact mark. Christ said in John 14:9, “he that has seen me has seen the Father.” Paul said we were redeemed by the blood of the very image and first born of God. (Colossians 1:14-15)

Imagine God being available to look at. His hand is held out to hold ours. What if we could look into his eyes and see the love he has for us?

How would God feel if, after all that before us, we rejected him?

That is the emotion that the Hebrews writer was appealing to.

The Sustaining Force

Anyone who has a complete working knowledge of something, who can sustain its operation, and make it respond to his every command has a right to be named ruler over it. Since Christ “Upholds all things by his word and power,” (Hebrews 1:3b) his kingship is authenticated by his ability to control all things.

Paul stated in Colossians 1:17 “in him all things hold together.” When we compare and contrast Hebrews 1:3 with Colossians 1:17 when have the two writers giving us a complete picture. Paul says continue because of him and the Hebrews writer says the universe responds to his pervasive word.

Jesus repeated over and over what is possible when he is involved. Let’s remember to think of him first no matter what we are planning.

(Matthew 19:26) But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

(Mark 9:23) And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

(Mark 10:27) Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

(Luke 1:37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”

(Luke 18:27) But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

He Purchased Our Sins

In 1803 the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon for $15 million. Alaska was purchased from Russian in 1867 for $7 million. Those purchases gave the U.S. government full administrative and legal authority over the land and people. They were now subject to the laws and tax requirements of a possession.

As Paul told the church at Corinth, (1 Corinthians 6:20) we were purchased for a price. What Christ bought was our obligation to follow him, honor him, and glorify him. The elders at Ephesus were charged with shepherding the church which was purchased with Christ’s blood. (Acts 20:28)

When we consider that the defection of Christians back to Judaism was the occasion for the Hebrews letter to have been written, the author is appealing to sense of ownership that God feels over his people. How similarly do you think God reacts when his purchase of us fails as we do when something we buy does not perform to our expectations?

He Sits at God’s Right Hand

With a quick look at history, we see rulers that maintain rule simply because they are able. Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, William the Conqueror, The Roman Empire, The British Empire, The United States – The list is exhaustive.

Jesus slew Satan by his death taking away his power of death. (Hebrews 2:14) Being allowed to “sit at the right hand” of God is a picture of dignity, power and gracefulness. Christ is in charge of his kingdom right now. He will reign until “he has put his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25)

Until Christ hands the kingdom back over to God, (1 Corinthians 15:24) we are subjects of his kingdom. We are to respect and honor his Lordship until that day.

Summary

Through every conceivable right of lordship, Christ is in authority. The Bible is brimming with proof that should encourage the faithful student to continue to follow him. This is the primary reason that reading your Bible is so important – it causes your faith to grow. (Romans 10:17) In fact, Hebrews 2 opens with a warning to that effect!

The seven credentials of Christ listed in Hebrews 1 are points that are continuously proven throughout the Bible – Old and New Testaments. Having these proven time and time again is what gives us solid hope. (Hebrews 11:1)

 

About Butch Adams

In addition to writing this blog and contributing elsewhere, I have served as elder and deacon in the various places I have worshiped. In these duties, I have concentrated my attention on the area of education - both in outreach to seekers through the Internet and inside the congregations for ongoing Bible scholarship. Comments and thoughts about referenced material in the article above are Copyright 2018 by Butch Adams . Any referenced material belongs to its owners and every attempt has been made to use it according to their wishes.

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