"God . . . hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son." Hebrews 1:2.
The question by which our Lord put the Pharisees to silence, so that "no man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions," was concerning the mystery of His person. Though they knew that Messiah would be the Son of David, they were completely confounded when asked how the Christ could be both David's Lord and David's son. (Matt. 22:41-46.)
And still, "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?" are the vital questions on which hangs the eternal destiny of man. It must therefore be of all importance to learn from Scripture what is revealed concerning Him; for types have prefigured Him, prophets have heralded Him, one more than a prophet was His forerunner, a multitude of the heavenly host hailed His entrance into this world, and apostles have most blessedly dwelt on the glory of His person, the everlasting efficacy of His atoning work, the offices He now so perfectly sustains, and on His coming again. May we then ponder the inspired writings which testify of THE SON with that reverence and subjection, which become those who delight to hearken to God's testimony of Him
"We know that the Son of God is come." The Word which was with God, and was God, became flesh, and dwelt among us: and God, whom no man has seen, has been declared by the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father. The divine moral glory so shone in Him, that Spirit-taught witnesses tell us, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." In olden times, the thorough sinlessness of this peerless One was continually set forth, by the imperative requirement, that each victim sacrificed should be "without blemish and without spot," and His inimitable moral excellencies were borne witness to in the sweet perfume of the burning incense; while various offerings typically expressed His perfect surrender, and devotedness, as well as the savour of rest God always found in Him, both in life and in death. The laying down of the victim's life, the shedding and sprinkling of the blood, the entrance of the high priest inside the veil once every year, not without blood and incense, all pointed to Him, whose blood was shed for many for the remission of sins, and in virtue of whose one offering the veil was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, thus removing every hindrance to the believer's going at once into the presence of God.
Of the person of the Son of God, as also of His sufferings, and the glories which follow, ancient prophets have sweetly spoken by the Holy Ghost. The promised Seed — the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the virgin's Child has been manifested according to their word, in the mysterious person of Emmanuel. The babe of Judah's prophet has been born, and the Son given, whose name is "The mighty God," "The Prince of Peace"; who will ere long establish His kingdom with judgment and justice "upon the throne of David." According to others, Israel's Ruler has come out of Bethlehem, "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2.) The true Shepherd, the Fellow of the Lord of hosts, has been smitten, and the sheep have been scattered. (Zech. 13:7.) The Antitype of Isaac has been offered up, and raised again. The blood of the true paschal Lamb has been shed, and a way made for us through death and judgment into the very presence of God. It is no marvel then, that His forerunner should have been divinely taught that He was "the Son of God," should have announced Him to be "the Lamb of God," and have declared that He who came after him into the world was really before Him — for THE SON was before all things — and that His shoes' latchet he was unworthy to unloose.
Prophets also foretold that He — the Son, Messiah — would be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, sold for thirty pieces of silver, and His hands and feet pierced; that His garments would be parted by the soldiers among them, and lots cast upon His vesture. They also declared that He would be numbered with the transgressors, and bear the sins of many; that it would please Jehovah to bruise Him, and to put Him to grief; that the cry of His distress would be, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" That though He would be made an offering for sin, and pour out His soul unto death, making His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; yet it was clearly announced that His soul would not be left in hell [hades], neither His flesh see corruption, but that, having been shown the path of life, He would go back to Him "in whose presence there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Jehovah therefore said to the mighty Conqueror over death, Satan, and the grave, "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." For this we know He waits, and of Him it has been said, "The Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment," and that He will sit "upon David's throne," and "reign before His ancients gloriously."
From this brief glance at the Old Testament prophets, we see that they spake of Him "who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:6-11.)
When the prophet Isaiah refers to this period, he says, "I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall shall bow, every tongue shall swear." (Isa. 45:22, 23.) But when an apostle brings it before us, he applies it to Christ, thus giving another example of Scripture-teaching on the deity of the Son. He says, "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ," and in proof of it quotes this passage from Isaiah: "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." (Rom. 14:10, 11.)
We see the same interpretation of the prophets elsewhere; we might turn for example to Isaiah 6:1-8, compared with John 12:41 and Acts 28:23-28, which also give the clearest testimony to the Godhead of Christ.
It is no wonder, then, that a multitude of the heavenly host should introduce THE SON into this world with, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men" (Luke 2:14), or that the apostles should so dwell on the glory and perfections of His person, and be inspired to make Him known to others as the Object for our unchanging delight. One of these divinely-taught writers says, "We have seen with our eyes, we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." (1 John 1:1, 2.) Another sets forth the divine glory of the Son to the Colossians, as "the image of the invisible God, the First-born of every creature: for by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him, and for Him; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the Firstborn from [among] the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. For in Him all the fulness was pleased to dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross," etc. (Col. 1:15-20.) What a precious cluster of glories is here presented for our contemplation! How clearly they speak to us of the deity of the Son!
Again, in the Hebrews we are told that "God hath these last days" — after all the varied. testimony of prophets — "spoken to us in [the person of the] Son" (Heb. 1:2); and we propose now to look a little, with the Lord's help, at what is recorded for our blessing concerning Him in the earlier chapters of this epistle. Before, however, proceeding farther, it may be well to press upon the reader the importance of making the word of God as much as possible our vocabulary when speaking of the unfathomable mystery of THE SON; and, in all simplicity of faith, receiving what God has declared of Him for our intelligence and blessing, instead of drawing deductions, reasoning out conclusions, or allowing ourselves to think or speak of Him according to human phraseology, and thus unconsciously slipping into serious error. We may be certain that "no man knoweth THE SON but the Father," and that enough has been revealed of Him in Scripture for our instruction and comfort.
In Hebrews 1, 2 THE SON is remarkably brought before us; in chapter 1 as to His eternal Godhead, and in chapter 2 as to His manhood. Yet not exclusively so in either chapter; for how could this blessed One, who is both God and man in one Person, be divided? Perhaps there has not been a more fruitful source of error than the attempt to do this. In both these chapters however, scriptures are quoted which specially refer to Him as Messiah.
In the first, He is also presented as the Purger of sins, and then as sitting down on the right hand of God; both which wonderful acts He did being man, yet as no one less than God could do. In the second we see that He took part in the children's flesh and blood; He takes not hold of angels but of Abraham's seed; that He is the Sanctifier, and the One who, under the title of Son of Man, will put all things under His feet. Thus we find that when the Holy Ghost brings before us the eternal Godhead of THE SON, He also reminds us that He is man; and when He specially presents Him to us as man, He shows us that the Child born the Messiah — is the mighty God. How could He be Maker of all things, Heir of all things, Upholder of all things, and how could He put all things under His feet, except He were verily and truly God? And how could He take part in flesh and blood, be the Purger of sins, taste death for everyone, and sit upon the throne of David, without being verily and truly man the woman's Seed, Son of Abraham, and Son of David, according to the flesh? Hence Scripture says, "It is Christ that died," that "the Son of man" was lifted up, and that God "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." It was the glory of His person which gave such eternal value to His work; whereas, among men, it is the dignity of the work which gives honour to the person.
In Hebrews 1 THE SON is looked at as "from everlasting to everlasting." (Ps. 90:2.) He is therefore infinitely above angels — the highest class of created intelligences that man knows; for He had a more excellent name, was emphatically called by Jehovah, "My Son," and He called God, "Father." The Son, as man, is now exalted to the Father's throne, the One to whom angels, and principalities, and powers are made subject; and the world to come will not be put under angels, but under Him, to whom it was said, "Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool." THE SON, then, is infinitely above angels, Who are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall inherit salvation. That Holy Thing which was born of Mary is called the Son of God, but being also eternally divine in His own person, He is no less than the effulgence of God's glory, and the exact expression of His substance. He is therefore before all things, and greater than all things; for all things were created by Him, and by Him all things subsist.
In the first twelve verses of this chapter, THE SON is, as we have said, particularly looked at in His Godhead character. He is truly "the First and the Last." Not only did He most truthfully say, "Before Abraham was I am," but He was before anything was which is made, for it is said of Him, "By whom also He made the worlds." We read elsewhere also that He had glory with the Father before the world was, and, Father and Son being relative terms, we find here His eternal Sonship most plainly revealed. (v. 2; John 17:5.) Moreover, we are taught that the Father's counsel and purpose, and love to us, were in the Son before creation — "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." (Eph. 1:4.) THE SON, then, is eternally divine. We are instructed by an inspired prophet that one attribute of Godhead is Creator. "To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number. . . . Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding." (Isa. 40:25-28.) He, then, who created all things is Jehovah. We have, therefore, in this first aspect of THE SON, the clearest possible proof of His being "from everlasting."
Secondly, He is brought before us as the One who did by Himself make purification of sins, and set Himself down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (v. 3.) As man had sinned, man must bear the penalty of divine justice for sin; and since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead; but who could satisfy the infinite claims of God's justice? or drink up the cup of His eternal condemnation of sin, but one who was divine Himself? Who else could glorify God about our sins, could put them away for ever, and cleanse us by His own blood, but He who had eternal attributes — the Son sent by the Father to be the Saviour of the world? Again, who but He could step from the sepulchre to the throne of God, and take His rightful place there? It is not here the aspect of His resurrection as being raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, most precious as that view is; but it is THE SON, who descended first into the lower parts of the earth, lay in the grave till the third day (thus giving the most decided proof of His actual death), rose again from among the dead in the glory of His own eternal excellency, and took His place on heaven's throne, to which He was righteously entitled — "who . . . when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (v. 3.) Blessed be God, there He is, the ascended, glorified Man, and made "both Lord and Christ." Thus, in the second and third verses of this chapter, we find THE SON is looked at before time, or from everlasting, as the One by whom everything was made; and in time purging sins by Himself, and then sitting down in the highest place of power and glory at God's right hand.
Thirdly, there THE SON still sits; but He is coming again, and then He will be the Object of the worship of angels, even as now in heaven angels, and authorities, and powers are made subject to Him. Hence we read: "And again, when He bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him." (v. 6.) It need scarcely be said that worship could not be rendered by all the angelic beings which surround the throne of God to any one who was less than God. To no creature, however blessed by God, or endued with divine power, could such honour be rightly accorded; the idea would be sinful in the extreme. Angels know who the Son is, and that He died for man on the cross; they announced His entrance into the world when born in Bethlehem, they afterward tracked His solitary and perfect path, and ministered unto Him; and when He comes to the world in power and glory, they will accompany Him. Whatever may be the measure of the intelligence of angels, it is quite clear that they know to whom worship rightly belongs; for when John was once and again so overcome with the bright shining of an angel, and the wonderful things made known to him, that he fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed him these things, it was at once refused. Instead of the angel accepting the homage, he rebuked the erring apostle, saying, "See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and [the fellow-servant] of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this Book: worship God." (Rev. 19:10, Rev. 22:9, 10.) Angels, then, who clearly know that God is the true object of worship, will take their happy place of rendering worship to THE SON when He comes as the First-born into the world, and in this they will be of one accord, for it is said, "Let all the angels of God worship Him."
Fourthly, then His rightful place on earth will be the throne; for He comes not to suffer, but to reign. As the true David, He will occupy His own throne; for all things are to be subdued by Him unto Himself, before He delivers up the kingdom to God even the Father, "when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet." (1 Cor. 15:24, 25.) He will establish, too, His ancient people in their hoped-for earthly glory, when all the promises shall be made good to them. And who but One, who is God, could take possession of all things, and subdue all things to Himself? We read, therefore, "But unto THE SON he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." (vv. 8, 9.) Thus, in millennial glory, when THE SON — the Messiah — takes His kingly place of power, and reigns before His ancients gloriously, our attention is again called to contemplate Him in His eternal Godhead. "Fellows" or companions, He will doubtless have; but here, as in all things, He must have the pre-eminence. It is unquestionably the millennial time in which we here behold THE SON for it is characterised by righteousness, according to the Scripture, "A king shall reign in righteousness." Now God is preaching forgiveness of sins, and bearing with this evil world in marvellous patience and long-suffering; but when THE SON sits on His own throne, He will wield the sceptre of righteousness; for, as we observed, righteousness will characterise His kingdom, not grace. It will be manifest that He loves righteousness, and hates iniquity; and because He is eternally divine, will be able to subdue all things unto Himself. Then He will show "who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." (1 Tim. 6:15, 16.)
Fifthly, as the eternal Godhead of THE SON has been looked at "from everlasting," before the worlds were made, He is also brought before us as "to everlasting," when heaven and earth shall have passed away. Now He is upholding all things, and by Him all things consist; but when, according to the divine counsels, this old creation shall have fulfilled its course, and have for ever passed away, THE SON will still be known in all His unchanging freshness and glory. He by whom all things were made will lay aside, as a garment, what is perishable and has waxen old. We read: "Thou, LORD, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as, a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." (vv. 10-12.) Can there be a clearer testimony to the eternal Godhead of the Son? Who else could have brought everything that is made into existence? or who but He who is Almighty could fold up and lay aside this vast universe, and yet Himself remain in all His infinite and unchanging attributes? Most truly did He say in the days of His flesh, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but Thy words shall not pass away." What man, what angel, what creature, could truthfully utter such an authoritative sentence? Well might His hearers have been sometimes astonished, and exclaim that "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
Thus has it been our happy privilege to trace in this inspired word THE SON eternally divine before all worlds; then as the Maker of all things; then as purging sins, rising victoriously over death, and taking His rightful place on the Father's throne. We have also been contemplating Him as the One whom angels universally will worship, when He comes into the world in power and glory, to reign as King of kings, sitting on His own throne; and, lastly, when time shall cease, and this old creation pass away, we have been instructed, that His eternal attributes will shine out in all their divine and unchanging glory and freshness. Well, indeed, has it been added, "Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and today, and for ever."
"Thou art the everlasting Word,
The Father's only Son;
God manifest, God seen and heard,
The Heaven's beloved One:
In Thee, most perfectly expressed,
The Father's self doth shine;
Fulness of Godhead, too: the Blest —
Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That every knee to Thee should bow."