Lecture 1.

The Son of God in His Supremacy

Hebrews 1 — 2:4.

"Better than the angels."

It has often been noticed that the opening of this epistle to the Hebrews is different from all other of Paul's letters — for I make no question, though I do not enter into it here, that the epistle was written by Paul. His usual salutation is entirely wanting. The theme that filled the apostle's mind and heart, the necessities of those to whom he was writing, all pressed so heavily upon him that it would have been out of keeping to have intruded himself, if I may use the expression, when he had such communications to make as we have in this epistle. Therefore, instead of the familiar name "Paul" at the opening, we have the blessed God at once brought before us. It is a message directly from Him, a message for His people about His Son in such a complete way that we lose sight of all instruments. Whatever channel God may have used to bring His message to His people, we have our attention drawn simply to the One who is here presented — the Son of God in all His wondrous, varied characters — in all His blessed work — in all that He is for God and for us.

What we have read we might divide, as is usual, into three main parts. The entire subject is the glory of Christ: His supreme, pre-eminent excellence above angels, above all creation. In the first four verses we have the excellence and glory of the Son of God described for us. Then, from the fifth verse to the end of the chapter, we have His supremacy over all creation testified to by quotations from the word of God and in the third portion (the first four verses of the second chapter) we have the warning not to turn away from this testimony of the Holy Spirit to the glory and the blessedness of Christ. A very full theme indeed, and one, I am sure, which can only oppress us with the sense of our utter helplessness, save as we are occupied with the glories of Christ, and mastered by that which is before us.

"God, who in many parts and in many ways spake of old unto the fathers in the prophets, hath at the end of these days spoken to us in the Son, whom he hath established heir of all things, by whom also lie made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory and the expression of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, having made [by himself] purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, being made so much superior to angels as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they."*

{*The text of Scripture, throughout this book is taken from the "Numerical Bible."}

We have at the very beginning the Old and the New Testaments connected together. It is God who has been speaking — a word for all those who would be tempted to put a slight upon the Old Testament, or who would in any way qualify the fact that whatever channel, whatever instrument God may have chosen to use, it was absolutely His message, — God spake, no matter how, no matter through whom.

The "times past" refer to the old dispensation, all that took place up to the coming of Christ. It is Christ who divides all history. Everything before pointed toward Him; and everything since points back to Christ, or, rather, I might say, points up to Him. Christ is the great Centre, the only centre of God's thoughts; the centre of all there is in creation, in the history of man, and in all that the heart can conceive. Christ alone is the centre and theme of all.

You notice he distinguishes between the "times past" and the times present. But there is a very significant change in the word. He "hath in these last days spoken unto us in His Son." The "times past" were varied. We have the age before the Flood, and the time of government under Noah and his successors. We have the calling out of the nation of Israel, and their history is divided into various parts: the time up to the conquest of Canaan the time of failure during the life of the Judges the time of kingly authority and glory under David and Solomon and then of failure, going on down to the Captivity. Then we have the time of restoration. All of these are the times that are past, and during these times God was speaking, through whatever agency, "by the prophets." The term, then, does not refer exclusively to those who were technically prophets, — from Samuel on, — but to all who spoke for God, notably Moses, who indeed refers to himself as a prophet (Deut. 18:15). All Scripture, as inspired of God, is "prophetic Scripture." In contrast with that, we have the present times, described as "these last days." That tells us unmistakably that there is no further revelation to be had from God.

And what further revelation could there be when God has given His own Son? We can trace a gradual unfolding of divine truth from the beginning, from the first glimpse just outside of Eden's gate, on through the call of Abraham — in God's dealings with the patriarchs — His revelations in connection with the calling and deliverance of Israel out of the land of Egypt — their settling in the land, and all their Levitical ordinances. There was a constant, increasing unfolding of truth. But now the Son of God has come. The Sun in all its glory and splendor has burst upon the vision of faith. What further revelation can there possibly be? It is not "the last days" as they are sometimes spoken of in Scripture, as days of the decadence of Christianity, or as the time when Israel will be restored and God will begin to deal with His ancient people — though then Messiah will have brought in blessing. These are minor uses of the expression "the last days;" but here you have it used simply as marking the revelation of Christ.

If God has spoken to us in His Son, it must be the last that He has to say — there can be nothing further. And, as you think of that, it emphasizes what you have in the close of our portion — "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" God has nothing more to give. He has no reserved source of grace; He has exhausted divine fulness (if I may use such an expression of that which cannot be exhausted) in giving us Him in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

God has "spoken in times past unto the fathers;" that suggests that the apostle is writing to those who could call by that name those who had gone before them. He is writing to Israel according to the flesh, to those who could claim descent from Abraham, and who could say literally, as by grace we can say, "Abraham our father" — for he is "the father of all them that believe." But here the patriarchs are spoken of as the natural ancestors of those to whom the apostle was writing.

There are two words here which suggest the character of all God's revelation in the past. They are translated, "at sundry times, and in divers manners." They might be more accurately rendered, "In many parts, and in many ways." God has spoken in the past in many parts; that is, the sum of His truth has to be gathered from various portions of His Word. He had to give partial revelations. From the very nature of things it was impossible for Him to give a full and complete revelation until One came who could in Himself embody all that God was.

Thus we find, in looking through the Old Testament, that everything is of a partial or fragmentary character. We learn lessons of sin, and of atonement for sin. At the very beginning, outside Eden, we see God providing a covering for our guilty parents. We find Him teaching the lesson of judgment in the Flood, and of shelter from that judgment through the ark. We find Him teaching His sufficiency for those who trust Him, in the life of Abraham. We find Him illustrating the fact that He is a God who fulfils His promise, in the birth of Isaac, and an unfolding of the precious truths of sonship in connection with Isaac's life. We find Him chastening and disciplining His people in the history of Jacob, and in Joseph we see Him revealing those secrets which ever, if I may say, struggle for expression — secrets as to the glory of His own beloved Son; for God was ever yearning to express His thoughts of Christ.

And so we could trace it all through the Old Testament Scriptures. God was giving fragmentary revelations. He was speaking in many parts. You learn one lesson here, and another lesson there. And not only that, but He was speaking in many ways — to Joseph, for instance, through a dream; to Moses through the partial revelation of Himself upon Mount Sinai; to the nation of Israel in all the varied experiences of their history, giving them the truths of redemption in the Passover, the truths of access to Him in many a type and symbol in the Levitical ordinances. In this way He was speaking in divers manners as well as in many parts. Toward the end He is speaking through those whom we know as the Prophets, though every revelation of Himself is really prophecy.

Thus, as it were, God putting before man a great mosaic. When you take up one stone of that mosaic, and study its color, form and position, you get but a partial view of the great picture of which it forms a part. It is put in its place, and stone after stone is taken and set in its place, until you see gradually unfolding a grand picture of what God would reveal; but it is all "in many parts, and in divers manners" revealed to us.

But now, in contrast to that,we come to "these last days." Does he speak of apostles, of prophets, of special messengers bringing this and that truth? Do we hear aught of Paul, of Peter, of James, or of John? Ah no; it is all gathered up in one blessed, simple word which brings to us the full burst of divine revelation — "He hath in these last days spoken unto us in His Son."

How much that means! With what unshod feet we should tread here! What divine fulness is there! God has spoken in His Son! The Son of God, then, is the theme of this epistle. The Son of God is the One whom God has made known unto us; the knowledge of the Son of God is what, in infinite grace, He has given to every one of us. Have you ever paused to thank God, to bless Him from the depths of your soul, that you are living in these last days? Would you change places with a Moses, who saw that glory which God was able to reveal in connection with law? Would you change places with Isaiah, who in the temple saw the Lord high and lifted up, and all the glory that could be manifested in a house made with hands? Or with a David, who foresaw One who was to sit upon his throne, and all things put in His power? Ah, the feeblest child of God who lives in these last days has infinitely greater privileges. As our blessed Lord has said, "Many prophets and kings have desired to see the things which ye see and have not seen them, and to hear the things which ye hear and have not heard them." There is nothing greater, nothing more wonderful, than the fact that all of us, all the people of God in this Christian age, are blessed with the full revelation of the Son of God, all that God has to say. Thus Paul, in Colossians, speaks of his ministry fulfilling, or completing, the ward of God, for it fully unfolded Christ.

Let us now look a little at the way in which He presents His blessed Son here. The mind naturally turns to the thought of One who is revealed to us in the Gospel of John as the only-begotten Son of God. As we sometimes sing,
"The higher mysteries of Thy fame
The creature's grasp transcend."

It is utterly impossible for us fully to understand all that is in that blessed relationship of the Son with the Father. The only-begotten Son, who dwelt in the bosom of the Father through all eternity — who can describe the blessedness of that relationship? who can understand all that was meant — the equality, the eternal blessedness, the glory, the joy, the satisfaction of divine love in the Father to the Son, and in the Son to the Father? We get a glimpse of this in the eighth chapter of Proverbs. But there are mysteries here at which we can only look and wonder. "No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son." We cannot intrude there. We know that He who is revealed to us was the only-begotten Son of God through all eternity. But is it not an amazing, a blessed thought that the very relationship which He bore to God throughout all past eternity is the character in which He is presented to us when He comes as Son of God upon earth! How is He described for us here? We are speaking of Jesus, of Him who called Himself ever the Son of man; we are speaking of the One in whom God has spoken in these last days; and how do we know Him? Not merely as the Son of man, but as the Son of God, with all that that blessed relationship implies. God, as it were, would tell out to us, so far as we can understand, the blessedness of that relationship which He had with the Son throughout eternity. He is revealed to us as the Son of God. The form of expression suggests, also, that not only was the Son the Messenger of God, last and greatest of all whom He had sent — as described by our Lord in Matthew — but He is the representative of God. God Himself was speaking in the person of the Son, "God with us."

There are here seven expressions which set before us the infinite fulness of this blessed Person, which I will first read in their order.

1st, He is the Heir of all things; 2nd, "By whom also He made the worlds;" 3rd, He is the brightness of God's glory; 4th, He is the express image, or very impress, of His substance; 5th, He upholds all things by the word of His power; 6th, He is the One who purged our sins; and, 7th, He has sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Christ, as Son of God incarnate, is the theme. It is as Son of God who has become man, the One in whom God has spoken to us so that we can hear and see Him and understand His revelation. But the language used to describe Him in that way is with a fulness which reaches back into His eternal glory, and shows us that in leaving that, He has left nothing of the intrinsic excellence and the power which belonged to deity. He is God, though revealed as Messiah, King of Israel and Son of Man.

First, He is Heir of all things — of this creation in which we are, and the whole universe of God. God is the maker of it, the upholder of it, the possessor of it. The Son of God is the Heir of it all. A son is an heir. You find that very beautifully brought out as to ourselves as believers, in the eighth chapters of Romans, 6th and 17th verses: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs." Heirship goes with sonship. But His heirship is spoken of here before anything but the Father and the Son is mentioned. What a thought that is! Before God had made anything, before aught but Himself existed, in His divine completeness He had an Heir to all His glory that should be revealed; an Heir to all His infinite possessions that should be created; an Heir to all the ages as they should unfold; everything should centre in Him; everything should be in the hands of His Heir. God has given it to the Son of His love. He is Heir of all Israel's glory in the day yet to come. The time is coming when Israel will be displayed in blessing in the place of her inheritance; and when she is there she will simply own her subjection to the One who is Master and Lord and King over His earthly people.

He is also Heir of all the nations. When they are associated with Israel, they will own subjection to One who who is their Lord and their Master. He is over all things in heaven as well as upon earth, as you have in that wonderful scripture in Ephesians: God hath "set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet;" so that whenever you think of Christ, you think of One who possesses everything that it is possible to conceive of. He is Heir of all things, visible and invisible thrones, dominions, principalities and powers.

The next glory is that He is the Creator of all things. How could He be anything less than Heir of all things if all things were made by Him? We read in the Gospel of John, "All things were made by Him; and without Him was nothing made that was made." In the epistle to the Colossians we read, again, "All things were created by Him and for Him." The Son of God whom we know, the blessed Lord Jesus, who is the perfect revelation of God, is the One who has made all things. We cannot be too simple here. If He has in grace veiled His glory in a tabernacle of flesh, let it ever be our joy to recognize the Creator in this lowly guise. The word for "worlds" here and in the eleventh chapter is not the one usually found in the New Testament. It means elsewhere "ages." But there is also authority for its evident meaning here. There may also be the suggestion of all "cycles" of time.

The next revelation of Him is that He is the brightness of God's glory, the shining out, the effulgence of His glory. God dwells in light unapproachable. The very brightness of that light dazzles the eye of man, forbids him to see, to understand God. The glory of God is the manifestation of Himself. His glory fills all creation. "The heavens declare the glory of God." Wherever His works are seen, there His glory is. Wherever God's creatures are, or there is a heart to appreciate His glory, there you will have that glory manifested. But beyond the outermost limits of space, beyond all created things, reaching off into the infinite, which God alone can comprehend, you have still the glory of God transcending the universe even as God Himself is beyond it all. But Christ is the brightness, the effulgence, or outshining, of that glory.

When our Lord was here He declared, "I am the Light of the world." God is light, and the Son is light. The light of God is unseen save as shown forth by the Son. There must be an object for light to fall upon, and that Object was the Son. But the light in Him was not derived, or reflected, in the sense that we can conceive of Him as being without it. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." By virtue of His deity He was the effulgence, the splendor of God's glory, while truly Man as well.

I confess that words sound feeble before such transcendent themes as these. The heart seems weakly to grasp these amazing thoughts, but let us get them clearly in our minds at any rate, for I am persuaded that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to glorify the person of Christ, and to set before us in its completeness that which is ever before the Father, who alone can comprehend it in all its fulness.

More than that, passing on to the next glory He is the very impress, the very image of God's being, of His substance, so that the Lord Himself has said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." What a wonderful thought! The word translated "express image" means the stamp which makes the coin. The Greek word is "character," which suggests that our blessed Lord was an exhibition of the full character of God — His holiness, wisdom, goodness, love, power. All that God is — not merely in His ways, but in His being — is expressed absolutely by the Son. This would connect, in some measure, with the expression "the Word" in John, though that applies to His untreated connection with God; "the Word was with God, and the Word was God." When He becomes Man, He is still the Word, the expression of divine thought.

He is next described as "upholding all things by the word of His power." He is the God of providence as well as the Creator. Here is no mysterious heathen deity that we believe in in common with all mankind. Would that the God of providence were more generally recognized as our Saviour and Redeemer too. He it is who upholds all things, who brings forth the heavenly hosts, calling them all by their names, for that He is strong in might; not one faileth. But you say, "It is God, surely." Yes, but God the Son, blessed be His name.

No one has grasped what the Son of God is until he has prostrated his soul before Him as "God over all, blessed forever." I would that I could put it so strongly that every soul would bow to the truth of it, the absolutely essential, perfect divinity of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. We admit not one iota of a question, not one shadow of a doubt, not one bit of tarnish upon that glory which God has spread before us on this page

We will not permit for one moment a question or low thought of that blessed Person who in grace humbled Himself down to our comprehension, and took the form of a servant.

Turning back for a moment, let us look at two occasions on which God declared that this was His Son. Look at the Man Christ Jesus associated with His people at the time of His baptism. Repentance had been preached by the faithful forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist, and the people confessing their sins had taken their place in Jordan, owning their evil desert, owning they were under death and judgment. When they are all baptized, there comes One, Jesus, whom John recognizes as the One by whom he had need to be baptized, instead of associating Him with these people. But He, in spite of John's protest, takes His place too amidst a people who had confessed their sins. He goes down into that which for Him was an anticipation, a foreshadowing of His own death. He goes down into Jordan and takes His place in all humility and grace as the Substitute of His people, identified with them. And just as He comes out of those waters of death the heavens are rent asunder, and God declares of Him, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The very One who to outward appearance seemed to be one of that repentant throng, who had, apparently, nothing to distinguish Him from that crowd of people who had confessed their sins, God distinguishes, and declares Him to be His beloved Son, in whom He found His delight. In all those thirty years of private life at Nazareth He was perfectly pleasing and acceptable to God, who sets the seal of His perfect approval upon His entire life up to that time: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Then look on to the mount of transfiguration. There you have quite a different scene. It is as though God would give His beloved Son a foretaste of that glory into which He was so soon to enter, as though He would show in anticipation His thoughts of Him; and to the wonder of those with Him He becomes transfigured before them, His face exceeding bright as the sun, His raiment shining as the light; and again that same Voice declares, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him."

Now these two declarations of God as to His beloved Son show His thoughts of His entire life during His path of humiliation. You can link what you please with that humiliation — everything that you find in gospel history, — the Man Christ Jesus dealing with the poor woman of Samaria, speaking with the poor sinner in the Pharisee's house, ministering blessing and goodness wherever He went, and in it all you can hear God declaring, "This is My beloved Son." He was the brightness, the outshining of God's glory, the very image of His being. In all the relationships into which He came, God recognized Him and marked Him as His Son. And if we look up where He is now in that glory, we see Him still the unchanged, blessed Son of God in whom He has found His delight.

Let us turn now to a few verses of Colossians (Col. 1:15-17), and you will see these glories of which we have been speaking, gathered together. "Who is 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 they be 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." What a congregation of glories we have there! In the brief compass of two or three verses you have the fact that the Son of God is the image of God: "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" — he has seen God Himself. He is the image of One who could not be known to us except in the person of His only Son. More than that: He is the Creator and the Upholder. The apostle brings before our minds not this earth and its creatures merely, but all things "visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, dominions or powers" — the highest things in all the created universe of God. They were all created by Him, that is, by the Son of God. More than that, for Him; and more than that, He is before them all, He is supreme over all. More than that, by Him all things subsist — He upholds all nature.

Now we pass from these glories which are essentially divine, though they are used to describe the blessed Son of God in His humanity, to the next wondrous, precious thought: "When He had by Himself purged our sins." God is giving a sevenfold description of the glories of His Son. We have seen Him as Heir, Creator of all things, the brightness of God's glory, the very image of His Being. What is suited for companionship with such glories as these? Is it possible that the great truth of redemption will find its place along with these wondrous truths? Ah, beloved, in describing these many crowns which are upon His head, in describing the glory which is His as Son of God, we find that the blessed truth of redemption has its place along with these. "When He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down." He does not here speak of His being the sin-Bearer; does not enter into the question of His being made sin for us exactly. That is enlarged upon later on in the epistle. He just touches the great truth that He made purification for sin. He did the whole work of redemption, and He did it by Himself; not by an angel or any other agency. The Son of God accomplished purification for sins. Think of the companionship in which redemption is! Think of the blessed Son of God, "the brightness of God's glory, the express image of His person" — then think of redemption. They are companion thoughts in this scripture. We can speak of Him not merely as the One who made the worlds and who upholds all things by the word of His power, but with the same breath we can speak of Him as the One who has made purification for sins. And can there be any question that that purification for sins is just as perfect, just as divine and God-glorifying, as every other attribute, as every other ray in this effulgence of divine glory we have been looking at? The purification for sins, God associates with all the glory of His Son, with all that He is as creator, as upholder, as divine.

Lastly, we see Him going back where He was before, into that glory which He had with the Father before the world was. Returning there by right, not merely called up there by the glory of the Father, as we know He was also, but taking His place there in His right as Son of Man and Son of God, who has title to all things, not merely by His divine being, but as Son of God, who, in time, has accomplished the whole work of redemption, and thus takes His place upon the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.

Do you wonder that the Spirit of God, as He sets Him forth in this sevenfold lustre and glory, should pause, as it were, and say, "Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they"? It is the name of Son. We have seen what that blessed name means, the Son of God. What a name — what an unfolding of divine character — what fulness there is in that! Is there any question as to the place of angels in comparison with Him, as to the place of any creature? Can we compare any one with the Son of God? with Him in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily? There is a beautiful touch in the original which is not brought out exactly in the English "Being made so much better than the angels." It is not exactly that. We have that expression in the first part, "being the brightness of His glory." He was ever that. But now it is "becoming so much better than the angels." Thus it is after making purification for sins, and after taking His place at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, that He is declared better than the angels, having obtained, inherited, a more excellent name than they. As you dwell upon this sevenfold revelation of Himself, do you not say, with the testimony of the Spirit here, He indeed is better than the angels, He hath inherited a more excellent name than they; and "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow; of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father"?

"For to which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again when he bringeth in the First-born into the habitable earth, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And as to the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire; but as to the Son, Thy throne, O God, is for the course of eternity, and a sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hast hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou abidest; and they all shall grow old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou roll them up and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But as to which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit on my right band until I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"

Now we pass on to the testimony of the word of God. We have here God's witness from His Word to the supremacy of His Son above angels. And here again we have the number seven, the sevenfold perfection of the Son borne witness to by the infallible word of God. I might say that all seven of these quotations are practically taken from the Book of Psalms. Though one is taken verbally from the seventh chapter of 2 Samuel, nearly the same words are in the eighty-ninth psalm. But is it not suggestive that we have these quotations from the Book of Psalms? It is as though God would say that the glories of His Son, the excellences of Christ, are material for the eternal praise of His people. Whenever you speak of the glories of Christ, whenever we have Him set before us, whether as maker, as upholder, or as purger of sins, it is to call forth the homage of our hearts. These quotations from the Book of Praise are a divine hint as to the attitude of soul that should characterize us as we dwell upon His glories. We should be associated with the choir which, back in the days gone by, began speaking of the glories of Christ. We, in these last days, on whose ear the full music has burst, should ever join in the anthem of worship and praise to the Lamb of God, to whom every knee shall bow.

The first quotation is from the second psalm: "Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee."

The expression "this day" speaks of time as contrasted with eternity. I should say that it was really "in this day of creation," in this day of manifesting Himself in the person of His Son, that God has begotten Him, has set Him forth. He is "Only-begotten," in eternity past but when He comes into the world, when He takes His place as the Head of God's creation, He is the "Firstborn."

"Thou art My Son." God directly addresses Him. The psalm from which this is quoted speaks of Christ as King, and of the opposition of the kings of the earth conspiring against the Lord and against His Anointed: "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh," for has He not established His King upon His holy hill of Zion? And then we hear the voice of the King Himself: "I will declare the decree." Why is it that the King in Zion can stand against all the hatred and opposition of the enemy? Why is it that even in the day of His rejection, when His followers were but a few feeble Jews, shortly after Pentecost they could take up this second psalm and quote it back to God as an argument why He should give them all boldness to speak the Word without fear? Ah, it was because that King in Zion was His Son. "I will declare the decree," says the Son; and then He declares it. "Thou art My Son," God had said to Him; "this day have I begotten Thee." He is in His kingly place as Son of God, and who dare array himself effectually against the Son of God? Who dare assail that throne which is occupied by the Son of God, of the Eternal Himself?

The second quotation, as I said, comes from the seventh chapter of 2 Samuel, but the truth of it is embodied in the eighty-ninth psalm. It gives us the same thought, only now in the reverse way: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son." The first one had declared, "Thou art My Son." This second quotation emphasizes the fact that God is Father to Him. How blessedly did our Lord Jesus enter into that all through His life here! It was ever the Father. John's Gospel is the gospel of the Father. The Son lived by the Father; He made known the Father's name. How good God made these blessed words to Him: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son"! It referred primarily to Solomon himself as a type of Christ. In all his glory and splendor, Solomon typically occupied that relationship which is described in these words as ruler over God's people. But how feebly he illustrated, how partially and temporarily Solomon exhibited this blessed relationship, which is only true of God and His blessed Son in any full way!

Then we have the next quotation, from the ninety-seventh psalm. He is now bringing in the First-begotten into the world. You notice the expression "First-begotten" shows that it is not Christ in His essential deity, but as Son of God become man. It is when He brings Him into the world or "habitable earth," His millennial kingdom. The psalm describes Him as coming into the habitable earth as Judge to take His place and reign and as He comes and takes His place there, the One who once came as the Babe of Bethlehem, comes in the clouds with power and great glory, accompanied by the hosts of heaven: the angels are associated with Him in His glory. And God, as He introduces His King in all this glory to the earth over which He is to reign, calls upon all associated with Him to prostrate themselves before Him: "Let all the angels of God worship Him." There He is, the Object of angels' worship. Of none of the angels had this been said nay, they are worshipers, not objects of worship. How completely that sets Christ as supreme above all His ministers!

That leads us to the next quotation, from the 104th psalm, the psalm of creation. It says of the angels, "Who maketh His angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire." Here God is speaking of His works of creation and providence, and the messengers that He uses: they are angels, beings who excel in strength, and delight to do His will. He makes the angels spirits, and they go as the lightning or as the wind, quick and certain in their work. Blessed position they have, the place of exaltation as far as man is concerned but after all, they are ministers and — as we read in the last verse of our chapter, "Are they not all ministering spirits" — not merely those who minister to God, those who go as the rushing wind or as the flame of fire to do His will, but are they not ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to us?

There is a vast amount of curiosity as to angels. I do not propose to take part with those who delve into curious questions. But it is interesting to look up the various allusions to their service in the Old Testament. You have them in the life of Abraham, in the history of Lot, and in various other places, scattered throughout the Old Testament. In Job they are called "the sons of God." They are God's messengers to do a certain specific work. How they seemed to crowd out of heaven's portals when there was One here in the manger, to whom they would have delighted to minister! How they seemed to follow Him out of the heavens, longing to attend upon Him, as He Himself said when in the garden, surrounded by two or three poor, feeble men, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now call upon My Father and He will send Me more than twelve legions of angels?" How they would have delighted to minister to Him! but the time was not then.

But the ministry of angels since our Lord's ascension is simply that of servants, as in Acts, when the prison doors were opened for Peter by the angel of the Lord.

What a blessed place is ours in association with Christ, that we should be the objects of service and care by those who delighted to minister, when they were permitted, to the Son of God Himself, and who will come in attendance upon Him! The angels, then, are God's servants to His Son. But the apostle is not to be turned from his theme. He goes back again to the Son.

The next quotation is from the forty-fifth psalm, and there we see Him again in millennial splendor. He is coming to reign, His sword is girt upon His thigh. In Revelation we see Him as the Rider upon the white horse, coming out of heaven, and associated with Him the armies of heaven. Is He coming forth as a flame of fire? Is He an angel of God's service? Ah, of the Son He saith, "Thy throne, O God," — the throne over Israel, the throne here upon the earth, — "is forever and ever a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom." What an amazing expression! You cannot modify it in any way. He is addressed as God, and His throne is the throne of God, and it endures forever and ever. You see Him here as the Son of Man taking His power and reigning. But God says, There is the Man who is My Fellow, — Him whom I address as God. Then He describes the character of His reign, as it had ever marked His life during His humiliation: "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity therefore God" — and now comes in the wondrous truth of incarnation — "therefore God, even Thy God," the One who had already addressed Him as God, now is His God also. You have in those words Christ as divine, and yet human, Son of God and Son of man. "God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" — that is, those with whom He had in grace associated Himself, the believing remnant or, looking over the whole history of the past, all the kings of Israel who might be compared with Him — Solomon in all his glory, or whoever else it might be, God has anointed Him whom He addresses as God, above all His fellows.

The next quotation is more wonderful yet. We have seen Him addressed as God Himself, and now in this next verse there is a quotation from the 102nd psalm. Those of you who are familiar with that wonderful psalm will remember that it breathes of Gethsemane through the whole first part of it. You hear the cry of the Afflicted as He pours out His soul to God — One in deep distress, who is in the depths of anguish of soul, and is about to be cut off out of the land of the living. You hear Him pleading, as it were, with God, "O My God, take Me not away in the midst of My days." And what answer does God give? Had not the Spirit of God Himself applied these words to Christ, we would have thought they were a part of our Lord's address to God. If we read it consecutively, does it not sound as though the Lord was going on to say, "Take Me not away in the midst of My days: Thy years are throughout all generations. Of old Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of Thy hands"? But here we are told that it is God who is addressing His blessed. Son. You see the Son, as you might say, as He in Gethsemane poured out His soul in strong crying and tears: "O My God, take Me not away in the midst of My days"; and He waits for an answer. What answer will come from the Eternal to that One who is there in the place of obedience, seeking His will? to One who has humbled Himself even down to the very dust of death, and is taking the cup which He shortly will drink to the very last dregs? Ah, God addresses Him as divine: "Thou, Lord." Think of it, beloved, God addressing Him, the One bowed before Him there in the depths of humiliation, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of Thy hands."

Oh, the wonder of it! The sighing One in Gethsemane, the blessed Son of God in His place of lowliness, God addresses Him as Creator and Maker of heaven and earth! When all that is about us shall crumble to nothingness, He shall abide in His eternal power and glory. Can you conceive of, or bring together, two greater extremes apparently — most abject need and helplessness, the plaint of One crying out in feebleness to God, and the response coming from the very throne of God Himself, addressing this suppliant as God over all, blessed forever? Ah, do we not turn with adoring heart to that blessed One and address Him in that language also? When you think of Him in lowly guise, shrouded from the eye of unbelief, His glory only visible to faith; when you see Him going about clad with sealskins, as it were, hiding the glory within from view, do you not feel like saying, My Lord and my God! even as Thomas did when there was the witness before him of His deepest humiliation: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side"; and as Thomas sees these evidences of death and humiliation, his reply is, "My Lord, my God!" Thus ever faith delights to own Him, in His deepest humiliation, as God over all, blessed forever.

The last quotation is from the 110th psalm, and there we see Him back where it is His right to be, upon the throne of God: "To which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?" Here we have Him who has gone down into the place of death and made purification for sins, now exalted, and Priest upon His throne. In that psalm, which speaks of His Melchisedec character, we see Him upon the throne of God, at His right hand, waiting until His enemies are made the footstool of His feet; He must reign until all things are put under His feet, and He remains supreme. Thus the testimony is complete, and thus we see Him given the place which is His alone.

"For this reason we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that have been heard, lest in any way we should slip away [from them]; for if the word spoken through angels was firm and every transgression and disobedience received just retribution, how shall we escape, if we have neglected so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those that heard [him]; God also bearing witness with them both by signs and wonders, and various acts of power, and distributions of the Holy Ghost according to his will?"

And now it is all this peerless glory of the Son of God which gives point to these words of exhortation in the second chapter, which adds emphasis to all that has been said: "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should slip away from them." They can never slip; nor is it we letting them slip. They are the rock, they are the anchor, the ground; we are the ones, the professors, who are in danger of slipping. Just here I would simply allude to that which shall occupy us later on — the character of the people to whom the apostle is speaking throughout this epistle. You will find, time and again, a word of warning, of entreaty, which is not apparently in accord with the truth of the eternal security of the believer. I say apparently, for we know that God's word can never contradict itself. But we see the blessed Spirit of God warning those who have taken the name of Christ upon them, and more particularly those Hebrew Christians who for the time being had renounced Judaism, but who yet were looking back upon that which they had left — upon the partial and fragmentary revelation which God had now displaced by the full glory of Christ. These professed Hebrew Christians were in danger of turning again to that ministration of angels. Perhaps a question has arisen in your mind, Why is it that so much is said comparing Christ with angels? Is not one reason to be found in this last part at which we are looking: "If the word spoken by angels was steadfast," etc.

The law was given by the dispensation of angels, we are told in Stephen's address. The apostle, in Galatians, says that the law was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator, and we see in the sixty-eighth psalm the Lord in the midst of His chariots at Sinai, the myriads of angels. The angels, then, were the associates, those connected with the revelation of God under the law; and therefore, when He sets up the peerless glory of Christ, who brings grace and truth to light, when He is setting forth the Only-begotten of the Father, naturally He sets aside all those ministers connected with the legal dispensation. These Hebrews were in danger of turning back to the angels again, to that ministry which they had brought, to the law, with its forms and ceremonies, as the ground of justification, and a rule of life. Thus this warning comes with special emphasis to those Hebrews who had made a profession of Christ, and yet who, perhaps, were not really possessors of life eternal in Him. It comes therefore as a warning in this day of Christian profession, when there is special temptation for men to turn away from that which God has revealed.

One realizes how feebly we have spoken of the glories, the excellences of Christ; but what is being substituted for Christ today? What is called religion today? Is it not a form of Judaism, that which exalts the flesh, the natural man? Do we not see all about us today, not Judaism, but that which is worse, far, than Judaism? For Judaism had at least the sanction of God when it was given; it was God's revelation for the time that then was. But what have we today, after the full sunlight has come in, after the glory of the Son of God has been revealed? Men going into darkness, and lighting their poor little tapers. We see them going through wretched forms and ceremonies which are not even Judaism, going back to all kinds of legality, which is not even the old robust legality which the Old Testament would give. It is a mixture, part law, part trusting in the mercy of God, and a confusion of things which God has made blessedly and eternally distinct. We are living in a day when men are in danger of turning away from Christ, the fulness of God, to that which is worse than Judaism could ever have been, even to denying the blessed person of the Son of God. We are living at a time when men are beginning to question whether there is any great difference in religions after all; if there is not a great underlying stratum of truth in all religions — each having its errors, but each having its truths as well, and all upon one common level!

The word of the Spirit of God comes with tenfold power in these last days, — in the last hour, we may say, of these last days, — and warns those who profess to have a knowledge of the Son of God that they should give the more earnest heed to the things they have heard, lest they drift away from them. The whole of professing Christendom is drifting away from the truth. Men will preach and listen to anything — on industrial questions, social topics, political questions, anything and everything — so that it is not Christ; but that which exalts Christ, that which brings man into his true place as a lost sinner, that is departed from by the mass of those who profess to belong to Christ. Is there not, then, need for exhortation to hold fast to Christ? "How shall we escape" says the writer, who associates himself with them — how should any one escape, who neglects this great salvation? If the law brought its punishment for every transgression and disobedience, how much more shall neglect of the gospel be hopeless. Notice here it is neglect, not open hostility.

He then describes that salvation. The Lord began to set it forth in His earthly life here, for "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," in His beloved Son reaching out to sinners. Then it was confirmed unto us by those who heard it, by the disciples at and after Pentecost; and then by the Holy Spirit God was bearing witness, as He is still bearing witness by His Word. As you think of the fulness of this testimony, of our Lord, of His apostles, and of the Spirit of God at this very time continuing to bear witness to the glories of Christ, we can surely say to any one who might be tempted to take up with anything that is not Christ, How shall you escape if you neglect so great salvation?

The Lord give us to enter more fully than ever into the glories of His blessed Son and the perfections of that salvation which He has brought to our very doors and to our very hearts!