LONG AGO, IN A LAND FAR AWAY

Sometimes the most important truths one can learn are couched in words that seem more like a imaginary book or video.  Focus on the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament at its very beginning.  We don’t know who the human author of Hebrews, was.  Many have thought it came from Paul but many things in the book indicate it wasn’t an apostle who penned the words.  It seems to me that it was written by an older preacher who had spent much of his life preaching for a congregation of the Lord’s people but now is separated from them and has received the message that many of them are struggling with doubts about their faith.  Many had come out of Judaism to become disciples of Jesus Christ and serve as part of his church.  For some reason now they are wondering if they made the right choice.  Perhaps they should have remained as part of the synagogue and temple worship, circumcising their children and claiming that the Jews were the chosen people of God.  The older preacher is writing them a sermon that he would have preached to them verbally if he could have been there.  This book is laid out like a manuscript of a powerful sermon with the major theme of Jesus and His kingdom. It’s theme is the New Testament as our covenant with God as the better way.  From the beginning he lays out point after point to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the better savior, the better high priest with a better covenant and a better kingdom.

In the very beginning of the book he puts the whole history of faith in God in its proper perspective.  “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.  After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:1-4)

God has always spoken to humans.  He made us in his image and likeness and one aspect of that nature is the ability to communicate with each other and with God.  In Genesis 1-3 God talked with Adam and Eve and pointed the way for them to live and share companionship with each other and with Him.  Imagine being able to walk and talk with God in the paradise of Eden.  Sin broke into the communication, but it didn’t stop God speaking to humans nor did it stop God from hearing the prayers and pleas of humans as they turned to him.  Through the ages God spoke to people in all kinds of ways by means of prophets.  He spoke through dreams, visions, symbols and signs.  He spoke through godly people and sometimes through those who really were not very good examples.  For example, he spoke clearly both to the prophet Jonah to give him the mission to Nineveh and he spoke through him to the Assyrian people.  They were moved to repentance while he pouted over God’s mercy toward them.  He spoke through Moses the prophet and lawgiver and through judges like Samuel and even Samson the strong man.  Sometimes God gave dreams to people such as Jacob and even to Pharaoh, some that were clear and some needed an interpreter.

But the major point the preacher was making to the people was that while that was how God once spoke to the people, now things have changed.  He now, in these last days, speaks to us through His Son.  These last days may refer to the final days of the law’s influence or the ending of the temple worship of the Jews.  It could refer to the fact this is the last or ultimate period of time on this earth.  God had been moving toward the day of Jesus, His Son coming into the world as one of us, sharing our humanity, living under our temptations and struggles and never giving in to the tempting of Satan.  He anticipated the time when God in the flesh would take on him the sins of all of us and then allow himself to pay the price of that sin by dying on the cross for our sins.  The other side of that powerful plan was that God would take the righteousness of Jesus, His Son and put it onto the account of each person that would through faith submit to him by turning from sin to him in obedience in baptism and living for him as his child.  God now speaks to all the world through His Son, through what he did on the cross, through his powerful resurrection from the dead, through the message of salvation that he commissioned his disciples to carry to the whole world and every creature in it offering redemption to us all.  He speaks through the New Covenant written on the hearts of those who follow him.  That New Covenant isn’t like the old covenant written and engraved on stones.  Through this new covenant our sins and iniquities aren’t remembered by God once forgiven and we can know the Lord from the least of us to the greatest.

The Lord through whom God speaks to us today is the one who created the world.  He is the very radiance of God’s glory.  He is the exact imprint of God Himself.  It’s true that God’s fingerprints are all over creation so that when we look at this creation we are totally without excuse if we fail to see God in it.  But the world or creation is only a darkened negative of God’s picture compared to Jesus who is God’s exact imprint.  John, the writer of  the Gospel of John declared that Jesus came to give us an exegesis of the Father.  Jesus said to Phillip his apostle that “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”  The best way for us to see what God the Father is like is to look at Jesus as He walked on this earth, to listen to what he said and to see how he treated the people he came in contact with.  He is God’s exact imprint.

He is not only the one who created the world, he is the one who made purification for our sins, then took his place at the right hand of God, the Majestic one.  He took the spot of authority.  He is so far superior to the greatest of the angels, that while they all take the place of servant to those who will inherit salvation, he is the one who reigns over them at God’s right hand.  To hear the voice of Jesus is to hear God’s voice and to have the savior and Lord representing us to the Father and the Father to us.  When Jesus speaks, it is the highest, holiest and most heavenly voice that can speak.  Our place is to listen intently to all that he says.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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