Hebrew’s Study 4
As we watched the inauguration day parade, we saw signs that said, “Trump, not my president.” Although comparing any president to the inauguration of Jesus Christ is unworthy, there is similarity between that protestor and the letter to the Hebrews. The Hebrews were being tempted to make signs that said,” Jesus, not my King, not above Moses and the angels. Jesus has no right to change our worship system.”
Are you ever tempted to doubt or denounce Jesus’ rule?
Whether you have or not we must come to grips with His authority, because Jesus Christ is crowned greatest of the world to come.
ALL MEN IN PSALM 8?
“But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.” (Hebrews 2:6–8)
God the Father gave Jesus Christ all authority. (vv.6-9). The author of Hebrews is a trained rhetorician. Accordingly, he seeks to persuade his audience by appealing to something he and they have in common–the Psalms. The author and the Hebrews believe that God has spoken authoritatively through David in the Psalms.
This is an excerpt from Psalm 8. Only verses 4, 5 and 6 are included here. Some conjecture that Psalm 8 was written by David while he was watching his sheep at night. Verse 3 does not mention the sun, but the stars and the moon. David mentions the sheep and oxen in verse 7. Whether that is the setting of the Psalm or not, the point is the extraordinary care that God gives to man.
The emphasis is on the contrast between the greatness of the creator and the insignificance of man the creation. He made the stars and moon. Man is not even to be considered, but God is mindful of man and cares for him. The care of man is seen by being created lower than the angels, but crowned with glory and honor. Man’s glory and honor are seen in his dominion over the works of God’s hands–Sheep, Beasts of the field, Birds, and Fish You can see the allusion to the day of creation and man’s dominion over each domain of creation.
THE REAL MAN OF PSALM 8
Yet, here is the problem. How does this prove the ultimate authority of Jesus? The author of Hebrews raises the same objection. In verse 8, he says, “But we do not yet see all things put under him.” He asks you to consider your observations, “Do you see mankind subjecting all things under his feet?” We can’t even get our dogs to listen to us. In other words, it says that man would have dominion over all things, but we hardly see him in control.
The solution to this puzzle, the author of Hebrews says, in verse 9, is not in what we don’t see, but in what we do see. “We see Jesus!” Jesus makes sense of the Psalm. The author of Hebrews reinterprets the Psalm for you showing that Jesus epitomizes every part.
- It was Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels.
- It was Jesus that was crowned with glory and honor.
- God the Father put all things in subjection to Jesus.
- Nothing has been left that is not put in subject to Jesus.
These same thoughts are said elsewhere in Scripture. For example,
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11)
All authority in heaven and earth belongs to Jesus the Christ. From that universal claim, the author infers a specific conclusion. Jesus is the head of the world to come. If he is head of all things, then he is the head of one thing namely the world to come.
THE WORLD THAT ALREADY CAME
Jesus Christ is the head of the world to come. Here is where we must be particular. When you hear the words, “the world to come,” of what do you think? You think of some new world that will happen sometime in the future. However, that is not the meaning here.
The point of the book of Hebrews, and all the New Testament, is that the end times are already present. The world to come has already begun to be created. The new heavens and new earth are already in existence. How are they already in existence?
- First and foremost they are present in Jesus. Jesus resurrected with body immortal as a new creation.
- All believers have been resurrected in nature. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I understand that when you look around it does not look like the new creation has arrived. The Apostle Paul said the same thing: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,” (2 Corinthians 5:2) However, the new heavens and earth have begun to be renewed. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
ALL ABOUT THE CHURCH–SURPRISE!
Now, notice that the new heavens and new earth are present in two main subjects–Jesus and Jesus’ people. In other words, the new creation is present as the Church and the head of the Church. This is the whole point of this letter is it not? Moses and the angels are not the head of the Church, Jesus is the head of the Church.
That is the point here–Jesus is the head of the world to come and the world to come is manifested now, as the Church. Jesus is the head of the Church.
This is obviously the focus of this passage:
- Verse 5 says, “of which we speak…” Every point in this letter so far is about Jesus being the absolute authority over the Church and not Moses or the angels.
- There is nothing in this letter about Jesus rearranging the magma core of the earth or renewing the asteroids of the cosmos. Sure, the physical creation will be renewed, but the emphasis is upon the present new creation as manifested in the new creation called the Church and the one to whom the new creation is subjected, Jesus.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE CROWN
Christ as the head of the Church has different implications:
- He is the head and therefore the fountain of all life for His Church.
- He is the vine, we are the branches. Without Him we can do nothing.
- He supplies all graces to His Church.
- Justification and assurance of acceptance with the Father.
- Adoption and assurance of His fatherly care.
- Sanctification from your sins replaced with love of God and neighbor
- He is the head and therefore determines the government of His Church. Jesus has chosen two offices, elder and deacon. Jesus has chosen that men be chosen for these offices through the election of His people. Jesus has chosen for the men in those offices to serve his congregation. Therefore:
- Jesus sends his deacons to the sick, the friendless and those who are in distress.
- Jesus sends his deacons to encourage us toward community as we share our possessions.
- Jesus sends his elders as shepherds to watch over the doctrines and morals of the flock.
- Jesus sends His elders to instruct the untrained, comfort the mourner, and to nourish and guard the children of the Church.
- Jesus sends His elders to pray for the flock and to help them produce fruit from the Word preached.
- Jesus has chosen that you will submit to these officers as they seek to serve you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Only Christ is the head of the Church. Therefore, officers must especially be like John the Baptist and only point to Jesus. Deacons when you comfort it is not you but Jesus through you. Point them to Jesus. Elders when you teach, they are not your words, but only Jesus’. They don’t submit to you except to submit to Jesus. The point of both offices is to not cling to honor or prestige, but to give up your life so that this congregation would grow and their faith would be captured by the beauty and excellence of Christ and His Kingdom.
- Defining the world to come as the Church and the new creation is tough to wrap our minds around. This is mostly due to unhealthy teaching on the end-times. I don’t agree with Bishop Wright on everything, but this article is very helpful.
- If we have been saved from God’s wrath, then what is the purpose of the author of Hebrews mentioning it?
- Want to help those who have insomnia? Talk about Presbyterian government. Yet, when we see that this is an aspect of Christ’s governance, government takes on deeper meanings. Guy Prentiss Waters’ book, “How Jesus Runs the Church” warmed my Presbyterian heart. Check it out.