Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Thankfulness and Praise in Hebrews 1:3

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (Hebrews 1:3).

I am thankful that to see God, I need only to look to the Son. When I look at the Son, my spiritual sight is then drawn to the Father Who sent His Son (John 1:18; 14:9). When I look at the Son, I do so by the Son-given Spirit Who also inspired the Word which reveals the Son. Glorious Trinity! The “doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on Him…religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to Him alone” (1689 Baptist Confession, 2.3; 22.2). Praise Him with great praise! If 1:1 is the Old Testament, then remember that 1:2 is the God’s final all-sufficient Word the Son in the New Testament. There Jesus is revealed to us fully, and He is all we need to see to see God. We also learn how we are to live and the people of the Son. Praise Him for this full life in the glory and nature of God!

I am thankful that He “upholds all things by the word of His power.” The Son as mediatorial Creator is not a single past-time event. It is continual. Nothing exists outside of the unceasing creative power of the Son Who is the Word of God (Psalm 33:6; John 1:1-3). He, being fully God, is infinitely greater than this entire universe. I remember reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time long, long ago. The goal of his work as a theoretical physicist was to construct a picture of “a universe with no edge in space, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do.”[1] Nothing new there. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) also believed in an eternal creation, making creation the Absolute instead of any Creator. The apostle explains it this way a few centuries later: “…since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 1:20-25). The response to an unimaginably large and complex and varied creation is to be utterly awed by the Absolute and infinitely greater Creator… to “honor Him as God” and “give thanks.” Praise Him with great praise, for all that is exists derivatively from the One Who is Being. Not only that, but if the Word of God Who is eternally One with God continuously creates this universe, what can His perfectly-inspired written Word do in our lives by the power of the Spirit He has given us?

I am thankful that He has fully accomplished the “purification of sins.” This is the sixth day of Christmas (“geese a-laying” day), the sixth day celebrating His coming. The Son is the Law-Giver.[2] All of us have violated that Law. He came to this world to pay the penalty for the lawlessness of His people (Matthew 1:21). Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin (1 John 3:5). This Good News is built on the foundation of God’s speaking in Hebrews 1:1. The Fall, the Law, the sacrifices for violations of that Law, the Promise of a final Prophet, Priest, and King…all of these are in the revelations God made to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways” (1:1). And this points to my infinitely-heavy debt to God for violating His Law. He is worthy of praise in the Big Story and in my personal Small Story, for He is the Resolution of my greatest problem: lawlessness before the Law-Giver.

I am thankful that when I consider the power and authority over the entire universe, I rest in the fact that He is also the One “Who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). The more and more I read the Book, the more and more I see His absolute sovereignty revealed to us. It is on the first page, where being made by the plural Him in His “image” and “likeness” is immediately followed by the decree “let them rule” (Genesis 1:26) – His image is sovereignty. It is on the last page, where “the root and the descendant of David” (Revelation 22:16) is prayed to (showing His divinity) with the supplication, “come, Lord Jesus” (22:20), and is the Source of all we need, “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all” (22:21).[3] He is sitting down at the highest place of authority in the universe. He is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet (Ephesians 1:21,22). He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). The resurrected Lord tells the eleven on that hill in Galilee, “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth(Matthew 28:18). Resting by faith in this truth is the greatest praise I can offer Him this day.
Antelope on the run.

[1] Hawking, Stephen, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam Books, 1988), x.
[2] “…Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver” (1689 Baptist Confession, 19.3).
[3] Jesus as Fulfillment of the Davidic covenant is a massively important and relevant doctrine that I’ve only really awakened to in the last few years. He is identified in the first words of the New Testament as “Jesus the Messiah, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1), and, as I cited above, He is identified according to the Davidic covenant on the last page of the New Testament. The Davidic covenant is invoked in one of Paul’s earliest works (Romans 1:3) and one of his latest (2 Timothy 2:8). It is relevant because Christians are so obsessed with the earthly rulers and powers that I fear they spend very little time resting in the only eternal King and His current absolute power.

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