Saturday, January 2, 2016

Thankfulness and Praise in Hebrews 1:6

“And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says,
‘And let all the angels of God worship Him’” (Hebrews 1:6).

I am thankful that all creation, from the highest to the lowest, is called to worship the Father’s appointed King Who came into the world as one of us.

I explained the idea of “firstborn” yesterday in a footnote, but will mention it again. It’s worth marking in your Bibles so you can find it next time someone tries to tell you there was a time Jesus didn’t exist and was created (birthed) by God in time. Psalm 89:27 parallels “I shall make Him My firstborn” with an appositional phrase, “the highest of the kings of the earth.” The biblical concept of “firstborn,” when applied in the Davidic covenant, is enthronement language, not generational language. Let the Bible teach you how to read the Bible.

God sent His Son into the world as completion of His eternal plan, but also the story line started in Genesis 1-3. Two verses give us a simple overview:
  • “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule…’” (Genesis 1:26).
  • “The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel’” (Genesis 3:14,16).

Man was created to reflect the image of the Triune God by ruling (reflecting His sovereignty). Man broke God’s Law, making Him ineligible to represent God’s reign (the lawless cannot represent the Law or the Law-Giver). The serpent-crushing Seed of the woman was promised to come and bring an end to the works of the enemy who brought the temptation to break God’s Law. “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

It’s the ninth day of Christmas. Incarnation is still an appropriate and worthy meditation.

The Incarnation was warfare. The Incarnation was restoration of the imaging of God’s absolute sovereignty in creation.

The baby in the manger is the ultimate irony. Understatement. Paradox. Mystery.

In our discussion of Hebrews 1:4, we considered the biblical data on the idolatrous worship of angels. Today we consider the right order: the angels commanded to worship the Son.

An interesting and important (to me) question now arises: from where is the writer quoting in 1:6b? There's no clearly identifiable Old Testament passage that matches this phrase. Some of your Bibles with good footnotes may say that this is a quote from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The H.C.S.B., for example, says in a footnote, “DSS read Rejoice, you heavens, along with Him, and let all the angels worship Him.” I earnestly appreciate the thoroughness, but this English translation is not literal. 4QDeut32 echoes the Masoretic text (the Hebrew text we use for our Old Testament translations): “…worship Him, all you gods [אלהים].” The LXX (the Greek translation of the O.T.), however, does have the phrase “let all the sons of God worship Him” (προσκυνησατωσσαν αυτω παντες υιοι θεου). The phrase “sons of God” is used for both the covenant people of God and angels in the Old Testament. However, a few lines later, we read “let the angels of God strengthen themselves in Him” (ενισχυσατωσαν αυτω παντες αγγελοι θεου). The best option is that the writer of Hebrews, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has taken the verb and direct object of one line and the object of the second line and brought them together: “Worship Him…all angels of God” (προσκυνησατωσσαν αυτω… παντες αγγελοι θεου).[1]

Regardless, God gave the command that His angels worship Him. They did at the birth of the eternal Son of God as a human being once upon a time: “And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’” (Luke 2:9-14).

The angels did not stop worshiping Him: “And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth…then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing’” (Revelation 5:6,11,12).

And, along with these mighty and glorious beings, I worship Him, too.
Mexican golden poppies...a tiny glory hidden by a remote desert highway.

[1] The early Church used the LXX (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) often, since Greek was spoken throughout most of the Roman Empire. As I always say, the Holy Spirit is free to paraphrase His own material. We are not.

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