Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Hebrews 1:3

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The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3

We return today to our study of the book of Hebrews. Today's verse is one of the clearest declarations of both the humanity and deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not just man, He is God. He had to be fully human so that He could fully save us from our sin. He was fully human in order to save our bodies, our souls and our spirits from our rebellion against God. And, He did this in order to rescue and capture our hearts. Without taking on a human will, the Lord Jesus could not save our broken and wandering wills.

In addition to being fully man, the Lord Jesus Christ is fully God. The Greek word used here for "radiance" is a contraction of two Greek words: a preposition ἀπο which means "away from", and a Greek verb αὐγὰζω which means "to shine." The Lord Jesus is the shining forth of God's glory. Every time the Lord Jesus performed a miracle, every time He healed someone, and every time He gave sight to the blind, or hearing to the deaf, or every time He forgave sin, He radiated God's glory. 

Just as no one can stare directly into the sun without being impacted by the extreme brightness, in like manner, none can see the Father directly because of His glory. But, as the light of the sun shines forth, the Lord Jesus shines forth as the visible manifestation by which the knowledge of God can be known by us. The Lord Jesus is the light that radiates forth, overcoming every shade of darkness, enabling us to behold God for ourselves.

The Greek word translated "exact representation" literally is a mark that is made by a seal. This one Greek word brings the idea of a copy, or an image to the fore. It means the Lord Jesus Christ is the image of God.  He is the expressed image of God. He is the stamp of God on human flesh.

Although He never sinned, the Lord Jesus came to this earth as a man in order to identify with rebellious man in our sin. He, as God, was able to bare, for sinful mankind, the full weight of the wrath of God upon sin. The Lord Jesus Christ bore the shame and punishment of sin in His human body when He hung on that tree. It was the humanity and deity of the Lord Jesus that made Him uniquely able to save us from our sins.  

As we come back to our verse for today, notice the last part of the first sentence in the verse: "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word."

In addition to remedying man's sin problem, the Lord Jesus Christ holds all things together. It is He who makes the atom move in its proper orbit. The verb used here translated "sustaining" has to do with supporting present continuous action. The Lord Jesus is the rebar of this world. He continually holds all things together. He is like the glue who holds all things together. If He had not come to this earth, we along with the world would fall apart. Our universe would disintegrate and fly to pieces if it weren’t for His upholding power. 

Think of the design in it all. If the earth’s rotation were to slow down just a little bit, we would alternately freeze and burn. The sun has a surface temperature of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and if it were any closer or further away, we would freeze or burn. This world is tilted at exactly 23 degrees, and if it wasn’t at that exact angle, vapors from the ocean would move north and south and pile up massive continents of ice. If the moon were not to remain at its exact distance from the earth, the ocean tides would inundate the land twice every day. And, if the ocean slipped to just a couple of feet depth further than it is, carbon dioxide and oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere would be completely absorbed and no vegetable life could exist. This is all no accident. The Lord Jesus Christ is the One who provides the design according to today's verse.

The last sentence in today's verse reads, "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."

In the Old Testament God gave to Israel an elaborate substitutionary atonement system whereby the Jews would sacrifice an innocent animal for God's forgiveness. He did this so that the innocent would take the penalty for the guilty. But, the animal sacrifices weren't enough. Oh, they were enough to cover man's sin, but they were not enough to remove man's sin permanently. All of the sacrificial animals were a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus who came on the scene to die a substitutionary death once and for all on the behalf of all who would believe.

Sin had to be dealt with by God. He couldn't just wink at sin and not judge it because, if He did, justice would be undermined. The death of God on the cross provided for man the assurance that our sins were atoned for. And, all we have to do is believe and receive the free gift of forgiveness. Two thousand years ago, on that cross, the Lord Jesus fulfilled the demands of justice, completely. The Creator God became a man so that He could rescue us from our willful rebellion against Him. 

The last phrase of the second sentence in our verse today reads, "...he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."

At the right hand of God is the place of honor, blessing, and power. And, after the Lord Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, He sat down at the right hand of God. He sat down because the work for our salvation was accomplished. In the Old Testament tabernacle and temple there were no seats because the priest's work was never finished. They never sat down because the atonement through animals was never enough. God had to come and die in order to bring to completion man's sin. The Lord Jesus made one sacrifice, and when it was finished, He sat down. He was seated at the right hand of God because through His sacrifice, the sin of man, once and for all, has been remedied.