What Would God Say?
When we think about the struggles of our daily life, have you ever just wanted God to whisper in your ear? To tell you why it hurts right now? To tell you which choice to make? To tell you how to handle your conflicted desires? To point the way to starting life over? To explain why He did or didn’t act in a situation? To make it clear what He would like you to do for Him? To give you permission to give up or energy to carry on?
God used to speak in some pretty plain ways in the days of the prophets. There were messages about repentance and warnings to let them know what was ahead. And there were many signs pointing to a coming Messiah. Hebrews is written to some people very familiar with the prophets and who had listened and followed the Messiah. But maybe because of persecution, or family pressures, or disappointment in life – they were thinking about going back to an old familiar way of life – a life without Jesus.
So relevant. Today there are those who decide just to try to live life without Jesus. Christians can fall into this trap – depending on themselves, neglecting the spiritual life, falling into worldly attitudes. What does God have to say about all of this?
Hebrews 1:1-2a Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.
God is telling us that today He is speaking to us by his Son, Jesus. Far from trying to live life without Him, we ought to be attuned to His voice. The letter to the Hebrews is all about why we should listen to Jesus. What Would God Say?
Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high
Jesus Knows The End of the Story, Don’t Worry.
Jesus is Creator and Heir of All Things (Hebrews 1:2). Everything that belongs to the Father belongs to the Son.
John 1:3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
Colossians 1:16 For in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.
The one who created the world will also be the one to redeem the world!
Jesus Will Tell You About Me. (1:3a)
Jesus is the Exact Imprint of God (Hebrews 1:3a He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being…).
AMP: The Son is the radiance and only expression of the glory of [our awesome] God [reflecting God’s Shekinah glory, the Light-being, the brilliant light of the divine], and the exact representation and perfect imprint of His [Father’s] essence…
He Reflects or ‘radiates’ God’s glory. He is the Exact Imprint of God’s very being. The word refers to an exact reproduction. As a statue of a person. As a die or stamp or branding iron. He isn’t like the Father in certain respects, but is exactly like him. John 14:9 “… Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. …”
Jesus is in Control, Hang On To Him. (1:3b)
Jesus Sustains All Things. (Hebrews 1:3b and he sustains all things by his powerful word.)
AMP: and upholding and maintaining and propelling all things [the entire physical and spiritual universe] by His powerful word [carrying the universe along to its predetermined goal]. When He [Himself and no other] had [by offering Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for sin] accomplished purification from sins and established our freedom from guilt…
The early Christians did not think of God as creating the world, and then, as it were, leaving the world to itself. Somehow and somewhere they saw in life and in the world a power that was carrying the world and carrying each life on to a destined end. (Barclay)
Jesus Can Cleanse Your Sin. Let Guilt Go. (1:3c)
Jesus Purifies From Sin. (Hebrews 1:3c When he had made purification for sins). By his sacrifice he paid the price of sin; by His continual presence He liberates from sin. (Barclay)
Listen to Jesus, He Is Your King (1:3d)
Jesus is Majestic (1:3d he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…)
AMP: He sat down [revealing His completed work] at the right hand of the Majesty on high [revealing His Divine authority],
Yes, Jesus is worthy … worthy of our trust, our lives, our worship, our hopes, from Creation to the Cross to the Throne … Listen to Jesus! Would someone so great, mighty, awesome, powerful … want to have anything to do with me? Would King Jesus really care about my problems and my faltering faith? Chapter 2:6-12 assures the soul who wonders…
Hebrews 2:6-10 But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? 7 You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, 8 subjecting all things under their feet.” Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, 9 but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Does Jesus Care?
He has viewed us kindly in spite of our shortcomings. (2:6 )
He has crowned us with glory and honor, though we may not see it now. (2:7-8)
He volunteered to become human and taste death so we could live. (2:9) An act of grace – the gift we did not deserve. Jesus put himself at our level so he could bring us up to his level. (Barclay)
He became the Pioneer of our salvation (2:10)
F. F. Bruce: “He is the Savior who blazed the trail of salvation along which alone God’s “many sons” could be brought to glory … opened up by His death a new way by which man might reach the goal for which he was made. As His people’s representative and forerunner He has now entered into the presence of God to secure their entry there.”
He welcomed us into His Family (2:11-12).
Jesus, in all His power and majesty, came to lift up the weak and fallen. He crowns them and gives them grace. He proudly calls them family. You are never out of reach of the grace of God; never far away from your crown. This is why we should listen to Jesus and not give up. If God whispered something to you about life, he would tell you about Jesus.
Over the next few weeks we will try to grow in our understanding of Jesus, empowering us to turn to Him, to trust Him, and to ultimately live with Him forever.
This past week 90-year-old Allen Ziegler celebrated his 90th birthday by sky-diving for the first time. (Video below). We can admire his adventurous spirit in not wanting to give up on life even at age 90! What would you like to do to celebrate your 90th birthday?
2. The major theme of the letter to the Hebrews is to stay strong in faith and not give up. Read the following verses from Hebrews and talk about how each one is an encouragement to keep going even when it gets hard.
– Hebrews 2:1
– Hebrews 4:1
– Hebrews 6:1
– Hebrews 6:11
– Hebrews 10:22-23
– Hebrews 10:35-36
– Hebrews 12:1
3. First century Christians were in danger of giving up due to the drastic amounts of persecution. Jewish Christians especially had it hard as they were breaking free from Jewish legalities into the fullness of the gospel. How do you encourage people in hard times to hold strong?
4. Read Psalm 8 together. This is quoted in chapter 2:5 of our text today. What kinds of things make David wonder why God would care for man? Have you ever been in a place or a time when you wondered the same thing?
5. David begins and ends this Psalm with praise – exalting God, while at the same time acknowledging that God has exalted man. In what way has God exalted man? What does this tell us about taking care of the earth God has given to us?
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect “God’s planet” during a testy climate hearing last Tuesday. “It’s God’s planet,” Boxer declared at the hearing. “We’ve got to protect it. Regardless of your political leanings or opinion of the EPA, what responsibility do Christians have for taking care of our planet and what specific actions do you take to be ecologically responsible? (LINK)
6. A pop song from twenty years ago asked, ‘What if God was one of us?’ A provocative thought. In this passage Jesus is shown coming to earth for a period of time to become one of us. Using your imagination, if Jesus were to come to earth today … where do you see Jesus spending his time? How do you think religious people would receive him? Would sinners be glad to be his friend? In what ways are our times similar / different from the first century days?
7. Jesus says in verses 11-12 that he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers and sisters’ in the congregation. How does this passage encourage us to love those that have “fallen” and/or encourage those who have “fallen”?
8. Spiritual exercise: How has God spoken to you through Jesus? Think about the ways you have obeyed his voice. Then spend some time thinking about the ways you’ve ignored his voice and talk to God about that. Maybe read through Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount, for ideas.
Sermon Extras That Didn’t Make the Cut….
The words of Hebrews were written to second-generation Christians – believers who were removed from the intensity, the intimacy, the passion of the early years of the movement. With the seductive pressures of a materialistic and violent world bearing down on them from ever side, these disciples had become burned out, discouraged, apathetic believers. Their lethargic faith resonates with the malaise we are experiencing in our own contemporary Christian world. … The electricity of Hebrews can reignite our faith, reminding us of the amazing grace of God’s very imprint in Jesus and in us, and assuring us that endurance through suffering – as well as joy – is the power of God in us for others. – Susan R. Andrews, Feasting on the Word
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C. S. Lewis