Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Angels Part 3 Jesus is no Angel

This is the third of eight posts based on the Bible Study Guide "Angels" by Douglas Connelly, A LifeGuide Bible Study. Today's passage is Hebrews 1, which quotes several passages from the Old Testament (Psalm 2:7, II Samuel 7:13-14, Psalm 104:4, Psalm 45:6-7, Psalm 102:25-27, and Psalm 110:1). It's interesting to me that with little salutation or introduction the writer of Hebrews jumps into a heated theological argument of the day. There were some believers at the time this letter was written who were contemplating reverting to Judaism or merging Christian beliefs with a Jewish sect. In doing so these believers would be downgrading Jesus from the long awaited Messiah to the equivalent of an angel, a rabbi, a prophet, or a priest. The author of Hebrews (whose identity is still the subject of scholarly debate) draws on Jewish scriptures, a source his audience would accept as an authority, to prove Jesus' supremacy to all of these categories. Many of the passages he quotes are foreshadowing promises made to King David, the central figure of Old Testament history, where God promises to establish David's line as King over Israel for all time. This is commonly seen as a promise that the Messiah would be of Davidic descent because in truth David's human Kingly line dwindles circa 586 B.C. Jesus fulfills this and many other prophecies as both of his human parents are descended from David (Mary from David's son Solomon, Joseph from David's son Nathan, see Matthew 1:1-16, and Luke 3:23-31ff).

It is interesting to note that similar debates, fueled in part by historical fictional novels of all things, rage on today. Just who is this Jesus, anyway? Many would like to skate by on the answer that he is a good man, a good teacher even, but good teachers do not lie about their credentials. Jesus, on several occasions recorded in the New Testament, claims to be the Son of God. On at least one occasion (Luke 4:14-30) people were so enraged by his claims that they wanted to throw him down a cliff. C.S. Lewis has a rather famous argument that one must choose whether they will call Jesus a liar, a crazy man, or the Son of God as he claimed to be.

The author of Hebrews begins by assuring us that Jesus is no angel. One particular contrast is the angel imagery of Psalm 104:4:
"He makes his angels winds,
his servants flames of fire." (NIV as quoted in Hebrews 1:7)

with the Messianic imagery of Psalm 45:6-7:
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,
and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy." (NIV as quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9)

Angels are here depicted as powerful, but rather "temporary" messengers under God's command. Meanwhile, the Messiah (Jesus) is equivalent to God, eternal, and reigning with righteousness and joy. We must be careful to remember that as amazing and wonderful as angels are, they are not God, nor are they God's Son. Our heart's desire should be to serve and worship Him alongside His messengers of wind and fire.


Related Posts with Thumbnails