Today we start reading Hebrews: primarily it is a careful analysis of God’s purpose in using His Son to reconcile the peoples of the world to Himself, but only those who recognize this will be part of this reconciliation. This recognition requires faith and understanding, and is a recognition of God at work in the world and in our lives. God’s word, written and wonderfully preserved, is a vital part of our ability to understand God at work, both in the past and present, in both the big things and the small.
Many things are beyond our full understanding; the work of the angels is one. Hebrews 1 compares the role of the angels with the role of Christ. The angels ministered to Jesus on occasions (e.g., Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43) but today’s chapter tells us that Jesus, “Having become as much superior to angels, as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs” (1:4) and that because he “loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God has anointed you …” (verse 9). The overall supremacy of God is made clear, He “anointed” Jesus as King of the world. Jesus bewildered Pilate by telling him this – that his kingdom is of the world to come.
The angels of God still have a vital role. Chapter 1 ends, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” How wonderful – and the great climax will be when “the angels gather his elect … from the ends of the earth …” (Mark 13:27).
Note the need for Jesus to live on earth as one of us, a fellow human being. “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (2:17,18). As a result “the founder of (our) salvation was made perfect through suffering” (verse 10). The word “perfect” has the sense of ‘finished / fulfilled’ as the Greek word is translated in John 17:4; 19:28.
How wonderful that Jesus is there to help, to sustain us, in our temptations, but we must look to him. He witnessed the weaknesses of human nature in his disciples as well as in himself. But the angels are now under his control (Revelation 1:1) and “all God’s angels worship him” (Hebrews 1:6).
Jesus, “by the grace of God (tasted) death for every one” (2:9). He destroyed the devil (sin), “the one who has the power of death” (2:14). Being initially “made like his brothers” he is now able to make them like him “equal to angels” and “sons of God!” See Luke 20:35,36. We must look for him to do that for us.