Hebrews 1:1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways.
This letter was written around AD 67, to Jewish Christians who were suffering persecution. It was a difficult time for them, and some were falling away from the Christian faith. The writer of this letter is not identified, and the church has never come to a consensus.
Hebrews 1:2 [I]n these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Jesus Christ is the God who made the world and everything in it. If you knocked on the door of Mary and Joseph a few years into their marriage, and a little boy answered the door, you would have been looking at God the Son—the second person of the Trinity. Christianity is a radical belief system that calls for a radical commitment to Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 1:3 The Son is . . . sustaining all things by his powerful word.
The one who created the world also sustains it by his powerful word. This is like a flautist sustaining a note on their flute. They can sustain the note as long as they like, or cut it off at any point. The note depends on the flautist for its existence, and the world depends on Jesus Christ for its existence.
The sustaining ministry of Jesus Christ can also be compared to the way a dream depends on its dreamer. The dream is filled with people, events and conversations, but the moment the dreamer awakes, the dream no longer exists. The world is real, of course, but if Jesus stopped thinking of us, the world would cease to exist at once. Since we depend on Jesus every single moment, we should never cease to honor him.
Hebrews 1:3b After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
This is something earthly priests were never allowed to do. There were no chairs in the temple because the priestly work was never done. They sacrificed countless animals, for hundreds of years, but they were never allowed to sit. This is because no amount of animal sacrifice could ever atone for sin. All the sacrificial animals could really do was point ahead to the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Jesus sat down at the right hand of God because his work of redemption was done. It is finished (John 19:30), he said.
Hebrews 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
God cares for his people through parents, friends and neighbors, but he also uses angels. God could do everything himself, of course, but he likes to work through his created beings. When someone is in need, God may send us to help them. And whenever we are in need, he may send an angel help us.
A couple missionaries were walking through a jungle, on their way to a village, when they noticed a tiger was stalking them. All they could do was pray, but to their relief, the tiger turned away. Did the tiger change its mind? Did God intervene directly? Or did he send an angel? We will not know how often angels helped us until we get to heaven, but we know they are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.
Hebrews 2:1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
Following Christ in a world of unbelief is like paddling upstream. This requires effort, of course, so many begin to drift. Over weeks, months and years, the distance steadily grows until Christ is out of sight. Then suddenly tragedy strikes.
Chunks of ice were floating toward Niagara Falls, and embedded in the ice were frozen fish. Seagulls feasted as long as they dared, then finally flew away. But one enjoyed its feast so much that it did not realize its feet had frozen to the ice. Like many times before, it spread its wings, but this time it did not work. Likewise, the river of spiritual drift empties into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15), so we must be careful not to drift away.
Reflection and Review
How is Jesus like a flautist?
Why weren’t priests allowed to sit down?
Why do some people drift away from Christ?