Christ is Better than Angels
Because of His Deity
Text: Hebrews 1:4-2:4
A Greater Name
Not only is Jesus superior to the prophets who brought the message of God in the past, but he is also superior to the angels who often delivered that message to the prophets (Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19). He has always been a part of the Godhead; thus, as is his right, his reputation (the name of his “family”) comes from who he is. However, no angel could claim a position like Christ’s by mere existence.
Angels are referred to as the sons of God (Job 1:6; 38:7). Adam was created by God and, therefore, was a son of God (Luke 3:38). But Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, such as in Luke 1:35. The writer gives evidenced by quoting from Psalms 2:7 and II Samuel 7:14. “Today I have begotten you” in Psalms 2:7, which refers to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:33). “Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:4). John describes Jesus as the firstborn from the dead (Revelation 1:5).
The second quote was a part of the promise made to David. God stated that sometime after David died, God would raise up a descendant who would build up a house for God’s name and establish his throne forever (II Samuel 7:12-14). One might think this refers to Solomon, but Solomon’s reign ended and, years later, the kingdom of Israel fell. Ethan’s psalm in Psalms 89:20-29 refers to this same promise, but it is more clearly expressed as applying to the Messiah. Consider that Jesus raised up his church (Matthew 16:18), which is also referred to as the house of God (I Peter 2:5). Unlike Solomon’s throne, Jesus’ throne is forever. The quote is evidence of the Father-Son relationship between the Messiah and God, the Father. Yet, it was this very point that caused Jews to seek Jesus’ death (John 5:18-20).
A Focus of Worship
While angels refused to be worshiped, they offer worship to the Messiah, as attested by Psalms 97:7. This causes confusion because Psalms 97:7 reads, “ Let all be put to shame who serve carved images, who boast of idols. Worship Him, all you gods.” If you consider a moment, idols cannot offer worship since they are not alive; however, sometimes those who represent God are sometimes referred to as gods, such as in Psalms 82 where judges are referred to as “gods.” It would then not be unusual to claim that these “gods” are referring to the angels of God, and so the Septuagint translation renders it. The use of Psalms 97 by the writer of Hebrews puts the psalm into a new light. If you realize it is about the Messiah, which is not obvious, then the psalms become an introduction to the Messiah as he is about to take his rule.
Another possibility is that the writer is quoting Deuteronomy 32:43 from the Septuagint: “Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.” But our current Hebrew text is missing the phrase “and let all the angels of God worship him.” Because of the lack of textual support, most are skeptical that this is the verse being referenced.
A Ruler and Not a Servant
Angels are servants of God, as proven by quoting Psalms 104:4. Some translations of Psalms 104:4reads quite differently, such as “He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers” (NASB), the Hebrew text allows a bit of variance here, but the translation given by the Hebrew writer is supported by the Hebrew text. The emphasis is on the fact that angels are created beings made to serve God’s purpose.
In contrast, the Messiah is called God by God in Psalms 45:6-7. The Son of God is not a servant but deity, it is his very nature. The Son rules eternally and wields power over his kingdom. The mention of being anointed alludes to the Messiah (or Christ) which means “anointed one.” The Son is anointed to a position above all other kings.
The Eternal Creator
But most critical of all is the fact that Jesus is the eternal Creator. Proof for this point comes from Psalms 102:25-27. Psalms 102:25 doesn’t contain the word “Lord,” but from the context of the Psalm we see that the psalmist was talking about Yahweh (LORD), such as in Psalms 102:12. The writer of Hebrews is making sure we understand this when he applies this passage to Jesus. At first, it seems odd to select Psalms 102 since it doesn’t seem to apply to the Messiah. But look at Psalms 102:13-16 and it talks about the appointed time, the Gentiles fearing God’s name, and about God appearing on Zion in His glory. Psalms 102:20 talks about God freeing the prisoners doomed to death, which are in terms similar to Isaiah 61:1 that Jesus quoted as being about himself in Luke 4:17-21. If you accept that the Messiah is before all things and the creator, as argued in Hebrews 1:2-3, then it follows that the Messiah must also be Yahweh, the Eternal Creator. Thus, Yahweh is not a term exclusive to God, the Father, but applies to all the Godhead.
A Ruler with God, the Father
Again, the writer emphasizes that no angel was invited by the Father to sit on His throne while He did battle for him. The proof text comes from Psalms 110:1. Jesus applied this passage to himself in Matthew 22:43-44 and Peter also used it to apply to Jesus in Acts 2:34-35. Jesus was given the rule until all his enemies are conquered (I Corinthians 15:23-28).
In contrast, angels are spirits sent to serve the children of God, such as Gabrielle sent to deliver a message to Daniel (Daniel 9:21-23). This is not to say that Jesus does not serve others (Matthew 20:28), but that is what made Jesus’ service all that much more notable (Philippians 2:6-9). We don’t know all the details of how angels serve God’s people, but we know:
- They are interested in the salvation of men (Luke 15:10; I Peter 1:12),
- They represent the weak in the church before God (Matthew 18:10),
- They protect God’s people (Psalms 34:7), and
- They carry the dead in Christ to glory (Luke 16:22).
Warning: Pay Careful Attention
The Old Testament came by the efforts of angels (Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19), while the New Testament came by the effort of the Son of God. Which message is, then, more important? Clearly, the one brought to us personally by our Creator! And so we have the first warning: We need to pay careful attention to the teachings of Christ lest we drift away from it. Carelessness is not a purposeful departure, but a slow migration over time that leads us further from the truth.
After all, the Old Testament is well-noted for its strict laws and strong punishments (Numbers 15:30-31). If the teachings brought by angels was that firm, how much firmer are the teachings of the Son of God? Can we expect to escape justice if we neglect our salvation that was bought by Jesus’ own blood?
We know we have the true message because it was initially taught by Jesus (Mark 1:14) and we have witnesses who heard him confirm the message (Luke 1:2). That is why we have four gospel accounts. But we don’t rely on man’s word alone. God also bore witness to the message by various miracles and gifts given by the Holy Spirit (Mark 16:20; Acts 2:22; 14:3; Romans 15:18-19; I Corinthians 12:4). The evidence is too great to ignore (John 3:18)!
Notice that Hebrews 1:6-2:4 forms a chiasm:
A better name - Hebrews 1:4-5
The object of worship by angels - Hebrews 1:6
The angels serve him - Hebrews 1:7
A higher position - Hebrews 1:8-9
Eternal creator - Hebrews 1:10-12
A higher position - Hebrews 1:13
The angels serve Christians - Hebrews 1:14
A greater message - Hebrews 2:1-4
You may have noticed that the quotes used to back up the writer’s points are not necessarily obvious ones. Some could just as easily be applied to God the Father or some other situation. The Bible is filled with subtle foreshadowing of future events that gives coherence to the overall story of the Bible, such as the similarities between the offering of Isaac to the death of Christ. Some prophecies also contain foreshadows.
In movies, a hidden reference to something else, such as another movie, that is in plain sight but not noticed is called an "Easter egg." Easter eggs are used to prove who created the movie and to prevent copying by inserting references that no one would accidentally make. Modern movies did not come up with the concept. God has used hidden references to the future, especially references to the Messiah, that are clearly there when pointed out, but without knowing the fulfillment you would miss that it even was a prophecy about the Messiah. God used these to prevent people from creating a forced fulfillment of a prophecy -- you can’t make something happen that you were not aware was supposed to happen. They also serve as proof that the prophecies and their fulfillment came from God.