Posts Tagged ‘God’

Finding Jesus in Genesis: Lesson 1

Finding Jesus in Genesis: Lesson 1

© Chet Bishop 2012, (revisited and revised 2018)

Old Testament Foundations for New Testament Faith

Genesis 1:1-10; Luke 24:13-35

Introduction:

In Luke 24:13-35, we find the account of how Jesus met two of his disciples as they walked the seven or so miles down from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They did not recognize him, and when he asked what they had been discussing, they told him how distressed they were over the events of the last few days, including the trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Christ…(and maybe the resurrection, though they weren’t sure what to make of that just yet.) He gave them an astonishing rebuke, saying “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?

The disciples must have been flabbergasted to get that sort of response from this “Stranger, on the road to Emmaus,” but he didn’t give them time to respond…he just went ahead and taught them, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, specifically what the Old Testament had to say about himself. The scriptures he taught them were not new to them at all. These were adult Jewish men who had passed their “Bar Mitzvahs” and were “sons of the book.” They knew the written word fairly well, for non-Levitical men…not scribes or priests. But they had never tied the whole of scripture together with the single central theme of the Person of the Messiah. Following this line of thinking, we would like to attempt to do just that. We are not the first, by any means, but it seems profitable to follow the Lord’s example, and teach the way He taught.

We will begin by pointing out that the Person we see in the Gospels did not originate there. We see that the “Life of Christ” is only “the account of his physical life as a human being on earth.” The rest of the Written Word of God reveals Him as the Eternal Living Word of God, pre-existing His Creation, because he is the Creator, and superseding the importance and glory of the whole creation, because He is God. So, with that in mind, let us proceed, beginning at Moses.

“Beginning at Moses”

Moses is the writer of the first five books of the Old Testament. Genesis is the “Book of Beginnings”, so we will start there. To begin with, it seems fair to point out that the phrase, “In the beginning, God…” uses the Hebrew word “Elohim” for “God.” The Hebrew language seems peculiar to us, because we English-speakers think of nouns as either singular or plural, meaning ONE of something, or MORE than one (two or more). In the Hebrew language there are singular, dual and plural: one, two and more than two (three or more.) Guess which type the word Elohim turns out to be? Yes! It is a plural noun, designating three or more!

I don’t want to put more weight on this point than is fitting, since that word is also used for the false gods—the pagan gods; but, you see, they were plural; there were lots of them! The religion of Israel is strictly monotheistic. (Deuteronomy 6:4) “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God is One God!” In the King James Bible, the word “God” (Capital “G”, lower-case “o-d”) is always a translation of the Hebrew word Elohim. It is the office of deity, not His personal name, nor even a title reserved just for Him. It is applied to false gods, too, though it is printed in all lower-case, when that is the context. We will see several other names of God, as we progress.

In Isaiah, God says he is the only God that has ever existed, and the only one that ever will exist. In fact, after declaring his singularity, he also points out (Isaiah 43:11) that apart from him there is no savior. So…why would he use the plural word for himself, unless there was something about himself that He wanted, thereby, to reveal? There’s something here, to think about, at least: possibly a hint of the Trinity. In light of that, let’s consider the first four words:

“In the Beginning, God…”

This four-word fragment is a profound statement about the rest of the scriptures, the whole creation, and life itself. In the beginning, (before anything else) God…. (Yes, “in the beginning, God created,” but that isn’t all.) In the Beginning he was God. Before anything else, HE IS! “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) “Before Abraham was, I AM! (John 8:57) This speaks of the Eternality of God, and the Preeminence of God! We will discover later, that, in full agreement with Genesis 1:1, God not only pre-existed His creation (which only makes sense), but He himself has no beginning. He does not have a starting-place. He exists outside of time and space, so that all time is “now,” to Him, though he can also address time from human perspective. He has no beginning and no end. “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God!” (Psalm 90:2)

The Order of the Creation

It is important to consider the order in which God says the earth and its contents were created. There are several things here, which point out the stark contrast between the Naturalist’s world-view, which assumes everything “just grew there”, by random chance, and cosmic caprice, versus the Biblicist’s view, which sees through the eyes of scripture. The first contrast is in the fact that God says the Earth was created three days before the Sun, Moon and stars. From the naturalist’s point of view, this is considered laughable. So, we are faced with a decision, here, in the very first chapter of the Bible: “Will we see this as the Word of God, and take it at face value, or assume that it is merely a “primitive world-view,” thus not to be taken seriously?”

If we take the former stance, then we can begin to learn and understand who the Author really is, and what He has planned for us. If we take the latter stance, then the Bible becomes increasingly a “closed book” to us, as we assume God to be a liar, or at least a very questionable authority. Assuming, then, that we believe this to be God’s Word, let’s take this verse by verse:

The Earth

“God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”  He created the physical Earth, but he left out the light, initially. We see elsewhere in scripture that He himself is the light, so perhaps he is showing, here, what the world is like without God. If so, it is only a glimpse, so we can’t build much upon it. But another thing we see is the immense, unimaginable, unmeasurable power of God: we call this “Omnipotence,” meaning “all-powerful.” God is omnipotent. We have already seen His eternality and preeminence. Now we see His unlimited authority and power.

The Spirit

“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (KJV)  Other translations render this as “was brooding over the face of the deep.” Either way, we can immediately see that either God is a Spirit (true), or, God has a Spirit. Also, in either case, the omnipresence of God is in view, as He is hovering over the entire face of the waters. The Spirit of God is not a created being. He is God, as we will see much later. He is omnipresent: He is everywhere at once. Also, He is active. He is dynamic, and vital: not just a presence, like gravity.

The Light

It is interesting to me to see how God handled the light and dark. He says “God said, Let there be light, and there was light, and God saw the light that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.” Now, there are several things we can observe, here:

  1. The first is the fact that God speaks. Why is that so important? Only persons speak, as a rule. Parrots can be trained to mimic human speech, as can a few other birds and animals. But within the natural realm, pretty much only humans speak. That does not make God human, but it does make Him a person, not a force. (By the way, in Acts chapter 13 we see the same about the Holy Spirit. He is a person, not a force; not a “breath of God”, or the “active force of God,” or “a feeling,” or any such thing. He is a Person, and specifically, the Person of God… usually the third person listed of the triune Godhead.) We refer to this as the “personality” of God. He is not “impersonal”
  2. God said “Let there be light” and there was In the New Testament we read a parallel passage—“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” The Apostle John introduced “The Word:” the “spoken (and living) communication of God.” How was the world created? By the Word of God. And Who is that Word? “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His Glory…” John 1:1-3, 14
  3. We also see that “when God speaks, things happen.” This reflects the total authority of God. In Hebrews 11:3 we are told that, “by faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.” We could take that in several ways, I suppose, but, the primary way we are to understand Scripture is to allow God’s Word to explain God’s Word. Thus, in John 1:1-3, when I read “In the Beginning was the WORD, and…the Word was God…” and that, “all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made that was made,” I have to see it as a direct parallel to Hebrews 11:3. When it says they were “framed by the Word of God,” it doesn’t simply mean that the worlds were made “under the authority and auspices of God.” It literally means He (the Word) made Jesus is the Creatorand He is God!

    We see it proven, in the life of Christ: When Jesus said to the storm, “Peace, be still,” it instantly became a great calm, rather than a deadly storm. He is the true Master.God said “Let there be light”, and the light sprang into being. Eventually we are told that God is not only the source of light, but that He himself is that light. But when he commanded it, the light evidently filled the universe. How do I know? Next verse:
  4. “God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.” Three things:
    1. God sees! God observes! He is not “way out there, somewhere,” indifferent to what is happening here on earth! He knows exactly what is happening here on earth. He is Omniscient–all-knowing!
    2. He made the judgment that “the light was good,” but made no such judgment about darkness. (God has the authority to judge His own works.)
    3. Then it says that he “divided the light from the darkness.” (He makes executive decisions about the physical universe.) But, why would he need to do that? We know from God’s Word that the very character of light is to dispel darkness. That is what light Ephesians 5:13 says “Whatsoever maketh manifest is Light.” It shows us that which is otherwise in darkness. Darkness is nothing more than the “absence of light.” Darkness has no substance of its own. Light has existence, and attributes: it is both a wave and a particle. It is measurable. It has an effect on its surroundings. Darkness has none of these. I can go buy batteries for a flashlight, but no one has ever invented a “flash-dark!” In order to “produce darkness,” all we can do is shut out light. You may have noticed a growing tendency in our society to do just that: to deliberately “shut out light”…to make it socially unacceptable to speak God’s Word, or to testify of its truth. By speaking God’s Word, we “make manifest” the things that the World would rather keep in darkness. So they strongly desire to “shut out the light,” and maintain their own darkness.Therefore; for God to “divide the light from the darkness,” he had to limit the light: He had to reduce the light to a single source, making it come from only one direction. Prior to that, the light evidently permeated the universe, as He is the light, and He himself fills the universe and beyond. How do I know that he had to reduce it to a single source? Because the very next verse says that “And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night, and the evening and the morning were the first day.”

This was the beginning of time, for us. The rotation of the earth, ticking off the days, one by one, has been a faithful clock, ever since. But a Day is coming, which will be the last natural day: after that, there will be no night. The light will once again be unlimited; permeating all things and all places. But even at that first day, God himself was the only source of light. Notice that the heavenly luminaries were not created until three days later (v. 14-19.) They then became the time-pieces for Mankind, who were yet to be created.

The Heaven, or “Sky”

We may think of the sky as “just being there”, as part of the earth, but there is a very peculiar statement, here: He says, “Let there be a firmament (KJV: other translations say “expanse”) in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” And God separated the waters below the “expanse”, or “firmament” from those above the “expanse”, or “firmament”, and He called the expanse “heaven” (KJV), or “sky.”

Unfortunately for translators, in both Greek and Hebrew, there is only one word for “heaven”; and in both cases, it simply means “heaved-up things”…and the same word is used to describe:

  1. “Sky” where the birds, wind and clouds move (the atmosphere,)
  2. “Sky”, where the sun, moon and stars exist (outer space,) and
  3. “Heaven, proper”, which is seen as the throne-room or habitation of God.

I wish it were otherwise, but that is just a fact. Only the context can tell us which “heaven” is in view. In this context, the King James Version translators assumed that the readers would not be confused, and simply translated it (quite correctly) as “heaven”…meaning “Sky, where the birds, wind and clouds move,” as that was common usage in 1611. The modern translators saw that the language had changed and that modern readers were very likely to be confused, so they (also quite correctly) translated it “sky”, meaning “Sky, where the birds, wind and clouds move.”

We can sort it out logically, and understand that the Sun, Moon and Stars certainly do not exist “between the waters”, nor is it likely that God’s throne is situated there. So we correctly see it as the nearest “sky.” But this raises another question: What is the water above the sky?

This is not the clouds, as clouds actually are only in the lowest levels of our atmosphere.  When we study the Flood (chapter 7,) we will see what apparently existed as three separate sources of water:

  1. The fountains of the great deep were broken up, and
  2. The windows of heaven (sky) were opened and
  3. It rained.

There was evidently a water-barrier cloud around the earth, in ice-crystal form, which may have shielded the earth from harmful radiation. It apparently collapsed, as part of the flood.

I remember reading, about 30 years ago, in Time magazine, or Newsweek, that some scientist had spent 20 years trying to convince the rest of the scientific community that there were thousands of immense snowballs, the size of two-story houses, entering our atmosphere daily, from outer space. They did not show up on telescopes and they melted and evaporated virtually instantly when they hit the atmosphere, just from friction. He had finally developed equipment with which to detect such snowballs, in a manner that satisfied the other scientists, but they did not see it as a “significant” discovery, so the news simply disappeared in a matter of weeks. No one cared. It was a very disappointing response. But those snowballs may be the remnant of that old water-barrier, still falling to earth, and still adding to our supply of water.

At the flood: the majority of the water from above the sky was released, adding to the flood. Water from under the ground and within the ocean was also released, adding to the flood. And, here is the clincher: the Rain only continued for forty days and forty nights…but the floodwaters continued to rise for five months. After that time the waters began to subside. It is something to think about, for sure.

The Dry Land

The next passage seemed odd to me, when I first read it, as I had always seen the world as a solid mass with a certain amount of water in certain places (plural.) But the fact is, there is a great deal of water on the Earth (mostly salt, now,) and so deep that it could easily cover the whole earth, were it not for the huge variations in surface elevations. It requires places like the Challenger Deep, and the other great deep abysses, to contain the water. What we miss, here, and elsewhere, is the fact that the original creation had no mountains as we see them today…it was a single, low land-mass; one giant, fairly flat pancake of a continent. We see the proof of that, in Genesis 7:18-20, where a 15 cubit increase covered the “mountains,” and over in Genesis 10:25, where, after the flood, we see the breakup of that  huge, flat continent.

So, in verses 9 and 10, when he says “let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place,” he literally meant one place…not thousands of bays, lakes, oceans and gulfs. There was one body of water, and one land mass. And God saw that it was good. We will see later where the rivers and the mountains came from, and why the geology looks the way it does, today.

Next time, we will continue to read, to see

  • How Man came into being,
  • How we became sinners, and
  • What God has chosen to do about it

Lord Jesus, give us Grace and Light, to believe your Word; to understand your Word, and, by your Spirit, to apply it to our lives. Make us lights in the dark world around us. Help us to serve you faithfully, and with Joy.


Hebrews: Jesus is Better!

Jesus Is Better

© 12/6/2016 C. O. Bishop THCF 12/18/2016

Hebrews 1: 1-3

Introduction:

Today we will begin a study through the book of Hebrews. This epistle has endured controversy over the years regarding the identity of the writer. The consensus over the centuries has mostly been that the writer was the Apostle Paul, and most Bibles have that printed as part of the title.

However, unlike every other Pauline Epistle, there is no introductory line stating that Paul is the writer, and greeting the recipients with “Grace be unto you, and Peace…” etc. Some have therefore attributed this epistle to Apollos, or some other writer. I tend to think it is Paul, anyway, because of some internal evidence: comments that seem to uniquely fit Paul’s life. There is no clear proof either way, so I will drop that issue, and leave it for others to haggle over. The book was clearly written before AD 70, as a good deal of it regards the temple in Jerusalem, and its service, and there is no mention made of the temple’s destruction (which happened in AD 70). So, most historians tentatively place it at about AD 64, but we can’t be certain.

The general theme is the idea that “Jesus is Better”. The writer shows the infinite superiority of Christ, over seven key aspects of Judaism. He also issues seven warnings to “dabblers” who seem to be believers, but who evidently are just “along for the ride”, and not actually “entering in” by faith. The warnings grow more and more serious, throughout the book. There are forty exhortations of one sort or another, and a great deal of teaching. It is not an easy book to study because there are passages that can be easily misunderstood, if not carefully compared with the rest of the Bible. We will try to address those problematic passages as they arise.

It is interesting, to me, however, that there is almost no teaching in the book of Hebrews on how to be saved, only multiple warnings and exhortations to not miss out on it. Evidently the writer knew his audience, and knew they were aware that salvation was offered as a gift, and of how it must be received. There is also very little teaching on “what the Church is”, or “how it is to function;” only on who Christ is, compared to the Earthly or Heavenly “star-players” of the Old Testament. So, Jesus is better than:

  1. The Prophets (Hebrews 1:1-3)
  2. The Angels (1:4-14; 2:5-18)
  3. The Prophet and Lawgiver, Moses (3:2-6)
  4. The Sabbath (4:1-16; 5:1-10)
  5. The Priesthood (7:4-28; 8:1-6; 9:11)
  6. The Old Covenant (“He is the mediator of a better covenant.”) (8:6-13; 9:1-28)
  7. The Old Testament Sacrifices (He is a better sacrifice) (9:11-14, 23, 28; 10:1-12)

In every case, Jesus was demonstrated to be far superior to whomever or whatever he was to be compared…hence, the thematic choice, “Jesus is better.

An Abrupt Beginning

The opening lines of the Epistle to the Hebrews actually form one of the problems that make people wonder who the author is: All of Paul’s other epistles begin with a fairly consistent greeting; blessing the recipients and identifying the writer.

The Epistle to the Hebrews dispenses with formalities, so to speak; it makes no “introduction” as to the writer or the recipients, nor even to the theme, but simply slams right into the theme itself. It is interesting to me that the Old Testament Hebrew writings sometimes do the same thing. (Genesis 1:1, for example.) Possibly the reason this book is so different in style is specifically because it is the only epistle Paul wrote for a non-Gentile audience. In Romans 11:13 Paul cheerfully identifies himself as “the apostle to the Gentiles”. So, all of his writings to the Gentiles followed Gentile formats. We have another example by an unbelieving Roman centurion, (Acts 23:35, ff,) and it follows a similar form. So, I am comfortable with the differences between this epistle and the others written by Paul. Most, if not all, of the differences can be attributed to the difference in the intended recipients.

By verse two we can see that a comparison is being made between the Old Testament Prophets and Jesus, with Jesus being shown to be so far superior that no further comment is made. No argument is offered: He is simply shown to be God, while the prophets were simply the mouthpieces or spokesmen for God. In the same short chapter, the angelic hosts are shown to be a servant-class creation, while Jesus is shown to be their Creator and Master; but we will pursue that subject at a later date.

Though the majority of the epistle is written to genuine believers, there are seven warnings to professing believers (sometimes intermingled with exhortations to believers), scattered throughout the whole book:

  1. Don’t neglect the salvation that is being offered. (2:1-4)
  2. Don’t harden your heart. (3:7-4:1)
  3. Don’t fail, through unbelief, to enter in. (4:1)
  4. Don’t fall away, despising the sacrifice of Christ (6:1-9)
  5. Don’t attempt to fall back on the sacrifices…they no longer work. (10:26-31; 35-39)
  6. Don’t opt out for temporal gain. (12:16)
  7. Don’t refuse to hear (respond to) Him. (12:25-29)

There are also about 40 exhortations to believers, which we will address as they arise.

I will be quoting from the KJV. You are welcome to read along in any translation you like.

Hebrews Chapter One: God Speaks to Man

The writer begins with the “Author of all things”—God. Both Genesis and John begin with the same individual. I think it is an effective approach, especially in dealing with an audience of professing Hebrew believers, to begin with the central person of all Eternity: God.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
In various ways and at various times, God has approached Man. We cannot approach Him unless He first reaches out to us. Think about it: He is invisible, so that we don’t know where to look; and He’s absolutely Holy, so as to be completely separate from the fallen race of Man. We can only see the effects of His power, and marvel from a distance at His obvious wisdom and splendor. We have no real way to approach God: God had to approach Man.

Even in the Garden of Eden, God called to Adam, “Where art thou?not the other way around. All through the Old Testament, God reached out to Mankind, meeting us where we lived. And it has continued so today. God says in Psalm 14, and reiterates in Romans 3, that “…there is no one who seeks after God.” We have a hard time with that idea: we insist, “Oh, yes we do!” But the fact is that we only seek after that “missing something”, in each of our lives; perhaps motivated by a longing for meaning and direction and Peace; but, most certainly not seeking the Creator and Judge of all the Universe. We fear Him; we flee from Him, and we reject him at every turn, until He comes and confronts us. (E.g. John 1:11, 12; Acts 9:1-6)

God had sent prophets, many times, throughout the centuries, but they were usually rejected, and were frequently murdered. So, God himself changed the game. After thousands of years of sending prophets, judges, and deliverers at various levels; speaking unto the Fathers (the patriarchs) by the prophets, He finally sent “God in the Flesh:” God the Son. He spoke to the prophets in a variety of ways: out of the air, from a burning bush, from the glory in the tabernacle, and from a towering column of thundering smoke at Mount Sinai… but the prophets were sent to speak to the patriarchs. Who did He send to us? Jesus!

Jesus is Better Than the Prophets

He says that, “in these last days”, he has spoken to us by His Son. But not just any son… the only begotten Son—the heir, “whom He hath appointed heir of all things”. And, lest we forget just who that Son really is (not just a Jewish Carpenter), he reminds us that it is Jesus who carried out the creation of the universe. (Greek “aeonas”—the ages…this is not the Greek word “kosmos”, which can mean a world or a world system. But we see in Genesis that the “time-pieces” (Sun, moon, and stars) were created after the creation of the earth that we inhabit. So, if Jesus is the creator of the ages…all time as well as the whole earth, as we will see, then he is truly the Creator of the universe.) Also; though we see things from the perspective of those locked in time and space, God sees from Eternity, the eternal “Now,” and He decreed before the foundation of the Earth that the Only Begotten Son was to be the means of our salvation. Jesus is “Plan A”—and there is no “Plan B.” (Ephesians 1:4; 3:8-11; 1st Peter 1:20)

He goes on to describe the person and work of Jesus Christ in astonishing ways, so that any reader can see the unquestionable superiority of the Son, but in ways that are especially tailored for Jewish readers:

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

What Does He Say?

  • He says that Jesus is the brightness of the Glory of God. (Think about the tabernacle! Remember how the Glory of God shone out from the Tabernacle so brightly that no one could go in? That was Jesus, personally showing up to bless the new structure, though it was just a tent at that point! Later, in the great Temple of Solomon, the same thing happened: The “Shekinah” Glory shone out. Jesus is the Brightness of God’s Glory!)
  • He says that Jesus is the exact manifestation of the Father. (Compare John 14:8-11) We have a hard time with this, because it exceeds our imagination, but the Jews had an even harder time, as they denied that it was possible for a man to be God, or for God to become a man. And yet, had they thought it over, they would have realized that God had many times appeared in the form of a man in their history. He had eaten with them, fought for them, and wrestled with one of the patriarchs! If they read Zechariah 12:1-10, they should have even seen that the one that was pierced was Jesus…and Jehovah!
  • He says that the Word of Jesus is what is “upholding all things”…maintaining the Universe… (Compare Colossians 1:15-17: “holding everything together”.)
  • The Greek word for “Power”, here, is “dunamis”, not the word for authority—“exousia”. This refers to the sheer magnitude of His ability. And yet, he does it by His Word.
  • He says that Jesus himself purged the sins of the human race…he alone did it. There is no other work to be done. The sinner can add nothing to the completed work of Jesus at the Cross. His blood stands for eternity as the full payment for the sins of the Human race. His work is finished!
  • He further says that when Jesus had accomplished that task, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high. (Note—in the tabernacle, or the temple (our only glimpses into the “arrangement” of the throne room of God) the Ark of the Covenant was the only piece of furniture in the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies. If Jesus completed his High-priestly duties, where could he sit? Especially, how could he sit down “at the right hand of God?” The answer is that he is God, and has the right to sit between the cherubim, on the Mercy Seat, in the place of God. Consider John 5:22) Further, the Old Testament high priests could never sit down. Their work could never be completed, even had there been a place to sit.

To me, these are mind-boggling premises. And the writer did not ease up on the ideas, or even try to “build a case,” culminating in the explanation of these facts. He simply, bluntly stated them, and allowed the Jewish readers to draw their own conclusions. The Jewish believers, then and now, were pretty awed by the prophets…and rightfully so. But the writer of the book of Hebrews immediately points out that Jesus surpasses the Prophets in every way.

Conclusion

If we haven’t already caught on to the identity of Jesus Christ, we need to open our eyes and see it! Paul spoke to a mixed audience: not all of them really knew the enormity of who Jesus is/was. Some still had the idea that he was just the most recent in a long line of Jewish Prophets. Some may have thought that he was some sort of exalted spiritual being, along the lines of an angel. The writer gives no room for such thoughts.

Who do you say that he is? Jesus asked that question of the disciples, and Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” That turned out to be a great answer.

But there are those who are uncomfortable with it. John 1:1-14 reveals that Jesus is God in the Flesh, and Hebrews 1:1-14 reveals the same truth in more stark terms. We cannot relegate Jesus to a lesser status than who he really is. He has to be one of the following:

  1. The Almighty God, the Creator, who became a Man, so that He could die in our place,
  2. A lesser god of some sort, or
  3. Not a god at all.

Some people diminish Jesus to the state of a demi-god…a great spiritual being of some sort. This means he was not truly Man (which would disqualify Him as Savior) nor was He truly God (which would also disqualify Him as Savior.) So the religions and philosophies that deny His deity also have to deny him as Savior. (By the way, one of these groups, which lifts its name from Isaiah 43:10, where it says “I am Jehovah and you are my witnesses” in their Bible, ignore the next few verses, which say that there has never been another God before or after Him, and that apart from Him there is no savior!

Others go further and declare him to be only a man, possibly a good man, but deluded, at best. Some even go a step further and deny that he ever existed at all, as though he were simply a creature of mythology and wishful thinking…perhaps like Santa Claus. Not only would both of these accusations completely disqualify him as savior, they fly in the face of history.

The secular historians of Jesus’ time knew who he was. They denied his deity, but they surely knew of his existence. And the many thousands who believed on him in the first century were martyred because they knew who and what Jesus was, and because they believed in Him. Theirs was not a faith built on hearsay. They had known him personally, and had personally witnessed the crucifixion and the resurrection. People don’t willingly sacrifice their lives for something they know to be a lie. They knew the truth.

The fact is, we know the truth too! So we need to live as those who know the truth, and who, by that truth, have been set free to serve the Living God. As we study through Hebrews, we can be set free by the sure knowledge of the Person of Christ. It seems especially appropriate to think on these truths, at this season of Christmas, when we commemorate His birth. The following song by Mark Lowry, addresses this question:

Mary, Did you Know?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the lamb?

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great “I AM!”

Personally, I find that concept absolutely beyond comprehension! But that is the Truth! The One whom we have come to know, and trust as our Savior.

Lord Jesus, lift up our eyes to see your face. Help us to see you in your humanity, but just barely cloaking your full deity. It is hard, perhaps impossible, for us to understand your deity, Help us to accept that truth, and see your face in the Scriptures as well as in the Creation.