One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary Did You Know” by Buddy Greene. I was privileged to see my daughter’s school choir perform it this year, and as I think about it, the song is very fitting for a study in the first chapter of Hebrews. We would ask Mary, did you know this:
Hebrews 1:1 – 4 — “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; 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; Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”
Mary, did you know that the Man that was once your baby boy is heir of all things?
Mary, did you know that the Man that was once your baby boy is the one Who created all space and time?
Mary, did you know that your baby is the brightness of the glory of God, and is the express image of His person?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy is keeping the universe moving, that as your baby boy was sleeping in the manger that he was upholding the universe by the word of His power?
Mary, did you know that that your baby boy would by Himself purge our sins¹?
Mary, did you know, that even now, the Man Who was once your baby boy is seated in Heaven at the right hand of God, henceforth expecting until His enemies are made His footstool?
Mary, did you know that the glory of the angels that shown in the night sky pales in comparison to the glory of the Man that was once your baby boy, and that the mighty angels of God worship Him?
Mary did you know?
This study is not to discuss what Mary may or may not have known, but think of the glory that was veiled when God came to this earth clothed in flesh and blood to save sinners.
The writer of this epistle knew first hand the brightness of the glory of Christ, for he came face to face with the glory of Christ, when he “saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about” him (Acts 26:13).
John 17:5 — “And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”
Jesus Christ before the world began:
Genesis 1:1 — “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
John 1:1 – 3 — “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”
Colossians 1:15 – 18 — “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.”
Jesus Christ enthroned as Redeemer:
Ephesians 1:20 – 23 — “…Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”
Colossians 1:18 – 20 — “And He is the head of the body, the church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
Philippians 2:9 – 11 — “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus Christ in the World to Come
Ephesians 1:9 – 10 — “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him…”
1 Corinthians 15:24 – 28 — “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
As we look at these and so many others of the Scriptures, it is hard to understand how anyone who claims to believe the Bible could think anything other than that Jesus Christ our Lord is very God of very God. This marvelous person who came into His glorious world, leaving His throne and glorious home coming to this earth for me (and you) is worthy of all glory and honor as we celebrate His entering in to our condition (yet without sin) to redeem us.
The Scripture has made plain that God has shut up all unto faith, and that He has given one way that any of us may be saved, and that is by the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. In our natural state, we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), but all may be saved by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. If you have not given your self up to the grace of God, trusting exclusively in the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption as finished, even now stop trying to save yourself, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. You will never have a more wonderful Christmas than the one where you trusted in Christ alone for salvation, where you first learned the grace of God in truth.
- This is a very important statement in this epistle to the Hebrews, as it is in the entire scope of Scripture. There are several aspects of it to consider when considering this most precious of doctrinal truths:
- The way that I framed the statement above, I made the statement as it applies to the believer under the present dispensation of grace. This is how it applies in such passages as Ephesians 1:7 — “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…”, and Colossians 2:13 — “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses..” to name a few. This is naturally how we would apply it, because this is how it affects us.
- This statement, however, is found in the epistle to the Hebrews, and as such, how does it affect the Hebrews as such? This is important to consider because as I stated in my previous introduction to this epistle, when the writer, speaking himself as a Hebrew of the Hebrews to an audience of Hebrews, when he uses terms such as “us” or “our”, he is speaking of “us Hebrews”, or better yet, “we, the people of the covenant that God made with our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. When he states “our”, he means that which belongs to the people of that covenant, himself and his audience being members. When he says “purged our sins”, to overlook this aspect of the purging of the sins of the Hebrew people, the nation of Israel as a nation, is to miss the meaning of this epistle in its entirety. Isaiah 1:18, 22, 25 — “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. … Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: … And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin…” Isaiah is a Hebrew prophet speaking the word of the Lord concerning Judah and Jerusalem, I would hope that none would argue against this (Isaiah 1:1, 2:1, etc.). I cannot help to think that the apostle John is using this same type of language in his epistle when he states: “And He [Jesus Christ the Righteous] is the propitiation for our sins [the sins belonging to us Hebrews]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Applying these verses in this way does not in any way take away from what our Lord has done for us non-Hebrews (Gentiles) who are partakers of the grace of God in this present dispensation. It does help to understand the scope of these passages and to help to not read any non-biblical doctrines into them, such as the two polar opposite, but very similar bad doctrines of universalism or limited atonement Calvinism. While the nation as a nation is in unbelief, and awaiting a future redemption, each individual Israelite may still be saved just as Gentiles are saved. This epistle to the Hebrews is to such Hebrews who did believe, yet they saw the promises seeming to vanish with the nation in unbelief. It is a message of hope to the remnant, and instruction to leave the unbelieving camp and to suffer with Christ outside of it. In Paul’s other epistles, we learn that believing Gentiles and Jews are one body with no distinction.
- Read Hebrews 1:3 in the Douay-Rheims (Roman Catholic) version: “Who being the brightness of his glory and the figure of his substance and upholding all things by the word of his power, making purgation of sins, sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high…” Notice that this is missing the clause “by Himself”, but notice also the language “made purgation”; and yet this same ecclesiastical body teaches a place of “purgatory”, where the sinner must suffer to make his own purgation. How sad!