As C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe begins, you find Narnia in a perpetual state of winter. This is because of the evil work of the White Witch that’s infected Narnia and all within it. So when the Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy meet Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (these are some of the main characters in the story) they discover that it’s always winter in Narnia and never Christmas. How awful is that? Well, as the story progresses something happens that changes things. I should say rather Someone happens that changes things. The great lion Aslan, the Christ figure in the story, enters into Narnia Himself and when He does the icy tundra of Narnia begins to thaw and grow warm once again. In other words, all of Narnia changes for the better once Aslan comes and nothing is ever the same again!

I tell you this today because it’s quite a wondrous picture of what occurs in our passage this morning. In Hebrews 1:1-4 we find that the Author of all creation, God Himself, enters into this dark world that’s dead in its own icy wicked winter. And what happens? Everything changes. His coming not only marks the coming of Christmas, it not only unfreezes and awakens the hearts of all who come to Him, but it also ushers all of creation into the final act of the grand play of history. This is the picture Hebrews 1:1-4 puts before us.

Well it’s hard to believe it but Advent is upon us! The word advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning ‘coming’ which is why the Church throughout the ages has called the season of Christmas Advent to make much of the first coming of the Son of God Jesus Christ. And for us this year we’ll spend Advent in the book of Hebrews. Now, one day, Lord willing, we’ll go through all of Hebrews in a long and wonderful sermon series and when that happens, I’ll probably begin with an entire sermon on the design and aim of this New Testament book. But we’re not doing a whole series now, no, we’ll just be dipping in and out of it for the next few weeks.

But because we’ve not yet worked through Hebrews as a Church, I’ll just say this as we enter into it. Hebrews is both like and unlike the other books in the New Testament. It is unlike the other books because we don’t know who wrote it. Hebrews itself doesn’t tell us, and though many have made educated guesses we still don’t know. We also don’t know who it was exactly written to, and what exactly the nature of their situation was. We get hints throughout it as a whole, for example I think we can see there was great suffering occurring in and around this community and much of the encouragement throughout Hebrews is aimed at pleading with Christians to hang on and persevere through trials. But it’s difficult to see the full picture with certainty. So while Hebrews in these ways is unlike the other books in the New Testament it is also very much like the other books in the New Testament because Christ, in all His glory, is put forward in these chapters as the supreme, sovereign, and sustaining Savior that He truly is. There’s much more to say in regard to introductory matters for the book of Hebrews but we’ll leave that for another time. For now, let’s go to our passage.

I’ve divided it into two portions, so see first…

God’s Final Word (v1-2a)

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…”

As soon as we begin v1 we’re introduced to the God who speaks.[1] The God who is there and is not silent. How wonderful is that thought? That God speaks to us implies grace knowing who we are. Don’t we know this from relating to one another. It’s a bad response, for sure, but sometimes what do we say to each other when we’re offended or angered? ‘I’m not speaking to you.’ Or if the situation has gone too far you might hear, ‘We’re no longer on speaking terms.’ That speech is cut off means an injury has occurred and a distance has been created. Church, aren’t you glad God hasn’t done that? He would be justified in doing so. We’re sinners, we don’t deserve to be spoken to, yet He speaks! And that He speaks means He’s near, it mean He’s come down to our level and revealed Himself and made Himself known. What a wonderful truth this is, our God is there and is not silent.

But notice v1-2 here, as soon as we see the God who speaks come into view, we find a contrast presented to us. Not a contrast between a God who was once silent and a God who now speaks but a contrast between how God spoke in the past and how God has spoken in the present. In the past, or “long ago” God spoke by the prophets, not just in one way but in many ways. A quick survey of the prophets shows this, how God spoke to His people by visions, dreams, riddles, face to face, Law, commands, warnings, parables, signs, wonders, sermons, narrative, poetry, and prophecy. God’s speech in the Old Testament was diverse and varied from prophet to prophet. It was always suited for the situation, it always revealed God’s nature and will to God’s people, and as it kept coming it was always in line with what had been previously revealed.[2] But, while God truly spoke through the prophets the message He spoke through them was limited, it was incomplete. It always had a future lean to it, that one day God would speak clearer, would speak stronger, fully, completely, and no longer in varied or diverse ways. From this we learn the Old Testament is a story in need of a conclusion, a messianic conclusion. Which means two things. First, God’s speech through the prophets were true words from God. And second, one day God would speak the last word, the final word.[3]

See this in v2, “…but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…” v2 begins with the phrase “…in these last days…” What does this mean? Part of the prophet’s message was that there was a coming day when a new age would dawn, when God would intervene to save His people once and for all. When did God do that? When Last Adam, when the Descendant of Abraham, when the prophet like but greater than Moses, when the new Joshua, and when the Son and Lord of David came. You see, when God no longer spoke to His people through prophets but came close He, in a sense, gave the best Christmas present of all in the gift of His very presence by dwelling among us in the Person of His Son. This is the great Christmas announcement. The birth, the entrance, the angels, the star, the magi, the crowded inn, and the manger. It’s all held in this statement here. But notice how v2 puts it. A great transition occurred the very moment God stopped speaking through the prophets and began speaking through His Son? What transition? The period called the ‘last days’ began as Jesus came into the world. Or to put it differently, it’s an argument from the lesser to the greater; we were once in the days of promise where God spoke through the prophets, but now we’re in the days of fulfillment where God has spoken through His Son. We’re not waiting for the last days to arrive, this shows us we’re already in them right now and that we’ve been in them ever since the first Christmas! Or we could say it like this, all creation is the theater of the glory of God and on this stage God’s grand drama of redemption unfolds. And we, mankind, are characters in this play. Yet, as wise and pioneering as we are we cannot go beyond the barrier of the stage we were put on to meet the Author. But then something happens, something foretold by the prophets of old long ago. The author of the play walked on stage. And when Jesus comes on stage in His birth, all of creation, the whole drama of redemption, is ushered into the final act.Jesus then, is the grand conclusion and the long-awaited Word to the storyline of history.[4] In Him God has spoken so much that all of heaven can speak no more.

Jesus is God’s final Word.

But who is this Jesus? Many a man has given an answer to this question, but what does God say about who Jesus is? The author of Hebrews gets right to the point in these verses and gives mark after mark, trait after trait, glory after glory, of who Jesus is. Look now to v2-4 where we see…

God’s Superior Son (v2-4)

In this brief passage we are given seven statements of the superiority of Jesus.

First, Jesus is the Heir, “…but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things…” This is clear isn’t it? Just as the children are the heirs of the parents, so too, as the Son of God the Father, the Lord Jesus is the Heir of all that belongs to the Father. And everything belongs to the Father so Jesus is therefore, the heir not of many things but of all things. This is ultimately what Psalm 2 speaks of when it says, “I will tell of the decree: the LORD said to me, “You are My Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession” (Ps. 2:7-8). And because Jesus is the heir of all things, all those who believe in Jesus are united to Jesus and in such a union we become fellow heirs with Christ. Romans 8:16-17, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” All things then will in the end be the possession of the Lord Jesus.

Second, Jesus is the Creator, “…through whom also He created the world.” This reminds us that Jesus is the Word, and it takes us back to Genesis 1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” But remember John 1? It clarifies and expands on this saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Or we could go to Colossians 1:15-16, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him.” In other words, the Father created all things through the Son and for the Son, and so, everything in existence finds its ultimate meaning and purpose in the Son.

Third, Jesus is the Radiance, “He is the radiance of the glory of God…” As hot and brilliant as the sun is in our solar system, we would never feel or enjoy its light and heat without the radiating beams that come to earth. So it is with Jesus, the Son of the Father.[5] He is the radiance, the shining forth, the brightness and the blazing center of the glory of God. Without the Son we wouldn’t know the Father. Again John 1 shows us this, in v18, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.” This radiance overwhelmed the apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration and blinded the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. So we confess with the Nicene Creed that Jesus is “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.”[6]

Fourth, Jesus is the Imprint, we just saw how Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God, now we see Jesus is also “…the exact imprint of His nature…” The word here used in Greek for imprint speaks of the impression made by a stamp on a seal. The stamp that is made corresponds exactly to the image on the die.[7] That Jesus is the exact imprint means there is an exact correspondence between Him and the Father.[8] Or as Jesus said to Phillip, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). And as Paul later said in Colossians 2:9, “For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily…”

Fifth, Jesus is the Sustainer, “…and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.” Jesus is not only the heir of all things and the creator of all things, He sustains – upholds, supports, maintains – all things. Returning to Colossians 1, v17, we find a similar statement, Christ is “…before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” This reality of Jesus being the sustainer of all isn’t like Atlas portrayed as eternally struggling to hold up the world and all that’s in it, no. This is Jesus, God Himself, enduringly ensuring all things are upheld, not just by His Word, notice, but by the Word of His power. There’s authority in His Word, might and strength in His Word. It’s the same Word that called all creation into existence from nothing, the same Word that called Lazarus out of the tomb, the same Word that goes out in the gospel and makes new creations of sinners who believe, that Word ever upholds all things. By His Word of power Jesus will perfect all the good work He’s begun in His Church, and because of His great sustaining work we rejoice and say with Jude, “Now to Him who is able to keep us from stumbling and present us blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior…” (Jude  24-25) be glory forevermore.

Sixth, how astonishing that this Jesus, who is all these things is now put forth here in Hebrews 1 as the Purifier, “After making purification for sins…” After such a cosmic description of King Jesus this phrase almost comes as a shock to see.[9] That one as high as Christ would come as low as us is stunning. And that He would bear our sin is even more stunning. This is the Christmas glory. The Maker becoming Man, the Bread of Life becoming hungry, the Fountain of living waters becoming thirsty, the Light of the world becoming darkness, and the Way the Truth and the Life becoming weary, weak, and dead…for us. Long ago in the days of promise priests repeatedly offered sacrifices for their own sins and the sins of the people. But now in these last days, the days of fulfillment, the Lord Jesus as the true and better High Priest offers Himself as the sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and once for all pay for the sins of all who would ever believe.

What would come of this sin-bearing, wrath-absorbing, purification work?

Seventh, Jesus is the Ruler, “…He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Having paid for our sins by His blood, our Lord Jesus sits down, His work being accomplished, at the right hand of the Father, forever to hold the highest position of all.

So Church, who is Jesus? One author put it like this, “In infancy He startled a king. In boyhood He puzzled the learned scholars. In manhood He ruled the course of nature. He walked upon the billows and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His services. He never wrote a book and yet all the libraries of the world could not hold the books about Him. He never wrote a song, yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all songwriters together. He never founded a college, yet all the schools together cannot boast of as many students as He has. He never practiced medicine and yet He has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors have healed broken bodies. This Jesus Christ is the star of astronomy, the rock of geology, the lion and lamb of zoology, the harmonizer of all discords, the healer of all diseases. Herod could not kill Him. Satan could not seduce Him. Death could not destroy Him. And the grave could not hold Him.[10]

Conclusion:

So Church, in our text Jesus has been put forth to us as true Prophet, being the final and full Word from God. Jesus has been put forth to us as true Priest, bearing and atoning for our sins once and for all. And Jesus has been put forth to us as true King, creating, sustaining, sitting, and reigning over all.[11]

Perhaps I’ll just end with this. Remember the lion Aslan. When he came the long cold Narnian winter ended and gave way to Christmas joy. So as they say in Narnia, “Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight. At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more. When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death. And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

May the warmth of Jesus’ Christmas presence, ever kindle a gospel flame within us!


[1] Dennis E. Johnson and Robert L. Plummer, ESV Expository Commentary: Hebrews-Revelation, ed. Iain M. Duguid, Hamilton Jr James M., and Jay Sklar (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2018), 31.

[2] R. Kent Hughes, Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul: Preaching the Word Commentary (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2015) 19.

[3] R. Albert Mohler Jr., Exalting Jesus in Hebrews: Christ Centered Exposition (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2017) 8.

[4] Mohler, 9.

[5] Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006) 19-20.

[6] Hughes, 27.

[7] John MacArthur, Hebrews: MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, Ill: Moody, 1983) 16.

[8] Phillips, 20.

[9] Hughes, 28.

[10] MacArthur, 9-10.

[11] MacArthur, 20.

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