Jesus Is Greater: Session 1 – God Speaks
Series: Jesus is Greater
Title: God Spoke
Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-2
Central Theme: How God Spoke
Objective Statement: It is essential that we understand how God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind. He has supernaturally revealed Himself in these 2 ways.
God's Partial Word- The Old Testament. (v.1)
God's Final Word- The Person of Jesus Christ. (v.2)
Aesop, the ancient storyteller, told this fable: Once upon a time, a donkey found a lion's skin. He tried it on, strutted around, and frightened many animals. Soon a fox came along, and the donkey tried to scare him, too. But the fox, hearing the donkey's voice, said, "If you want to terrify me, you'll have to disguise your bray." Aesop's moral: Clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will give him away.
We live in a culture where a lot of people are saying a lot of things.
If you like to hear people talk, you live at a great time in human history.
In some ways that is an incredibly good thing.
There are people that are very good at their discipline.
Through books, podcasts, youtube- all kinds of online and offline media- we can learn so much and integrate so much into our lives.
For the first time in history the spoken word is as distributable as the written word has been.
But along with that reality has come something else.
There is a real problem that has always been a problem that I believe has been made more evident now.
That problem is the problem of trustworthiness.
Who do you trust?
Not everything on the internet is true.
Not everything on the television is true.
In our culture there is a shrinking amount of shared values, and as a result there are a shrinking amount of shared facts.
Truth and trust is dying in the streets.
As a result, so is the concept of authority.
Respect for institutions and authority are at low point in our country.
It is hard to know who can be trusted.
There was a time in our country where the news cycles were limited to newspapers being distributed in the morning and an evening news from 2 or 3 channels at night on the television. There was an attempt at such a thing called journalism to only publish facts when there are verified sources.
Now we have 24 news cycles that are often driven by money. We have social media as a place where so many people get their news. Everyone becomes a journalist. Everyone can have a platform and to make claims.
As a result, it is difficult to know who
It is in this cultural context that we come today to begin our study in Hebrews.
And it starts out with an incredible claim.
Verses 1-4 are one long sentence in the Greek based on these subject and verb clauses….
God…spake. God… hath spoken.
What an incredible claim!
There is a God.
This God has revealed Himself in the past.
God reveals himself to us.
It is an important claim to know that God has spoken.
The Natural Box
Human beings live in a world that is limited to time, space, and matter.
We experience time. We can only go the past in our memories, and we can only go to the future in our hopes, dreams, and worries.
We all only experience the present.
We exist as matter and we live in space.
Imagine a box- we live in this box of time, space, and matter. Inside the box is the natural.
Now outside of that box is the supernatural.
We cannot get outside of this natural box.
Now, with the evidence that is being observed that shows that the universe is expanding, many scientests are confirming, although many of them confirming reluctantly, that the universe had a beginning.
Time, space, and matter had a beginning.
For our universe to exist time, space, and matter had to begin all at once.
If you have matter, you must have space. If you have space and matter, you must have time.
What caused the beginning of time, space, and matter?
For their to be time, space and matter something must have caused it to come to be.
But whatever created time, space and matter, must be timeless, spaceless and immaterial.
Whatever created wood could not itself be made of wood if wood did not yet exist.
Whatever created time, space, and matter must be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial.
It must also be wise, powerful, personal, and bigger than what has been created.
Do you know that the Bible reveals the beginning of time, space and matter at once by a timeless, spaceless and immaterial powerful, personal and allwise pre-existant being? It does this in the first verse of the scripture.
(1) In the beginning (time) God created the heaven (space) and the earth (matter).
We, as created beings, are bound to the natural world that God created.
We are in that natural box without any way to really get out of it.
We can not get to the eternal on our own in this life.
Religion though is an attempt to get to that supernatural.
Mankind has always been trying to get to God, and to get there his own way.
Do you remember the tower of Babel?
(1) And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
(2) And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
(3) And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
(4) And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
For mankind to connect with God, a supernatural, eternal, being that exists outside of time, space, and matter- he had to come to us. We cannot get to Him on our own.
God has done that.
God communicating Himself to us is called “revelation”.
God has revealed Himself to us in our time and in our space.
Hebrews begins and reads in large part like a sermon.
And it makes this claim crystal clear to us.
God has revealed Himself to us.
God hath spoken.
We know that God did reveal Himself to us through creation.
(1) The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
The heavens are saying, “There is a God!”
Paul makes this argument that the created world declares God’s existence in Romans 1.
(20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
We know that God’s existence has been made known by the natural world.
He has written His law on our hearts so that we know in a sense right from wrong by our conscience.
But God did not stop his revelation there.
He revealed Himself not only naturally, but supernaturally.
He has revealed Himself authoritatively.
And I want you to see something unique about this supernatural revelation that is made clear in the first two verses of Hebrews 1.
It is essential that we understand how God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind. He has supernaturally revealed Himself in these 2 ways.
Let’s read our text again.
(1) God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
God’s Partial Word- The Old Testament.
The first way that God revealed Himself is described in verse 1.
In both of the ways that God has revealed Himself to mankind supernaturally, we are going to see four aspects of this supernatural revelation: The Era, The Recipients, the Agents, and the Means.
The Era of God’s Partial Word- “in times past”
The main thought here is that God spake.
“Spake” is past tense. If you weren’t clear about that it says “in times past”.
The writing of the book of Hebrews happens after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as we shall see.
So it is pretty clear that He is speaking of the Old Testament itself.
You’ll see that clearly not only by the “era”, but also by the recipients.
The Recipients of God’s Partial Word- “unto the Father’s”
The “fathers” here speaks to the patriarchs of the jewish nation.
God spoke to Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and others.
He spoke to the nation of Israel, and even spoke to other nations in the Old Testament.
He spake in times past.
He spake unto the fathers.
This included everyone who was under the Old Covenants, and anyone else that were included in the reach of the revelation that God gave to the Jewish people.
The Agents of God’s Partial Word- “by the Prophets”
He spake by the prophets.
When the Bible uses the word “prophets” here he is speaking of all of those that spoke on His behalf in the Old Testament.
Not only did God speak to Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and the many more, He gave them messages to give to “the fathers”.
God revealed Himself by these men and they spake for Him to the people.
The Means of God’s Partial Word- How did God speak? “at sundry times and in diverse manners”
Here we come to the idea for which I said that the Old Testament is God’s partial world.
Here he says, “at sundry times and in diverse manners”.
There are two words here that rhyme in the Greek language- Polymeros and Polytropos.
The prefix “poly” we know even in our language means many or diverse. If you are polytheistic you believe in “many gods”.
Here you have “polymeros”- pollos and meros.
Poly means “many” and “meros” means divisions or portions.
You also have “polytropos”. Pollos and tropos. Tropos is translated in the scriptures as “ways” or “manners” or means”
The idea is that God spoke in fragmented, incomplete, and varied ways in portions.
It was partial. It was fragmented. It was scattered.
It was diverse.
There are many portions in the Old Testament. There are 39 portions in the least.
God chose to reveal himself progressively over that time.
And there are various means in which God revealed Himself to the fathers by the prophets.
Many believe the first written scripture was the book of Job. It contains narrative and poetry.
You have the Torah- the Pentatuch. In it you find historical narrative, and law.
You have in the Old Testament various genres of literature. There is narrative, law, wisdom literature, poetry, prophecy, apocalyptic literature.
You have God revealing Himself through dreams and visions.
God reveals Himself verbally speaking audibly to men.
We also know that God moved everything that is recorded in the scripture through the Holy Spirit moving men.
2 Peter 1:20-21
(20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
(21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Men were used. God used their thinking. He used their personalities.
But don’t miss this. Every Word that they uttered had their source in God the Holy Spirit.
God chose the very Words that He breathed out. Theopnuestos.
And in the times past he did it in many portions, and in many manners.
So, in the time of the Old Testament before Christ, God’s revealed himself “progressively”.
The Old Testament does not progress from less true to more true.
It does not progress from kind of God’s Word to fully God’s Word. No. It is all God’s Word. It is all true.
It does not progress in truthfulness. It progresses in completeness.
You see the Old Testament and God’s revelation of Himself in it was incomplete.
There are types and shadows.
There are prophecies.
They are pointing to something that was yet to be.
God’s Final Word- The Person of Jesus Christ.
(1) God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hebrews 1:2
(2) 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;
The Era of God’s Final Word- “in these last days”
The Era in verse 1, speaking of the Old Testament is “in times past”.
The era here is “in these last days”.
There are a couple of ways to interpret this phrase.
Did it happen in recent history to the writing of Hebrews? Of course it did.
But I believe that the phrase these last days sparked the interest of the jewish audience to which this book is addressed.
They would have understood that the Messiah was coming in the last days.
That’s how the woman at the well saw it.
(23) But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
(24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
(25) The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
(26) Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
Jesus certainly has changed History.
The writer is telling us that the Messiah has come. God has revealed Himself now through the Messiah- through His Son.
Jesus Christ’s coming had just happened, and this is what is so monumental about what He is saying.
Jesus Christ- a man that did not live beyond 33 years and left this earth with 120 assembled in an upper room- this man splits History. We are all telling time by Him.
The Recipients of God’s Final Word- “unto us”
Who did He come to?
The recipients of God’s partial Word were the fathers.
The writer proclaims something incredible- God has spoken “unto us”!
The audience, including us, gets to understand His revelation as not just prophecy in times past, but as History in these “last days”. We get to see it.
The Agents of God’s Final Word- “by His Son”
The agents of God’s partial Word- the Old Testament- in times past were the prophets.
But the agent of God’s final Word is His Son.
God has spoken through His Son.
The Means of God’s Final Word- Not many ways but one way.
In times past God spoke polymeros and polytropos. In various times and in various ways.
But in these last Days God spoke in one way- through His Son.
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life- no one comes to the Father but by Him.
Turn in your Bibles to one more place.
(1) And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,(2) And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Here you find Jesus taking His inner circle up onto the mountain.
And in a moment that we can only imagine His humanity was pulled back, and the radiance of His glory shown as light.
It must have been incredible.
Matthew describes here His face shining like the Son.
The disciples had seen him heal people at this point. They had seen him do various miracles.
Now it is taken up a notch and His glory is revealed.
Look at who else was there.
(3) And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
I’m not the first to point out that Moses wrote the law- the first 5 books of the Old Testament.
Elias- Elijah- was that great prophet and is representative of the prophets.
The Old Testament is referred to as the law and the prophets.
So, in this moment you have a representation of the two parts that we have spoken on today.
You have the Old Testament prophets and the Son of God.
“in times past…in these last day…”
“by the prophets…through His Son”
In that moment Peter speaks up.
(4) Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Let’s honor Moses and Elijah.
Let’s honor You.
Let’s do it in a way that is equal in its recognition.
3 tabernacles- 1 for each.
Look at God’s reaction…
(5) While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
This wasn’t a moment to recognize the Old Testament Prophets like this.
God’s voice was clear and unmistakable.
Jesus is greater!
(6) And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
(7) And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
(8) And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
This really is the point of the book of Hebrews.
Jesus is greater.
This is the point of the book of Hebrews.
2 words function to sum up the book of Ephesians. “In Christ”.
One word sums up the book of Hebrews- that’s the Word “better”.
Jesus is greater.
Jesus is better.
He is better than the angels. He is a better priest. He is a better sacrifice.
We have a better covenant.
We have a better revelation.
The Old Testament came in fragments and pieces-each part true.
Micah tells us where he would be born.
Daniel tells us when he would be born.
Malachi talks about the forerunner that would come before Him.
But when Jesus comes He is so much better.
He doesn’t just tell us about God. He is God in the flesh.
He is greater than any prophet in the Old Testament.
He is the embodiment of all truth.
Someone might say, “But didn’t other people prophecy after Jesus. What about the apostles?”
All of their prophecy centered around Jesus, just like Jesus it would.
(13) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
(14) He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
You know what that means? You cannot afford to neglect taking a position on Jesus.
He is the embodiment of everything that is true.
He came to earth and died for you so that you could be made right with God. Jesus Christ is Lord. Declare it now!