Pastor David B. Curtis


God Has Spoken

Hebrews 1:1-2

Delivered 01/23/2000

This book is addressed to a group of Jewish Christians who had begun to drift from the Christian faith. They had lost all awareness of the relevancy of their faith to the daily affairs of life. They had begun to drift into outward formal religious performance, but to lose the inner reality. Doubts were creeping into their hearts, and some of them were about to abandon their faith in Christ because of persecution and pressure. They felt it was not worthwhile; they were losing too much; and that it was possible, just possible, that they had been deceived and the message of Christ was not true after all. It is to these conditions that the book of Hebrews was written.

Let's begin our study this morning with a question. Do you want to hear God speak? Have you ever said in a moment of desperation or frustration, "O God, if you would only speak! If I could only hear your voice. If you would only talk to me and not be so silent"? Just last week I was talking to a woman who said to me, "I'm waiting for God to tell me what to do." I said to her, "God has already spoken, He gave us a book telling us what he wants us to do." Believers, God has spoken, the only real question is, "Are we listening?"

The first two verses of the book of Hebrews teach very loudly and plainly that, "God has spoken!" God is not silent. God is not withdrawn and uncommunicative.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

These verses teach us that God has spoken in two phases: before the coming of the Son of God into the world, and through the Son of God's coming into the world. Read them again: "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son." Consider these two phases of God's communication for a moment.

Before the coming of the Son it says, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets...." Notice some crucial things:

God spoke

He was not silent. God communicates. He means to connect with us. He is not an idea to be thought about. He is a person to be listened to and understood and enjoyed and obeyed. He is a speaking Person. There is no more important fact than this: There is a God who speaks that we might know him and love him and live in joyful obedience to him. God has spoken! if we're going to know anything about God we'll learn it from what He has revealed in the Bible.

An old Puritan preacher used to say that there were just two things he desired to know: first, does God speak (concerning any matter), and secondly, what does He say?

God spoke by the prophets

This means that God's typical way of communicating with his people as a whole was by inspiring human spokesmen as go-betweens. It was not God's way to write his word in the sky, or to shout it from mountains for all to hear, or to whisper it one by one in the heart of every Israelite. His usual way was to call a prophet, and then inspire the prophet to speak and to write to the people what God wanted said. But don't miss what this text says: When God spoke to the fathers in the prophets, God spoke to the Fathers! When the fathers heard and understood the prophets, they heard God speaking. God used chosen, inspired human instruments to speak to the fathers. But it is God speaking to the fathers when the prophets speak and write. For a good definition of a prophet, look with me at:

Deuteronomy 18:18-22 (NKJV) "I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 'And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. 20 'But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' 21 "And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?'; 22 "when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

So, a prophet is someone who God speaks through. When they spoke of the future, they were to be 100% accurate or they were to die. A prophet is the mouthpiece of God.

Exodus 7:1 (NKJV) "So the LORD said to Moses: "See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet."

Aaron was to speak for Moses, who was as God to Pharaoh. A prophet is someone who speaks for God.

In this first verse of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit establishes the accuracy of the Old Testament and its divine authorship.

God spoke to the fathers - "fathers" is referring to Old Testament believers in general.

"At various times and in various ways" - "Various times" is the Greek word polumeros, which comes from plus, meaning: "many" and meros, meaning: "parts." The idea of the word is: "many portions." "Various ways" is the Greek word polutropos, which is from plus, meaning: "many" and tropos, meaning: "manner of fashion." The idea being: "different manners or many ways."

This is where I get the assurance that God is not withdrawn and uncommunicative. This verse stresses the lavish variety of God's communication: "God has spoken in many times or places and in many ways!" This is a great comfort and encouragement to me - God has spoken.

God has spoken in a variety of ways: he spoke to Moses in the burning bush; to Elijah in a still small voice; to Isaiah in a vision in the temple; to Hosea in his family circumstances. God might convey his message through visions and dreams, through angels, through Urim and Thummin. You are all familiar with Urim and Thummin aren't you?

Urim and Thummim were objects that Israel, and especially the high priest, used to determine God's will. They are first mentioned in Exodus as being kept by the high priest in a "breastplate of judgment" (Ex. 28:15-30). Later, Moses gave the tribe of Levi special responsibility for their care (Deut. 33:8). After Aaron's and Moses' death, Eleazar was to carry and to use the lots to inquire of the Lord.

Numbers 27:18-23 (NKJV) And the LORD said to Moses: "Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; 19 "set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. 20 "And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 21 "He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the LORD for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him; all the congregation." 22 So Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. 23 And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

They were apparently two objects that served as sacred lots. That is, they were used to determine God's will, or to receive a divine answer to a question. Saul called for their use, for instance, in determining who had broken Saul's vow in a battle with the Philistines.

1 Samuel 14:41-45 (NKJV) Therefore Saul said to the LORD God of Israel, "Give a perfect lot." So Saul and Jonathan were taken, but the people escaped. 42 And Saul said, "Cast lots between my son Jonathan and me." So Jonathan was taken. 43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, "Tell me what you have done." And Jonathan told him, and said, "I only tasted a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand. So now I must die!" 44 And Saul answered, "God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan." 45 But the people said to Saul, "Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the LORD lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day." So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.

This text also hints as to how the objects were used. They were "given," perhaps drawn or shaken from a bag. One object gave one answer. The other lot gave another answer. Probably, whichever lot came out first, that was understood to be God's answer. The Urim and Thummim were not, however, automatic or mechanical. God could refuse to answer. Saul sought the spirit of Samuel through a witch, because God would not answer Saul through Urim or dreams or prophets (1 Sam. 28:6-25).

I'll bet that most of you would like to have a Urim and Thummim to use in determining God's will in specific areas of your life.

God also spoke through symbols: a pillar of fire, a pillar of cloud. You can probably recall several incidents in the Old Testament in which God spoke directly to an individual, or He appeared to someone in a dream or vision. God spoke directly to Abraham. He told Abraham, in Genesis 12:1, to go out from his country to a place that God would show him. God spoke directly to Moses. God gave Moses the Law when he was on Mount Sinai. God spoke to Jacob in a dream (Gen. 31:11), and many others as well. The point is this: God provided a lot of possibilities in the Old Testament where he could be heard. He has spoken, and he is not silent. He is not withdrawn and uncommunicative.

"Spoke in time past to the fathers" - "time past" is referring to the Old Testament days.

The Old Testament was fragmentary and incomplete. It was written over a period of about 1500 years by more than 40 different authors, each book having its own element of truth. The Old Testament was progressive revelation that was unfolded in time, just like children are first taught letters, then words and sentences. God gave his revelation in the same way.

When you read the Old Testament, you are reading the Word of God. The voice of God is heard through various forms and circumstances. Open the book of Genesis and read the simple, majestic tale of creation and the flood. Then follows the straightforward narrative of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; then the thunderings of the Law; the sweet singing of the Psalmist; the exalted beauty of the prophets; the homespun wisdom of the Proverbs; the delicate tenderness of the Song of Solomon; and the marvelous mysteries of the prophetic writings, as Ezekiel and Daniel. All of it is of God, but all of it is incomplete. It never brings us to ultimates and absolutes.

But when you open the pages of the New Testament and read the four-fold picture of Jesus Christ, you find that all the Old merges into one voice, the voice of the Son. The syllables and phrases by which God spoke in the Old Testament are merged into one complete discourse in Jesus Christ. Therefore, God's word to man has been fully uttered in the Son. There is nothing more to be said. Jesus Christ is God's final word to man.

Hebrews says that God spoke in two phases: one before the coming of the Son of God into the world, and one through the Son's coming into the world.

Hebrews 1:2 (NKJV) has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Now, the point here is that if God seemed ready and eager to communicate himself in the Old Testament, how much more is he ready to communicate in the sending of his Son! What the writer wants us to see is that this latest communication from God is greater and better than all those portions and ways in days of old. So, when I complain to God, "Lord, I want to hear you. Would you speak to me? I need to hear your voice," is my complaint well placed? What would God's response be in view of these words?

The speaking of God in the Son in the last days is better than God's speaking of old. God has now spoken not just by prophets, but by his Son

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Notice it does not say, "Formerly God spoke by prophets, and in these last days he has spoken by apostles." That's true. And you can see their crucial role in Hebrews 2:3-4. But the point here is that in the last days, God has done something very different: to communicate, he sent his Son.

This is different. The Son of God is not just a prophet. Some thought he was just a prophet.

John 9:17 (KJV) They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

But he was not a mere prophet. Here, Islam makes a great mistake about Jesus. Jesus is not only a prophet like Moses or Isaiah, He is the Son of God. And that means he is God.

John 5:17-18 (NKJV) But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

We will see this in detail when we focus on verse 3: "He is the radiance of [God's] glory and the exact representation of [God's] nature." The point of those words is to warn us against the mistake that Islam has made. Jesus is the unique image of God's divine glory and bears the very stamp of his divine nature. He is not a mere prophet. The whole point here is to show that he is superior to the prophets. He is the eternally begotten Son, without beginning and without ending.

In other words, God has not just spoken by inspiring prophets and apostles. He has spoken by coming to us in the person of his Son. Who Jesus was, what he said, and what he accomplished by dying and rising from the dead is God's Word to us. This is what God has said, and what we should hear - what we need to listen to far more earnestly than we do.

The opening statement of verse 2 then sets the tone and introduces the main theme of the whole epistle; namely, the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ in comparison with the transitory and incomplete character of all that proceeded his coming.

Jesus Christ is greater than the prophets and greater than any revelation in the Old Testament, because he is the embodiment of all revelation. God has fully expressed himself in Jesus Christ.

Why would the writer not address the readers in the customary way by making himself known; specifying the address; and pronouncing a salutation of grace, peace, and mercy? The answer must be that the author wants to focus attention primarily on the ultimate revelation of God - Jesus Christ, his Son.

The author of Hebrews has an unusual method of citation; he almost always neglects the human author of his Old Testament quotations. No other New Testament writer shares this way of quoting the Old Testament. The effect is to emphasize the divine authorship of the whole Old Testament. For the author, what Scripture says, God says.

Every time I begin to complain that God is silent, and that I need God to speak to me - at that moment I should stop and ask: "Have I exhausted hearing this Word and need another word?"

So the speaking of God is better in the last days than in the prophets of old, because he has now spoken in the coming of his Son.

How does Jesus speak to us, twentieth century American Christians? He speaks to us through the apostles. Since all the apostles have died, how can they speak to us? The apostle Paul answers this question in -

Ephesians 3:3-5 (NKJV) how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:

Notice what Paul says: By referring to this revelation that was made known to him, you can understand his insight into the mystery of Christ. How can we understand this mystery? We can understand by reading what Paul wrote. Paul said in -

Galatians 1:11-12 (NKJV) But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

This revelation that was revealed to Paul and the other apostles, wasn't their teaching or some other man's teaching, but the teaching of Jesus Christ. He speaks to us through His word. We can know and have assurance that the word of God, the Bible, is how God speaks to us today. His word was revealed to the apostles, and through inspiration, they wrote it down. This is what we have today to guide our lives. Truly Peter was right when he said:

2 Peter 1:21 (NKJV) for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

We are told that God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness:

2 Peter 1:3 (NKJV) as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

The scriptures that we have make the Christian complete or perfect for every good work:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Why would we need anything else from God? The answer is simple: we don't!! We have all we need to live a faithful life to the Lord. People need to stop wondering when God is going to tell them what to do, and look at what He has told them to do through His word. In Matthew 17:5, God said this of Christ, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him."

In verses 2-4, the author of Hebrews gives us a seven-fold description of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this description, we see why the speaking of God in the Son is far superior to his speaking through the prophets.

1. His Heirship

The first thing we learn about Jesus Christ is that he is the heir of "all things." The word "heir" is the Greek word kleronomos, which means: "one who receives by lot, getting by apportionment." In Messianic usage, one who receives his allotted possession by right of sonship.

The property devised by this appointment is "all things." Here we see the primary reason why the universe was brought into being, it exists that the Father may show His love for the Son.

John 3:35 (NKJV) "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.
Colossians 1:16 (NKJV) For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

"God appointed Christ heir" - this shows us that the Son through whom God has revealed Himself is Jesus Christ, the God-man incarnate.

Everything that exists, exists for Jesus Christ. He is the heir of all things. That he is lifted to that plane is a testimony of His equality with God.

Think about this - He is the "heir of all things." Now why does the author add this? Because he wants us to dwell on the fact that the one we listen to, Jesus, the Son of God, can make good on all that he promises. Why? Because he is the heir of all things. In the end (the end of the Old Covenant in A.D. 70), he will have in subjection to him all that is. The writer wants us to think about this. What does it mean to listen to a Spokesman for God who has under his complete control and ownership all things (all land, all water, all fire, all wind, all energy, all natural resources, all nations, all military might, all bacteria and viruses, all angels, all spiritual and material beings except God the Father)? Well, it means that he can make good on all his promises.

If he says, "Nothing in all creation will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:39), then he can make good on that promise because he owns all creation, it is all under his control. If he says,

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Then we can be assured that "all" things are working together for our good.

When you listen to the Son of God, it is different from listening to a prophet. God made good on the word of the prophets. But the Son makes good on his own word.

2. His act of creation -

"By whom he made the worlds." "By" is better translated "through." That Jesus Christ is the agent of creation there should be no doubt, the Scripture clearly teaches this -
John 1:3 (NKJV) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Colossians 1:16 (NKJV) For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

If you don't recognize God as the creator, then you have problems trying to explain how this universe came into being.

Consider the vastness of our universe. The sun is 865,000 mile in diameter and 93 million miles away from earth. Our next nearest star is Alpha Centauri, and it is five times larger than our sun. The moon is only 211,453 miles away, and you could walk to it in twenty-seven years. A ray of light travels at 186,000 miles per second, so a beam of light would reach the moon in only one-and-a-half seconds. If we could travel at that speed, we would reach Venus in two minutes and eighteen seconds because it's only 26 million miles away. After four-and-one-half minutes, we would have passed Mercury, which is 50 million miles away. We could travel to Mars in four minutes and twenty-one seconds because it's only 34 million miles away. The next stop would be Jupiter - 367 million miles away - and it would take us thirty-five minutes. Saturn is twice as far as Jupiter - 790 million miles - and it would take one hour and eleven seconds. Eventually, we would pass Uranus, Neptune, and finally Pluto - 2.7 billion miles away. Having gotten that far, we still haven't left our solar system, which moves in a multimillion-mile orbit through endless space. The nearest star is ten times further than the boundaries of our solar system - 20 billion miles away. The North Star is 400 billion miles away, but that still isn't very far compared with know space. The star called Betelgeuse is 880 quadrillion miles from us and has a diameter of 250 million miles, which is greater than the earth's orbit.

Where did it all come from? Who made it? It can't be an accident. Someone made it, and the Bible tells us it was Jesus Christ. He is the Creator. Jesus has the ability to create, and that set Him apart from men. Only God can create, and that Jesus Christ creates indicates that He is God and establishes His absolute superiority over angels and the prophets.

So, Jesus Christ clearly created the world but when the writer of Hebrews says, "through whom also He made the worlds" he is not talking about the creation of the universe. The word "worlds" is not kosmos, but aion, which means: "the ages." His discussion here involves the Old and New Covenant ages. It is these two ages that are contrasted throughout this book. He consistently shows how the New Covenant is superior to the Old. He is not only the cause of the "ages," but he is the reason for which they were created.

The author uses the normal Greek word for "worlds" in verse 6.

Hebrews 1:6 (NKJV) But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him."

But in 1:2, he uses the Greek word for "ages". The Bible only speaks of two ages, the Old Covenant age and the New Covenant age.

To the Jews, time was divided into two great periods, the Mosaic Age and the Messianic Age. The Messiah was viewed as one who would bring in a new world. The period of the Messiah was, therefore, correctly characterized by the Synagogue as "the world to come." All through the New Testament we see two ages in contrast: "This age" and the "age to come."

Matthew 12:32 (NKJV) "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

The word "come" at the end of the verse is the Greek word mello, which means: " about to be." We could translate this, "the age about to come" (in the first century).

Ephesians 1:21 (NKJV) far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Here again, we see the two ages. So, the New Testament speaks of two ages, "this age" and "the age to come." The understanding of these two ages, and when they changed is fundamental to interpreting the Bible.

The New Testament writer lived in the age that they called "this age." To the New Testament writers, the "age to come" was future, but it was very near because "this age" was about to end.

1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV) Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Paul said very plainly that the end of the ages was coming upon them, the first century saints.

We now live in what was to the first century saints the "age to come." When most Christians read in the New Testament and see the words "the age to come," they think of a yet future (to us) age. But the New Testament writers were referring to the Christian age. We live in what was to them the "age to come," the New Covenant age.

Since the "present age" of the Bible ended in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple and the coming of the Lord, we must be in the "age to come."

The Christian age, the New Covenant, is not temporary. The age we live in will never end, it is an everlasting age.

Hebrews 13:20 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

The Bible doesn't teach about an age future to us. The age in which we live is the everlasting age of the New Covenant.

So, we are to give heed to the Word of the Son of God who is heir of all things: he is appointed heir because he died and rose again to redeem for himself a people and to destroy sin and death and Satan and everything that could make his people miserable.

He can make good on his word because he is God, because he is Creator, and because he is the Triumphant Heir over all evil and misery. This is a better word than anything the prophets ever spoke in many ways in the Old Testament.

I would like to bring out one more area this morning about how superior God's speaking in the Son is over his speaking of old in the prophets. This Word of God in his son is so decisive and so full that there will be no third phase of God's speaking in history

Notice what the writer says in verse 2: "in these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son." Now, next week we will study in detail the phrase, "last days." Understanding this phrase is very important to our understanding of this book.

But the point I want to look at right now is this: For the writer of Hebrews, the Word that God spoke by his Son is the decisive Word. It will not be followed in this age by any greater word or replacement word. This is the word of God - the person of Jesus, the teaching of Jesus, and the work of Jesus.

When I complain that I don't hear the word of God when I feel a desire to hear the voice of God, and get frustrated that he does not speak in ways that I may crave, what am I really saying? Am I really saying that I have exhausted this final decisive Word revealed to me so fully in the New Testament? Have I really exhausted this word? Has it become so much a part of me that it has shaped my very being and given me life and guidance? Or have I treated it lightly - skimmed it like a newspaper, dipped in like a taste tester - and then decided I wanted something different, something more? This is what I fear I am guilty of more than I wish to admit. God is calling us to hear his final decisive Word - to meditate on it, and study it, and memorize it, and linger over it, and soak in it until it saturates us to the center of our being.

Hebrews 1:2 (NKJV) has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

The past tense of the verb "spoken" indicates that God's speaking is complete. God's word in Christ has been spoken, fully and finally. The story of revelation is a story of progression up to Christ, but there is not progression beyond Him. Revelation is finished! There are no prophets today who could write something that would have the authority of Scripture There aren't any prophets today because the Word of God gives us all we need. If you want to know God's mind on a matter, read your Bible.

God has spoken, do we know what he has said? Do we care? We are quick to run to hear men of prominence speak. We like to hear the politicians and the big name folks speak. Millions of people listen to Rush Limbaugh speak each day, and his books are best sellers, but if you really want to know "the way things ought to be", read your Bible - it is God's word to us.

Continue the Series

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