Context and Introduction
We will be continuing our study with Hebrew 2.
In Hebrews 1 we learned:
- Jesus is far superior to any angel.
- Indeed, Jesus is the Son of God, and Himself Divine.
- One of the author’s purposes was to refute the idea that Jesus was “merely” the Messiah.
In previous sermons on Hebrew 2, we learned:
- We should pay careful attention to the Gospel message and not “drift away”.
- Jesus is our perfect Savior, perfected by suffering.
Today’s sermon goals
We mean to try to “connect the dots” between chapters 1 and 2. Since the text speaks much of angels, we will also survey what the Bible teaches about angels – this is too important a topic to take for granted.
Don’t neglect our salvation!
- Heb. 2:1 – Our natural tendency is to drift from the Gospel to a “natural religion” that teaches we should “don’t be real bad, do some good deeds, and do most of our duties”, and then it is God’s “job” to forgive us.
- Heb. 2:2– “The Law was enacted by angels”, and firmly enforced.What does this mean? There are hints in the Torah that speak of angelic actvity. The New Testament also teaches this:
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until
the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and
it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. – Galatians 3:19
- Heb. 2:3-4 – But the Gospel came through the Son, was confirmed by the apostles, and witnessed by the Holy Spirit through signs, wonders, and spiritual gifts.
A little lower than the angels, for a little while
- Heb. 2:5– The “age to come” is not subject to angels. We note:
- The “dominion mandate”, given to Adam, was to subdue the earth, in order to make it more glorious (Genesis 1:26-28).
- Jesus, as the “second Adam”, will fulfill this in the age to come with His people.
This speaks of the temporary nature of the Law! For if obtaining an inheritence in the age to come rests on keeping the Law, then this inheritence is necessarily a reward granted by those angels who gave the Law, which implies that the age to come belongs to them.
But is it possible that the world of the present age “belongs to angels”? This is strongly suggested by Heb. 2:6-8a.
- Heb. 2:8b – We do not yet see everything under Him, despite the absoluteness of the coming rule.
- Heb. 2:9 – However, we already do see Him crowned with glory and honor, since he suffered death on behalf of everyone. How do we see Him this way? Eyewitnesses saw Him “ascend into heaven”, where “ascend” has the sense of a King taking his throne.
We step away briefly from Hebrews 2 to discuss what the Bible teaches about angels.
There seem to be different types of beings that we frequently call “angels”. Since the Bible is mainly concerned with how God is dealing with mankind, it does not give us all the information we might wish it did about angels. We have no way of knowing if the types of beings described in Scripture is exhaustive; I would assume it is far from it. At least three main categories of “angels” appear:
- Malachim or “messengers” look like men. Some texts alternately refer to the same being as an “angel” and a “man”. The messengers are always described as male, and are never described as having wings.
- The cherubim are described in Ezekiel 1:4-21 as having four faces, four wings, a multitude of “eyes”, and “wheels” within wheels.
- The seraphim are described in Isaiah 6 as having six wings — two to cover their faces, two to cover their feet, and two to fly with. They constantly praise God. The same word seems to describe the “fiery serpents” encountered by the Israelites in the wilderness.
First mentions of angels
- Possibly in Genesis 1:26, in the phrase “let us make man”, there is a reference to a “Divine council” consisting of God and some ruling angels.
- After Man sinned, some cherubim were appointed to take Adam’s place in guarding the Garden and the way to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-24). This speaks to the loss of Man’s priestly function. The human race now awaits a high priest to restore access to the Tree of Life.
How angels interact with us
- Usually angels are hidden. For example, in Genesis 24, Abraham tells his servant that God’s angel will go before him for his mission. The servant is sucessful, with evidence of miraculous help, but we never actually see an angel.
- Sometimes angels appear in dreams. In Genesis 28:11-17, Jacob dreamed of a ladder between heaven and earth, with angels going up and down on it. Jesus said this represented Him (John 1:51), indicating He will reconcile heaven and earth.
- Sometimes angels appear openly. In Genesis 32:1-2, Jacob meets with a camp of angels!
- Sometimes angels share mealswith people!
- In Genesis 18, Abraham eats with 3 “men”. We learn that one is the Lord Himself.
- In Genesis 19:1-3, Lot received the other 2, who we learn are angels. Yet they too share a meal with Lot.
- In Heb. 13:2, we are encouraged to show hospitality to strangers, with the encouragement that by so doing, “some have entertained angels unaware”.
Frequently angels are seen like men, and narratives call the same person a man or an angel interchangeably.
Do angels have physical bodies? Historically the church has taught they do not, but why? Jesus ate to prove he was physical; why is this not seen as proof that angels are physical too?
Where do angels come from?
The Bible does not teach that angels are the spirits of people who died!
- Job 1:6-12 describes a meeting of the “sons of God”. This phase could be like “sons of the prophet”, to refer to followers of a prophet in a school; the meaning would be to descibe a “council” of angels who are following God. Or it could be like Luke 3:38, where Adam is called the “son of God” because he was created, not born. This latter meaning would suggest that angels are directly created, not born. Jesus also taught that angels do not marry.
- This passage also shows us “Satan”, the “adversary”. He seems to both be an intruder to this meeting, and to have some plausible reason to be there. Perhaps he is an outcast from this council?
- The lesson in Job goes on to teach is that Satan, while powerful (able to stir up bad weather and bring bands of attackers), is constrained within limits set by God.
Where did Satan come from?
- We know that Satan was created by a good God for (ultimately) good ends (Romans 8:28).
- Satan seems to be an angel who sinned, but we do not have details.
- 1 Timothy 3:6-7 suggests that pride and conceit led to Satan’s condemnation. Let these sins be far from us!
- Revelation 12:7-9tells of a great dragon, “the serpent”, “the devil”, or Satan. Along with a great many angels, he will fight in heaven against “Michael and his angels”, but will not prevail.The allusion to a serpent is interesting – could Satan have originally been a seraph?
- Ezekiel 28:11-19 tells of a cherub cast out of Eden for pride — is this Satan, or some other evil power?
- Jude 6 speaks of angels who sinned who currently wait in chains in gloomy darkness, awaiting final judgment.
- The Bible also tells of “demons”, evil spirits lacking bodies.
- Maybe these are also fallen angels?
- Idol worship is essentially demon worship – 1 Corinthians 6:20
Michael the archangel, Gabriel, and spritual war
- Satan is powerful in this world
- Gabriel is one of only two angels given names in the Bible.
- Michael is called an “archangel”, a ruling angel. He fights with Satan and watches over Israel. In Daniel 10:2-21, angelic powers rule over nations.
- Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we participate in a spiritual war:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the
rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over
this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in
the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12
Jesus perfected by suffering
Last week’s sermon covered Heb. 2:10-15 more thoroughly than we can in this message. But a few comments:
- Recall from our studies of Roman, we learned about federalism, the idea that Jesus, as the Founder of the “new human race” of His people, can fully represent His people.
- Amazingly, with all our flaws, Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers! Clearly this isn’t based on our merits, but rather with what He will make of us.
Becoming the high priest
- Heb. 2:16 – Jesus’s purpose isn’t to help angels, but us – so He needed to become fully human, not angel.
- Heb. 2:17 – He became a merciful High Priest (reclaiming the role forfeited by Adam), making propitiation for our sins.
- Heb. 2:18 – He was tempted in every way, yet never sinned. This He is both able and willing to help us now.
The Gospel is so glorious it impresses angels
- We read in Ephesians 3:10 that:
… through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be
made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly
places. – Ephesians 3:10
Thus it seems God intends to impress and awe angels with His wisdom, as seen in the Gospel.
- This seems to work, for we read in 1 Peter 1:12:
It was revealed to them [the prophets] that they were serving not
themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to
you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy
Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. —
1 Peter 1:12
The Greek conveys the idea that angels are obsessed with understanding the Gospel. Despite their being greater than us and understanding the facts of the Gospel more fully than us, it continues to bring them amazement and joy.
- Thus we come back to Heb. 2:1: “We must pay much closter attention to what we have heard!”