The verses in Hebrews 1:5-2:4 carry on the Hebrews’ theme, Jesus is better. Here the author leads us to the idea that Jesus is better than angels. The topic of angels in the western culture is either a confusing idea of cute or interesting creatures or a general unbelief in the supernatural. The Bible can clarify what these beings are and their role in this world. Hebrews author quotes several passages to show the superiority of Jesus over angels. The author takes on the topic of drifting away from “such a great salvation.” Just like physical life, spiritual life needs explicit efforts from falling ill and loosing God given gift of life.
The Bible provides some specific information on angels, as well fallen angels, commonly referred to as demons. For most of us who may not have seen visions of angels or have only some peripheral experience of these supernatural beings, we can take passages from Bible of these accounts as penned by the authors who had such experience. The biblical accounts os such encounters show generally the human being terrified by these visits (Gen 19:1, Dan 8:17, 10:7, Ezk 1:28, Luk 1:12,1:29,2:10). Some of the accounts also provide encouragement, renewed hope and comfort (Jud 6:11-24, Dan 9:21,Act 12:7). We see in one of these passages that even Jesus himself (Luk 22:43) was strengthened to face the cross.
Some simple things to remember on the topic of angels
- Angels are created beings of beauty, power and strength
- Angels are terrifying, but can also bring comfort, strengthen and provide guidance to humans.
- Angels are not to be worshiped and do not accept worship, but they direct worship to God
- Angels are subject to Christ
The author of Hebrews wants his audience know that Christ is far above angels, because he is the Son of God (1:5), Angels worship him (1:6) and Christ will be the ruler over all things (1:8-13).
Prophecy in Songs
It is interesting to note that Hebrews quotes a number of passages from Psalms (really songs) to be interpreted as a prophetic proclamations. Songs are bound to be emotional and many times it is hard to see facts in a song as they can be figurative. Did the author of the prophetic song, really know or intend his song to be prophetic? How did this come about that a song writier became a prophet? What is the right way to interpret many Old Testament passages like the author of Hebrews so easily does?
One simple way to find if an OT passage is prophetic is to look for the passage’s interpretation in the New Testament. Another important to consider is while the psalmist may be crying out in his current circumstance to God, God through his Holy Spirit was revealing to him what is to come in the future that resembles his current plight or suffering. The aged and veteran apostle Peter tries to clarify what is the very nature of prophecy which can help us see how prophecy was penned in the Old Testamanet-
- The prophets (including the psalmists) were eagerly desiring, searching intently and carefully investigating (1Pet 1:10,11). God revealed it to them, because they were eagerly desiring and searching for the greater kingdom of God – one with justice, love, mercy, joy and worship.
- The psalmists and the prophets were not self-serving (1Pet 1:12). They were selfless as they saw the promised life from God at a distance, sang about and rejoiced, not just desiring some personal success or prophetic victory. They were happy to serve others who are yet to come (Heb 11:39,40).
- The authors of these passages were also moved by the Holy Spirit and were not proclaiming their own interpretation of the current events (2 Pet 1:20,21). To understand a prophecy, we need the same Spirit who gave the prophecy – the Holy Spirit. Rarely, we talk about the per-incarnate Holy Spirit or the Old Testament’s Holy Spirit. This is how the psalmist was able to write about the future, that is how we can understand such passages.
To summarize, these song writers where “pen-pals” with God and were able to set their pen to paper what was etched in their hearts as they sought God, waited on him, see his place and face many difficult current events. Through these times these singers saw the greater work of God as sang about it into the future- things even angels desire to look into (1Pet 1:12b).
There are also other passages such Moses’ test (Deut 18:15-22) on who is a prophet, one whose prophecy actually comes to fulfillment. Remember also prophets don’t contradict other prophets, as Paul himself says ” the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” – 1Cor 14:32. The passage in Rev 19:10 also sates another very crucial idea in prophecy “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Jesus – better than angels
The this theme “better” continues to help the Hebrew believes see the greater and the expedient new life they now have is the result of greater mediator. One who is the Son of God and will rule eternally to bring peace, justice and righteousness (Heb 1:8,9). This brings us to the idea that the covenant and hope brought in by Jesus gives “so much greater salvation” (Heb 2:3) to which we must pay greater attention.
The passage in Heb 2:1-4 has a staunch warning from drifting away – why is the Hebrews author feel so strongly about believers drifting away? Aren’t we saved by grace, how can we drift away or loose our salvation? or is the author talking about unbelievers who are pretending to be believers?
We can mostly agree the author is addressing believers who have taken some initial costly steps to become Christians against the social tide of Jewish culture and the local pressures of a Roman controlled world. The author is urging the believers to pay close attention as he is probably observed the natural tendency of his audience to treat Christian faith in the same way their forefathers treated the Jewish religion.
We are saved by grace and also held in our faith by grace (Col. 2:6). Nevertheless, the believer needs to test their hearts to make sure that they are not “fooling God” (Gal 6:7) about salvation. This involves a diligent working out of our faith to salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). We also should recognize that if our strength is too small to handle our suffering makes us loose physical and emotional abilities to cling to God, God is faithful. He himself does not “play chess with man”, as Einstein himself has said in a different context. God desires our best and we can always fall freely into his hands to find grace to our time of need.