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What Does God Look Like?

Hebrews 1:1-14

 

“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. [2] In these last days, He has spoken to us by [His] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. [3] He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. [4] So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs. [5] For to which of the angels did He ever say, You are My Son; today I have become Your Father, or again, I will be His Father, and He will be My Son? [6] When He again brings His firstborn into the world, He says, And all God’s angels must worship Him. [7] And about the angels He says: He makes His angels winds, and His servants a fiery flame; [8] but about the Son: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice. [9] You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; this is why God, Your God, has anointed You, rather than Your companions, with the oil of joy. [10] And: In the beginning, Lord, You established the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; [11] they will perish, but You remain. They will all wear out like clothing; [12] You will roll them up like a cloak, and they will be changed like a robe. But You are the same, and Your years will never end. [13] Now to which of the angels has He ever said: Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool? [14] Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are going to inherit salvation?” (HCSB) 

 Verse 1 says, “Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways.”

 To Adam & Eve, He was a voice walking in the Garden, seeking His fallen creation. (Gen 3:8).  To Moses He was a voice, thundering out of a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire (Exodus 3:2-6).  To Manoah & his wife, God was a flame ascending into heaven from the altar (Judges 13:20-22).  To Moses, Aaron & Miriam, He was a pillar of cloud, standing in the tabernacle door (Num 12:4-8). 
 Isaiah saw Him in a vision, setting on His throne in glory (Isaiah 6:1).  Ezekiel saw Him in a whirlwind (Ezekiel 1).  Jacob saw Him in a dream (Gen. 28:12-13).  The children of Israel saw him in pillars of clouds (Exodus 14:19).

 At times God spoke to His people through His prophets, but other times He appeared directly to them.  These theophanies (special appearances of God) were temporary manifestations of the glory of God, but they wane in comparison to how God revealed Himself to the world at Bethlehem.  Let’s read verse two: “In these last days, He has spoken to us by [His] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe.”

 Jesus is God’s ultimate manifestation of Himself to mankind.  In Jesus, God didn’t send a messenger or make a guest appearance, He came Himself, and He came to stay.  John 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (KJV)  The word translated “dwelt” in this verse means “to reside” as in the way that God did in the Tabernacle. (Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary)

 Jesus was not the Father’s representative. He was and is God.  He is God’s ultimate expression to mankind.  Colossians 1:15 says, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:” (KJV) And John 14:9 says, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?” (NASB)  The Nicene Creed describes Jesus in this way, He is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;”

 Not only is Jesus “very God of very God” but He is the heir to all—He owns everything. Colossians 1:16 says “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” (KJV)  He owns everything because He created everything.  John 1:3 says, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” And Colossians 1:17 says “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (KJV)

 Now let’s look at verse three.  It says, “He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

 Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory.  We’ve already read John 1:14, so I’ll just draw your attention to one phrase of the verse, “and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.”  2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (KJV)  He is the radiance of God’s glory and the “exact expression of His nature.”  James described God in this way, “whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17 NKJV)  The great Hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness says, “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.”

 Jesus is the radiance of His glory, the unchanging, exact representation of His nature, and the sustaining force of everything.  We often miss this important fact.  God not only created the world, but if He removed His hand from it, the world would cease to be. Psalms 75:3 says, “When the earth and all its inhabitants shake, I am the One who steadies its pillars.” (HCSB) and Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” (HCSB)

 Before we leave verse three, notice the last part, “After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”  Here, the writer of Hebrews foreshadows a primary argument that he will make that Jesus is the great High Priest.  In this verse, he depicts Jesus as a High Priest, sitting down after completing his work on the Day of Atonement.

 In the prologue to the book, the writer has established that Jesus is God and that He created the universe, sustains it by His might and has completed His work.  His is the beginning, the middle and the end.  For the remainder of the chapter, the writer of Hebrews demonstrates Jesus’ superiority to the Angels. 

 Man, on the other hand, is not superior to the angels, Psalms 8:4-5 says we are lower than them.  Let’s read the verses, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? [5] For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (KJV)  The writer of Hebrews will quote these verses in the following chapter to introduce a section on Jesus’ incarnation.  We’ll save that study for next week where we’ll glory in the amazing fact that God became man to dwell among us.  But for today, we will simply affirm that Jesus is, as the Nicene Creed said, “very God of very God.”

 If you want to know what God looks like, take a look at Jesus.

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