I remember exactly where I was when it happened. I was in the parking lot of the hospital listening to NPR and about to step into the hospital for a meeting when I couldn’t turn the radio off. A plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center buildings. I was in disbelief. My brother worked at the Trade Center doing cleaning and his phone was busy. I walked into the hospital only to see the second tower hit by another plane There were reports of the Pentagon being struck and an incident in Pennsylvania. It was a day that none of us who were living at the time will ever forget. The numbers 9-11 when put together will have a unique meaning which time will not be able to erase.
For over 2000 years the book of Hebrews has inspired and been a source of understanding for people of faith to help them understand what they believe and why they believe it. It is a heavy book. It is not for the faint of heart and some of you might have a hard time getting through it. It is called “Hebrews” because of the implied audience to whom it was written. You will find as we make our way through the book that there are many Old Testament references and other references of faith which people who grew up in the synagogue and went habitually to the temple would be able to understand. As a result it is called the Letter to the Hebrews, or people who are Hebrew, or people who came from the tribe of Israel. We do not know who wrote this book of the Bible. Some swear it is Paul, but we simply do not know. I don’t think it was Paul. I’m very comfortable with not knowing who the author is and settling in with the fact that it is inspired by God. It is a powerful but meaty book of the Bible. Settle in as we get started in chapter 1.
The author begins with speaking about Jesus and how he is different from how God has revealed Himself in the past. In the past God used humans who had the word of God and were called prophets. In Jesus, God himself came down and was one of us, a human, but was called the Son. The relationship of the Trinity is lifted up here in a very unique and powerful way. The Son is said to be the creator of all the world. Wait, I thought God the Father was that. Yes, He is. You see, we believe that God, the Trinitarian God that we know and love, was present and is present from the beginning of creation to today to when the Son comes back again. This is really important. We can’t fall into a modalist mentality which believes that each person of the Trinity has had His time and place and they don’t overlap or correspond to each other. God did not come as the Son in Jesus and that is the only time that the Son is present. No, He was present at creation as well, not in human form as Jesus, but as God.
I told you it was meaty. This is important to establish because then the rest of chapter 1 and much of chapter 2 deals with angels and their inferior status to Jesus as well. The author must have been addressing a theological issue that had arisen in some communities where people thought that maybe Jesus was just an angel, and not really God, not really divine. The author uses the OT to shoot down any of these theories. It is important to see how the author uses Scripture to shoot down any kind of theology which might be contrary to our belief. He doesn’t just say: no that is wrong because I say so. No, he says that Jesus is above the angels because God called the Son begotten and His throne is forever.
Let’s talk about angels and guardian angels. Let me just say that there is no such thing as guardian angels. I know, some of you will pull up Psalm 91:11 where it states that God will call out his angels to guard and protect us. But there simply is no Scriptural backing for guardian angels. It is a cultural construct which people of faith have latched onto because it sure is reassuring. Sorry, I hate to be the one who steals the candy from the child, but there is no such thing as guardian angels.
So what are angels? The term in Hebrew is angelon which literally means “messenger”. Angels are messengers from God.
Okay, maybe not Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, not those kinds of angels, but those who could be every day people who give us a word when we need it the most and remind us of God’s purpose and our purpose on this earth. I have experiences of people who have been put in my life, people I did not know, and given me encouragement and the will to go one and I did not know who they were or where they came from. I was not able to trace them afterwards either. But it could be people that we do know as well. Angels are simply messengers from God. Jesus was not an angel. He was the Son of God. He was God.