Angels Worship. Jesus Is Worshiped.
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Heb. 1:6a (Holman) When He again brings His firstborn into the world,
Jesus is God the Father’s only begotten, His firstborn. This refers to position, not time. Jesus has priority. He is superior to all else in creation. In ancient thinking, the firstborn son represented his generation, and administered for the good of the family the possessions of the father after his death. Jesus is God’s firstborn Son, handling the Father’s estate. Jesus holds universal pre-eminence over all the creation, including people and angels.
Heb. 1:6b He says, And all God’s angels must worship Him.
Another reason Jesus must be considered greater than angels is; God commanded angels to worship Him. The writer is quoting Psalm 97:7 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Psalm 97 deals with God’s creation rejoicing in the exaltation of God’s Kingdom. Everything is called on to triumph and rejoice. The whole creation is to celebrate the Creator’s glory.
The highest manifestation of God’s glory was Jesus, “the radiance of God’s glory” (1:3). Therefore, our author took the Psalm as referring to Jesus, and viewed the angels as being commanded to worship Christ.
The One being worshiped, Jesus, is greater than the ones worshiping, angels. Learn a good lesson here. If angels worship Christ, shall we humans who are but dust and ashes not worship Him? If those who dwell in Heaven worship Jesus, we earthlings should do the same.
Hebrews 1:7 And about the angels He says: He makes His angels winds, and His servants a fiery flame;
Psalms 104:4 (LXX) says angels are winds and fiery flames. Therefore, saying Jesus is greater than angels is no small claim. Angels are immeasurably above humans in radiance, and achieve feats far beyond the capabilities of our frail bodies of clay. They are like “winds”, achieving their assigned tasks with speed and agility. They can make themselves invisible, beyond human view, and when they do reveal themselves to us, the sight is terrifying. Their brightness gives them an awesome appearance. They are candles of burning love, fires of pure and perfect devotion to the Father.
An angel as invisible as the winds blocked the path of Balaam and his donkey. The donkey could see the angel, but Balaam’s eyes were covered. The animal ran into a field, smashed Balaam’s foot against a wall, and finally fell down, refusing to budge an inch. Once Balaam’s eyes were opened, he fell down at the angel’s feet as a dead man (NB 22:21-35).
Swift and strong as the winds of a hurricane, an angel descended from heaven on Resurrection Sunday, caused an earthquake, rolled back the stone of Jesus’ sepulcher, and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and for fear of him the guards did shake and become like dead men (Matt. 28:2-4).
Let there be no mistake. Angels are glorious and exalted creatures. They have many eminent qualities. However, they are still only creatures subordinate to Jesus, who is God, as the next verse shows.
Heb. 1:8a But about the Son: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
This quotes Psalm 45:6a. Psalm 45 was universally considered as referring to the Messiah. God the Father is here quoted as acknowledging the Son is God. John Calvin rightly observed, “Whosoever will read the verse, who is of a sound mind and free from the spirit of contention, cannot doubt but that the Messiah is called God.” John MacArthur goes even farther and claims this verse is “the clearest, most powerful, emphatic, and irrefutable proof of the deity of Christ in the Bible – from the Father Himself.”
Jesus is Sovereign, sitting on a throne that will last forever. He is King, a position never given any angel. His throne is everlasting, something never claimed by any human. All earthly thrones totter, and at length tumble.
Alexander’s throne is found in history books. Caesar’s throne fell to the hands of barbarians. Christ’s throne, however, remains forever and ever. Christ’s throne can never decay of itself, nor can His enemies take it from Him. Evil assails His throne with all its might, but the aggressors are dashed to bits in the efforts. They crumble at Christ’s feet, their rubble becoming a part of God’s footstool (I Cor. 15:24-25).
Heb. 1:8b-9a And the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
These words also quoted Psalm 45 (vv. 6b-7a). It is good that Jesus reigns. His presence on the throne assures a reign of justice. He rules with rectitude, uprightly. He governs fairly, without respect of persons. All His laws are holy and just.
Jesus rules with righteousness because He loves righteousness, and hates lawlessness. To love righteousness is more than doing righteousness.
Obedience can be marked by reluctance. God’s will often conflicts with ours, and frequently our service to Christ is joyless and unwilling. This was never the case with Jesus. He not only does righteousness, He loves it.
Jesus so loved righteousness and so hated iniquity that He was willing to give His own life to help sinners become holy again. He was willing to die for a guilty world to reconcile us to God. Loving righteousness, He took on Himself the work of our redemption that we might be made righteous.
We, too, need to love righteousness and hate lawlessness. We should have the same desires Christ has. To do so would be a powerful motivation to holy living in our own lives. Also, it would make us desire to win others to Jesus in order that lawlessness might decrease and righteousness increase.
Heb. 1:9b This is why God, Your God, has anointed You, rather than Your companions, with the oil of joy.
This quotation, also from Psalm 45 (v. 7b), depicts the scene in Heaven on Christ’s return there. God anointed Him, as being Sovereign over all others in Heaven. In Israel, God’s chosen king was inaugurated in office by the pouring of oil upon his head. This act pictured a special endowment from God, a bestowal of divine authority, a setting apart to a specific task.
A king’s coronation was a festive time of revelry and celebration. Such was the scene in Heaven when Jesus ascended there. There was jubilee over Christ’s finished work. Saints and angels rejoiced at His exaltation.
In this assembled elated throng, One was supreme, above all others. Only One would be anointed. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Job, Noah, Samuel, and other heroes of Israel were there, but each was passed over for this honor.
Michael and Gabriel were there, but the Lord of Heaven did not move toward them or any of the other angels. Without hesitation, the Father found His Son, and poured on His head the oil of gladness. His Firstborn was promoted above all others. Jesus is Messiah; “the” anointed one – Prophet, Priest, and King in one person. He alone received a throne that lasts forever.
These thoughts of King Jesus compel us to turn our attention toward the most pressing consideration of all. Is His throne of grandeur and magnificence established in our hearts? Is Christ the Prophet who teaches us, the Priest who pleads for us, and the King who rules us? Nothing else in this world matters but that we know Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.