Derek Prince - God Spoke To Us In His Son
I’m going to very briefly review the material that we covered last time. First of all, there was a preliminary explanation of how we’re going to do this. The most important thing for you to get out of that is I will be reading from the Greek New Testament translating extemporaneously as I go. We’ll take plenty of time so if I say a thing that confuses you, we’ll go back over it. The method of study will be analytical and, most important of all, I said what was required of the student. I hope you all remember that. I took five verses from the second chapter of Proverbs in which it lays down the way in which to receive from the Word of God. I said verse 1: receive and treasure God’s commandments. Verse 2: attend and be teachable. Lay down your prejudices and your preconceptions. Verse 3: Pray earnestly. The Bible says "lift up your voice". Verse 4: Search and study. Searching as for hidden treasure. Then the promise in verse 5 is: you will discern and discover.
Now we’ll very quickly look also at the material that’s entitled Introduction which is on Page 0/1. I am not going to go through it all again; we’ll just pick out certain important features. The date, we will just mention that it was written before the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, which means that the temple services and the Levitical sacrifices were still going on. Then I said the distinctive revelation of this epistle that we’re studying is Jesus as our high priest. I don’t know of any other passage in the New Testament which contains that revelation. The main theme I suggested is indicated by the words that recur. Inheritance, rest and perfection. It sets a goal for us. The purpose, I suggested simply, is that we might have strong encouragement. And that word that’s translated encourage means both "to stir up" and "to cheer up".
Then we looked at the key words, of which I have listed 13, beginning with high priest and then grouping them in four sets of three because they go together. The first group of three: promise, oath and covenant, all of which depend on the ministry of the high priest to make them valid. Then the next group: offering, sacrifice and blood, which are required to establish the covenant. The third group: faith, hope and confession, which are required from us as our response to receive what is available in the covenant. Finally, as I’ve already said, inheritance, rest and perfection as the objectives to which we should be moving. Then I pointed out that there are five passages containing very, very solemn warnings in this epistle. The things against which we’re warned are significant. I think the order is significant.
If you look there on Page 0/2, first, neglect. That’s where it started. Second, unbelief. Third, apostasy: falling away. Fourth, willfully continuing to sin. And fifth, coming short of the grace of God. I would suggest to you that if you start with neglect, unless the Holy Spirit arrests you, you’ll find yourself going the same way. Then there are seven passages indicating positive, practical application which I’ve listed. I won’t go into them. This is not the main theme of this epistle.
The main theme of this epistle is revelation of heavenly realities, which cannot be understood in any other way except by revelation. We are shut up to revelation, the revelation contained in Scripture, to know the things in this epistle. And then there are seven passages contrasting and comparing two things: the inferior and the superior. We’ll just mention them because it’ll get your mind in the right gear. The first comparison is between angels and Jesus. The second between Moses and Jesus. You see, where they needed that kind of instruction, they were already in danger. The third was between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Melchizedek. The fourth between the Old Covenant and the New. The fifth between the tabernacle of Moses and the heavenly tabernacle. The sixth between Levitical sacrifices, and the sacrifice of Jesus. The seventh between Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. Then there are twelve "let us" passages, which is really rather remarkable.
In each case, as I’ve pointed out, "let us" indicates, first of all, a decision. Secondly, a corporate decision, not one that you make on your own but you make together with your fellow believers. Now we’re going to go into chapter 1, the note outline is on Page 1/1. Probably you have already calculated that the notes for each chapter will begin with the number of the chapter/page. Okay? If you haven’t, I’m letting you into the secret now. So all notes on chapter 1 begin 1/something. Now I’m going to do something I have never done before. This is a positive first. I’m going to start reading from the Greek and translating as I go. I’m going to do it pretty literally. How many of you have ever seen an Interlinear Greek New Testament? All right. It comes out something like that. If you have a real serious question, something you really didn’t understand, slip your hand up and I’ll try and take account of it provided we don’t get too many because my aim is that you understand. If you don’t understand, I’ve failed. Alright. Are you with me?
In many parts and in many ways of old, God, having spoken to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days spoke to us in a Son. That’s the opening of the whole thing. Going back to the first verse, God spoke in many parts, in many installments. He didn’t come out with the whole truth at any one time; He spoke in many ways. Sometimes it was just predictions, sometimes it was types, sometimes it was figures, sometimes the prophets were asked to enact the truths that they were presenting. There were many different ways in which God’s message came. We would say "through the prophets," but it actually says "in the prophets". He spoke in that way to the fathers.
Now, "at the end of these days". I’m sure your translations say "in these last days". We can’t really change it, because the phrase I used doesn’t have much meaning. But that’s actually what it says literally. "In these last days God spoke to us in a Son". Let’s consider for a moment "these last days". That might surprise you because it was about 2000 years ago. But according to the computation of the New Testament, the last days were already there on the Day of Pentecost, because you’ll remember Peter stood up, he said, "You want to know what this is. This is what is spoken by the prophet Joel, ‘in the last days,’ saith God, ‘I will pour out of my Spirit.’" Look at another passage which is referred to in your outline in this epistle, chapter 9, verse 26. A remarkable passage actually.
Hebrews 9:26, I’m starting in the middle of the verse. since otherwise it would have been necessary for him to suffer [now I’m starting at the beginning of the verse] many times from the foundation of the world; but now once for all at the consummation of the ages He has appeared to put away sin through the sacrifice of Himself. Notice, "Now once at the consummation of the ages". What does your translation say? Does it say that? That’s right. Or, "when all the ages are coming together to their climax". That’s what it means. So, when Jesus appeared, that’s approximately two thousand years ago, it was then at the consummation of the ages. It was God bringing everything together to the climax. We need to bear in mind what it says in 2 Peter, that one day with the Lord is as what? "A thousand years". "And a thousand years is as one day". And it’s speaking about the return of the Lord there.
So, by that computation, approximately two days have elapsed. See, we are not necessarily counting the way we count. But, it’s very important to bear in mind that we are at the end. I’m not making any prediction as to how long it’s going to go on. Because, it adds urgency to what God is saying. Going back to chapter 1, "In these last days He spoke to us in His Son". Now, the title I chose for this series of messages was "God’s Last Word", not intending to indicate that Hebrews is God’s last word but that Jesus is God’s last word. And if we don’t hear Jesus, believe me, there’s nothing more to hear. You could have missed some of the prophets and caught up by hearing Jesus but if you miss Jesus, there’s nothing more to hear. That is God’s last word.
That’s why it’s so solemn and important. There is a note of solemnity that runs through all this epistle right from these opening sentences. I translated the latter part of verse 2, "God spoke in a Son". I imagine the translations say "in His Son". Is that right? But you’ll notice in the New American Standard "His" is in italics. Is that right? Do you know why it’s in italics? Because it isn’t there in the original. It’s supplied by the translators. You need to know that. Both in the King James and in the New American Standard. Words in italics are not emphasized, they’re words put in by the translators. So, God actually spoke in a Son.
Now you might say, Why is that phrase used? I think it means it’s one thing to speak by prophets, it’s another thing to speak in a Son. It’s a different way of speaking. Of course, it was His son, His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. But, it’s saying He spoke through prophets at that time; now He’s speaking Son-wise. Andrew Murray’s commentary uses that phrase. It’s another way of coming at us. It’s not to be put on the level with the prophets. Jesus was a prophet, but He was a whole lot more than a prophet. You find everything in this epistle all the way through emphasizes the uniqueness of Jesus. We get a description of who this Son is in verses 2-4. The verse division is a little strange, I would never have put a little part of the description in verse 2 and then gone on.
But anyhow, they didn’t consult me when they did that! I need to tell you, of course, I’m sure you’re aware, that the verse division is not in the original text. It was supplied by some Englishman in the 17th century, I think. It’s a fantastically useful way of having the Bible presented because you can refer to any part of the Bible in a minimum number of words, but some of the verse divisions are very strange. Another interesting thing is that there’s no punctuation in the original text. There’s no periods, no commas, no capitals. It’s just that. You have to pick out. So, you find in quite a number of translations they differ as to where the period should have come, which is legitimate.
Here we have the description of Jesus as God’s eternal Son. It’s important to see it’s Jesus in His eternal nature that is here described. He was manifested in human history as Jesus of Nazareth but eternally He is the Son of God. He didn’t become the Son of God when He was born of the Virgin Mary. He was manifested in history. In Isaiah 9 it says, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given". He was born as a little child, but He was given as the eternal Son. And it’s here at the eternal Son that we are looking at. Now, there are seven statements made about Jesus in this passage. I think you’ll be interested and challenged maybe to see how many times things appear in sevens in this epistle. Almost everything that’s significant comes in sevens.
So here are seven statements about the eternal Son of God. We’re near the end of verse 2: whom He appointed heir of all things. So that’s statement number one. Jesus is heir of all things. Everything is going to end up with Jesus. He’s going to inherit the universe. Number two: "through whom also He made the eons [or the ages]". Your translation says "universe," is that right? "World". Better universe in my opinion. But the interesting thing about that is most of you have heard the word eon, haven’t you? It’s a measurement of time, or I suppose you’d say a measurement. That’s the word that’s used here. I want to be clear. It means universe, but the writer of Hebrews anticipated the theory of relativity by a good many years. In describing the universe he describes it rather from a time point of view than a space point of view. He made the ages. He set the ages in motion. It’s both.
As you all know, time and space cannot be separated. You cannot specify one without introducing the other. It’s interesting that right here it’s already implied. So that’s the second statement, "through Him God made the ages". Let me point out that the order seems illogical because the heir is at the end, the creator is at the beginning. But, it calls Him first, "the heir" and then it says, "the creator," the one who made the universe. The reason is that the whole thrust of Hebrews is to the future, not to the past. What this epistle is doing is getting us into our inheritance. So the first feature picked out is not that in the past Jesus created the universe but in the future it’s all going to end up with Him. He’s the heir; everything is coming to Him, including us. That’s where our inheritance is.
We’re now beginning verse 3. The third statement: Who being I think they use the word "radiance," do they? Or "effulgence"? Effulgence is a very good word, but it’s rather a rare one. of his glory. The word radiance, if you want it, is a good word. It’s taken from the Greek word for "rays". Jesus is "the raying-forth of the glory of God". Okay? and the exact representation of his substance. The word that’s translated "exact representation" is used normally of a seal ring and of the imprint that it produces in the wax in which the imprint in the wax exactly represents the imprint on the metal of the ring.
So what it’s saying is, Jesus exactly exhibits to view the unseen nature of God the Father. The word translated (I better look at your thing), "the radiance of His glory," the exact representation of His nature. Nature is all right but it’s not the most explanatory word. It means "that which is under something else and keeps it up". Interestingly enough, in Hebrews 11 the same word is translated substance. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for". So when you hope for something, underneath your hopes (if you’re a Christian) is your faith. Your faith gives substance to your hopes. I tell you that so you see here God the Father is the substance shown forth in Jesus as His glory. I hope you’re getting that.
That’s the fourth statement. The fifth statement, still in verse 3: he carries all things by the word of his power. Carries, upholds, sustains. Okay? Now let’s look at the five statements. Number one, He’s the heir of all things. Number two, the universe was made through Him. Number three, He’s the radiance of the Father’s glory. Number four, He’s the exact representation of the Father’s substance. And number five, He upholds all things by the word of His power.
Pause for a moment and think how silly it is to try to put any other person in the universe on a level with Jesus. Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi. It’s absolutely ridiculous. People can only do that if they’re ignorant of the truth about Jesus. It displays complete ignorance of who Jesus is to even come out with such a statement. There’s five of the seven statements. There are two more, but I’ve separated them because those five depict Jesus in His eternal, divine nature. The last two, six and seven, speak of His redemptive work. So we go on now to the sixth statement: He made purification of sins. Or provided purification for sins. That’s near the end of verse 3.
And, the final statement: he sat down at the right hand of the majesty in the high places. He made purification for our sins through His sacrifice on the cross. And remember, 1 John says He’s the propitiation for our sins and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. Jesus, by His sacrifice on the cross, dealt with the sin problem in the universe once and for all. When God initiates what He’s planning, sin will have been totally eliminated forever. There’ll not even be any stain left by sin. There will have been total purification. Then it says, "He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high".
One of the themes of this epistle is that Jesus, once He made His sacrifice, sat down. There’s an emphasis on that. If you go on later in the later chapters, the tenth chapter, I believe it is, He’s contrasted with the Levitical priests who never sat down. They stood offering often the same sacrifices which could never take away sin. Why did they stand? Because their job was never complete. Why did Jesus sit down? Because He’d never have to do it again.
See, there’s a real emphasis there. Let’s go through those seven statements. I want to imprint these on your mind. Number one, He’s the heir of all things. Number two, the universe was made through Him. Number three, He’s the radiance of God’s glory. Number four, He’s the exact representation of God’s being or substance. Number five, He upholds all things by the word of His power. And then the two that relate to His redemptive work, He made purification of sins and Having done it all, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Note that statements one through five describe His eternal nature. Six and seven describe His redemptive work.
Now, at the bottom I’ve put what I call a parable from the sun. I’m sure that many of you have heard it before, some perhaps from me. But to me this is a very vivid and beautiful illustration of what we call the Trinity. The word trinity does not occur in Scripture. I prefer to say "the Godhead" or "the triunity of the Godhead," in which there are three persons but one God. I don’t have any problem with that. I don’t know whether other people do. I just got used to it, that’s the way it is. It could have been otherwise but it isn’t. I find that truth runs all through the Bible from the opening verse of Genesis. But this little parable is related to the sun. It’s stated there. The substance of the sun corresponds to God the Father. No one has ever seen the substance of the sun.
In fact, it’s something of a mystery what it actually does consist of. The visible radiance is Jesus Christ the Son of God. But the rays that bring that radiance to our eyes are the Holy Spirit. If there were no rays there’d be no revelations. That’s so typical of the Holy Spirit. He’s always inconspicuous, you don’t think about Him. But He’s essential. So the Father is the substance, Jesus is the brightness, the Holy Spirit is the one that conveys that to our eyes like the rays of light. We’re going to take a little detour and we’re going to look at a similar statement about Jesus in Colossians 1. I trust that you’ll be impressed at how closely parallel the statement in Colossians is to the one in Hebrews.
It’s really quite amazing. We’re turning now to Colossians 1 and we'll look first of all at the end of the verse 13 where it says: he transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love [that’s Jesus Christ], in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Okay. I only brought that in, I want you to see Jesus is the person spoken of. Then, in reference to Jesus, we get these statements beginning in verse 15. There are seven statements about him. Number one: He is the image of the invisible God. How many of you know what an icon is? You know, they have them primarily in Greek Orthodox churches, Eastern Orthodox churches. That’s the word that’s used here, icon. Jesus is the icon of God the Father, the image of God the Father. It’s essentially something visible.
My personal opinion is why God forbids us to make images of Himself is He has His own image and we can’t improve on it. Jesus is the visible likeness of God. We don’t need any substitutes. That’s statement number one, He is the image of the invisible God. Number two: He’s the firstborn before all creation. That’s "the Prince version". It would take a lot of complicated explanation to tell you why I believe it means that, but I believe it does. It’s not "the firstborn of creation" but "the firstborn before all creation". In any case, there is a deliberate contrast between created and born. Jesus was begotten of the Father, if you want to use the technical word, eternally. We don’t understand that. He’s not created. This is the great error of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They teach that Jesus is a created being. He’s uncreated, eternal, divine. In Him (or through Him) all other things were created.
So, we’re going back to verse 15, He’s the firstborn before all creation. Are you with me? Number three, which is the entire 16th verse: In Him all things were created. In Him or through Him. You can use either word. And then it lists all things visible and invisible and the invisible are thrones, dominions, principalities and powers and so on. But we don’t need to go into those details. The end of the verse says: all things are created through Him and to Him. He’s the beginning, He’s the ending. And then the next statement: He is before all things. He is eternally existent. He never came into being, He is. And the next statement: all things hold together in Him. See how very closely parallel this is to Hebrews?
Let’s just go through those five statements. Number one, He’s the image of the invisible God. Number two, He’s the firstborn before all creation. Number three, all things were created by or in Him. Number four, He is eternally existent. And number five, all things hold together in Him. Once again, at the end of five, we make a break because those five statements relate to His eternal being. The next two relate to His redemptive work. Number six, and we are now in verse 18: He is the head of the body, the church. That’s the sixth statement. He’s the head of the body, the church. And the last statement: he’s the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. So he’s twice the firstborn: "Firstborn before all creation" and then "firstborn from the dead".
I point out something which I just have time to mention. He’s the head of the body, statement number six. He’s the firstborn out of the dead, number seven. In a natural birth the head precedes the rest of the body. In the resurrection, Jesus precedes the body. He’s the firstborn out of the dead. When the head emerges, it’s a sure sign the body will follow. So His resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection. Let’s go quickly through those statements. Five statements about His eternal nature.
Number one, He’s the image of the invisible God. Number two, He’s the firstborn before all creation. Born, not created. Number three, all things were created by or in Him. Number four, He is eternally existent before all things. Number five, all things hold together in Him. And then the two statements about His redemptive work: He’s the head of the body which is the church and The firstborn from the dead. So that in everything He has the first place. In the original order He’s the firstborn before all creation. In the new creation, the new order, He’s the firstborn by resurrection from the dead.