last message we only made a beginning with this matter -
and when we say 'we made a beginning' as we come almost
to the end of the Conference, it is quite evident that we
are going to have twelve basketfuls over when we have
finished! We really have not sounded the full depth of
this Letter to the Hebrews, and there is so much more
that could extend us for a long time. Perhaps that is how
it ought to be. We do not want to come to an end. We want
to feel that the land is a land of far distances, and
that the Lord can lead us into it, even without a
are now going on a little way further into that land -
the land of the superiority of this dispensation over all
now at the supreme matter in the Letter, and, therefore,
the supreme matter in the dispensation: that is, how much
higher and fuller is that which has come in with the Lord
Jesus than ever came in in old time.
see, right at the beginning of the Letter, that this is
the dispensation of God's Son, and the dispensation of
Him in a new personal manifestation. We believe that He
was present in the old dispensation and appeared to men
in other forms, but this Letter says that He has come in
a new form. So it begins with the manifested presence of
God's Son. The first verse says that in the old
dispensation men met God in "divers portions and
in divers manners", and God met men and men met
God in the prophets. Now the prophets were the servants
of God, and men met God through His servants. In this
dispensation they meet Him in His Son personally. There
is a statement that "God was in Christ"
(II Corinthians 5:19), so the 'Son' implies the 'Father',
and the 'Son of God' implies God. So we meet God in the
Son and not now in servants.
reaches absolute fullness in the matter of divine
revelation. "For it was the good pleasure of the
Father that in him (the Son) should all fullness dwell"
(Colossians 1:19). There is nothing more to be added.
take these as just words. Do understand that in every
fragment there is this truth: In the dispensation in
which you and I are now living God has come to us in all
His fullness. There is no more to be added. In His Son we
have the absolute fullness of God, and it is out of that
fullness that He speaks to us in His Son. God has only
one Son in that sense - His only-begotten Son,
which means that there is no one to come after Him.
Therefore, God's last word is in His Son. The Son brings
both the fullness and the finality of God. It is that
which gives the solemnity to this whole Letter. It says:
'If you fail to hear the voice of the Son there will
never be another voice for you. God is never going to
speak by another voice. God hath spoken in His Son, and
He is never going to speak by any other means.' Hence
this Letter contains this word of warning and of
exhortation: 'Because this is the fullness and this is
the end, be sure that you give heed.'
is not only God speaking in His Son. That is a way of
speaking, but God's speaking is always His acting. In
this dispensation God is active in and through His Son.
To come into touch with the Lord Jesus is more than
coming into touch with a teaching: it is coming into
touch with a living, active Person. 'It is God with whom
we have to do.' It is a glorious thing to come into touch
with God in Christ - but it says here that "it is
a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living
God" (Hebrews 10:31). No, it is not a book, a
teaching, a philosophy: it is a living, positive,
powerful Person. It is no other than God in action.
have any doubt about that, just remember the Book of the
Acts. It is called the Acts of the Apostles, but everyone
knows that name is wrong, for only three or four Apostles
are in view after the first chapter. The others are
spoken of at the beginning and then you hear no more
about them. It is not the book of the Acts of the
Apostles, but the book of the Acts of God in Jesus Christ
by the Holy Spirit - and it is indeed a book of acts! Whatever
teaching there is comes out of the acts.
Hebrews, the Son is introduced, presented, and then
described. And it is a wonderful description! But we ask:
'Who is this Son?', for His name is not mentioned until
we come to chapter two, verse nine. Until then it is the
God without a name. Who is this Son? Well, it tells us
for the first time in that verse: "We behold him
who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even
Jesus". Perhaps it seems a very simple thing to
say that Jesus is this Son, and this Son is Jesus, but
possibly you do not recognize a certain thing about this:
it is very rarely, after His resurrection and ascension,
that He is called Jesus. After He has gone back to heaven
He is usually 'the Lord Jesus', 'Jesus Christ our Lord',
or 'our Lord Jesus Christ'. He is given His full title
when He is enthroned in heaven, so if someone comes right
back from that and just uses the title 'Jesus', you know
that His humiliation and the purpose of that humiliation
are being referred to. It has to do with His work on
earth for our redemption.
at this verse again: "We behold him who hath been
made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because
of the suffering of death". Jesus was the name
of the one who suffered death, tasted death for every man
- and it was the Son of God who did that. He it was who
as Jesus tasted death for every man, and that is the Son
who is introduced here. He is identified by His name -
Jesus... "Thou shalt call his name JESUS:
for it is he that shall save his people from their
sins" (Matthew 1:21).
next thing is the position and function of the Son. In
the second verse of the first chapter of this Letter you
have this: "(God) hath at the end of these days
spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all
things, through whom also he made the worlds". This
Son, known to us as Jesus, is by God's appointment the heir
of all things. All things are to come to Him by right
of God's appointment.
do not be weary with me. This is one of the first things
said about the dispensation in which you and I live. It
does not look very much like it now, for "we see
not yet all things subjected to him" (Hebrews
2:8), but it says here emphatically that He is the
"heir of all things", so everything has to
come to Him in the end. God is going "to sum up
all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the
things upon the earth" (Ephesians 1:10).
were speaking in human language we would put it like
this: there was somewhere in the past eternity an
occasion when the Godhead had a conference, to discuss
the future of everything that was going to be made. There
the Father said: 'I make My Son the heir of all things. I
appoint Him My heir, and I decree that all things shall
in the end come into His possession.'
are dealing with the all-mighty and eternal God, and when
He decides a thing like that nothing can prevent
it. "Whom he appointed heir of all
things" - but He did not leave it there. He turned
to the Son (of course, this is only our way of speaking)
and said: 'Now I am going to use You as the agent in
making all things' - "through whom also he made the
worlds". This Son, whom we know as our Saviour and
Lord, was God's agent in the creation of the worlds.
says a third thing, and this is something so difficult to
understand: This Son upholds "all things by the
word of his power" (Hebrews 1:3). Things do not
collapse because He is "upholding all things by the
word of his power". And things will not collapse
until He says they should do so.
is true then it is something very wonderful for us. We
are hearing so much about the disintegration of the
universe and the blowing to pieces of this world. A lot
of people are getting very frightened about this. If what
is here is true, the universe and the world can never go
to pieces until Jesus says so! Men may get very near to
doing it, and then it recedes. It just does not happen.
It has been like that several times, but the word of His
power has stopped it, and until He says 'Now - go!'
it will not go. He upholds "all things by the word
of his power".
go as far as to say that this should be of personal
comfort to us? Sometimes it seems that our own little
world is going to pieces, and that we have come to the
end. Well, it applies there. He will hold things together
until He wants them to go to pieces.
the Son identified and described.
we move on into the larger body of the Letter: the Son's
greatness by comparison with other great things and
people. In verse four of the first chapter it says: "Having
become by so much better than the angels". The
angels are the next highest to God and the Son. Oh, there
is so much said about angels in the Bible! Peter says
that they are great in might and power (II Peter 2:11).
In the book of the Judges an angel is said to have had a
very striking appearance, and the person who saw him was
afraid she was going to die. She said: "A man
of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the
countenance of the angel of God, very terrible" (Judges
angels have a very vast knowledge. Jesus said: "Of
that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of
heaven" (Matthew 24:36). If anyone ought to
know, the angels should, for their knowledge is so full
and so great, but even the angels do not know this. The
angels have a vast knowledge.
an overwhelming number of angels: "The number of
them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands
of thousands" (Revelation 5:11). They are a vast
angels are very near to the throne of God, and have
access to His Presence. That comes out in one of the most
beautiful things that Jesus said about little children
- "See that ye despise not one of these little ones;
for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always
behold the face of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew
18:10). Of course, we do not understand that, for it is
something very mysterious. But Jesus says that the angels
have access to the throne of God, and are very near to
God Himself. There is only One who is nearer.
of the angels is very varied. Look again at this Letter
to the Hebrews, because we are keeping very close to it: "But
of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou
on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the footstool
of thy feet? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent
forth to do service for the sake of them that shall
inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:13,14). And
what a lot of work they have to do! Think of all
the heirs of salvation, all over the world, in every
generation - and this says that the angels have to look
after them and their interests! "To do service
for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation."
Of course, we do not see them, but if the Bible is true
the angels are there and are very busy people. They have
very much and very valued service. All the various needs
of these heirs of salvation are their concern.
angels are a very high order - but in this Letter the
Lord is saying: 'The Son is far greater than the angels.'
It says here, in verse four of the first chapter: "Having
become by so much better than the angels, as he hath
inherited a more excellent name than they."
read all there is about angels in the Bible you will have
a very wonderful revelation - and then you come to this
fragment about the Son, who is Jesus, "having become
by so much better than the angels". That is where
the superiority begins.
come into the dispensation of that: the superiority of
Jesus to all the angels. Perhaps we have not made enough
of the ministry of the angels, but they are evidently
very busy for us. Possibly we have been saved from many
things because they were very watchful.
with the angels - and then we go on with Moses. You will
notice what it says in chapter three: "Wherefore,
holy brethren, companions of a heavenly calling, consider
the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even
Jesus: who was faithful to him that appointed him, as
also was Moses in all his house. For he hath been counted
worthy of more glory than Moses" - (Get hold of
that phrase - more honour than Moses!) - "For
every house is builded by some one; but he that built all
things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all God's
house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which
were afterward to be spoken; but Christ as a son over
God's house" (Hebrews 3:1-6 - R.V. margin). The
writer is saying: 'We are not going to take anything away
from Moses. We give him honour as a great servant of God,
but Christ is greater. The Son is greater than Moses.'
was the father of the nation, but Moses was its builder
and constitutor. What a large place Moses had in history!
He not only had a very large place in Israel, but he has
had a large place in the world. Many of the best legal
systems are based upon his economy. Because through Moses
it was said "Thou shalt not steal" we have all
the police forces in the world, and also because he said
"Thou shalt not kill". It would be good if we
had a few more forces in relation to some other things
that Moses said! But the point is: Moses has come to have
a very large place in history. The Jews in Christ's day
always appealed to Moses as the final authority in
anything. Their charge against Jesus was that He made
Himself greater than Moses. They believed, therefore,
that there was no one greater than Moses: and the writer
of this Letter to the Hebrews says, with great boldness,
'There is One greater than Moses. Give Moses all
the honour due to him, but the Son is greater than he.'
writer goes on to speak of Aaron, who was the first high
priest and thus the representative of the whole priestly
system. He was over all the other priests and Levites,
over all the sacrifices and over the whole sanctuary. On
the Day of Atonement he went alone into the place of the
Most Holy. No one but Aaron was allowed then to go into
the Holy of holies - and the writer here is saying that
the Son is greater than Aaron, far greater. And he tells
us why: Aaron died. And anyone who dies can never make
anything perfect. When he dies he has to leave something
unfinished. So the writer is saying: 'Aaron died.
Therefore his work was not perfect. Death cut across it.
It was never finished. There had to be a succession of
high priests to carry on the work.' There were many more
priests and many more sacrifices - all being added to try
and make this thing perfect, and chapter nine of this
Letter says that they never did make anything perfect.
There were many high priests, millions of sacrifices and rivers
of blood, yet never bringing anything to perfection.
the Son came - one High Priest for ever, who "ever
liveth" (Hebrews 7:2,5). Therefore His work will
never be cut short. "Thou art a priest
forever" (Hebrews 7:17) - and there, in that
wonderful paragraph, Melchizedek comes in, and everyone
is wondering who he was. Who was Melchizedek? You can go
to the Bible and you will never find the answer, and you
certainly will not find it outside the Bible. This
mysterious man came in, as it were, from nowhere, and
where he went to no one knows. He has not beginning nor
end, so far as the record is concerned, and that is taken
up as illustrating the Lord Jesus as the High Priest -
neither beginning of life nor end of days. He is the
eternal High Priest. This High Priest, this greater than
Aaron, "ever liveth (lives forever) to
offered one sacrifice forever. The high priests had used
millions of sacrifices but had never made anything
perfect. He, with only one sacrifice, did it. It is done
forever, and He was the sacrifice as well as the priest.
As priest He offered Himself without blemish unto God.
If we go
on like this you will really begin to believe that there
is something better here - better than Moses and better
than Aaron. Do you know why God put these two men
together? They were brothers, but they were very
different. Yet they had to live together and work
together? Why was that, and what was the difference?
Moses was the governor, representing government and
authority. What came through him was 'Thou shalt and thou
shalt not'. Moses governed and exercised authority in
Israel. But God is not only like that. Aaron was the man
of love and of sympathy. Priesthood means just that -
love and sympathy: love for the poor sinner, for the poor
sinning world, and sympathy with men. God puts these two
things together. It would not do to have all of one. It
would never do to have only an autocrat. You must unite
with the governor, the authority, a heart of compassion.
If you have those two things put together you have a very
this letter it is saying that Jesus, the Son, is better
than Moses and Aaron. On the one side He can say: "All
authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on
earth" (Matthew 28:18). The Father said: "Sit
thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies the
footstool of thy feet" (Hebrews 1:13).
are two wonderful pictures in this Letter. The one is of
Jesus "crowned with glory and honour", having
"sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on
high" waiting, until His enemies are made 'the
footstool of His feet', with all authority in His Power.
He is in the place of government. And alongside of that
is this other beautiful picture: "For we have not a
high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of
our infirmities" (Hebrews 4:15).... "He ever
liveth to make intercession for us." Not only
authority and government, but love and sympathy - and so
much greater than Moses and Aaron. His authority is a
greater authority than that of Moses, and His government
is a greater one than ever Moses exercised, but His love
and sympathy are far greater than that of Aaron.
afraid that this is where we have to stop, though I have
not finished with the superiority of the Son. We have not
touched upon His work - the work of making purification
for sin, but you can read it. Perhaps this is just like a
window opened into heaven. If you get the right window
you can see quite a lot. You can see great things and you
can see far things. But the best that I can hope is that
this has just opened a window, and that as you look
through it you are seeing one thing - how superior is
Jesus Christ to all else, and how superior is the
dispensation into which we have come, and how superior
are all the resources at our disposal to all that ever