The Radiance of His Glory

Hebrews 1:1-4 "1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they."
Recently I've noticed a trend in religious programming that other religious groups want to claim to be the Lord's background or mentor or influential circumstances surrounding him. The description of one show I saw said "exploring the Hebraic roots of Christianity." Another claimed that Jesus was an ancient alien astronaut (Yes, I consider this religious programming, much as I consider atheism a religion, a systematic belief about what is real). Some, like the first, add value to the subject by presenting a cultural context of what happened. You cannot understand a message until you understand the audience it was delivered to. At least that's the theory. Some, well, they're out there, like the alien astronaut idea. They certainly have no hope of proving the idea to my satisfaction anyway. However, the Word of God tells us where Christianity comes from right here.
Verse 1 tells us that God spoke to the people of God in ancient times through agents that interpreted God's will called prophets. He spoke many things to them about morals, coming events, signs, wonders, and He spoke in many circumstances through these special people, who were often unappreciated, often persecuted for telling the truth, and sometimes even put to death for doing so (like the prophet Jeremiah). The verse also tells us that this was the old way of speaking to man. "God, AFTER he spoke…"
Verse 2 tells us that in these last days (that's a whole other can of worms I'm not going to open at the moment), He has spoken to us through His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things. That became necessary when Adam disobeyed God originally and gave his inheritance away to the Prince of Darkness, the Deceiver himself. In dying on the Cross, Jesus paid the penalty for all our wrongdoings - and in rising again, he showed He (and by implication we) was free from their power. By this action, God the Son, the Word made flesh, the Perfect Man, became heir of all things and redeemed us and our inheritance from darkness and death.
Verse 2 also tells us that through Jesus, God's Son, God made the ages! The New American Standard translates this a "world" for context, but the actual Greek word is aion, an era (in this case plural, eras) of time. There is a school of thought that says Jesus was a created being. This simply cannot be true, and this verse says so. Through Jesus, God created the ages. John 1:1 says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God." Let me pause to look at that verse for a moment. The phrase "In the beginning" comes from the Greek phrase "En arche," which is more correctly translated "from the origins." I read this (I believe under the instruction of the Holy Spirit) as "When God was getting this whole show started…" Then it says "was the Word." This Logos (Greek for Word) existed with God at the start of our history. And this Word was God. Again, the same school of thought that says Jesus was a created being tells us that the Word was A God. They are partially correct, but their translations of the phrase "Logos ton Theon" is a little off. They are correct, there is an article there - but it isn't the indefinite "A God." In Greek, there is no indefinite article, so it would have read simply "Logos Theon" if it had meant "a God." It has a definite article - it should read "The Word was THE God!" (Hey! How about that! :) Jesus is the definite article!) That passage in John then goes on to explain that this Logos created all things, and there isn't a thing in existence He did not create. Returning to Hebrews 1:2, it says "through whom He also made the ages."
Verse 3 tells us that His Son is not only the radiance of His glory, but is the exact representation of God's nature (Greek hupostasis, substance, real being) and further, that this Son upholds (Greek phero, bears, maintains) ALL things by the word of his power (Greek dunamis, miraculous power and strength). This is that divine Logos that created and keeps all things in the palm of His hand! this is none other than God the Son!
This verse also identifies the man Jesus by his actions. "When He had made purification (or cleansing) for sins…" There is only one man that has ever done this for all of us, and that man is Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, the legal King of Israel, born in a stable, just to be like one of us, all for the purpose of dying a gruesome death on a cross to pay the penalty for our wrongdoings and redeem us out of slavery to the afore-mentioned prince of darkness! Halellujah! What a Saviour! And after he had done this great thing of redeeming all creation from slavery to the adversary, he took His throne again and sat down with God the Father on His right hand. God the Father here is described as the "Majesty on High," or literally, the Exalted Greatness.
I began this consideration by saying that I had noticed a trend for various religious affiliations to want to claim some part in the formation of Christianity. I believe their goal in doing so is an effort to gain legitimacy and claim this divine man as one of their own, at least on the surface. (Beneath the surface, there is a more subtle goal of diminishing or sidelining the redeeming work Jesus Christ did on the cross by the adversary, but that's the topic of another discussion.) My question is why would they want to use Jesus and claim to have a part in His formation and context unless they saw His legitimacy, and the true miraculous power that He has and maintains? I know, it kind of answers itself, doesn't it?
The real issue here is one of pervasive worldview. What do you REALLY believe? If you believe the truth of what the Word of God says here, you know who Jesus is and what He has done for all of us. If you think that the universe created itself and there is no God, you are left with cultural or pseudo-scientific explanations trying to explain what you refuse to understand as in Romans 1:21-23:
"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures."
This kind of refusal to see the truth has serious consequences. Romans 1:28-32:
"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."
Jonathan Swift, in his work "Polite Conversation," said it best: "There are none so blind than those who will not see." Willingly blinding oneself to the truth will lead you into some very dark places. Sometimes I talk with people about my faith in Christ, and they say that's nice, I'm more scientific in nature, as if to say I'm smarter than that, I believe science. Can you imagine their expressions when I tell them that I am also, and that I hold a degree in Biology and was a scientist for many years? In fact, I worked on the classification of living things, and know all about the theory of evolution (actually I know several), and then I tell them why I don't believe it quite the way I was taught it in university. It can get very interesting.
If you find yourself reading this and thinking, "I've never heard this kind of thing before," then I encourage you to consider the claims of Jesus Christ. He came to redeem you too! If you're reading these words and nodding your head in agreement, rejoice with me, because Jesus has finished the work He came to do, he has saved us and is forming us into His image so we may serve Him better. Again, I say - Halellujah! What a Saviour!

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