Friday, March 25, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 9

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

Saving the Best for Last

The Writer's final quote from the Old Testament to show the superiority of the Son over the angels and other messengers is significant to the rest of the letter:

But to which of the angels has He ever said, "Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet"? (Hebrews 1:13, NASB 95)

This quote, from Psalm 110, should be paired with the Writer's introductory comments, "When He had made ??purification of sins, He ??sat down at the right hand of the ??Majesty on high,having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent ?name than they." And so the Son is the last and best communication from God to mankind in these latter days--and His message is far superior to the past messengers.

But this final quote of Psalm 110 is no accident. The entire Psalm is one of the foundational blocks on which the Writer builds his arguments. Currently, the Writer has only made the case that, as a messenger, the Son is superior to past messengers. He has other important points to make about this Son and Psalm 110 is a strange an important component. Here it is:

The Lord says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, "Rule in the midst of Your enemies." Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.

The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."

The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. He will drink from the brook by the wayside; Therefore He will lift up His head. (Psalm 110:1-7)

There are two things that set this psalm apart from all others. The first is its reference to Melchizedek, who is a figure who momentarily appears to bless Abram (Genesis 14:18-20). Only Genesis and Psalm 110 reference this person. There is no strangeness in his appearing in Genesis, because there are lots of names and places that have mere single mention in the Scriptures. Melchizedek's mention in Psalm 110 begs us to ask, "Why is this thought here?" The second and related thing that sets Psalm 110 apart is related to the first. The Psalm is about a king who is a priest. In ancient Israel and by the command of the Lord, these were separate offices. One need only think of the leprosy that Uzziah suffered when he stormed into the temple to burn incense.

But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the Lord, valiant men. They opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the Lord God." But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, beside the altar of incense. Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the Lord had smitten him. King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. And Jotham his son was over the king’s house judging the people of the land. (2 Chronicles 26:16-21)

The Writer of Hebrews will connect the dots between this Psalm and the Son. Along the way, the Son will be shown to be the culmination of the three Old Testament offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.


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9:40 PM  

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