Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)These verses hold a very special place in my heart. Given our background in mormonism, I can think of few places that so succinctly shatter the lie of mormonism than these four verses of introduction. Oddly enough, we never looked at these verses when we were mormons. Just look at what the author says in just a few lines…
1) God once spoke to our fathers (the Jews) by means of prophets. This is obvious to even the most elementary student of the Bible. The list of men who were vehicles of God’s revelation is a veritable “who’s who” of the Bible: Moses, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah, all those “minor” prophets with weird names. For reasons He has kept to His own counsel, God used these flawed men as His mouthpiece to speak and record His unfolding revelation.
2) Something changed. In these days, the last days, God has spoken to us through His Son. Completely. Perfectly. Conclusively. This is not like the days of old when God used mere moral men, prophets to be sure, but mortal, fallible, sinful men nevertheless. It is not just that the message has changed, although it certainly has with the advent of the new and better covenant. It is also a matter of a different messenger.
3) What makes the messenger different is more than just style or even substance, it is in His nature. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”. He created the world but He was not created. Like God, He is without beginning and end. He is unique in the same way that God the Father is unique.
4) Jesus is not only above and apart from creation, not only did God create all things through Him, He Himself holds it all together. Just as God spoke all of creation into existence ex nihilo in an instant, Jesus holds it all together simply by desiring to do so. We absolutely cannot understand the enormity of that in this life, with our minds enslaved to the creation we can see and touch and feel. When we see eternity we will start to understand what these verses really mean!
5) Jesus made “purification” for sins and then He rested. His purpose in this world was completed, His sacrifice complete and satisfactory for holiness and justice.
These powerful truths in such a compact statement are so powerful for us but they must have been doubly so for the intended audience. I can say with few reservations that few books of the Bible have the tone set for what is to come quite like these few amazing verses. Everything that follows flows from them. What you need to know about Jesus is succinctly captured: He is the same in nature as God, He is God’s “final answer”, He is the great creator and sustainer, His sacrifice is complete and sufficient to purify sins and not just aid us in purifying them ourselves. What a marvelous introduction! Do yourself a favor and read these words over and over again.