August 27, 2023 | Jess Rainer
Passage: Hebrews 1:4-14
Opening Illustration: What keeps people up at night? On average, it takes an American 27 minutes to fall asleep. I read a study this week about what makes it difficult for people to fall asleep. Look at these responses:
- Anxiety over tomorrow (41%)
- Replaying the day’s events (37%)
- Being too hot or cold (31%)
- Too much caffeine (28%)
- Back pain (23%)
- Too much noise outside the room (17%)
- Joint pain (15%)
- A spouse or partner (14%)
- Heartburn (13%)
- Children (13%)
But then I read some individual responses of what keeps people up at night:
- “What keeps me up at night is a lot of cluttered thoughts that are out of my control. I always tend to have a restless sleep because I can't help but think of what could have been.”
- “What keeps me up at night is the thought that I don't really exist, and other people don't really exist.”
- “What keeps me up at night is my cat. No like she actually keeps me up at night constantly begging for tummy rubs.”
- “What keeps me up at night is a threat of war or my premature death or that of a member of my family.”
Today, we come to a passage today that, at first glance, I didn’t anticipate would hit my heart as hard as it did. The passage focuses on the relationship between Jesus and angels. But as I read and study the passage, there was a truth to take hold of that maybe – just maybe – will help you sleep a little bit better tonight. Here’s the truth: You can rest easy because Jesus is on the throne and you are not alone. I don’t make that statement and then pretend all your worries go away. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that if you just believe a little bit more that you will have the most peaceful sleep tonight that you ever had. I’ve been there and I’m still there to some degree. I’ve known the truth that God is on the throne and I’m not alone, YET I’ve still been overwhelmed with worry, stress, and anxiety. The truth that God is on the throne isn’t what got rid of my anxiety, but it was the anchor I could hold on to while I was in my anxiety. For those who feel like you are being tossed around right now and can’t sleep, I want us to look at God’s Word this morning and see it as an anchor. Can God use this passage to calm the waves of your life? Absolutely! But at the core, these verses can remind us that we have someone to hold onto while we are in the waves. Open up your Bibles to Hebrews 1. We are in a current Sermon Series: Hebrews: The Complete Work of Christ. If I could summarize this book with one statement, it would be this: Jesus is better so don’t let go of Him. Read Hebrews 1:4-14. Pray.
We get a nice “Jesus is better sandwich” today. The writer of Hebrews starts with “Jesus is better than the angels”. Then, we see these are what the angels do. We end with, “But Jesus is better”. Starting with verse 4, here’s what we see first: You can rest easy because Jesus is superior to angels.
1) You can rest easy because Jesus is superior to angels. (vs. 4-6) Now, to be fair, this first point may not resonate immediately with some of you because you haven’t been staying up late at night pondering if angels were superior to Jesus. But to the recipients of this letter, the way that angels related to Jesus and the way angels related to their life was quite important. There is Jewish literature from the intertestamental period – that is, the period between the Old and New Testaments – that heavily focuses on angels. The literature covers topics like what angels do, their participation in the end times, and the idea of guardian angels. Which, we’ll get to some of those topics in a little bit. It appears the problem was their fascination with angels became greater than their fascination with Jesus. Because of that, the churches who received this letter very well could have started to elevate angels over Jesus. That even caused some to categorize Jesus as one of the angels. Because they took their eyes off Jesus and on to something else, it caused. their world get unbalanced.
The author of Hebrews is ready to set the record straight. Knowing his audience, he takes the Old Testament to show Jesus is superior to angels. I think it’s fitting that we seven different Old Testament passages to show Jesus is better. Let’s go back to verse 4: 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names. We only touched this verse last week. This verse serves as a connector between verses 1-3 and the rest of chapter 1. What is the “this” in verse 4? It’s that, in verse 3, we know Jesus is sitting on His throne, ruling and mediating in heaven. The case that Jesus is superior to angels is being built. First, Jesus is on His throne and the angels are not. Second, Jesus has been given a name that is above every other name and the angels have not been given that name. Side note: we don’t know exactly what that name is. Here’s what I do know: when that name is said, it will cause everyone to bow to Jesus and confess He is Lord! As powerful a moment it is when Taylor Swift is introduced at one of her concerts, it won’t hold a candle to when Jesus is introduced when He returns.
The author of Hebrews keeps laying out more reasons that Jesus is superior to angels. Take a look at verse 5: 5 For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” God also said, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son.” I like how verse 5 starts. “God never said to any angel…” Illustration: When my kids say, “But you said that…!” God has never told any other being that they can claim the status of “Son of God”. Only Jesus can claim the status as Son of God. On top of that, look at what God told the angels to do in verse 6. 6 And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said, “Let all of God’s angels worship him.” The Old Testament made is clear: Jesus is superior to angels in every way. The Bible is clear: Jesus is superior in every way.
For some reason, the churches that received this letter had lost sight of that truth. They found something that impressed them more than Jesus. For them, it happened to be angels. But for you, it may very well be something else. What impresses you more than Jesus? I hope it’s nothing! But ask yourself that question. Do I find myself being more fascinated with something Jesus created rather than Jesus the Creator? It’s good to be fascinated with the good gifts God has given us in this life, but never to the extent that Jesus gets bumped from the top spot. If you want to rest easy when you lay down at night, don’t let anything take the place in your heart that belongs to Jesus.
Jesus is superior. That’s a universal truth that can be applied to anything. But that doesn’t mean that other parts of creation don’t have value and purpose. What’s cool is that the writer of Hebrews stops and goes, “Hey, Jesus is better than the angels. Know that. But angels are still pretty cool. They do important work. Let’s just remember their place.” So, I want us to follow suit. Because when we see the purpose of angels, it can actually help us rest a little easier. Here’s what we see next: You can rest easy because our world is filled with helpers.
2) You can rest easy because our world is filled with helpers. (vs. 7, 14) In this section of Scripture, there are two verses that give us insight into angels. We see angels all throughout Scripture, but we will use these two verses as our anchor for today. Before we look at these two verses, let me give you a primer on angels:
- Angels exist.
- They are real. Angels are not a mythological creature.
- God created angels.
- We don’t know exactly when, but we know it was by day six of creation.
- Genesis 2:1 tells us that everything in heaven and on earth was created by day six.
- Some of you might get mad about this, but Clarence did not get his wings.
- Do you all remember that scene from It’s Wonderful Life?
- Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
- George Bailey: That's right, that's right.
- George Bailey: [Looks heavenward] Attaboy, Clarence.
- Well, God created angels with their wings
- Do you all remember that scene from It’s Wonderful Life?
- But the good news is that there are a lot of angels.
- In Revelation 5 they are described as thousands of millions.
- There are good angels and there are bad angels.
- Satan, or by his angelic name, Lucifer, rebelled against God.
- When Satan was kicked out of heaven, other angels joined him.
- We typically refer to the bad angels as demons.
- Those who did not rebel and continue to serve God are the good guys.
- You have Michael, the archangel.
- You have what I would call just “angels”.
- Gabriel was one.
- Then you have the Seraphim and Cherubim.
- And there are possibly more.
There is a lot more we could look at with angels, but I don’t want to get too far away from the verses in front of us. Maybe I’ll come back to more about angels in chapter 2. In verses 7 and 14, we see some of the purpose of angels. Look at verse 7: 7 Regarding the angels, he says, “He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire.” This is Psalm 104:4 being quoted. You’ll notice it’s not word for word because the writer of Hebrews was most likely using a Greek version of the Old Testament, instead of a Hebrew version. What both the writer of Hebrews and the Psalmist are doing are contrasting God with the angels. Verse 7 shows us that God uses angels; God sends angels. Angels serve God, but what does verse 14 also tell us? 14 Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. Angels serve God by serving Christians. God sends His angels to care for those who have salvation from Jesus. Now before you walk out of here thinking I just told everyone they have their own personal guardian angel, that’s not what I’m saying! While angels are vast in number and part of their role is to care for God’s children, there is nothing in Scripture that tells us that a specific angel gets assigned to specific purpose. But God does send His angels to care for us. In what ways? They are God’s messengers. God uses them all throughout Scripture to deliver messages. Just think about Christmas and the role angels had in the birth of Jesus. They are ministering warriors. I want to read a long quote, so follow along: Quote: “Well, the “little ones” refer to believers, Christians — childlike Christians, real Christians — who are easily despised and made fun of in this world. And I think what he is saying is this: every Christian — even the simplest, lowliest believer — has an entourage of titans, angels — colossal, glorious beings who stand in the most privileged position in the universe before the face of God — always ready to do God’s bidding at any time on behalf of those despised little Christians. So, be careful not to despise any simple, unimpressive follower of Jesus. Heavenly titans are in God’s service on their behalf in the very place of privilege before his face.” – John Piper.
Having angels to care for us doesn’t mean we are immune from the world. I don’t want you walking out this building thinking you are invincible because you have angels that are sent to care for you. That’s not what this text is about.. Don’t miss this: We not only have angels that are sent to care for us, but these angels serve as a reminder to who we belong to! We can rest easy at night because angels give us a reminder of what it’s like to belong to the One sitting on throne! And that’s exactly where we end our time in God’s word today: Jesus is sitting on His throne. Here’s what we see last: You can rest easy because Jesus in power.
3) You can rest easy because Jesus in power. (vs. 8-13) Don’t lose sight of this passage. The whole point of the passage is that Jesus is superior to the angels. The writer of Hebrews draws us back to the superiority of Jesus, this time by pointing to the throne and reign of Jesus. Look at verses and 8 and 9: 8 But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. 9 You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.” Not only is Jesus on His throne, but the throne endures forever. Not only is Jesus on His throne, but He’s ruling with the perfect form of justice. In verses 10 through 12, Psalm 102 is being quoted. Psalm 102 is about someone experiencing affliction. In their affliction, they look to the One who not only takes away the affliction, but to the One who will never fade away. 10 He also says to the Son, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. 11 They will perish, but you remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing. 12 You will fold them up like a cloak and discard them like old clothing. But you are always the same; you will live forever.”
And then finally, look at where Jesus is in verse 13: 13 And God never said to any of the angels, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” Look at the imagery. Jesus is in His seat, the correct seat. That place belongs to Him and Him alone. That seat is reserved for Him and Him alone. No one takes Jesus’ place. And no one takes Jesus’ power. Look at the final part of verse 13: 13 And God never said to any of the angels, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” The enemies of Jesus will become his footstool. There was an ancient custom where victors would place their heels on the necks of the defeated enemy. This showed complete dominance and victory. Jesus is in complete control with complete victory.
I want to close with this quote: “The transcendent, majestic, unbelievable cosmic significance of Hebrews chapter 1 comes down to this: that when you…lay your head on the pillow tonight, the Lord Jesus Christ knows your name, and every hair on your head is numbered, and your name is graven on the very palms of his hands. That ought to change the way I pray. That ought to change the way I look at my view of the world. That ought to change my decision making. It ought to change me.” – Alistair Begg. Jesus is on the throne. You are not alone. And while your world may not get any easier, I hope those truths can help you rest easier. Some of you need to experience what rest in Jesus looks like for the first time. GOSPEL PRESENTATION. For everyone else…Just for a moment here, take a deep breath and let those truths seep deeper into your heart. Jesus is on the throne. You are not alone. Let’s pray.
Sin causes us to experience shame, rejection, and pain. This series highlights the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ in the Book of Hebrews—offering hope to all of those struggling with self-doubt and seclusion. By exploring the passages that connect Jesus' ministry to the fulfillment of the Law, this guide will help you not only better understand the Old Testament, but also how Jesus completes the story of God’s redemption. This is a great series to remind others of God’s love for them, as well as the sacrifice He made to bring them back to God.