Hebrews 1:1-4 (ESV)
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.
The Bible claims that we can know God. Not just that we can know about God, but that we can actually know Him in an intimate and personal way. This is only possible because He is a God of gracious self-disclosure. That is, He is a God who chooses to reveal Himself to us. Apart from this revelation, we cannot truly know God.
Hebrews reminds us that in the past, under the Old Covenant, God revealed Himself to His people “by the prophets.” That means that God appointed men through whom He would communicate to His people Israel. These uniquely anointed men did not merely share their thoughts about God. Rather, they spoke the words of God to the people of God. Their words were authoritative because they were God’s messengers. The prophets were a gift to the people as they relentlessly reminded them of who God was, what God was doing in the world, and the unique role that they played in His story. However, the people rarely received the prophets as a gift. Rather they were seen as a nuisance, and at times, were put to death.
The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus mark a unique transition in redemptive history as well as in God’s self-disclosure. No longer will God use a prophet to speak His words to His people. God now will Himself be the Word spoken. In all that Jesus says and does, God is speaking to us. Jesus is God’s living, breathing, bleeding, dying, and resurrecting Word to us. Jesus can perfectly reveal God to us in a way that the prophets never could because He alone “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Hebrews 1:3)
This transforms the way we think about and relate to the cross and crucifixion of Christ. The cross and crucifixion speak to us of God’s justice and His grace. They tell us that the holiness of God requires that all sin be punished. And at the very same time, they tell us that God is a God who in love suffers in the place of His people. God is simultaneously just and loving, holy, and kind. He loves us. He loves you! We know this because God has spoken to us through Jesus — the Word — the only begotten Son of the Father. Are you listening?
Thanks be to our beloved God of gracious revelation!
Who is both mighty and knowable,
Holy and reachable.
The mediator of God’s grace,
You are both the Giver and the Gift,
Both the Revealer and the Revelation.
We confess that despite having the blood-bought privilege
of knowing You, we often fail to seek your face.
We have access to your radiant splendor, yet we ignore it.
We have the honor of hearing from our God, yet we tune You out.
Though we wrongfully perceive You as far away, we are the ones who are distant. In truth, You are ever near, a devoted Father seeking us like prodigal sons and daughters.
Oh, how merciful is your unending faithfulness!
You never tire of giving us chances to run to You.
Your embrace is a comfort, enveloping us like a seasoned quilt, hand-stitched with vividly colored patches of your rich grace and mercy.
We don’t have to pioneer our own path to seek You out, because You have made the way for us by drawing near to us first in Christ.
Our Immanuel, allow our hearts to soak up and memorize these truths; may they bubble up in our hour of need. We cling to your work and word as steadfast anchors for our souls.
Teach us to turn to our doting Father:
because You have made Yourself knowable.
Teach us to cast our worries on our Comforter: because You have made Yourself approachable.
Teach us to listen: because You have made a way for us to hear.
Teach us to trust your voice: because You have given us Yourself as the Word and the Message.
Just as You have created a way for us here on earth, so You have made a way for us to Heaven; that we might bask in your greatness for eternity. Hallelujah! Even with our dulled temporal senses, we see your glory here on earth. But oh how the glimpses of your splendor that we see today are a mere foretaste of Heaven’s joy!