The Pursuit of God

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Applying Hebrews 1: Exposing the Lies

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The book of Hebrews was written to, well, Hebrews. The author doesn’t identify himself, but it’s reasonable to assume that this was a Jewish man who had received special training in Jewish Scriptures, which means the Old Testament.  Given this, we’re going to refer to our author by the title of Rabbi.  A rabbi is a Jewish scholar or teacher, and our Hebrews author is acting quite scholarly in this letter.  He peppers his teaching with quotations from the Old Testament.  The problem is that he doesn’t use most of those quotations correctly.  Instead, he grossly deceives his audience about context and invents many conversations between Yahweh and Christ in the Old Testament which never occurred.

So what is Rabbi’s motivation?  Well, Rabbi claims to be a follower of Christ, which is supposed to mean that he’s set aside his Old Covenant ways and embraced Yahweh’s new requirements for salvation.  For Old Covenant Jews, the most problematic requirement of the New Covenant is accepting Christ as a second God.  Christ claimed to be Yahweh’s equal, even though Yahweh isn’t supposed to have any equals.  Christ is a very offensive figure to Old Covenant Jews and He has become a source of great division.  Some Jews adamantly reject Christ and go on pretending to abide by the Old Covenant.  Of course it’s impossible to abide by the Old Covenant after Christ, because under the Old Covenant, Yahweh demanded submission and alignment from His followers.  You aren’t submitting to Yahweh while you’re rejecting His Messiah.  You aren’t aligning with Him while you pretend His New Covenant is a bad joke.  Yet Judaism is still alive and well today because the Jews have never fully given up on the idea that it was possible to please Yahweh while blowing off Christ.

So our first group of Jews totally rejects Christ.  Our second group totally accepts Him–we don’t find very many specific examples of these individuals in the New Testament.  Our third group is compromising about Christ: they accept Him as the long foretold human Messiah, but they reject His Divinity and His equality with Yahweh.  The apostle Paul belongs to that third group, and unless he cleaned up his act before he died, Paul landed in Hell.  You can’t reject the Divinity of Christ and still get saved under this Covenant.

As a Jew, Rabbi understands why Christ is so offensive to his countrymen.  In this letter, Rabbi is trying to persuade other Jews to adopt what he feels is the correct view of Christ.  Is Rabbi’s theology about Christ correct?  We’ll have to see as we go along.  So now let’s get started.

Long ago Yahweh spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. (Heb. 1:1-2)

The New Testament writers were all convinced that they were living in the end times. This is what Jesus taught them to think because Jesus was purposely misleading them. He knew the Church would endure horrific tribulation right from the start, so to boost everyone’s motivation to persevere, He said that there wasn’t much time left—that the tribulation wouldn’t last long, and that it would end with His dramatic return and rescue of all believers. What a boldfaced lie (see Why He Lies). But hey, it worked. When you think the rapture is at the door, it’s amazing how optimistic you can be.

Yahweh promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son Yahweh created the universe. The Son radiates Yahweh’s own glory and expresses the very Character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. (Heb. 1:2-3)

Christ is God Almighty–does Rabbi believe this or not?  Well, notice that there’s only one Creator here: Yahweh.  It’s Yahweh who made the universe, while Christ simply played a lesser role as some kind of assistant.  If your boss sends you a message through someone, that someone was just a middleman.  That someone didn’t write the message–your boss wrote it.

Christ is not just Yahweh’s assistant, Christ is Yahweh’s equal.  Christ, Yahweh, and the Holy Spirit create together.  But after sounding like he’s demoting Christ as less than God, Rabbi then says that Christ is sustaining everything by the power of His command.  This certainly sounds impressive–but then again, who is the source of that power?  Is Christ sustaining everything by His own power, or is He just wielding power that Yahweh has loaned Him?  These are very important questions.

When He had cleansed us from our sins, Jesus sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic Yahweh in Heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the Name that Yahweh gave Jesus is greater than their names. (Heb. 1:3-4)

If Jesus is God, He is everywhere at once.  We don’t like this imagery of Jesus sitting down in a mere place of honor.  You see, in Rabbi’s day, there were human kings who sat on human thrones.  But there were never two equal kings co-ruling a single nation.  Even if a father king allowed his heir to start co-ruling with him, it was understood that the father was the greater monarch.  Royal courts had only one supreme throne–then there were seats of honor next to those thrones.  But when you sat next to the king, everyone understood that you were not the king’s equal, but his subordinate.  This is the problem with language about Christ finally earning some seat of honor next to Yahweh because Christ died for our sins.  If our Gods actually sat on literal thrones, those thrones would be of equal rank.  There wouldn’t be one majestic Yahweh and a super privileged Jesus.  There would a majestic Yahweh and an equally majestic Jesus.  But unfortunately, Rabbi isn’t embracing the idea of Christ being Yahweh’s equal.

For Yahweh never said to any angel what He said to Jesus: “You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father.” [Ps. 2:7] (Heb. 1:5)

Here we go with Old Testament quotations.  Already it rubs us wrong that Christ is being portrayed as getting some kind of promotion from Yahweh–as if He hasn’t always reigned.  It’s because of passages like these that Psalm 2 makes it on modern day lists of Messianic passages–meaning that whoever wrote this psalm was supposedly really talking about Jesus. Well, this is pretty hard to swallow given how far the psalms predated Jesus, and we don’t find any support for this notion in the psalm itself.

Why do the nations rebel and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against Yahweh and His anointed one saying: “Let us tear off their chains and free ourselves from their restraints.” (Ps. 2:1-3)

The common interpretation is that Jesus is the “anointed one” being referred to in this passage. Certainly this is what Rabbi wants us to think. The problem is that Jewish kings often referred to themselves as Yahweh’s anointed ones and they also referred to God as their Father. Israel was often in positions of power over other nations, whereby she played the part of the bully who demanded that weaker nations pay her a regular fee to prevent her from attacking them. That fee was called a tribute. It was a common way of exploiting those who were weaker than you. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is forced to pay tribute to many nations when she’s going through tough times. But when she becomes top dog, she takes her turn in extracting money from others.

Now no one likes paying tribute. No one likes the feeling of being ground under someone else’s heel. In this psalm, oppressed kings are described as conspiring against Yahweh and His “anointed one”—wishing they could find some way to escape the humiliating position of having to serve Israel. To try and argue that the psalmist who penned this poem was thinking of Christ is utterly absurd. What’s being described here is a very common Old Testament situation. Israel is on top right now, and her human king naturally considers himself to be backed by Yahweh. The nations that Israel is oppressing naturally hate her and her God for making them pay tribute. But now the psalmist describes Yahweh as mocking these other nations who dream of escaping His domination.

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them. Then He speaks to them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath saying: “I have consecrated My king on Zion, My holy mountain.” (Ps. 2:4-6)

To be consecrated simply means to be set apart. To be anointed by God certainly “consecrated” you in the eyes of the public. The city of Jerusalem spread across several mountains, one of which was named Zion.  It was on Zion that the Temple was located, thus Zion is the one Yahweh refers to as His holy mountain. While Rabbi wants us to believe this king is Christ, this simply doesn’t work. Christ hasn’t been set up to rule as king over Jerusalem. Christ is in Heaven ruling over everything.

I will declare Yahweh’s decree: He said to me, “You are My son; today I have become your Father. Ask of Me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will shatter them like pottery.” (Ps. 2:7-9)

This is nothing more than a Jewish king confidently claiming that Yahweh has promised to bless his reign and to secure Israel’s position as top dog among her neighbors. We don’t know who wrote this psalm, but we could easily imagine David’s pen at work. Such confident boasting is prolific throughout Psalms and to try and argue that a devout Old Covenant Jew is really picturing Yahweh speaking to a second God is absurd. Far more realistic is that the current king of Israel is describing himself as God’s son just as Christians today call themselves the children of God. Yahweh encouraged the Jews to view Him as their Father.  He also referred to Israel as His Bride.  For a Jewish king to claim to be a son of Yahweh is no different than you claiming to be a child of God today.  Notice how the king says that “today” Yahweh has become his Father–suggesting that the king had some turning point in his life where he really committed himself to Yahweh.  Jesus and Yahweh are eternal.  It doesn’t work at all for Rabbi to suggest that one day Jesus “became” Yahweh’s Son.

So now, kings, be wise; receive instruction, you judges of the earth. Serve Yahweh with reverential awe and rejoice with trembling. Pay homage to the son or God will be angry and you will perish in your rebellion, for His anger may ignite at any moment. All those who take refuge in Him are happy. (Ps. 2:10-12)

Here our confident king warns the rulers of the nations he is oppressing that they’d better just suck it up. With Yahweh backing him up, our Jewish monarch is not about to consider lightening up on his enemies. He boldly declares that if anyone tries to come against him (for example, by attacking Israel), Israel’s mighty God will come to the rescue. In these times, every war was a god war. Every nation had national gods, and success was considered evidence that your god was stronger than everyone else’s. Given the age of the Psalms and the culture in which they were written, we should not be reading any Messianic prophecies into this psalm. Instead, we should just see it as yet another exultation from a Jewish king who was enjoying his current wave of success.  Yet Rabbi says:

For Yahweh never said to any angel what He said to Jesus: “You are My Son. Today I have become Your Father.” [Ps. 2:7] (Heb. 1:5)

Yahweh isn’t talking at all in Psalm 2—some Jewish king is talking and putting words in God’s mouth for Him. Any fool can say “God said such-and-such.” We can’t just take their word for it. We have to consider context, and the context of Psalm 2 is an Israelite ruler haughtily mocking other nations. What does that have to do with a Messiah? Nothing.

Yahweh also said: “I will be His Father, and He will be my Son.” [2 Sam. 7:14] (Heb. 1:5)

Rabbi now leaps over to 2 Samuel to yank another line out of context. He claims that this is another incident of Yahweh speaking to Jesus. Let’s see for ourselves.

In 2 Samuel 7, David is on the throne in Israel. We’re told there’s a lull in war—Israel is having peace on all her borders. It’s during this time that David gets the idea of building Yahweh a permanent House to dwell in—something that will replace the portable tent Tabernacle that was constructed in the days of Moses. David shares his idea with the prophet Nathan. Nathan says, “Hey, sounds good to me. Go for it.” But that night, Yahweh gives His view on the idea via a long message to Nathan which the prophet then relays back to David the next day. Yahweh’s long speech boils down to the following points:

  • I’m just fine with My tent Tabernacle and I find it rather insulting that you are suggesting that My Tabernacle is second rate.
  • But then again, I really like the fact that you care so much about honoring Me.
  • As a reward for your good attitude, I’m going to bless you in the following ways:
    • I’m going to make your name famous throughout the world.
    • I will give Israel rest from war during your reign.
    • Since you wanted to make Me a house, I’m going to make a “house” for you—a long lasting dynasty of kings.
    • After you’re dead and gone, I’ll choose one of your sons to build the Temple that you have in mind.

That son will turn out to be Solomon, and it’s Solomon Yahweh is talking about when He says:

“He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for My Name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. I will be his Father, and he will be My son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. But My favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. Your house and your kingdom will continue before Me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.” (2 Sam. 7:13-16)

Saul was Israel’s first king. He was a spiritual zero who so defied Yahweh that Yahweh cut him off and refused to let the crown be handed down to any of Saul’s descendants. Instead, Yahweh picked a man from an entirely different tribe of Israel—David—to be Israel’s new king. Yahweh is so pleased with David’s devotion that Yahweh now promises to make David’s dynasty eternal. This is a figurative prophecy which is fulfilled by everyone assuming that Christ (the eternal King) was a biological descendant of David. In real life, Christ wasn’t actually a descendant of David, but hey, everyone thought He was because they all thought Joseph was Jesus’ biological father, so the prophecy appeared to be fulfilled (see JESUS: The Illegitimate Lion of Judah).

The big point for us in all this is to realize that Yahweh is talking about Solomon when He says “I will be his Father, and he will be My son.” Solomon is that idolatrous yuck who started off good and then miserably tanked. Solomon is the one who pants out the lusty Song of Songs and then waxes on about how meaningless life is in Ecclesiastes. Solomon made Yahweh so mad with his flagrant rebellion and idol worship that Yahweh smashed the nation of Israel into two kingdoms (Judah & Israel) and made sure that Solomon’s portion ended up being the smallest. What kind of baloney is Rabbi slinging to try and tell us that Yahweh is talking to Christ in this passage? Since when does Christ need to be punished for sinning?

“I will be his Father, and he will be My son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do.” (2 Sam. 7:14)

This is what Yahweh actually says, but notice how Rabbi intentionally lops off the portions of this speech that would get in his way when he says:

Yahweh also said: “I will be His Father, and He will be my Son.” [2 Sam. 7:14] (Heb. 1:5)

Are you losing respect for Rabbi as a teacher yet? You ought to be. Twice the man has boldfaced lied to us about what the original context of some Old Testament statement was. But he’s far from done.

And when He brought His supreme Son into the world, Yahweh said: “Let all of God’s angels worship Him.” (Heb. 1:6)

Rabbi acts like he’s quoting Scripture here, but there is no match to this line. The common cross-reference is  Psalm 97:7, which doesn’t work at all since that line is a reference to idols bowing down to Yahweh, plus again that psalm has nothing to do with Christ. Don’t be overly impressed with cross-references in your Bible. If you actually look them up, you’ll find that a lot of them are pretty irrelevant.

Regarding the angels, Yahweh says: “He sends His angels like the winds, His servants like flames of fire.” [Ps. 104:4]

But of the Son Yahweh says: “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. 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.” [Ps. 45:6-7] (Heb. 1:7-8)

Here Rabbi borrows snippets from two different psalms to try and make the point that Yahweh treats His angels like they are lower ranking than Jesus. While Yahweh orders His angels about, He gives Christ a throne and a scepter and He calls Him God. But are these citations legitimate? Let’s check them out for ourselves.

Psalm 104 is a praise poem which uses a lot of nature metaphors to describe how awesome Yahweh is.

O Yahweh my God, how great You are! You are robed with honor and majesty. You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; You lay out the rafters of Your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds Your chariot; You ride upon the wings of the wind. The winds are Your messengers; flames of fire are Your servants. (Ps. 104:1-4)

This whole psalm is filled with descriptions of things of earth, yet Rabbi wants us to assume that the last phrase in this excerpt is suddenly talking about angels. It doesn’t really matter—either way, the point is that Yahweh is awesome. We can see room for the possibility that the psalmist had angels in mind instead of just talking about Yahweh’s supremacy over the elements.

Now let’s look at Psalm 45, in which Rabbi says Yahweh is talking specifically to Christ. Right off we notice that Psalm 45 is listed as a love song and it sounds like someone is pretty enamored with the current king of Israel.

My heart is moved by a noble theme as I recite my verses to the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. You are the most handsome of men; grace flows from your lips. Therefore God has blessed you forever. (Ps. 45:1-2)

And just how is a love poem written to a Jewish king going to morph into a discussion between Yahweh and Christ? Let’s read on.

Mighty warrior, strap your sword at your side. In your majesty and splendor— in your splendor ride triumphantly in the cause of truth, humility, and justice. May your right hand show your awe-inspiring acts. Your arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you.

Your throne, God, is forever and ever; the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice. You love righteousness and hate wickedness.

Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else. Myrrh, aloes, and cassia perfume your robes. In ivory palaces the music of strings entertains you. Kings’ daughters are among your noble women. At your right side stands the queen, wearing jewelry of finest gold from Ophir! (Ps. 45:3-9)

Once again we see that Rabbi is selling us a big pile of baloney. This passage has nothing to do with Christ. First the psalmist waxes on about what a glorious fellow the king is. Then he switches his focus to Yahweh and throws Him a few kernels of praise. Then he switches back to the human king and says that Yahweh has anointed the human king and blessed him more than anyone else. All Jewish kings were ceremonially anointed (which meant having someone pour some perfumed oil over their heads). If we’re going to say this passage is about Christ, then Christ has a bunch of noble women who are the daughters of kings. Christ also has a queen  who sports some expensive jewelry. Are you seeing how ridiculous this is? You can’t just rip one phrase out of a paragraph and pretend it has a completely different meaning. Christ doesn’t have a queen or a harem. Christ isn’t wearing a bunch of aromatic robes.

So far Rabbi has yet to quote a single legitimate incident of Yahweh speaking to Christ in the Old Testament. This is ironic, because there are plenty of legitimate Messianic prophecies to be found.  Why isn’t Rabbi sticking with those instead of playing these ridiculous games? Because he is trying to force the Old Testament to say certain things that it just doesn’t say. He would do much better quoting Isaiah saying that the coming Messiah would be called “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father” (Isa. 9:6). If that doesn’t say Jesus is God, what does? But instead, he’s playing around with the Psalms. If this is what it means to be a scholar of Scriptures, who needs it?

Yahweh also says to the Son: “In the beginning, Lord, You laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with Your hands. They will perish, but You remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing. You will fold them up like a cloak and discard them like old clothing. But You are always the same; You will live forever.” [Ps. 102:25-27] (Heb. 1:10-11)

This is more foolishness. Flip over to Psalm 102 and notice the small caps on the reference to “LORD”. Those small caps indicate the Name Yahweh is actually being used (English Bible publishers feel the need to change Yahweh into LORD). Psalm 102 starts with:

Hear my prayer, O Yahweh! And let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress; Incline Your ear to me; In the day when I call, answer me quickly. (Ps. 102:1-2)

In the title of the Psalm we’re told it’s a prayer of some afflicted man who is pouring out his complaint to Yahweh. So the whole thing is speaking to Yahweh, not Christ. Well, of course it is, because Yahweh is the only real God that Old Testament Jews knew about. The portion of this Psalm that Rabbi rips off is when our distressed psalmist is groaning for Yahweh not to end his life prematurely.

I say, “O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end. The children of Your servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before You.” (Ps. 102:24-28)

What does this have to do with Christ? Nothing. Is Yahweh talking to Christ here? No, a human in trouble is talking to Yahweh. The human is complaining that his life is short and asking Yahweh not to let him die because, after all, Yahweh gets to live forever and has no end.

And Yahweh 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.” [Ps. 110:1]

Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. (Heb. 1:14)

Since when do angels revolve around humans?  Since when is taking care of us their main focus in life?  Realize that the ancient Jews had an unhealthy obsession with angelic beings and they felt free to make up all kinds of ridiculous rules about how angels operate.  As much as we humans want to view ourselves as the center of all things, we have no basis on which to claim that we are the primary focus of angels, and angels certainly do not take their orders from us.  To pray to angels is extremely offensive to our Gods, so don’t go there.  With the Holy Spirit living within you, you hardly need to concern yourself with angels.

Psalm 110 is going to take some unpacking–we’ll get to that in Chapter 7.  Now as we reach the end of our chapter, we come to Rabbi’s main point: angels are lower than Christ. Well, fine, but who is Christ?  Well, Rabbi has called Christ a God–but he also talks about Yahweh promoting Christ.  Right now we’re still unclear on how much power Rabbi thinks Christ has.

Today you’ll hear it said in the Church that “Christ is on every page of the Old Testament.” No doubt Hebrews had a lot to do with people coming to such an absurd conclusion. Christ is most certainly not on every page of the Old Testament. Christians who say this are simply following in Rabbi’s Scripture butchering footsteps—yanking out strings of three or four words from a passage that has nothing to do with Christ and saying, “See? It’s another Messianic prophecy!” Today you can pull up lists of Messianic prophecies online that total around 300. And if you start looking up those passages for yourself, you’ll find that the vast majority of them have nothing to do with Christ. Why are Christians so threatened by this? Why do we need Christ to be on every page of the Old Testament? Why do we need Yahweh to have prophesied the coming of His Son from day one? What if He didn’t? Does it make Christ any less real if Yahweh wasn’t talking about Him in Eden? Does it make Christ any less magnificent if He had nothing to do with Melchizedek or with Abraham sacrificing Isaac? Christ is God Almighty. If He was never mentioned in any book anywhere, He would still be God Almighty. Let’s not lose sight of what is important. We don’t need verses to tell us we’re on the right track when we can talk to God Himself.

UP NEXT: Applying Hebrews 2: Confusion About Christ

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