Christ is Superior to the Angels Part 3 “Christ’s Superiority was Retained in His Humanity” – Hebrews 2:5-9
Pastor Mark Hardy April 12, 2015
One of the reasons I enjoy so much being outdoors in the mountains is the pitch black clear nights where you can see the stars that light up the night. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Seeing all the stars at night away from the lights of the city make me feel both awe-inspired and very small and insignificant. The vastness of the universe boggles the mind.
The most current estimates by astrophysicists guess that there are between 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the universe, each of which has hundreds of billions of stars. It has been said that if you were to hold out a dime at arm’s length, the coin would block out 15 million stars from your view, if your eyes could see with that power.
However, this seeming insignificance is countered by the author of Hebrews in 2:5-9 as he shows us how through Christ’s superiority to the angels gives all born-again Christians massive significance in His ultimate intention for them. This is what we will be looking at this morning.
Now after the warning in which the implications of Christ’s superiority to the angels were made the basis of a strong exhortation to all professing believers to not drift from God’s Word in 2:1-4, the author returns to Christ superiority to angels and shows how Christ’s superiority was retained even in His humanity. Turn in your Bible to Hebrews 2.
In Hebrews 2:5-9 we see four aspects of God’s intention in Christ for His people that should give every believer a great sense of comfort, hope and significance.
The first aspect is:
I. God’s Ultimate Intention for Believers
A. Look at v. 5: For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.
1. The God-Man, Jesus Christ, who is seated at the Father’s right hand, which we saw in 1:13, is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe and shows His superiority to the angels by not subjecting to angels the “world to come.” The word “subject” means “to administrate or to rule.”
2. Since the term “world” here refers to “the inhabited earth,” the “world to come” is a reference to the future earthly Millennial Kingdom. This is the time when as the King of kings and Lord of lords, the glorified Christ will return to completely triumph over all His enemies, take back this earth that rightly belongs to Him and establish His 1,000 year reign on earth. He will rule with a rod of iron as the promised Davidic King from His throne at Jerusalem.
3. The author’s point here in v. 5 is simply that God never intended angels to rule in the Millennial Kingdom. As we saw in 1:14, angels are “ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation.”
4. Therefore, in the new world to come angels will be servants, not rulers. But because of Jesus’ intimate involvement with mankind through His Incarnation, the author of Hebrews not only implies here that God’s ultimate intention is to have His Kingdom co-ruled along with Him by believers, not angels, but he explicitly proves it with a quotation from Psalm 8:4-6.
5. We see this in the second aspect of God’s intention in Christ for His people, which is:
II. God’s Original Intention for Humanity
A. Look at vv. 6-8: But one has testified somewhere, saying, “WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM?” (Stop there)
1. The author seems to have forgotten the psalmist’s name, which is David, and the particular psalm he quotes from when he begins “But one has testified somewhere, saying.” But that is not true, for he quotes perfectly Psalm 8:4-6 according to the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, with the omission of one clause.
2. To him all that matters is that all Scripture is from God, and therefore, the human author and location of the passage is incidental. Philip Hughes says it like this, “It is characteristic of the author. . . . that he is not concerned to provide a precise identification of the sources from which he quotes. It is sufficient for him that he is quoting from Holy Scripture, whose inspiration and authority he accepts without question.” (Hughes p.83).
3. Now Psalm 8 is David’s reflection upon man in the light of creation around him and of God’s dealings with him. And in vv. 4-6 he brings out both the insignificance and the greatness of man.
4. First in v. 6 we see man’s puniness and seeming insignificance as David contemplates the mighty expanse of the evening sky, studded with billions of stars. He cries out to God in amazement with the question, “WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM?”
5. The terms “man” and “son of man” are used synonymously in this psalm. As we will see, this passage was not regarded as messianic but as a description of what God intended man to be.
6. So first the psalmist asks what is there about man that the all-mighty infinite God should stoop so low as to “remember” and be “concerned about” helping him.
B. David then answers his own question. Look at vv. 7-8: “YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”
1. The psalmist is astonished at God’s original intention for humanity, which was spelled out in Genesis 1:26-28: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
2. We can see man’s greatness in three God-given privileges: The first privilege is man’s marvelous position: “YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS.”
• Man is presently “lower than the angels” in a variety of ways. For example: Man is earth-bound while angels are heavenly creatures; man is subject to mortality (Lk. 20:36) and other frailties and limitations while angels are not.
• But man is not lower than angels spiritually or in importance to God. And this lower rank that man presently holds is only “FOR A LITTLE WHILE” and is not man’s permanent condition.
3. The second privilege is man’s unbelievable honor: “YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR.”
• Being made in the image of God with unconfirmed innocence, Adam and Eve were created the crown of God’s original creation. God set them in a glorious paradise and walked with them.
4. The third privilege is man’s amazing authority: AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”
• Adam and Eve were God’s vice-regents—creature king and queen with the responsibility of ordering creation under the Lordship of God. The phrase “under his feet” reveals that man had complete supremacy and dominion over everything in the created world.
• Such was man’s destiny. And the psalmist marvels that God would share His power, glory and authority with feeble man!
5. The author of Hebrews then drives home the point of God’s original intention by adding in the second part of v. 8: For in subjecting all things to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. There is absolutely nothing in this world that is not under man’s dominion.
6. He does this to cause us to react and say, “Wait a minute that is simply not true today!” This is because something went terribly wrong!
7. We see this in the third aspect of God’s intention in Christ for His people, which is:
III. God’s Intention Restricted by Sin
A. Look at the last part of v. 8: But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.
1. “But now” is talking about the present reality after the Fall of man in the garden of Eden in Genesis 3. Since Adam’s sin, the earth is no longer subject to man.
2. Yes, God originally created man to be the king of the earth, but when Adam sinned his God-given dominion over creation was restricted in at least three ways:
• First, God’s curse upon man and nature meant that in every part of man’s life he would experience “thorns and thistles” (Gen. 3:18), in that, life would become difficult and not work. Although fallen man naturally strives to be “in control,” he would be unable to control his world that has been subjected to futility (Rom. 8:20-23).
• Second, since man has now become a “slave to sin” he not only has a hard time controlling himself, but also his attempts to exercise dominion often turn into selfish control and power.
• Third, at the present time man forfeited his dominion to Satan, who is now “the ruler (and god) of this world” (Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4). First John 5:19 says, “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” However, Satan and his fallen angels (Eph. 6:12) can do nothing without God’s permission.
• Even the holy angels have some rule over this present world. For example: They were involved in giving the Mosaic Law to which men were subject (Heb. 2:2); they are God’s emissaries at times in the natural world (Heb. 1:7); they have certain governmental functions over the earth today, for in Daniel 10 the archangel Michael and another holy angel fight against powerful fallen angels who were influencing the rulers of Persia and Greece (vv. 13, 20-21); and they are frequently described in Revelation 8-9 as bringing divine judgment upon the present world.
3. The Sovereign God has presently allowed the rule of this earth to some extent to be in the hands of both fallen and holy angels, which involves extreme conflict. But whatever angelic superiority over man may now exist, it is only temporary and they are not going to rule in the “world to come.”
4. The author of Hebrews says, “But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.” Right now we don’t, but there is coming a day when all things will be subjected to man.
5. We see how this can only happen in the fourth aspect of God’s intention in Christ for His people, which is:
IV. God’s Intention Recovered by Christ
A. Look at v. 9: But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
1. Whereas “now we do not yet see all things subjected to man,” “we do see Jesus.” He is God’s answer to man’s dilemma.
2. Although Psalm 8 expresses God’s original intention for humanity as the king of the earth, notice how the author of Hebrews interprets and applies the language of this psalm to “Jesus,” which is His human name.
3. He uses the name “Jesus” nine times in this epistle (2:9; 3:1; 4:14; 6:20; 7:22; 10:19; 12:2, 24; 13:12), and on each occasion he places emphasis on the humanity of our Lord—Jesus, the man, the God-Man: 100% God, 100% man. In stark contrast to sinful man’s failure, the man Jesus fulfilled entirely the description of Psalm 8:5-6.
4. Now here in Hebrews 2:9 we see three truths about the man Jesus: First, Jesus “was made for a little while lower than the angels.”
• This is a reference to His incarnation, when “God became flesh” in the babe of Bethlehem.
5. Second, Jesus experienced “the suffering of death.”
• Jesus was born to die to be the Savior of the world. On the cross He willingly took upon Himself all of the holy wrath of God the Father against sin that we deserved. As our Substitute, He paid in full the penalty for our sin.
6. Third, Jesus was “crowned with glory and honor.”
• Because of His atoning death on the cross and His resurrection, which proved that He was God and the Father had accepted His sacrifice that completely satisfied His holy justice, Jesus was exalted to the right hand of God in heaven.
• In Philippians 2:9-10 we read, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
• The saving efficacy of the death of Jesus was consummated by His glorification. This permits Christ to apply the effects of salvation to men (Jn. 12:32).
7. Therefore, in v. 9 we see here the Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. God became man in order that He might suffer and die for man’s sin and be resurrected and exalted to do for mankind what they could never do for themselves because of sin.
B. We see this purpose of Christ’s incarnation, death and exaltation at the end of v. 9, “…so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
1. The word “taste” here means “to experience something to the full, to partake fully.” Jesus experienced to the full the death we deserved and He did it “for everyone.”
2. First Timothy 4:10 tells us that the living Christ is, “…the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” Christ died for all men, especially for believers.
3. In other words, whereas Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sin is sufficient for all and offered to all, it is efficient or effective only to those who “believe in Him.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
4. And John 1:12 states, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
5. Jesus Christ is God’s only way to eternal life. There is no other way!
6. Romans 6:23 declares, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
7. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” And Peter proclaimed about Christ in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
8. Have you put your trust in Jesus Christ alone and received Him as their personal Savior and Lord? Notice that Christ’s saving work on the cross for everyone was all by the “grace of God,” which is God’s unearned and undeserved kindness and favor upon those who deserve the complete opposite.
C. Therefore, what was lost by the first Adam, is recovered by the second Adam, Jesus Christ.
1. Because of our union with Christ being “in Him,” His destiny is now our destiny. As His redeemed children we will one day will be restored to God’s original and ultimate intention for us that no angel will ever attain—to sit on the throne with Christ and reign with Him in the “world to come.”
2. We see this many times in Scripture. For example:
• Daniel 7:18: But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come. (Verse 27) Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.
• Romans 8:16-17: The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
• First Timothy 2:11-12: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
• Revelation 3:21: He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
• Revelation 20:6: Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
• Revelation 22:5: And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.
3. As heaven’s citizens we will be far more than servants. We will share the privilege and authority that Christ enjoys as we reign with Him. We will one day be above the angels and, in fact, according to 1 Corinthians 6:3, be the judges of fallen angels.
4. Man was created as the king of the earth, and in God’s final destiny for him, all the redeemed will one day rule the way their Creator originally designed. But God’s intention for man was only recovered by Christ.
What an amazing truth that one day we as believers will rule with Christ on His throne in Jerusalem. But practically how do we apply this to our lives today? There are probably many ways but here are two:
1) First, by not seeing this life as all there is. In addition to the vastness of the universe, there are many things in this fallen, sinful world that can make us feel beat down, small and insignificant. It is especially at those times that we must remind ourselves who we are in Christ and that this life is not all there is. Never forget that the best is yet to come!
2) Second, since one day as “overcomers” we will reign with Christ in His earthly Millennial Kingdom we need to live out the attitude of an “overcomer” right now. The “overcomers” in Scripture are all true believers in Jesus Christ. The word literally means “to conquer,” “to have victory” or “conquering power.” Because of our union with Christ we partake in Christ’s victory, which enables us to have continual victory over the world. Therefore, right now we need to have the attitude of a victor not victim as we encounter the various trials of life! This is who we most truly are in Christ and He wants us to trust Him and His strength to live out that victory. For 1 John 5:4 says, “…whatever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” In this way we are preparing now for our future reign with Christ.
Christ’s superiority to the angels is even retained in His humanity. And because of what He has already done for us as the God-Man in His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and exaltation every one of us as believers should feel a great sense of comfort, hope and significance. And as we keep our focus on Christ and the truth of His Word it will help us to not drift away from Him into sin.