Advent Devotion for December 21
Candle Lighter says: “The Son radiates God’s own glory…”
Response: “…and expresses the very character of God.”
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 1:1-4
1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.
SOME THOUGHTS: There is so much packed into these four verses, we’ll have to make only a few observations. (These four verses are actually one sentence in Greek.) The whole pericope is an expansion of the third and fourth words, “God spoke.” Unlike any other deity, our God speaks to humans. Buddha is silent. Mohammed is silent. Allah is silent. Remember how Genesis begins? In the beginning, God created… and God said. God sustains everything simply by the power of His word, then and now. God is living. He is not an idea, a force, or a concept. He speaks creatively as we are reminded in the first verse. In the Old Testament He spoke through dreams, visions, mighty acts, stories, commands, angelic appearances, a donkey, and even appearances of God himself (theophany). The prophets were His messengers speaking the words of God to the people. The writer of Hebrews then brings things current in stating... “and now in these final days,” referring more to the time of the writing of Hebrews, God has spoken to us through His Son. Can you think of a better way to communicate with people except to become one of them? What would be the best way to communicate with a dog? Become a dog yourself. God condescended from the glories of heaven as the Son took on human flesh. We then learn a little more about the Son and consequently about the character of God. Put simply, the universe was created through the Son. Stephen Hawking commented that the universe created itself and could not have been created by a god because there was no time for god to exist because there was no time before the Big Bang. There is a fatal flaw in his conclusions. The God of the Bible exists outside of time altogether. An eternal God, the God who was, and is, and is to come, is not bound by chronos, measured time. Here we read He works in time while remaining outside of it. Two words are used in this section that are used nowhere else in the New Testament. The words are “radiates” and “expresses.” The former includes the idea of an intense brightness, reminding us of the Transfiguration account. It is the brightness of God’s own glory, the manifestation of His presence. Jesus’ glory expresses God’s glory, the very character of God. There is so much more here, but we need to stop! The simple point is, in the birth of the Divine baby in Bethlehem, God spoke to all people and to all of creation, “I have come to make all things new.” How we long for the next advent of the Savior when we will experience the fulfillment of God’s plan of restoration of the whole created order. That will be a Word, no one will miss.
MUSIC: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by The Blenders (YouTube)
PRAYER: When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
—The Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:14-19)