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Author:Rev. Pete Van't Hoff
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Brockville, Ontario
Title:A More Excellent Name than They
Text:Hebrews 1:4-14 (4) (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Bible Translation: NKJV
Songs: Trinity Psalter Hymnal
Welcome and Announcements
Silent Prayer (Respond w/? 134:2 “Come, Bless the LORD with One Accord”)
Call to Worship
* Confession of Dependence & God's Greeting
* ? Psalm 96:1-3 "Sing to the Lord, Sing His Praises"
Reading of God’s Law
? Psalm 19-A:1,2,5 "The Heavens Above Declare"
Congregational Prayer
* ? Hymn 318 "Angels We Have Heard on High"
Scripture: Hebrews 1:4-14
Text: Hebrews 1:4
Sermon: "A More Excellent Name than They"
Let us be thankful for the angels, but let us glory in the Lord, Jesus Christ.
1) On Matters of Knowledge
2) On Matters of Deliverance
3) On Matters of Leadership
Prayer of Thanksgiving
* ? Psalm 145-A "I Will Exalt You, O My God and King"
* Benediction
* ? Doxology: Psalm 96:4-6 "Sing to the Lord, Sing His Praises"
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Pete Van't Hoff, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,

Angels are a fascinating topic and a great mystery to humanity. We know that they are not God and we know that they are not human, but stand in relation to both God and humanity. As far as the office of Prophet is concerned, they did bring, in times past, God’s revelation to His people, as the human prophets-of-old, at various times and in various ways, did. As far as the office of Priest is concerned, they do minister before God, they are in constant worship and service to Him, but not in light of humanity’s need for redemption. In that way, God used human priests which, in times past have led towards and is fulfilled, in these last days, in the priestly work and sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ. As far as the office of King is concerned, the angels cannot relate whatsoever. They are pure creatures of service. They are sent forth to do the work of their Master. All glory, laud and honour belong to God and the crowned King of Humanity, Jesus Christ alone. When it comes to Divine revelation, they are fully able to deliver such. When it comes to priestly work, it is partial in that they serve, but there is no redemption in it. When it comes to kingly leadership, they just cannot relate.

Great honour is bestowed upon these spiritual creatures. They are sent forth from heaven. They minister in the presence of God. They are holy and sing of God’s holiness. We’ll get into all those biblical references this morning. In this, they are attached to God in service. They have what fallen humanity has been stripped of. And yet, when sent forth, these spiritual creatures are able to manifest themselves to humanity’s physical realm. Those biblical events will also be remembered this morning. One might want what angels have. Some have worshipped them in light of their divine privilege. Never must we do so. For in Jesus Christ, we gain so much more. Let us be thankful then, for the angels, but let us glory in the Lord, Jesus Christ.

1) On Matters of Knowledge  2) On Matters of Deliverance  3) On Matters of Leadership

Firstly, let us be thankful for the angels, but let us glory in the Lord, Jesus Christ, on matters of knowledge. To be a prophet is to reveal the word of God. Revelation, that is, deliverance of divine revelation is the main objective of the prophet. We are well aware that no sooner is all of creation made, that God begins to commune with His image bearers. This is part of His providential gift to creation. The Heidelberg reminds us, at Lord’s Days 9 and 10, of the Fathers creative power and providential influence over all of creation. Last week we heard of the Son’s and of the Holy Spirit’s participation, “trinitarian-ly” speaking (that’s not a word, but I’ll use it any ways), in accordance with the Father’s will to create and maintain, that is, remain involved, with all of His creation.

Our trinitarian God, who continues to reveal Himself to us, does so, through covenant. In a covenant, there are two parties that come into agreement with one another. Both parties agree to do something, to engage together in some way or fashion. Blessings are proclaimed, should the parties succeed. Curses are announced against the party that fails. Compressing many years of Redemptive History together, God spoke to Adam and Noah and Abraham and Moses, then Joshua, the Judges and Samuel, and they delivered God’s revelation to their people. From the kingship of Saul forward, the office of Prophet is more well seen in figures like Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, Jerimiah and the minor prophets listed from the Old Testament books.

It is clear to us then, that the office of Prophet brings the will of the LORD God, to His people. But the Bible also references the angels of God doing so as well. At Genesis 16 and 21, an angel of God is sent forth to reveal God’s will to Hagar. At Genesis 18, “three men” appear to Abraham, bringing revelation of Sarah’s coming pregnancy. At Genesis 31:11 an angel of God comes to Jacob in a dream and gives instruction. At Genesis 32:1 angels of God meet him once again. At Numbers 22 we see, as Balaam eventually does, as the donkey saw right away, an angel of the LORD standing in his way and giving instructions of what to say to Balak. At Daniel 8 and 9, Gabriel appears, to interpret the visions Daniel is given.

Gabriel deserves a whole paragraph to himself. We meet him in Daniel, but we meet him again as he is chosen to bring God’s revelation of the conception and birth firstly of that last prophet, John the Baptizer who will proclaim the arrival of the Christ. More gloriously and in light of such, the angel Gabriel, then appears to Joseph and to Mary, that the Christ child will be born to them. His words to Joseph, at Matthew 1:21 are profound. “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

And finally, the Christ Child is born, and to shepherds, not far away, (Luke 2:9-14),

9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Who, Beloved, knows God better than the angels, who serve His throne night and day? I have stolen most of this first point for their sakes. We can be filled with awe, for such creatures, but creatures only, they remain. The Christ, God’s Son, has (4) “become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” And we conclude with Verses 5 and 6. Take note!

5 For to which of the angels did He ever say:

“You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You”?

And again:

“I will be to Him a Father,

And He shall be to Me a Son”?

6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:

“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

The angels can only deliver and declare God’s revelation while commanded to worship Him alone. The Christ, is the Deliverer of Salvation. And the Father saw it fit, for you know His Son, professed by prophets and angels no doubt, who was incarnated, fully human, not angelic, but human, to not only reveal God’s will for us, but fulfill it. Secondly, let us be thankful for the angels, but let us glory in the Lord, Jesus Christ, on matters of deliverance.

To be a priest is to engage in a mediatorial work between the LORD God Almighty, and the people who have strayed from His presence. In humanity’s breaking of the covenant that God made with them, God did not destroy, but announced redemption through sacrifice. We know of Noah’s sacrifice, post flood (Gen. 8). We have long heard of offerings being made by Abram as he walked the land of Canaan before His God at Genesis 12. In his lifetime, we meet the king/priest Melchizedek (Gen. 14). The office of priest and the priestly work is well defined for us in the last half of Exodus, where Israel, now a nation, is expressly told of God’s law and what must take place when it is transgressed.

Now, in any such a work, do angels have role? At this moment I am reminded, from the Heidelberg, Lord’s Day 5, Question 14, where we ask, “Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt for us?” For today, then, can angels—any at all—pay the debt of sin for us? The answer follows quickly, “No. to begin with, God will not punish any other creature for what a human is guilty of. Furthermore, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal wrath against sin and deliver others from it.”

From this then we see a disconnect between priest and angel. They remain in service, no doubt to God and humanity. But there is no eternal salvation for humanity, in their work. An example of this is found at Genesis 28. There we read of the angels of God ascending and descending a ladder that had been set up between heaven and earth. It is as if, with God’s instructions received in heaven, of His angels, to the earth they proceed to express God’s will, benevolence and discipline towards humanity. We could also think of Elijah’s long journey to the Mountain of God at 1 Kings 19. Twice, an angel wakes him and offers him food and drink to sustain him on his journey.

That said, where we really see the angels and their work of ministering, is when we hear of their service to God. Yes, we have already spoken of their calling to deliver revelation to humanity, and none is more clearly seen than at the Christ’s birth announcement by those heavenly hosts (Luke 2). We have seen, then, the actions of angels when engaged on earth with humanity, but what of their actions in the throne room of heaven?

Let us be reminded of those angels and spiritual beings of fantastic description revealed at Ezekiel 1, 10 and the Revelation of Jesus Christ 4:6-8, where we read,

6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,

Lord God Almighty,

Who was and is and is to come!”

This is who God’s angels are when engaged in service and worship to the LORD God Almighty. In this we more fully understand, when the author of Hebrews, at Verse 7 quotes from Psalm 104,

7 And of the angels He says:

“Who makes His angels spirits

And His ministers a flame of fire.”

And yet, and yet, these cannot provide for your salvation, dear listener. Yes, God has given His angels great cause to rejoice. To be in His presence means they are able to express a holiness, known formerly, only by Adam and Eve, before they chose unholiness. And yet, God shall have His holy people. Yes, He has assigned His angels to revelation and strength, but to the work of salvation, someone greater than these is needed, and given.

At first we hear God’s declaration:

8 But to the Son He says:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;

Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You

With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

Of all the graces allotted to the angels, no angel can compare to what has been declared of God’s Son. For such a work cannot be performed by a creature but only of the Creator. This is what Verse 10 reveals to us.

10…“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,

And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

The Spirit here has connected what we read at John 1, that “[i]n the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Let us then go to Genesis 1 and witness the creation of humanity by the plurality of the Persons of God where we read, (Gen. 1:24) “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” See the Father’s will here, no doubt, but the Son’s creative words, never forgetting about the Holy Spirit’s power to create from the dust of the earth a human body and then giving him the Breath of Life that is breathed into his nostrils.

To conclude this point, no angel nor any other created thing can compare to the Christ, God’s Son, your Saviour.

11 They will perish, but You remain;

And they will all grow old like a garment;

12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,

And they will be changed.

But You are the same,

And Your years will not fail.”

Deliverance has been given to the Son alone. For He alone is able only. The angels can only tell us of Him. But Jesus saves.

Thirdly, let us be thankful for the angels, but let us glory in the Lord, Jesus Christ, on matters of leadership. To be a king, is to lead. A king is to defend. A king is to represent. A people are to follow their king for all of these reasons. The earliest godly kingship in Scripture, stands, surprisingly outside of the people whom God makes covenant with. Of course, I speak of Melchizedek of Genesis 14. At Verse 18, this king of Salem is called out as “the priest of God Most High.” He is a mysterious character. His priestly order, the author of Hebrews will come to consider. At Psalm 110 the Messiah is announced (Psalm 110:4) “According to the order of Melchizedek.”

Scripture, long before Saul and David, gives a description of what Israel’s king is to be. At Deuteronomy 7:14-20 we read,

14 “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ 17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

At our Samuel Bible Study, we’ve come to see what all Israel has observed of the nations that surround them. At the end of 1 Samuel 7, it is clear that Samuel emulates aspects of Melchizedek. I have argued for aspects of all three offices being found in this man called to serve before his God and in light of His people. Chapter 8 of 1 Samuel, reminds us that such work is not fulfilled. It remains quite unfulfilled in Samuel’s sons. We are disappointed. So are God’s people and they cry out for a king. And we read on of Saul. And we read on of David. And we read on of Jesus Christ, David’s Seed, whose kingdom shall never end (1 Sam. 7).

In all of my talk, on this third of three points, where are the angels? They played major roles in revelation and knowledge. They remain in service to Almighty God but there is no ultimate deliverance for humanity in their work. In fulness and in truth, congregation, when an angel desires leadership, he will find himself cast out of heaven. At Luke 10:18 Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” At John 10:31 we hear Him say, “Now is the judgement of this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” At Revelation 12:7-9 Jesus tells John to write what he saw,

7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

his end of story and of those who follow him and desire leadership does not end well. (Rev. 20:10) “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Angels have no place in leadership. Their glory and holiness is in their service to God, revealing His will, and worshiping in His holy name.

13 But to which of the angels has He ever said:

“Sit at My right hand,

Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?

We know of such words being fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s King. We can say even, as Verse 14 does, that they are “all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” But the Son only, is sitting at His Father’s right hand.

Great honour is bestowed upon these spiritual creatures. They are sent forth from heaven. They minister in the presence of God. They are holy and sing of God’s holiness. In this, they are attached to God in service. They have what fallen humanity has been stripped of. And yet, when sent forth, these spiritual creatures are able to manifest themselves to humanity’s physical realm. One might want what angels have. Some have worshipped them in light of their divine privilege. Never must we do so. For in Jesus Christ, we gain so much more. He has obtained a more excellent name than they. Because of such, and because Jesus is your King, they are called to minister to you too. Let us then be thankful for the angels, but let us glory in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Pete Van't Hoff, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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