Today’s Reading: Hebrews 1
At Trafalgar Square in London stands the 170-foot-high iconic Lord Nelson column. Resting on top of the pillar is Lord Nelson. It towers way too high for a passerby to distinguish his features and really know who it is. So about forty years ago a new statue, an exact replica of the original that is on top, was erected at eye level so everyone could see Lord Nelson way up there. Someone had the idea that if you want to know who is “way up there,” we have to bring the exact representation down low enough for everyone to see.
This also happened about two thousand years ago in a very big way. God transcends our ability to see Him for who He is. The eyes of our understanding cannot define or figure out His divine features. So God pulled a Lord Nelson for us. He set before us an exact representation, “the image of the invisible God.” Now to know God, we must only look at Jesus. Here’s what the writer of Hebrews tells us:
“In these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. God made his Son responsible for everything. His Son is the one through whom God made the universe. His Son is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact likeness of God’s being. He holds everything together through his powerful words. After he had cleansed people from their sins, he now holds the honored position—the one next to the majestic God [the Father] on the heavenly throne.” (Hebrews 1:2-3, GW)
We live in a highly religious society today. I don’t think America is godless; I think America has many gods. The issue is, what does America’s god look like? One of the first things God did when He gave the Ten Commandments was to issue a warning from the very beginning about counterfeit gods. The Bible says this in Exodus 20 in the first commandment:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:3-5)
Here is what stands out—that God gave the commandment against other gods not to pagans and idolaters but to Israel, the very people of God, a monotheistic people. Being religious never guarantees the worship of the true God. This was what we remember as we enter the book of Hebrews. Hebrews was written to religious people who were losing sight of Jesus. They were losing sight of the exact representation and likeness of God seen only in Jesus. And the book reminds them that God is in Jesus.
Divine truth must come from outside to us. It cannot be self-generated by us and come from within ourselves. Truth must be revealed by God to us. Without Jesus we come up with our own version of God; thus the thousands of religions in the world who have self-defined God instead of letting God define Himself in Jesus. As Colossians 1:15 says, “We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen” (MSG). God is fully revealed in Jesus.
That’s why any religion that doesn’t give Jesus the honor that God gets is counterfeit. Jesus tells us, “The Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father’s decision to put the Son in the place of honor” (John 5:23, MSG). The Son is equally honored with the Father, because the Son is God in the flesh.
There are only two approaches to knowing God: one that begins with humans or the one that begins with God. Jesus is God’s self-revelation. We know God only through Jesus. Lloyd C. Douglas was the author of the classic book, The Robe. He lived in a boarding house when he was a university student. He tells the story that when he lived on the first floor, he resided next to a retired music teacher, wheelchair bound and unable to leave his apartment. Every morning they had a ritual: Douglas came down the stairs, opened the man’s door, and asked, “Well, what’s the good news?” The other picked up his tuning fork, tapped it on the inside of his wheelchair, and said, “That is middle C! It was middle C yesterday, and it will be middle tomorrow. It will be middle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat, the piano across the hall is out of tune, but my friend, that is middle C.”
Says Donald McCullough of the story: “The old man had discovered a constant reality on which he could depend, an unchanging truth to which he could cling. Jesus Christ is our tuning fork, ringing out middle C in a cacophonous world of competing truths; his pitch defines tonal reality and sets every other note in its proper place.”
Society may be flat. The church may be sharp. But as McCullough reminds us, “When we listen to middle C two things happen: the revelation of Jesus Christ both separates us from God and unites us to God.”
Astronomers observe stars with telescopes. Biologists examine cells with microscopes. Sociologists discover patterns of human behavior with surveys and interviews. Psychiatrists delve into the mind through conversation. Humanity can know God by the life and words of Jesus Christ. When we grasp the hand of Jesus, we meet God in Person.