We begin by wrapping up conclusions from chapter one and chapter two of Hebrews, using Psalm 2 as a tethering pole. We then look into the word “inheritance”, what it says about our relationship with God and our call to steward life on this Earth. Humans are supposed to be ruling the earth in perfect harmony, serving God as His stewards over The Created Order. Although we have made a mess of this task, Jesus will set things right.
Let’s turn to Hebrews chapter 1.
Dave pointed out in Hebrews 1:4 that Jesus was given something better than the angels. What was he given that was better than the angels? A name. Jesus was given a name that was better than the angels.
The name that Jesus was given that was better than the angels is the name Son.
“For which of the angels did he ever say—” in verse 5 “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.”
Last week Dr. Anderson told you about this ancient custom where high kings would honor someone who had been loyal to them in their realm that was a subking, by an adoption ceremony. And in the adoption ceremony, the high king would, in public, bring up this under king and say to the under king, “You are my son. Today I have begotten you. I shall be to you a father, and you shall be to me a son.”
Of course in the ancient world and in tribal cultures all over the world even today, the oldest son is the heir. And to be an heir or a first born brings with it a certain privilege. Anybody know what that privilege is? Particularly, say, in Jewish culture?
They get inheritance. What is it that they inherit? They get to inherit being head of the family. That’s the big thing. Because you didn’t partition things up and split it out like we do today.
Why would you not do that in the ancient world? You’d have little tiny parcels of land, and it’s not usable; and if you’ve got a grazing culture or a farming culture, if you break it up, then it doesn’t work anymore. So you have this big family group that requires everybody kind of altogether to make it operate. That’s how you stay alive in this culture. That’s the part of being the inheritor.
We look in 4:1, and how was it that Jesus obtained this more excellent name? By inheritance.
So you’ve got the full picture here of a patriarch handing down the ruling of the family to the son. You’ve got the picture of the high king that is over all the realm giving to someone else the rule because of this adoption ceremony.
Let’s just flip over to Psalm 2 real quick. Psalm 2 is where this “You are my son; today I have begotten you” is from.
You know, there’s a handful of words and concepts that once we get these down, Hebrews is going to be really easy to read for you and you’re going to get it. In fact, you’ll be able to sit down and read the whole book in about 15 minutes and just get it. And until that, it’s really dense.
Psalms 2. “Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing?” If you’re familiar with the Handel’s Messiah, that’s one of the songs in Handel’s Messiah.
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh. The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in his wrath and distress them in his deep displeasure. Yet I have set my King on my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree. The Lord has said to me, ‘You are my Son. Today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you—”
Kleronomeo – Inheritance/Heir/Possession
What is it that I will give you if you ask me? The nations. For what? Your inheritance.
“And the ends of the earth for your possession.”
Let’s just look at this word inheritance for a minute. The word that’s in chapter 1 of Hebrews here, “He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name—” kleronomeo. In the LXX, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, that word shows up a couple of times, and it makes it real instructive, I think.
The first one I want to talk about is in Genesis 15:1-3. It’s important we understand this word inheritance.
This is Abraham. “After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, ‘Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’ But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what will you give me seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ Then Abram said, ‘Look, you’ve given me no offspring. Indeed one born in my house is my heir.’ And behold the word of the Lord came to him saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but the one that comes from your own body shall be your heir.’” Same word: heir.
So in this particular case, we have an inheritor that is basically just given. Abraham is obviously going to have an involvement in this as will Sarah. But, basically, this is a gift from God. And sometimes this word inheritance is something that’s just given.
We’re most familiar with the word inheritance that very way. How do we usually use the word inheritance? Something that’s handed down. Your parents earned it, and now they’re giving it to you because they died. The only thing you did to earn that was to outlive your parents.
But then there’s another way that this word is used in Genesis 22:15. This is after Abraham had offered Isaac in obedience to God. “Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of Heaven and said, ‘By myself I have sworn, says the Lord. Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, blessing I will bless you and multiplying I will multiply your descents as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendents shall possess the gates of your enemies.’”
This possession, this blessing is this same word. And the idea here is one of possession.
The picture we’re going to see in Hebrews as we go through it is that the children of Israel are offered the inheritance of the Promised Land.
Now that Promised Land was actually given when? It was given to Abraham when he chose the side that he wanted with Lot, and God says, OK, this is all yours.
But Abraham never possessed it. The picture that we’re going to get in Hebrews of this inheritance is the idea of possessing something.
Now let’s just think about the logic of that. Let’s look back at Hebrews 1:4. Jesus got something by inheritance. What was Jesus lacking in possessions before this time? Jesus already has everything, right? He made the worlds. The worlds are made through him. Everything was made.
But there was something else that he got. We’ll talk more about that as we go along.
But one thing that he got was this name. Son. It’s a reward. It’s not that Jesus was inadequate in some way. It was that he had not possessed something. And here he is possessing it.
And we’re going to see this picture over and over again in Hebrews. It’s not that we’re lacking anything. It’s that we are offered the opportunity to possess something. And what we are offered the opportunity to possess is mind-boggling. Really the only thing standing in our way is a false substitute that the world offers of something that is undesirable and damaging to ourselves.
So Jesus was offered this name above every name, and he got it by inheritance.
Inheritance throughout the book of hebrews
Let’s just look at the instances in Hebrews of this word inheritance. It’s used all through the thing. Let’s look at Hebrews 1:4 first. He has by inheritance gotten what? A more excellent name. He’s possessed it.
Hebrews 1:14. Speaking of angels. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those will inherit salvation.”
Now, again, last week we talked about what salvation we were talking about here. Salvation is a word that requires context. You can be saved from drowning. You can have a baseball game that’s saved from being lost. And in this particular context, the salvation that is to be possessed is what? What salvation are we yet to possess? The particular part of that in mind here is the whole earth being put back in place as it was supposed to be in the first place.
But right now we’re just looking at inheritance. Look at Hebrews 6:11-12. “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end that you do not become sluggish but imitate those who with faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Now are we waiting for the promises to be made to us? No. What is left to be done? To possess the positive effect of the promises. And the way that we do that is acting on them by faith.
Let’s look at 9:15. “And for this reason he—” Jesus “—is the mediator of the new covenant by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant that those who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” An eternal possession that is given through the mediation of Jesus by means of death.
11:8, the Hall of Faith. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.” It was already promised. It was actually a promise he never received in his lifetime, but his descendants are to possess the land. And it was partially fulfilled; yet to be fulfilled completely.
12:16-17, “Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” His sonship. “For you know that afterward when he wanted to inherit the blessing—” He wanted to possess the benefits, “—he was rejected for he found no place for repentance though he sought it diligently with tears.”
So here you have Esau who had a possession. He was waiting to possess it. But while he was waiting, he got impatient and sold it for a bowl of stew. And the warning here is: Don’t be like that.
Galatians 5:21 has this same idea. I just want to show you that this concept reverberates all throughout scripture, and if we misunderstand it, we can get off way in the wrong ditch.
Galatians 5:16 says, “I say them walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. And these are contrary to one another. So that you do not do the things that you wish.”
And then he goes through the works of the flesh and so forth. And then he says, “And I tell you beforehand, just as I told you in times past, those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Now we can obviously walk in the flesh, or we can walk in the Spirit. And whether we walk in the Spirit or not has nothing to do with whether we have the promises. What it has to do with is whether we’re going to possess the benefits of those promises. The basic same idea.
Jesus inherited a name. How did Jesus inherit that name?
2:1, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we’ve heard—” because we’re hearing it from the Son now “—lest we drift away.”
We can drift away from those things we’ve heard from the Son.
“For if the word spoken through angels proves steadfast—” that is, the word of the Old Testament, “—and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward—” Transgressions in the Old Testament received a reward appropriate for a transgression. “—how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard him? God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Spirit according to his own will.”
So what salvation can we neglect? “For he has not put the world to come of which we speak, in subjection to angels, but one testified in a certain place saying, ‘What is man that you’re mindful of him?” This is Psalm 8. “Or the son of man that you take care of him? You’ve made him as little lower than the angels, but you’ve crowned him with glory and honor, and have set over the works of your hands and put all things in subjection under his feet.’”
And we looked at Psalm 8 and saw that the original design for us, as humans, with our father Adam was to rule the earth in perfect harmony with God, in perfect harmony with nature, and in perfect harmony with one another. That’s what’s supposed to be happening now. We’re supposed to be riding dolphins and killer whales, not just in Sea World, but as an everyday occurrence. We’re supposed to be talking to animals and enjoying animals, not just our golden retrievers, but all animals. That’s the way it’s supposed to be working.
But then verse 8, he says, “For in that he put all things under subjection to him, he left nothing that’s not put under him, but now we do not see all things put under him.” Because of the Fall. Because of the intervention of our Enemy and the world system that our Enemy is in charge of who is now the Prince of this world, still yet to be deposed physically. Because of that, that isn’t happening right now. You don’t see world peace. You don’t see harmony of people. You don’t see harmony with nature. You don’t see harmony with God. It’s not happening.
But we do see one thing in verse 9. What do we see? Jesus. Jesus who is made a little lower than the angels. Jesus was made a man. Why? For the suffering of death. And because of the suffering of death, Jesus was crowned with glory and honor.
What glory and honor? To rule the earth!
And Jesus has been crowned with the authority of ruling the earth. Remember what Psalm 2 said? Ask of me and I will give what to you as an inheritance? All the nations. Jesus has started the path of restoration of all things through the suffering of death.
It wasn’t that Jesus was incomplete in any way. It wasn’t that he lacked any possession. It was that through becoming a man and learning obedience, even to death on the cross, Jesus was given a name above every name: Son. And Jesus was given an inheritance. All the nations. And he’s restoring that which has been broken by sin and death.
“Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
We’re supposed to be ruling the earth in perfect harmony. It’s not happening because of death.
Now death is separation. If your car battery is dead, it’s separated from the chemical reactions that make the electrical flow.
When Adam fell, lots of death entered the world.
There was separation between him and Eve. They weren’t one anymore.
There was separation between Adam and his work. It wasn’t fulfilling anymore.
There was separation between Eve and her relationship with others. It wasn’t fulfilling as it was supposed to be.
There was separation between her and her offspring. They murdered one another.
There was separation between man and nature. Animals had to die that they might be covered up.
And worst of all, there was separation between man and God because the men were hiding in the bushes because they were ashamed. And, I think the worst one that came from that, was man was separated from his own reality and rationalized his behavior.
“This woman who you gave to me.” It’s your fault, and it’s her fault. It can’t be my fault.
Death entered the world, but Jesus came to taste death for us. Why? So that we could be crowned with glory and honor.
See, we can’t do this thing. Death has intervened, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
But we see Jesus. We don’t see the world the way it’s supposed to be right now, but we see Jesus. Verse 10. “For it was fitting for him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory.” Who are these many sons? Who is it? Us. He wants to restore us to the place we’re supposed to be in the first place.