Christ the exact likeness of God: Hebrews 1.1–4 (25 April 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Read

Read

Aaron's Sons

1This is the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. 2Aaron had four sons: Nadab, the eldest, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3They were anointed and ordained as priests, 4but Nadab and Abihu were killed when they offered unholy fire to the LORD in the Sinai Desert. They had no children, so Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during Aaron's lifetime.

The Levites are Appointed to Serve the Priests

5The LORD said to Moses, 6“Bring forward the tribe of Levi and appoint them as servants of Aaron the priest. 7They shall do the work required for the Tent of my presence and perform duties for the priests and for the whole community. 8They shall take charge of all the equipment of the Tent and perform the duties for the rest of the Israelites. 9The only responsibility the Levites have is to serve Aaron and his sons. 10You shall appoint Aaron and his sons to carry out the duties of the priesthood; anyone else who tries to do so shall be put to death.”

11The LORD said to Moses, 12-13“The Levites are now to be mine. When I killed all the firstborn of the Egyptians, I consecrated as my own the eldest son of each Israelite family and the firstborn of every animal. Now, instead of having the firstborn sons of Israel as my own, I have the Levites; they will belong to me. I am the LORD.”

The Census of the Levites

14In the Sinai Desert the LORD commanded Moses 15to register the Levites by clans and families, enrolling every male a month old or older, 16and Moses did so. 17-20Levi had three sons: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, who were the ancestors of the clans that bear their names. Gershon had two sons: Libni and Shimei; Kohath had four sons: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel; and Merari had two sons: Mahli and Mushi. They were the ancestors of the families that bear their names.

21The clan of Gershon was composed of the families of Libni and Shimei. 22The total number of males one month old or older that were enrolled was 7,500. 23This clan was to camp on the west behind the Tent, 24with Eliasaph son of Lael as chief of the clan. 25They were responsible for the Tent, its inner cover, its outer cover, the curtain for the entrance, 26the curtains for the court which is round the Tent and the altar, and the curtain for the entrance of the court. They were responsible for all the service connected with these items.

27The clan of Kohath was composed of the families of Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 28The total number of males one month old or older that were enrolled was 8,600. 29This clan was to camp on the south side of the Tent, 30with Elizaphan son of Uzziel as chief of the clan. 31They were responsible for the Covenant Box, the table, the lampstand, the altars, the utensils the priests use in the Holy Place, and the curtain at the entrance to the Most Holy Place. They were responsible for all the service connected with these items.

32The chief of the Levites was Eleazar son of Aaron the priest. He was in charge of those who carried out the duties in the Holy Place.

33The clan of Merari was composed of the families of Mahli and Mushi. 34The total number of males one month old or older that were enrolled was 6,200. 35This clan was to camp on the north side of the Tent, with Zuriel son of Abihail as chief of the clan. 36They were assigned responsibility for the frames for the Tent, its bars, posts, bases, and all its fittings. They were responsible for all the service connected with these items. 37They were also responsible for the posts, bases, pegs, and ropes for the outer court.

38Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp in front of the Tent on the east. They were responsible for carrying out the services performed in the Holy Place for the people of Israel. Anyone else who tried to do so was to be put to death. 39The total number of all the Levite males one month old or older that Moses enrolled by clans at the command of the LORD, was 22,000.

The Levites Take the Place of the Firstborn Sons

40-41The LORD said to Moses, “All of Israel's firstborn sons belong to me. So register by name every firstborn male Israelite, one month old or older. But in place of them I claim all the Levites as mine! I am the LORD! I also claim the livestock of the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the livestock.” 42Moses obeyed, and registered all the firstborn males 43one month old or older; the total was 22,273.

44The LORD said to Moses, 45“Now dedicate the Levites as mine in place of all the firstborn Israelite sons, and dedicate the livestock of the Levites in place of the firstborn of the Israelites' livestock. 46Since the firstborn Israelite sons outnumber the Levites by 273, you must buy back the extra sons. 47For each one pay five pieces of silver, according to the official standard, 48and give this money to Aaron and his sons.” 49Moses obeyed and took 50the 1,365 pieces of silver 51and gave them to Aaron and his sons.

The Destiny of the Wicked and of the Good

1Don't be worried on account of the wicked;

don't be jealous of those who do wrong.

2They will soon disappear like grass that dries up;

they will die like plants that wither.

 

3Trust in the LORD and do good;

live in the land and be safe.

4Seek your happiness in the LORD,

and he will give you your heart's desire.

 

5Give yourself to the LORD;

trust in him, and he will help you;

6he will make your righteousness shine like the noonday sun.

 

7Be patient and wait for the LORD to act;

don't be worried about those who prosper

or those who succeed in their evil plans.

 

8Don't give in to worry or anger;

it only leads to trouble.

9Those who trust in the LORD will possess the land,

but the wicked will be driven out.

 

10Soon the wicked will disappear;

you may look for them, but you won't find them;

11the humble will possess the land

and enjoy prosperity and peace.

 

12The wicked plot against good people

and glare at them with hate.

13But the Lord laughs at wicked people,

because he knows they will soon be destroyed.

 

14The wicked draw their swords and bend their bows

to kill the poor and needy,

to slaughter those who do what is right;

15but they will be killed by their own swords,

and their bows will be smashed.

 

16The little that a good person owns

is worth more than the wealth of all the wicked,

17because the LORD will take away the strength of the wicked,

but protect those who are good.

 

18The LORD takes care of those who obey him,

and the land will be theirs for ever.

19They will not suffer when times are bad;

they will have enough in time of famine.

20But the wicked will die;

the enemies of the LORD will vanish like wild flowers;

they will disappear like smoke.

 

21The wicked borrow and never pay back,

but good people are generous with their gifts.

22Those who are blessed by the LORD will possess the land,

but those who are cursed by him will be driven out.

 

23The LORD guides people in the way they should go

and protects those who please him.

24If they fall, they will not stay down,

because the LORD will help them up.

 

25I am old now; I have lived a long time,

but I have never seen good people abandoned by the LORD

or their children begging for food.

26At all times they give freely and lend to others,

and their children are a blessing.

 

27Turn away from evil and do good,

and your descendants will always live in the land;

28for the LORD loves what is right

and does not abandon his faithful people.

He protects them for ever,

but the descendants of the wicked will be driven out.

29The righteous will possess the land

and live in it for ever.

 

30The words of good people are wise,

and they are always fair.

31They keep the law of their God in their hearts

and never depart from it.

 

32Wicked people watch good people

and try to kill them;

33but the LORD will not abandon them to their enemy's power

or let them be condemned when they are on trial.

 

34Put your hope in the LORD and obey his commands;

he will honour you by giving you the land,

and you will see the wicked driven out.

 

35I once knew a wicked and ruthless person;

he towered over everyone like a cedar of Lebanon;

36but later I passed by, and he wasn't there;

I looked for him, but couldn't find him.

 

37Notice good people, observe the righteous;

peaceful people have descendants,

38but sinners are completely destroyed,

and their descendants are wiped out.

 

39The LORD saves the righteous

and protects them in times of trouble.

40He helps them and rescues them;

he saves them from the wicked,

because they go to him for protection.

1The most beautiful of songs, by Solomon.

The First Song

The Woman

2Your lips cover me with kisses;

your love is better than wine.

3There is a fragrance about you;

the sound of your name recalls it.

No woman could help loving you.

4Take me with you, and we'll run away;

be my king and take me to your room.

We will be happy together,

drink deep, and lose ourselves in love.

No wonder all women love you!

5Women of Jerusalem, I am dark but beautiful,

dark as the desert tents of Kedar,

but beautiful as the curtains in Solomon's palace.

6Don't look down on me because of my colour,

because the sun has tanned me.

My brothers were angry with me

and made me work in the vineyard.

I had no time to care for myself.

7Tell me, my love,

Where will you lead your flock to graze?

Where will they rest from the noonday sun?

Why should I need to look for you

among the flocks of the other shepherds?

The Man

8Don't you know the place, loveliest of women?

Go and follow the flock;

find pasture for your goats

near the tents of the shepherds.

 

9You, my love, excite men

as a mare excites the stallions of Pharaoh's chariots.

10Your hair is beautiful upon your cheeks

and falls along your neck like jewels.

11But we will make for you a chain of gold

with ornaments of silver.

The Woman

12My king was lying on his couch,

and my perfume filled the air with fragrance.

13My lover has the scent of myrrh

as he lies upon my breasts.

14My lover is like the wild flowers

that bloom in the vineyards at Engedi.

The Man

15How beautiful you are, my love;

how your eyes shine with love!

The Woman

16How handsome you are, my dearest;

how you delight me!

The green grass will be our bed;

17the cedars will be the beams of our house,

and the cypress trees the ceiling.

God's Word through his Son

1In the past, God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. He is the one through whom God created the universe, the one whom God has chosen to possess all things at the end. 3He reflects the brightness of God's glory and is the exact likeness of God's own being, sustaining the universe with his powerful word. After achieving forgiveness for human sins, he sat down in heaven at the right-hand side of God, the Supreme Power.

The Greatness of God's Son

4The Son was made greater than the angels, just as the name that God gave him is greater than theirs. 5For God never said to any of his angels:

“You are my Son;

today I have become your Father.”

Nor did God say about any angel,

“I will be his Father,

and he will be my Son.”

6But when God was about to send his firstborn Son into the world, he said:

“All God's angels must worship him.”

7But about the angels God said,

“God makes his angels winds,

and his servants flames of fire.”

8About the Son, however, God said:

“Your kingdom, O God, will last for ever and ever!

You rule over your people with justice.

9You love what is right and hate what is wrong.

That is why God, your God, has chosen you

and has given you the joy of an honour far greater

than he gave to your companions.”

10He also said:

“You, Lord, in the beginning created the earth,

and with your own hands you made the heavens.

11They will disappear, but you will remain;

they will all wear out like clothes.

12You will fold them up like a coat,

and they will be changed like clothes.

But you are always the same,

and your life never ends.”

13God never said to any of his angels:

“Sit here on my right

until I put your enemies

as a footstool under your feet.”

14What are the angels, then? They are spirits who serve God and are sent by him to help those who are to receive salvation.

Reflect

Daily reflection: Hebrews 1.1–4

Hebrews was written by a Jewish Christian to other Jewish believers to encourage them in a time of persecution. It's extraordinarily rich theologically, and deeply rooted in the Old Testament. These opening verses speak of the absolute supremacy of Christ, who 'reflects the brightness of God's glory and is the exact likeness of God's own being' (verse 3).

We are so used to the idea of the incarnation that we take it for granted. If we really think about it, it's an astonishing claim – that when we look at the man Jesus, we are looking at God. When we want to know what God is like, we go to the words, deeds and character of Jesus.

If anything, this is even more striking when we think of what happened to Jesus – that he was despised, rejected and crucified, dying in great suffering. In the ancient world, these things just didn't go with the idea of an all-powerful God who created the universe. But our Christian discipleship is lived out in the knowledge that in Jesus, God entered his world to redeem it through suffering. As a former Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, said: 'God is as he is in Jesus, therefore there is hope.'

Pray

Pray

God, strike me with awe again that you showed your glory perfectly through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach me what it means to live for him.

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