Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. —Hebrews 1:1-2
The big idea in the first verses of Hebrews is the big idea for the whole book of Hebrews. God has spoken by his Son, and this Son is superior to all persons, heavenly beings, institutions, rituals, and previous means of revelation and redemption. That’s why verses 1 and 2 begin with a series of contrasts.
Eras. The age gone by was “long ago,” but now we are in “these last days.” This does not necessarily mean the end of the world is coming soon. It means we have entered a new age, the age of the Spirit, the fullness of time in which the great acts of salvation have taken place. The death and resurrection of Jesus ushered the world into a different epoch. There is no act of redemption left to take place before the last day arrives. That puts us in the last days.
Recipients. In an earlier time, long ago, God spoke “to our fathers”—to the patriarchs, to the Jewish ancestors. But in these days God has spoken “to us.” This is a different age and God is speaking to a different group of people.
Agents. God has also spoken by different agency. In previous days he spoke by “the prophets,” whether that be the named prophets of old, those with a prophetic function like Moses, or the prophetic writings (i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures). By the prophets is how God has spoken. But in these last days God has spoken “by his Son.” Jesus Christ has revealed what God is like, taught us the will of God, and shown us the path of salvation.
Ways. Long ago God spoke at many times (polymeros) and in many ways (polytropos). God spoke by visions, dreams, voices, a burning bush, a pillar of fire, a donkey, and writing on a wall. That was then, in the old age. But in these last days God has spoken in a single way, by the Lord Jesus Christ. The implicit contrast is that whereas there were many ways formerly in which God spoke to his people, there is now only one means of revelation, through his Son.
All four contrasts are meant to lead us to the same conclusion, a conclusion gloriously spelled out in the next verses; namely, that Christ is the superior and final agent of God’s redemption and revelation.
What does it mean for your life that God speaks to us now in one way, through his Son?
How are you tempted to think Jesus is not enough?
What can you do this week to listen for the Son speaking to you in the Scriptures?