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. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Hebrews 1:1-4The Book of Hebrews opens by establishing the continuity of the God Who has spoken in the past as the same God who still speaks now. The discontinuity is found in the medium through which He now speaks. Long ago, setting the time period in the distant past, at many times, informing the frequency, in many ways, describing the various mediums, God spoke to “our fathers by the prophets.” This sets up the contrast between His speaking of old and His speaking in the present, “but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.” All of the times and ways of old, now reach their culmination singularly in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Interestingly, each of these previous times, ways, and means of God speaking are introduced with the same Greek letter, pi, indicating that the author has utilized the literary device known as alliteration in order to draw the readers attention to a specific point (underlined in verse 1 above). The point here is that God still speaks, though now through His Son. This profound introduction of the book, which may in fact be a written sermon, clues us in on the importance of recognizing the God Who still speaks. He has spoken and He continues to speak. As has been observed before, perhaps the emphasis on the God who speaks is the main reason why we have no human author identified for Hebrews and the reason why the majority of the Old Testament citations throughout this book do not have a reference, rather they are used to assert that what God has spoken, He is still speaking, and it is still authoritative and valid. From this opening section throughout Hebrews, reference is made via a wide range of terms to express the idea that God is a revealing God, that He has spoken, and that He still speaks. Summarizing these occurrences in Hebrews briefly we find that God speaks; says; testifies; proclaims; calls; promises; swears; warns; reproves; and declares. Further, nouns are also employed to convey this same idea noting that God makes a promise; oath; speaks a word; has a voice; and has a word of encouragement. (see O’Brien, pg 21-22). Clearly then, there is an emphasis on the God Who speaks, even from the very introduction of Hebrews, particularly when we note that this divine revelation reaches is apex through the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, two bookends of Hebrews occurring in Hebrews 1:3 and then in Hebrews 12:25-27, frame this idea that God still speaks. Each are cited below.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Hebrews 1:3
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Hebrews 12:25-27Further developing this concept, the Author of Hebrews assigns equal speaking authority to each Person of the Godhead as well as provides us with insight into intra-Trinitarian conversations through the Old Testament citations. For instance, in the opening chapter we are introduced to a “string of pearls”, seven Old Testament quotations showing the declarations of God the Father to God the Son establishing Him as King and bestowing upon Him the name of Son. Furthermore, these quotations are representative of the Law (Torah), Prophets (Nevi’im), Psalms (Writings – Ketuvim) – each of the three sections of the TANAK, or the Hebrew Old Testament thereby showing that the God of the old has spoken and still speaks and that the weight of authority from all that He has said is still in effect. Making additional observances of this pattern of Old Testament citations we may note that chapter 2 indicates that the Son is speaking, primarily to the Father, chapter 3 the Holy Spirit has spoken to Israel and now speaks to believers, chapter 4 we have the affirmation of the citations made in the previous chapter, and then the first referent of Old Testament citations, namely, “saying in David.” This provides for us assurance that what we have read in the Old Testament is nothing less than the written word of God through the divine inspiration of men (see 2 Peter 1:19-21). In chapter 5 and 7 we have the Father speaking to the Son, and again the Father speaking in chapter 8 as He declares the substance of His New Covenant. Again in chapter 10 we have the Son speaking to the Father, the reaffirmation of the New Covenant promise, now said to be spoken by the Holy Spirit. Finally in chapter 12, we are told that God is speaking to us as children and then in 13, following a reference of the Father speaking to us, we have – surprisingly, a reference from Psalm 118:6 which is said to be our words back to God. This final reference, perhaps, provides us with clear indication and appropriateness of citing/speaking God’s own words, namely His promises, back to Him.
From the opening of Genesis, “And God said” to the Day when He returns and His voice shakes the earth, God is a speaking God; a revealing God. We ought to caution ourselves against the common notion that God is silent or that there were so called “silent years.” In the message of Hebrews, perhaps more clearly than any other book, God teaches us that He still speaks. Not only that He has spoken long ago in many times and many ways, but that this inferior revelation of old (because of the various agents) gives way to the superior revelation of God the Son. Christ now speaks as God’s own Word, the Word that became flesh. Therefore because He is the superior revelation of God and because He still speaks as God’s own word, He is indeed then our greater Prophet.