The epistle of Hebrews opens with a grandiose statement expressing how eternal God chose to communicate with man (Heb.1:1). It sets the stage in teaching the Hebrews why following Jesus Christ was the best choice versus Judaism. The old ways of communicating were over. Jesus Christ was the new and better way to convey the mind and the will of God.
God spoke in the Old Testament
When did God speak? God spoke at sundry times (interpreted as “several parts”). God spoke as was fitting for that particular Old Testament dispensation or administration of His purpose.
In the opening verse, the writer of Hebrews explains how God communicated to men in the Old Testament. God used the prophets. These men were chosen and qualified by God. No man took that honor to himself unless called by God.
How did God speak? God spoke in divers manners. It was God’s choosing as to the way He would communicate His mind to His prophets. Sometimes God chose to speak through the entrance of his Spirit (Ezek. 2:2), in visions or dreams (Daniel 7:1-14)–even an audible voice. God even chose to use legal characters under his own hand as when he wrote the Ten Commandments on the tablet of stone.
God Himself gave an account of His different ways to communicate with His prophets in Numbers 12:6-8:
Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD…”
And who did God speak to? God spoke to the fathers (generator or male ancestors). They were Old Testament saints who were living within God’s specific administration during their lifetime. God favored and honored them with more understanding and insight as to who He was. These saints included the patriarchs–Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Others are listed in the “Faith Hall of Fame.” (Hebrews 11)
God speaks through Jesus
God has spoken in these last days to us by His Son (Heb. 1:2). He has appointed Jesus heir of all things. No more prophets or priests. With Jesus’ arrival, God has chosen a better way to not only save man but also, a better way to communicate with man.
Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death, man is now “acceptable in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6) and “reconciled to God” (Col. 1:19-20). In our new position in Christ, we regain access to the Father, just as we had in the Garden of Eden. We can come “boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy” (Heb. 4:16) without the need of mediators like the prophets or priests.
Last days, in this text, could be interpreted as either the end to following Judaism by the Hebrews or the end of time as we know it. While there are several views as to when the last days began, we know that Jesus is Alpha and Omega (Rev.1:8).
Barriers to hearing God speak
Barriers to hearing God speak can be either external or internal.
Externally we are confronted by the “noise” of the 21st century. The challenges and stresses of everyday living battle for both our time and our attention. With the advent of the coronavirus, our homes are the new marketplace for live streaming, social media platforms and video gaming. Technology and innovation are our new distractions.
Internally, we have developed habits of behavior that often hinder our ability to hear God speak. These include busyness, unbelief, and sin. For some of us, COVID-19 has interrupted our ability to “assemble together” (Heb. 10:25). This adds to our difficulty in hearing God clearly.
Ears to hear
Be assured, God continues to speak today! “Are we listening?” As we begin this study in Hebrews with its spiritual warnings for 21st century living, let us pray for ears to hear. Why?
Because of the excellence and superiority of Jesus Christ. Having received the gospel of salvation, we, like the Hebrews, “ought to give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard (Heb. 2:1).