Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Wisdom 17 – “Your judgments are indeed great and inexpressible, which is why undisciplined souls have gone astray. When impious men imagined they had the holy nation in their power, they themselves lay prisoners of the dark, in the fetters of long night, confined under their own roofs, banished from eternal providence” (17:1-2). This passage is very difficult to see at first; it is about the ninth plague suffered by the Egyptians – three days of darkness [see Exodus 10:21-23].
“No fire had power enough to give them light, nor could the brightly blazing stars illuminate that dreadful night” (17:5). The magicians of Egypt could not conquer the darkness, so fear reigned.
“Fear, indeed, is nothing other than the abandonment of the supports offered by reason; the less you rely within yourself on these, the more alarming it is not to know the cause of your suffering” (17:11-12).
While the darkness reigned in Egypt, everyone was paralyzed by fear.
Hebrews 1 – “In the past God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, but 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. He 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 the sins of all human beings, he sat down in heaven at the right side of God, the Supreme Power” (1:1-3).
After this introduction, the author spends time arguing that Christ was/is higher and closer to God than the angels. Angels were very much part of the thinking of Jews in Jesus' time and the origin of the belief in then is also very complex. The syncretism or blending of ideas, traditions and approaches to religious "truth" is something that has been going on throughout history. Some people hate it and some - like me - think it enriches the spirit. And I would argue, without it, Christianity would never have been born. The author writes, "God has never said to any angel: You are my Son, today I have become your father; or: I will be a father to him and he a son to me" (1:5).
The Son celebrated here is the incarnated Son, the one whose kingdom "will last forever and ever (1:8) and who will sit at God's right hand until God "put[s] your enemies as a footstool under your feet" (1:13). The angels "are spirits who serve God and are sent by him to help those who are to receive salvation" (1:14), but the Son is much greater than they are. He has destroyed the “defilement of sin” and “has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty” (1:4).