I’m in the middle of a study in Hebrews. I would definitely consider it a preliminary study. I’m taking a look at the use of the term Today in this unique book. Although I am familiar with these five passages, I realized something as I dug deeper. For future studies, I would have to consult some robust Christology sources because our Lord seems to be intricately connected to the way Today is developed in Hebrews.
In Hebrews chapter 1, verses 1-4 are all one sentence in the Greek. Therefore, it is a little difficult to consider verse 5 without the introductory sentence. In short, Jesus is not only superior to all of creation, He is superior to the angels.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
today I have begotten You”?
“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”? – Hebrews 1.5, NRSV
Hebrews 1.5 is a quote of Psalm 2.7. This is pretty impressive Christology right at the beginning of the book, and it is tied to Today or to The Now. Before we confuse ourselves, which may be easier for me to do with this passage than for you, let’s look at this passage with the principle of simplicity.
What is one simple explanation, perhaps among many? Instead of defining who Christ is today, the unnamed author of Hebrews is contrasting Christ. In a way, the author is clearing things up by saying what or who Christ is not.
Christ is not the angels, He’s more.
Jesus is not only God, He’s begotten in some way as human.
Christ is not only human, He’s also begotten as God’s Son.
The principle of Sonship is very important as a running theme in Hebrews. We’ll return to it later, but for now we should recognize that it is the basis for what is being accomplished.
What Christ accomplishes through the salvation plan is not based on . . . well, it’s not based on His accomplishment.
Performance vs. Position
It’s not based on His performance, but upon His position. He is the Son of God.
This is the position in the Trinity that Jesus operates from. It is through Jesus, and through His position of Sonship, that He connects with us. He offers us an opportunity to become children of God. Like Christ, we are sons and daughters. Our value does not lie in our performance nearly as much as it does in our position.
Jesus extends this grace to us, and if we accept His good work . . .
The Father says to us, You are my son and daughter; today.
Today in Psalm 2.7
As stated above, Hebrews 1.5 references Psalm 2.7. In the language of the Psalm, Today can refer to an epoch of time. It can also be translated as This Day.
This Day or Today
There is what we call an End Times hope attached to the term This Day. In this verse, This Day would refer to the Messiah’s completed work, the time of fulfillment for the Kingdom of God.
If we look at the meaning from Psalm 2.7, then we are living in This Day. We are living in the day of the Messiah’s completed work. He has already proclaimed It is finished (John 19.30).
So in the Psalm the term This Day or Today refers to an in-breaking. It is a description of God and His work on earth. Just as Jesus came in the flesh to a particular family, place, and nation, Jesus continues to break in to human history, our history, This Day, Today.
Hebrews 3 is by far the part of the book where the theme of Today is developed the most. Verses 5-6 are actually one sentence in the Greek:
Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.
We could chase the theme of God’s house throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. This is a major theme. Apart from the Patriarchs, Moses would be one of the greatest foundational figures. The theme is strongly reinforced as David and Solomon seek to build the Temple.There are many other points along the way, but now Christ is added to this rich Theological tradition. To turn our backs on Christ would be to turn our backs on Moses, and on the greater House of God.
These verses are 1 sentence in the Greek.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
as on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors put me to the test,
though they had seen my works for forty years.
The author of Hebrews is referencing Psalm 95.7-11. He says that the Holy Spirit spoke the Psalm, meaning that the Psalm is a Divine utterance. This is a good point of reference for the Divine inspiration of Scripture.
Today in Psalm 95.7-11
In Psalm 95.7-11 Today is important because it is a window of opportunity. We can choose to engage as long as we have life, but our life only presents us with a window of opportunity. Do we have the time to turn a deaf ear to the Spirit, make Him wait? It’s a risk.
As therapists, we’re trained to listen with the 3rd ear. That means we’re listening not only to what is being said, but also to what is not being said. We listen to the metalanguage, the encoded communications. We also listen to direct and indirect talk. However, as Christian therapists we’re also trained to listen with perhaps a 4th ear. What is the Spirit saying and doing in the counseling session? There are many ways He can direct and redirect us as we engage with the client. In fact, there is an ever-growing body of research on the Gifts of the Spirit in the counseling setting.
The point is that we have to train our ear to hear the voice of the Spirit. In Psalm 95, God is waiting for Israel to take her rest. He wants to bless Israel, but He’s not insisting. He’s inviting. What do we miss because we’re not listening to His gentle call Today?
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
and I said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known my ways.’
As in my anger I swore,
‘They will not enter my rest.’”
Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
These verses are 1 sentence in the Greek. The author is still quoting Psalm 95.
Today we have a window of opportunity to listen to the voice of the Spirit and enter His rest.
We may not always have the invitation.
This is the 1st in a series. Instead of footnotes, I’m listing the various references from the whole study. My thoughts are so colored by theirs at this point, that it is difficult to separate them into neatly packaged quotes. Furthermore, most of these are reference works anyway, so I am fulfilling their intended purpose.
Arthur G. Clarke, Analytical Studies in the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1979).
John Chrysostom, On the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures.
Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1894).
Thomas C. Oden, Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992).
Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, ed., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962).
Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentary on Hebrews.
John Wesley, Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Book-Room).