Meditations in Hebrews 1: 8. Sustainer of the World
Heb 1:3 the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being sustaining all things by his powerful word
If you talk to a scientist you will hear talk of an expanding world, every celestial body moving outwards from one point where billions of years ago there was a ‘big bang’ and everything came into being and blasted outwards and they know this because – there appear this outward trajectory in the heavens. The focus there is of movement and some undefined, no, impossibly definable event where, according to science something came from absolutely nothing, and yet our finite minds and the very heart of science believes that such a thing is literally impossible.
In our knowledge, something happens because something else starts it. Within all this we take such things as gravity for granted, the assumption that a large mass has an inward pull and yet no one knows why that is. At a much simpler level we know that water can also exist as ice or steam. These are basic givens among millions of other basic ‘scientific facts’. What we don’t know is WHY any of these things should be. Scientists will revert back to mathematics so often and even molecular structures to explain why it must be why it is like it is, but there is growing a whole new area of scientific philosophy that no longer takes these things for granted. The theory of evolution is one of the biggest speculative guessing games of the scientific world. People like Richard Dawkins would like you to believe it is survival of the fittest that has produced the present pattern of life on this planet, but that is so full of holes when you think of it as to be laughable.
I would love to expand on that but we must get to the back end of verse 3: “sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Now I must confess that of all the mini-statements that we are considering in these verses, I find this one the most difficult to substantiate in the scriptures, let alone understand what it means. The basic implication is that Jesus, the Son of God, now seated at his Father’s right hand in heaven, ruling over all things (as we have seen in previous studies), is so powerful that with the Father he created all things and in the same way as the Father said, “Let there be light and there was light,” so Jesus, now given the role of overseeing it all until some defined-in-heaven point in our future, winds it all up, this Jesus says, “Continue,” and the world continues.
Have you ever seen those sci-fi films where some person with super powers can make everything just stop and so you have a picture of a street full of people in mid stride but all stationary? Jesus, Lord over all, has the power to do that but does it in the reverse and keeps it going. At one point the apostle Paul wrote, “there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” (1 Cor 8:6) Now I suspect that most of us take those last words to refer to our salvation but the words before those are words about creation and I believe it is fair to assume that the last words of the sentence refer to Jesus’ power that enables the world to continue and us to remain alive. However, Paul was more specific than this: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col 1:17) If we accept that Jesus was with the Father and all that we know exists because the Father and Son brought it into being, then it is a logical step to believe that not only did they bring it into being, but they keep it going.
Now you might ask, isn’t this a purely theoretical or philosophical moot point? My answer must be, definitely not! One of the things human beings do more than anything else, is take life for granted. We live in a fallen world, yes, where because of sin things wrong. That is one aspect of life but the bigger aspect is what we have been considering, the fact that this world only continues going because the Son wills it so. Have you ever thought that every day is a gift? Both the Bible and experience shows that sometimes life just stops, people die and sometimes they just die for no known explicable reason. I assume my heart will continue beating throughout the next twenty-four hours and that my brain cells will similarly continue to work throughout that period (and I hope longer) but the truth is that life is a gift, the whole world is a gift. If it is not, it is a random-chance accident and utterly meaningless and there is no future and the present is wide open for us to do whatever we like. But that is not the Bible’s message; it is that the world was brought into being by God the Father and God the Son and together they continue to keep it going – and it only keeps going because they say so.
Can I invite you to add a new dimension to your praying if you have a ‘quiet time’ each day? It is the dimension of thankfulness that you are alive – and are still alive – with all the wonder of what that means. We are sentient human beings with five senses all of which are clearly designed to help us enjoy the wonderful world in which we live. It is a gift of God and it continues to be so because God decrees it. Because he is sitting at the Father’s right hand overseeing it all, this continuation is part of the reign of Jesus, the work of Jesus, the joy of Jesus. Thank him and praise him for it at the beginning and end of every day you have.