THE BORN SUPREMACY — Episode 2
By Pastor Mike Fortune
September 17, 2011
The Angel of Queens
- Scriptures point to Jesus (Hebrews 1:5; 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 110:1)
- Angels point to Jesus (Hebrews 1:6-7; Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10)
- Hospitality points to Jesus (Hebrews 1:14; Hebrews 13:2)
Jorge Muñoz, affectionately known as Colombia, a reference to the country from which he emigrated 21 years ago, arrives at an intersection in Queens every night around at 9:30pm driving a white pickup truck laden with enough home-cooked fare to feed the dozens of day laborers who congregate there. The operation through which these workers have been fed without charge began three years ago and is financed mainly from the $600 a week Mr. Muñoz earns driving a school bus. All the cooking is done in the small house with gray vinyl siding where he lives with his 66-year-old mother, Doris Zapata, and his sister, Luz. Ms. Zapata thinks she understands the feelings that motivate her son. He always had a good Samaritan side, she said, which was on display when he was just 7 and a man came by their house asking for food. Ms. Zapata told the visitor they had none. “But Jorge gave him his plate,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Jorge, you have to eat for school.’ And he said, ‘No, I’ll just have bread.’”
Every morning he gets up at 4:45 to assess his inventory of food, which is made available in part with the help of friends and acquaintances. During his bus route, he telephones home from the road a dozen times a day to plan the food he prepares when he gets home. He has few friends, and no hobbies. He hasn’t watched TV in over a year and hasn’t seen a movie in two years. But his fridge is plastered with pictures of Jesus and he stops at the International Ministerial Church of Jesus Christ every day on his way to the corner.
As if seven nights weren’t enough, on Fridays Mr. Muñoz collects donated waffles and pancakes, and he serves Saturday breakfast for 200 workers at seven locations in Queens. For Sunday dinner, on what he describes as his “day off,” he and his sister make 40 ham and cheese sandwiches. “I feel great when I see these guys with their smiling face,” Mr. Muñoz said. “Because they got something to eat before they go to sleep.” “Every single night, Jorge is here,” said one worker, his leathery face peering out from a hooded sweatshirt. “Doesn’t matter. Rain, thunderstorm, lightning. He feeds everybody, make the stomach happy,” the worker added. “He’s an angel.” And I think he right don’t you?
This morning we’re continuing our Born Supremacy series from the book of Hebrews. And as we’ll see in today’s passage, angels do exist. They point people to Jesus and extend hospitality—which is still the most powerful evangelistic tool in the Christian’s box. Hebrews 1:5-14 says, “5 For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: "You are my Son. Today I have become your Father." God also said,"I will be his Father, and he will be my Son." 6 And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said, "Let all of God's angels worship him." 7 Regarding the angels, he says, "He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire." 8 But to the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. 9 You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else." 10 He also says to the Son, "In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. 11 They will perish, but you remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing. 12 You will fold them up like a cloak and discard them like old clothing. But you are always the same; you will live forever." 13 And God never said to any of the angels, "Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet." 14 Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”
From the very beginning, angels have had a very definite part of God’s plan. Before the creation of man, Job 38:7 compares them to the morning stars shouting for joy. After war broke out in heaven, Revelation 12:4 suggests 2/3 of the angels in heaven remained loyal to God but 1/3 of them were cast out of heaven with Satan when Jesus says in Luke 10:18 that he saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. But after man sinned, Genesis 3:24 says angels guarded the way to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden.
We know angels are in nature created superior to men since Psalm 8:5 says man was made “a little lower than angels.” Psalm 103:21 says God has “armies of angels” and Hebrews 12:22 says there are thousands of joyful angels. Revelation 5:11 says there are “ten thousand times ten thousand” angels which is 100 million angels which is really the Bible’s way of saying innumerable or more than enough for every person to have their own. Psalm 103:20 says they are mighty angels that excel in strength carrying out God’s plans and Matthew 18:10 says every child’s guardian angel is always in the presence of of the Heavenly Father but simultaneously Ezekiel 1:14 says they dart “to and fro like flashes of lightning” so swift is their flight. Matthew 28:3-4 says the face of the angel who appeared at Jesus’ tomb “Shone like lightning and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him and they into a dead faint.”
A study of the period just before the birth of Jesus shows that the Jews were fascinated with angels. Some commentators suggest their unbending monotheism made God seem remote, but their wonder and admiration of angels made God feel closer. The Jews identified four angels by name though I’m not sure how. In addition to Gabriel and Michael, whom Jude 1:9 says was an archangel or basically commander-in-chief of the angels and therefore another name for Jesus not really a created angel, the other two names for angels the Jews came up with, Raphael and Uriel, sound more like mutant ninja turtles if you ever watched that cartoon growing up like me. A Dead Sea scroll discovered in Qumran assigns an angel named Melchizedek the role of heavenly mediation. And the Jews were aware of these things. And fascinated by them. So much so that Jewish believers had to be warned not to worship them. As we’ll see in a minute.
But before we get there, please note point number one from our passage today: The Scriptures point to the supremacy of Jesus not angels. Our passage today is really a series of seven quotes from the Old Testament that Paul says proves that Jesus is greater than the angels. Hebrews 1:5 for example is a quote from Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. In it’s original setting, Psalm 2:1-6 describes the enthronement of Israel’s king, the Lord’s anointed. In verse 7 God goes farther, adopting the monarch as His son and then promising him authority over the nations in verse 8. While Psalm 2 refers to Israel and her kings, the author of Hebrews sees in leaders like David a foreshadowing of Israel’s true king Jesus.
The second quote, from 2 Samuel 7:14, is very interesting. So let’s take a closer look at that one. 2 Samuel 7:14 says, “14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do.” Here we find the prophet Nathan in verse 4 bringing a message from the Lord to King David. Maybe you recall that David had proposed to build a temple for God but God through Nathan informs David that He has other plans. Not David, but his son, Solomon, will construct God’s house according to verse 13 and it is concerning Solomon, according to the context of this verse, that the Lord promises, “I will be his father and he will be my son.” Which whenever I hear that phrase, makes me think of Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker, “Luuuke, I am your father.” Anybody else?
So the original setting of the words quoted in Hebrews 1:5 is God speaking to David about Solomon. We know this is true because the rest of the verse says, “I will correct and discipline him with the rod like any father would do.” Yikes, somewhere Dobson is saying, “No, time outs work too!” But clearly, Solomon made lots of mistakes and needed correction and discipline, but not Jesus! So even the Scriptures that don’t originally have anything to do with Jesus, the writer of Hebrews is inspired to apply to Jesus! In fact, of the seven quotations here in Hebrews 1 from Psalm 2:7, 2 Samuel 7:14, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 45:6-7, and Psalm 102:25-27, only one of them in verse 7 quoting the Septuagint Greek version of Psalm 104:4 has anything to do with angels and only one of them in Hebrews 1:13 is universally accepted as a Messianic prophecy or reference to Jesus in Psalm 110:1.
So what’s the point? The point is even the Scriptures that don’t originally have anything to do with Jesus point to Jesus! He is supreme! Preachers are taught that a text without context is pretext. And that changing the speaker or person addressed is the same as misquoting or plagiarizing a paper. Ellen White has been accused of this for years. But our rules of quoting and borrowing today are different than they were in the 1800s. Victorian times were much more in common with the way they were in Hebrews. Why some hold her to a more critical standard than they do the writers of the Bible I don’t know.
But if you’re going to understand Hebrews, you need to accept that even the Scriptures that don’t originally have anything to do with Jesus point to Jesus. It’s writer was inspired to use Scriptures in ways we may not like or approve of—but that’s too bad because that’s how Hebrews was written! Judging Scripture by our norms of argument and analysis won’t always help us clearly understand God’s word—especially in Hebrews 8 when we get to New Covenant issues—because the Bible comes from a much different age and the method and reasoning of that age is not necessarily better or worse than ours—just different. So we must stay humble and be willing to learn from the text the way the Bible and its writers interpret itself and not insist on modern rules of hermeneutics at all times. Because rightly understood, all Scriptures point to Jesus. His name is better than the angels names according to Hebrews 1:5.
Moving on, another thing we learn from Hebrews 1:6-7 is that angels point to Jesus because angels worship the Son and do His bidding. Quoting the Greek Septuagint of Hebrews 104:4, the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 1:7 regarding the angels, “He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire.” The NIV uses the word messengers, but in Greek messengers and angels are the same word. And they have been doing His bidding all along. Angels were sent to Abraham with promises of blessing, to the gates of Sodom to rescue his nephew Lot, to Elijah as he was about to perish from weariness and hunger in the desert, to Elisha with chariots and horses of fire, to Daniel while seeking divine counsel and in the lion’s den, to Peter doomed to die in Herod’s dungeon, to Paul and his companions on the sea, to Cornelius to receive the Gospel, to Peter with the message of salvation for Gentiles, to Joseph and Mary before and literally at the birth of Jesus. And when Jesus returns, Matthew 25:31 says they will all come with Him while Matthew 24:31 adds that angels will “Gather together His chosen ones from all over the world.” So if you haven’t met your guardian angel yet, one day you will! Some of you know that Gene Thomas, before he died, probably met a couple of his. And to remind us of this Toledo First family story, I’ve asked Gene’s wife Marion Thomas to come up here today to tell us that story.
“On May 27, 2005 Gene went mushrooming somewhere in the woods in Michigan. He didn’t tell me the exact location, because he never really knew ahead of time. He just drove around till he found an area that looked good to him. He was feeling good enough to go by himself or so he said. He had recovered from open heart surgery some time before this. And he loved to take part in his greatest fun hobby—gathering wild mushrooms. He left home about 3:30pm that afternoon and of course I expected him home around 7pm. While 7pm came and still no Gene. Then 8pm and 9pm and even 10pm and still no Gene. I felt that something big had to have happened because he never would have stayed out that late without letting me know. He had our cell phone with him but did not call. When 10:30pm came, I was getting frantic. So I called the state highway patrol hoping they might find his van somewhere along the road. They said I had to go through our local police department. So I called them and soon a policeman came to our house to get necessary information. Mark, our neighbor saw his car enter our drive and came over to be with me. While we were discussing the situation, we heard our garage door going up so we all ran out and saw Gene drive in. When Gene got out of the van with blood running down his arms, the policeman asked if he wanted to have him call the paramedics. But Gene said no he was alright now. The man asked what he meant by that and he told us at 6pm (still daylight), he had fallen in the woods and could not get up. He tried and tried but “his hinges” didn’t work. So all he could do was lie there. He even wore through one knee of his jeans trying to get himself up onto his feet but he could not."
"Needless to say, all this time, I had been praying in fact pleading with God to take care of him wherever he was. It scared me so because Gene was diabetic and had congestive heart failure and all his medications were at home on the kitchen table. Of course, I could picture accidents, hearts attacks, strokes whatever and was really beside myself. And since he had our cell phone but did not call, that looked very bad. Well, after 10pm, in the pitch darkness, he saw two flash lights coming toward him. And he called to the two men who came right to him and lifted him up onto his feet. They asked if he wanted them to call an ambulance, but he said no just get me out to my van and I will be alright. So they walked him out of the woods, shining their flash lights, so he could see all the fallen branches. They escorted him around a huge ditch and onto level grass where he could see his van and get to it by himself. When he turned around the thank them, they had disappeared."
"Gene and I both believed that those two men were not men at all. But were angels that God had sent to rescue Gene in answer to my prayers for him. We know that God hears our prayers and His word says that He will answer us when we ask Him in Jesus’ name and when it glorifies Him. That miracle was for Gene’s sake because he would have had to lie there all night and of course would have gotten cold and wet and he was in no physical condition to go through that. So I praise our Lord and thank him from the bottom of my heart. Gene promised not to go mushrooming again alone. The bottom line in this story of Gene’s rescue by angels is that Gene was so impressed that he decided to be baptized to give his heart to God. He did this on August 6, 2005. Some of you may remember how Pastor Yoon carried Gene into the baptistry on his back and how many of you came up to watch his baptism from around the platform. Then a year alter Gene suffered his massive stroke and went to sleep in Jesus awaiting his return to be given life again.”
Hebrews 1:14 reminds us angels are “Servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.” And thank God, Gene was one of those people who will inherit salvation. Thank you Marion, for sharing that story with us. Angels point to Jesus. Paul reminded the church in Colossia to worship Jesus not angels. “Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud. And in Revelation 19:10, angels themselves told Pastor John to worship Jesus not angels. “I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, "No, don't worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus."
Scriptures point to Jesus. And angels point to Jesus. And point number three, when we “keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters” as Hebrews 13:1 says by showing hospitality to others like Jorge the Angel of Queens, our hospitality points people to Jesus. That’s why I’m sure it is the most effective evangelistic tool in our box. But we quickly forget that. On September 5, 1997 Princess Diana’s funeral took place on the same day Mother Teresa died. And all the headlines that day were about Diana not Mother Teresa even though the latter spent all her life serving the least of these. On November 22, 1963 our president of the United States John F. Kennedy was assassinated. And people will never forget where they were when that happened. But do they also remember that was the same day Christian apologist and author and Jesus lover CS Lewis also died? Why do we so quickly forget the angels who point us through their lives of service to Jesus?
Let me close with Hebrews 13:2, “Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” That’s a clear reference to Genesis 18:22 when Abraham entrained the pre-incarnate Jesus and two of His angels. And Scripture says His ministering spirits are still flashing to and fro from heaven’s throne to earth keeping us safe, strengthening our faith, echoing his mercy, whispering his love, and doing Jesus’ bidding.
But angels have never been called Son like Jesus has according to Hebrews 1:5. Instead, they worship the Son according to Hebrews 1:6. Because Jesus is eternal and unchanging according to Hebrews 1:7-13. Angels come and go doing God’s bidding (Hebrews 1:14), but only Jesus reigns at God’s right hand. For at least these four reasons, Jesus is supreme. And that’s why it’s appropriate that Scripture, angels, and even our hospitality point continue to point people to Jesus.