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Hebrews 1:10 - page 2

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The notion that the Son of God was in fact God would make a charade out of his whole struggle in obedience to God and on our behalf as Savior and model. The whole point of a High Priest is that he must be “selected from among men” (Heb. 5:1). He is the “man Messiah Jesus” in contrast to his Father (1 Tim. 2:5). The Father in John 17:3 is “the only one who is God.” If God is the only one who is God, no one else is God except the Father, which is exactly what Paul declared when rehearsing the creed in 1 Corinthians 8: “There is no God except the one God the Father” (combining vv. 4 and 6).

If the Son were God, there would be two Gods. To call Jesus God and the Father God is not monotheism, however much the label may be applied. The Bible never uses “God” to mean a triune or biune God.

In Hebrews 1:10, there is a complication due to the fact that the writer quotes Psalm 102 from the Greek version (LXX) and not the Hebrew version. The LXX has a different sense entirely in Psalm 102:23-25. It introduces thoughts not found in the Hebrew text. The LXX says, “He [God] answered him [the suppliant]…Tell me [God speaking to the suppliant]…Thou, lord [God addressing someone else called ‘lord’].” But the Hebrew text has “He [God] weakened me…I [the suppliant] say, ‘O my God…’”

Thus the LXX introduces a second lord who is addressed by God: “At the beginning you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands” (v. 25). The writer to the Hebrews had open before him the LXX and not the Hebrew (rather as today someone might quote the NIV instead of the KJV). F.F. Bruce in the New International Commentary on Hebrews explains:

In the Septuagint text the person to whom these words [“of old you laid the foundation of the earth”] are spoken is addressed explicitly as “Lord”; and it is God who addresses him thus. Whereas in the Hebrew text the suppliant is the speaker from the beginning to the end of the psalm, in the Greek text his prayer comes to an end with v. 22, and the next words read as follows: “He [God] answered him [the suppliant] in the way of his strength: ‘Declare to me the shortness of my days: Bring me not up in the midst of my days. Thy [the suppliant’s] years are throughout all generations. Thou, Lord [the suppliant, viewed here as the Messiah by Hebrews], in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth.’”[1] This is God’s answer to the suppliant; he bids him acknowledge the shortness of God’s set time (for the restoration of Jerusalem, as in v. 13) and not summon him [God] to act when that set time has only half expired, while he [God] assures him [the suppliant] that he and his servants’ children will be preserved forever…

Bacon suggested that the Hebrew, as well as the Greek, text of this psalm formed a basis for messianic eschatology, especially its reference to the “shortness” of God’s days, i.e., of the period destined to elapse before the consummation of his purpose [the arrival of the yet future Messianic Kingdom on earth]; he found here the OT background of Matt. 24:22, Mark 13:20 and Ep. Barn. 4.3 (“as Enoch says, ‘For to this end the Master [God] has cut short the times and the days, that his Beloved [Jesus] should make haste and come to his inheritance’”)…

But to whom (a Christian reader of the Septuagint might well ask) could God speak in words like these? And whom would God himself address as “Lord,” as the maker [or founder] of earth and heaven? [2]

Reading the LXX the Hebrews writer sees an obvious reference to the new heavens and earth of the future Kingdom and he sees God addressing the Messianic Lord in connection with the prophecies of the rest of Psalm 102 which speak of “the generation to come” (v. 18) and of the set time for Yahweh to build up Zion and appear in His glory.

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[1] The reason for the completely different translations, between Greek and Hebrew, is the Hebrew vowel points. The sense can be altered if the vowel points are changed, and sometimes it is not clear which of the possible senses is the right one. Thus the Hebrew takes innah to mean “He [God] afflicted” (v. 23) but the LXX repoints the same Hebrew consonants as anah which means “He [God] answered [him].” So then in the LXX God is answering the one praying and addressing that person as “lord.” The LXX adds “lord” in v. 25. Next the Hebrew has omar eli (“I say, ‘O my God,’ v. 24). But the LXX reads these consonants as emor elai (“Say to me,” v. 23b; i.e. the person praying is commanded by God to tell God). The idea is that God is asked to cut short the days which have to elapse before the Kingdom comes (cf. Matt. 24:22). Ps. 102 is largely about the age to come and the restoration of Israel in the future Kingdom and so was entirely appropriate as a proof text for Hebrews 1 in regard to what the Son is destined to do in the future, indeed his role in the new, not the Genesis creation. This sense is reversed when it is made to support the unbiblical idea that Jesus was the Creator in Genesis!
[2] F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (New International Commentary on
the New Testament), Eerdmans, 1990, 62-63.


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