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Tuesday
Jun122007

Seven Statements about the Son: Upholder of the Universe

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Hebrews 1:2b-3 give us seven statements about Christ, the Son of God. So far, I’ve posted something on the first four statements, and this post is on to the fifth: he upholds the universe by the word of his power. As in the other posts, I’ve divided the statement into phrases, which I’ll look at individually.

  • Upholds the Universe
    It is because of Christ that the universe continues to exist. Paul makes a similar statement in Colossians 1:17 when he says that it is by Christ that “all things hold together.”
     
    The word upholds means “sustains” or “maintains”, and the verb tense tells us that Christ is continually upholding “all things.” Right now, as I write, and right now, as you read, everything in the universe continues to exist because Christ is sustaining or maintaining it. That the laws of the universe continue to be laws we can count on is through Christ’s upholding work. The gravity that coheres everything is here because Christ continues throughout history to sustain it’s existence.
     
    Do you think of God’s relationship to the creation as something like a watchmaker’s relationship to a watch? The watchmaker puts the pieces together and then winds the watch and lets it run. This statement tells us that Christ’s relationship to his creation is much different (and more involved) than that of a watchmaker. There is no “letting it run” with Christ; He continually keeping things in the universe running by his own power.
     
    But there’s even more to it than that. Leon Morris says that the thought is that Christ
    is carrying [the universe] along, bearing it toward an important goal. Creation is not aimless: it is part of God’s plan and the Son is continually bearing creation along toward the fulfillment of the plan.1
    Previously in this text, we learned that Christ is the creator of the world: what’s here is here because he made it. Now we learn that Christ is the upholder of the world: what’s here continues to work because he continues to run it.
      
  • The Word of His Power
    Christ’s word—his powerful word—is the means by which he upholds all things. Later on, in Hebrews 11, our writer tells us that the universe was created by God’s word, and it’s the same word for word used in both places. In Hebrews 11, it is God’s word that creates everything, and here it is Christ’s word that carries everything along toward God’s goal for it.  This is a perfect time to use the word fiat, which is a command that accomplishes something on the basis of that command alone.  Christ’s powerful word is an effective command, and that’s exactly the idea in this phrase. Christ created it all by fiat and he sustains it all by fiat. Christ commands and the universe responds. 
If you were around me in real life, you’d find that this statement is a piece of scripture that I quote fairly often. I like it a lot. There is something about those words that intrigues me, even though I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s very comforting to think that the universe is nothing like a watch winding down; but rather, there is a rational and personal will keeping it together, and a rational and eternal energy source carrying it along. It’s also exciting to think that God’s command, which is able to bring thing into existence out of nothing, is not simply something that was used once in the past at the creation. It is something that is used for every nanosecond of time itself, and for every nanosecond of my life and every small detail in it. God’s command called up the sprouting seeds in my garden.
 
This statement is quite closely related to the second statement in this text, the one telling us that Christ is the creator of the world. That one was an affirmation of Christ’s diety, and this one is too. (Do I sound a little like a broken record?) Having the sort of authority that comes with an assuredly effective  command, like the creative command of the second statement and the sustaining command of this one, is authority that belongs to God alone. 
 
What does the statement that Christ  upholds the universe by the word of his power mean for us?
  • It should cause us to worship him.
  • No matter what our circumstances, we can view our lives and everything in them as being sustained by God’s powerful word, and know that he is carrying everything along toward his own perfect goal.
1 Leon Morris, Hebrews: Bible Study Commentary, page 20.

Can you think of other things to add to the list of what this statement means for us? Is there anything else you’d like to add or discuss?

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Reader Comments (2)

I think that second statement sums up everything that I could think of.

One thing that gives me comfort is knowing that, though I may be surprised by an event or circumstance, Jesus is never surprised and He knows exactly it's purpose.

June 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

I mean, its purpose.

June 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

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