Sunday, 26 August 2018
“I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” Hebrews 2:12
The words of this verse are a citation from Psalm 22, a messianic psalm which exactingly describes Christ’s Passion. The time on the cross was a time where the Lord called out to His Father in anguish. Verse 21 then says, “You have answered Me.” Immediately after that come the words of verse 22 which are cited here.
The author has shown that through Christ’s suffering, He has brought “many sons to glory.” In the completion of His work, Christ (speaking to the Father) says, “I will declare Your name to My brethren.” The obvious intent is that Christ is speaking of those He has redeemed as His “brethren.” The focus of the author is on the fraternal relationship between Christ and those He has redeemed. Christ is the One through whom God has now spoken to us (see Hebrews 1:2). He declares God’s name to the world, and those who receive His word are His brethren, and thus children of God (see John 1:12).
The idea of declaring God’s name is one of making Him known. The name identifies and explains the Being. Therefore, the intent is that God in the Old Testament, partially concealed, is being revealed in a more perfect way in the New. God has progressively revealed Himself in human history; and in the coming of Christ Jesus, the more complete and perfect revelation of Himself to the world is seen. The Son is the declaration, and thus the revealing, of God.
“My brethren,” then, is in the first and in the greater sense, humanity. But it is, from the standpoint of the Psalm itself, specifically His people within humanity – meaning the Jews. Christ is the incarnate Word of God. In His humanity, He speaks to His brethren – meaning other humans, and at first to His own (see John 1:11). But as noted already, it is even more specifically applied to those who actually receive that word. This is seen in the words, “In the midst of the assembly.”
The word is ekklésia. It signifies a called out assembly. Israel is a called out assembly. Christ came to and through Israel. However, as John 1:11 & 1:12 (both referenced above) proclaim –
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:10-12
And so in this, we can infer from the author’s train of thought a “from the general to the specific.” 1) Christ is a Human; He came to humanity. 2) Christ is a Jew; He came to the Jews – a called out assembly. 3) Christ is the Redeemer; He came for those He redeemed – a specific called out assembly. As the author is writing to the Hebrews, he is specifically speaking to those of Israel who have received Christ. However, it is already understood from the writings of Paul that the idea of being a child of God is not limited to Jews, but to anyone – Jew or Gentile – who has received Him. It is in this ekklésia, or called out assembly, that it is said of Christ towards God, “I will sing praise to You.”
These words are quite often attributed by scholars to Jesus having sung a hymn with the disciples at the Last Supper. This is incorrect. The words cited from the psalm follow after the Passion, not before. Christ is the praise of God. Whether this means Christ is actually the one who sings praises to God, or that it is those “in Christ” who do (being united to Christ), the singing of God’s praise is what occurs after the suffering and among those who have been redeemed — who are His brethren. It is because of the completed work of Christ that this comes about.
Life application: Hebrews is written to… the Hebrews. The author is speaking of matters which pertain to them. However, the truths apply to any who have been redeemed by the Lord. Hebrews is an instruction manual on Christ’s work in fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures, and must be taken in that light. And so first and foremost it is given to the Jews, just as Paul’s epistles are first and foremost written to the Gentiles. Both Jew and Gentile are included in their truths, but the audience of address is significant in understanding the full intent of what is said.
Gracious, glorious, and marvelous are You, O God! Help us to never hold back a word or song of praise to You. Whether we are in ease and comfort, or stress and distress, we are still able to praise. And the praise can only elevate our comfort or lower our distress. Either way, it is a win-win scenario when we offer to You the praises that You are due. Praises to You forever and ever, O God. Amen.