The Hebrew word for Angel is, “מַלְאָך” which is pronounced mal-awk’. Its literal translation is, “messenger.” An angel – whatever an angel is – is a messenger of God. One who does the service of God. So when we read these words from Hebrews, maybe we should consider that is how the audience heard them. For us, it might change the whole meaning altogether. It might even make it easier to digest when we read this letter to the Hebrews.
The author of Hebrews – whether it be Paul or one of his students/disciples – felt a need to establish hierarchy between God, Christ, and the messengers of God. There needed to be a pecking order in this letter to the Hebrews. Which is a curious thing in itself. Why does this author need to establish it? Was it not inherent in the understanding of the early church? And why does this letter, written by someone on earth, try to set up a heavenly order of authority? What is the point?
Maybe the author of Hebrews was pushing for a recognition of Christ’s authority because messengers had been so authoritarian throughout the narrative of the Old Testament and the Gospels. When the messengers appeared, they presented the authority of God. Throughout the history of Jewish and Christian faith, the messengers were much more widespread than Christ. Maybe the author of Hebrews saw them as a false idol. Maybe the author felt they had to establish the hierarchy to reestablish the proper worship of Christ.
It sure feels like the author felt as if the audience was focused too much on angels. These verses are a cry out to worship the proper Christ instead of the smaller voices God has sent. Christ, for this author, is the ultimate voice of God. Christ is the one who is the Son of God, who is worshipped by the angels, who is anointed by God, and who sits on the right hand of God the Creator.
Even if we do not worship angels above Christ, these verse remind us of our worship of false idols. Where do we focus our energy and time? Have we established our own hierarchy of importance? How do we focus our love, our time, our energy on Christ?
These verses are a call to reevaluate where we are in our worship of Christ. We are called to shift our focus from the things that are under Christ to Christ who reigns in creation with God.