"In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom ( Hebrews 1:7-8 )
I grew up on old movies. I remember our parents occasionally renting a VCR for the weekend from the movie store when we were very young. At that time, they would pick out a few movies to bring home. Most of the time they were old movies from the forties and fifties. Of course we wanted the newer ones but they had a love for the classics and so we grew up on all the greats.
The one thing I remember most about those old movies is the way the king was portrayed. You would never miss him because of his appearance. He was usually donned with a crown, a robe, a signet ring and a scepter. No else's attire came close to resembling this picture of royalty. After all, those things are the objects of a king, possessing them speak to ones position and authority.
This is the picture that Hebrews paints for us of Jesus. By looking at this passage of scripture one cannot miss the kinghood of Christ. The writer is showing Jesus' superiority to angels, mere servants in His kingdom. The contrast is great. On one hand we have the angels who serve the king and minister to Him. On the other hand we have the Lord Jesus seated on the throne at the right hand of God the Father, taking His rightful place of glory and honor. Just as in the old movies I watched, one cannot mistake the king. Jesus is far superior to the angels.
Righteousness will be the scepter of His kingdom
Not only is Jesus' throne an eternal and everlasting throne but righteousness is the scepter of His kingdom. A scepter is a symbolic ornamental staff held by the ruling monarch. On top is an ornament that signifies their rule. For instance the scepter of King Richard of England contained a cross and a dove, and Edward III had a bear on his. Sometimes the object represented the royal seal but in any case it was symbolic of both their kingship and what it was about.
How wonderful to know that Jesus' kingship is signified by righteousness. To understand and appreciate this fully we must look at its definition from the Vine’s Dictionary. “Righteousness (dikaiosune) is the character or quality of being right or just; it was formerly spelled 'rightwiseness,' which clearly expresses the meaning. It is used to denote an attribute of God. For example Romans 3:5, the context of which shows that "the righteousness of God" means essentially the same as His faithfulness, or truthfulness, that which is consistent with His own nature and promises: Romans 3:25-26 speaks of His righteousness as exhibited in the Death of Christ, which is sufficient to show men that God is neither indifferent to sin nor regards it lightly. On the contrary, it demonstrates that quality of holiness in Him which must find expression in His condemnation of sin" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). All of that to say, Jesus values being true, right, holy, faithful and perfect. These attributes characterize the very essence of Jesus and His eternal rule.
Since Christ's kingdom is signified by righteousness, his subjects, in turn, must value and hold to this standard as well. Jesus told the people "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" ( Matthew 5:20 ). What a shock this statement must have been seeing how they were the most religious, holy and devout people around. Isaiah put it best when he said that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" ( Isaiah 64:6 ). Both Jesus and Isaiah were talking about self-righteousness, the things we do to be right with God. They will never add up because God's righteous standard is far superior to what we are capable of attaining.
The good news is Jesus offers His righteousness to us as a gift. Romans says; "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" ( Romans 3:21-24 ). By believing in Jesus we are brought into right relationship with God (righteousness). This righteousness is unobtainable by obedience to the law or by our own merit. But if we trust in Christ we become the 'righteousness of God ' ( II Corinthians 5:21 ). Through faith in Jesus we become everything that God requires mankind to be, but could never be on our own. What an amazing truth!
So righteousness is the scepter of Jesus' kingdom. We join this kingdom through faith in Christ and are given His righteousness in place of our sin (II Corinthians 5:21). And when we get to heaven, to the marriage supper of the Lamb, we will be given white robes to wear that signify this kingdom. "Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) ( Revelation 19:6-8 ). How wonderful to know that we have been included in Christ's kingdom through faith, looking forward to the day when we see Him face to face reigning in righteousness forever and ever.
Tomorrow we look at Hebrews 1:9; Jesus was Anointed With Joy Far Above His Companions