So, God has explicitly promised Abraham an heir who is his son by birth. But Sarah has been unable to conceive and is well past child-bearing age. Where is this heir going to come from? Sarah has an idea: God said the heir would come from Abraham, but he didn’t say it had to come from Sarah. Thus, she’ll give her maid Hagar to Abraham, and Hagar and Abraham will have the child. Problem solved, right? No. There are complications.
Of all the gospel authors, Matthew spends the least time on Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. He’s tied with Mark for the number of verses in the final chapter of his gospel (twenty), but while Mark’s last chapter is around 500 words, Matthew’s is closer to 450. After the women discover the empty tomb, they encounter Jesus, and later on he meets the disciples at a mountain in Galilee. But Matthew also has an exclusive scene with the tomb guards and the chief priests which continues a point of interest from the previous chapter.
One of the many things going on in this chapter is the bit where an angel (I’m guessing not Gabriel, otherwise Luke would have identified it as Gabriel) announces Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. I wanted to zero in on the angel’s announcement. He says, “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (10-11). When Gabriel foretold the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias, he didn’t even explicitly mention the Messiah, and when he visited Mary, his tone was overwhelmingly that of a messenger proclaiming the coming of a king. The emphasis was overwhelmingly on Jesus’ reign.
I think it was shortly after my family moved to Ohio in the fall of 1990 that my dad got into biking. I don’t remember why he started, although I do remember that he stopped biking downtown with friends and coworkers because of my mom’s concerns about his safety. I recall his increased interest in trail riding and racing events after he stopped city biking; if memory serves, he participated more than once in the MS150, a fundraising bike ride held by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I wish I remembered more about his biking phase, because then I could catch your attention with an engaging anecdote, rather than my usual practice of writing an introductory paragraph better suited for your Introduction to Biblical Studies essay. But I do remember that he used to call his biking excursions “patrolling the earth,” and he drew the name from the first chapter of Zechariah.
Angels. What are they? Where do they come from? What’s their deal? Today we are going to answer none of these questions, because the first two chapters of Hebrews don’t answer them either, except as they relate to humanity and Jesus Christ. Angels, for the author of Hebrews, are not that important in themselves. But understanding angels can shed some light on other important topics, so we and the author of Hebrews alike shall concern ourselves with them.