The New Hierarchy of Creation – Why Satan Rebelled

Hebrews 1:13-14 (ESV)

And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Chapter one is a build up to one of the author’s many “therefores,” and the end, just quoted, is a stout one. The kind that makes you want to sit down if you are standing. Let’s follow the logic:

  1. Jesus has become superior to angels (v.4)
  2. Why and how? Jesus is the Son, and no angel has been called that (v.5)
  3. Angels are to worship the Son, and are now servants of wind and fire (v.6,7)
  4. Jesus’s throne is forever. Not only that, but He has laid the foundation of the earth itself (v.8-12)
  5. Jesus sits at God’s right hand, and no angel has been invited to do that (v.13)
  6. Angels are to minister to those who will inherit (v.14)

THEREFORE (going into chapter 2):

We must pay all the more attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away, because what we have heard has come from the Son. The Son! And if the message declared by angels was reliable, how much greater the Son’s word? If we neglect His word, what else is there? He is above every name. There is no testimony that could have more authority or weight.

So that’s the general flow. And while the first THEREFORE could be studied extensively, I want to focus on the final reasoning leading up to it, the final guidepost before the author arrives at his point. His whole argument is telling us what the new hierarchy of creation is, ending by telling us that angels now serve us.

A man now sits on a throne in heaven, ruling with all authority. Even over the angels. This inverts what was before, the old order of creation. And because we are united with the Son and King through baptism and by the Spirit, we are part of his body.

We who were made a little lower than the angels are now above the angels, thanks to the saving work of Christ.  This is even corroborated by 1 Cor 6:3a.

Do you not know that we are to judge angels?

Chew on that. We have angels ministering on our behalf, and why? Because we are now adopted into the royal household, and have the full rights of sonship, which includes use of the household servants, who used to be over us as guardians and managers (Gal. 4:1-3). But then Galatians 4:7:

So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Heirs of what? Heirs of the world.

C.S. Lewis, in his Space Trilogy, hints that this is one of the main reasons that Satan rebelled: jealousy over the authority that mankind would eventually wield over him and his like. And I think he has a point.

Satan, an angel, had some semblance of authority over mankind, but he knew that it was not to be forever. Eventually, man would mature and come fully into his kingdom. So while he still had authority, he tempted Adam to grasp for his kingdom early, the same temptation he would eventually try on the last Adam (Matt. 4:8-9).

Satan, one of the guardians or managers set to watch over us, didn’t want us to grow up into our inheritance. So he ensured we would not…at least not without drastic measures that he couldn’t foresee.

Next, I’ll delve a little into the significance of the angels being wind and fire, as that seems to be a hinge of the structure listed above.

From Promised Land to Promised Earth

Jesus doesn’t make up the Beatitudes on the spot. Each one has several Old Testament referents, and have long been part of the Word of God. What he does do, however, is inject more weight into them from a New Covenant/Kingdom of God context, which means greater glory and greater promises. This follows with the general direction of the history of the people of God (and consequently the history of the world): marching on toward ever greater things.

The most obvious example is the one directed toward the meek, which alludes directly to Psalm 37:11.

Psalm: “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”

Matthew: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

But notice the key difference. The “land” has now become the “world.” The potential inheritance has grown.

This is consistant with the rest of the New Testament, as we see hints that the entire earth itself is the new promised land.

Paul says that the promise to Abraham, which in the OT was couched in terms of the “land”, was really that he would be the heir of the world. And we, as his children, have the same inheritance. (Rom. 4:13)

Likewise, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:2, that the saints are to judge the world. That is, to perform kingly duties, to discern between good and evil while partaking of Jesus, the Tree of Life. That is to be expected, since Revelation 5:10 says explicitly that God has made us both kings and priests, for the purpose of ruling on the earth, which you would think is so obvious and plain written, that no Christian would deny the fact. But we Christians are experts at discounting obvious parts of the Bible, and when we do, we’re called a “scholar.”

Here’s another one. When Paul quotes the fifth commandment in Ephesians 6:2 as still applicable to children, he calls it the first commandment with a promise: “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” But here, he’s not talking about the old land of Canaan. Why would the Ephesians care about that? Here, as everywhere else in the New Testament, the promise has expanded, and “land” has become “earth.”

It shouldn’t surprise us that God has made some glorious promises for his people. They are so glorious, so gracious, and so world-changing, that its understandable that we find them hard to believe. For some reason, however, we tend to believe that just the opposite is what God has in store for the world.

Which is a just tad ungrateful. It’s like turning down a filet mignon in favor of finding dinner in the dumpster out back, and thinking you’re doing the cook a favor.

The Blood of Christ and Abel

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Cor. 15:16,17)(ESV)

Why is this so? Why would the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God lose its efficacy if the Resurrection had not happened? The shedding of blood is the shedding of blood, is it not?

And that is the point.

The writer of Hebrews says that the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Heb. 12:24). Blood pollutes the land and guilt rises up to infect the inhabitants (Deut. 21:1-9), and this is intensified when we consider the blood shed from the first murder. Abel’s blood cries out against the earth itself and against God’s image bearers.

Jesus, God’s perfect image bearer, finally answers the crying out for justice with his own blood and drowns out the noise.

And yet we are left with more innocent blood. The levies of Abel’s blood were simply overwhelmed with the pure blood of Christ. And innocent blood cries out. If anything we are more doomed, and our sentence even greater, for we absorb the guilt brought on by the murder of the Son of God. The sons of Adam are all culpable. We have Christ’s blood on our hands.

Without the Resurrection, this is where are left, still in our sins. End of story.

But there is no gnostic “gospel.”  Christ bodily rose from the dead. The sentence was reversed. Death itself was swallowed up. The blood of Christ still remains sprinkled on the earth, but the song it sings is now a different tune.

Thanks to the Resurrection, the blood crying out for condemnation now cries out for mercy and atonement. Thanks be to God for this wonderful gift.

Thrones of David and Living Stones

Jesus sits on the throne of David, as the King of kings. But we modern Christians forget that there is more than one throne.

David writes in Psalm 122:

Jerusalem— built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David. (Psalm 122:3-5)(ESV)

Who sits on these other thrones?

Who is the Greatest?

In the gospel of Luke, in the context of the last supper, the disciples begin arguing over who will be regarded as the greatest. Who is going to be chief viceroy in the Messiah’s new kingdom?

Jesus responds by talking about the rulers of the Gentiles, and how the disciples should not be like them. He concludes with:

And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29,30)

Matthew records a similar exchange in chapter 19, but including the word “twelve” before “thrones”, giving greater significance to the apostles. This flows into Revelation 21:14, where the apostles are seen as the foundations of the New Jerusalem, the capital city of the new heavens and new earth. Thrones.  Foundations. Living stones, with one cornerstone: Christ.

What’s remarkable is what Jesus does not say during these exchanges. He does not rebuke them saying that his kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. He does not roll his eyes and say “You are thinking too much like first century Jews. The kingdom is purely in the heavenly realm, and is about personal salvation. There aren’t really any rulers in the sense you are thinking about. Read more Plato.”

What does he say? He tells them to be better rulers than the Gentile rulers. To be the greatest ruler in the new kingdom, one would need to be a servant instead. Put another way, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

But there are more living stones than just the apostles. (1 Pet. 2:5)

More than Just Twelve Thrones

This promise of authority in the new kingdom is not just for the Twelve. 1 Corinthians is packed full of similar language.

Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your’s; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. (1 Cor. 3:21-23)

Paul rebukes the Corinthians for taking fellow believers to pagan courts. Why does he say this practice is wrong?

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? (1 Cor. 6:2-4)(ESV)

Since Christ has been resurrected and enthroned, things have changed, and the old order has been turned upside down. The church should be acting as if this is true, instead of pretending it isn’t. When the Corinthians brought a fellow brother before a pagan judge, they were pretending that Christ was still in the grave, and that he wasn’t really King of kings and Lord of lords. Because if they really believed that Christ is King, they would know that they should be able to handle such trivial matters themselves.


Because they will help judge the world, and with it, those very same pagan judges.

By going to pagan judges to settle church or “kingdom” matters, they were acting like the Israelites of old, reversing the conquest of the land. Or plundering the temple to pay off foreign kings.

Fellow Heirs

I have explained elsewhere that the promise of Abraham was really for the inheritance of the world, and that through Christ, as the new Israel, we are the recipients of the same promise. The twelve tribes of Israel have now been expanded to include all of the nations of the earth, and the promised land expanded to mean the entire world.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Rom. 8:17)

“…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37)

You have a throne and crown waiting for you.  You are a fellow heir of the King of kings. You are part of his body.  What he possesses, you possess. You have a throne of David waiting for you.

And are you going to be timid? Are you going to act as if you are never going to wear your crown? Are you going to despise your inheritance?