Excerpt from ‘NT Expository Notes: Hebrews’ chapter 1 verse 3)
Hebrews chapter 1 verse 3 tells us that the Son upholds (or maintains) the universe by the word of his power. God created the universe and all it contains through his Son. (cf. Gen. 1:1 with John 1:3) However, the Son now sustains everything in the entire creation. (1 Cor. 8:6) At his word of command, all the planets throughout the entire universe rotate on their axes and move in their respective orbits. Within the atmosphere of this planet, the heavens give or withhold rain at their appointed seasons. Indeed all creation is subject to the will and word of the Son, through whom the Father acts. (Col. 1:16-17)
It may be objected that the created universe is subject only to the laws of nature; or, at least, that He who created the entire universe also ordained natural laws to sustain the universe, without further divine intervention.
This objection, however, must be considered invalid. It is true that God instituted the laws of nature. It is true also, that by observing these laws, science can explain—in natural and scientific terms—much that takes place in our universe. However, the implied or asserted conclusion is false. This is because the argument has failed to include and explain everything that is involved in the control of the universe. Science explains only what it can see, calculate or deduce from the physical evidence. It cannot explain the ultimate source of its findings, but at this stage must resort to theories or hypotheses.
What human mind can hope to grapple with, or explain, the origins or continuance of the universe? Human minds can tell us much about the operation of the universe in scientific and technical terms, and this information is perfectly valid, for it is simply explaining the basics of God’s creation in human terminology. However, it would be a very foolish person indeed who thought that their finite human mind could comprehend the incomprehensible.
Thus, we must remember that even the most learned and intelligent minds on earth are finite human minds, subject to misapprehension and error—sometimes, gross error. With the limitations of their natural faculties (including their intellectual or rational abilities), they can see and explain only what their finite minds enable them to see and explain—and only what God, in his wisdom, is pleased to reveal to them by those means.
Fundamental to the laws of nature is the presence and power of the Eternal God and Jesus Christ his Son. If it were possible to remove the almighty sovereign power of God’s Son over the universe, then the observable laws of nature would collapse, and the entire universe would resolve itself into chaos.
The laws of nature exist only because the Eternal Son of God has ordained them. The laws of nature continue to operate only because they are being sustained by the word (i.e., the command or will) of God’s Son. However, for everything to continue in its present manner, or in the manner determined for the future, the Son must continue to work through, or—on occasions—override, the laws of nature. Thus, the continuance of the creation is not subject to the laws of nature alone. Rather, the created universe is subject to the laws of nature as ordained and sustained by the Son of God.
(Read or download the full version of these Notes on Hebrews from the NT Expository Notes page of this website.)