“And, You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands.” This verse is quoted from the Septuagint text of the Old Testament (Ps. 102:25), which differs somewhat from the Hebrew text. But even so, Heb. 1:10 is not an exact quote of the Septuagint. In the Old Testament it applied to Yahweh, but the author of Hebrews lifted it from the Psalms and applied it to Jesus Christ. Sometimes God lifts Old Testament verses from their original context and modifies them to fit a new context.
One modification is that the opening, “in the beginning” in the Greek text of the New Testament, is “from of old” in the Hebrew Old Testament. The Hebrew text does not make a reference to a beginning, as the Greek seems to, although the Greek could be translated as something such as “from the first,” instead of “in the beginning.” But Hebrews uses Psalm 102:25 very differently than it is used in the Old Testament.
A good example of God lifting a verse from the Old Testament and using it differently in the New Testament is Psalm 2:7. Psalm 2:7 reads, “I will tell of the decree. Yahweh said to me, You are My son. Today I have become your father” (New European Version). In Psalm 2:7, the Messiah is called the “Son” when he comes into his kingdom, that is, when he takes his full authority in the household of God and takes over the actual rulership of the world. So the Messiah becoming the “Son” is not at his conception or birth, but at a much later (and still future) time. Thus in Psalm 2:7, the word “Son” is describing the relationship that the Messiah has with the Father as a fully developed Son, participating in ruling the house.
Once we understand that “Son” in Psalm 2:7 is describing a relationship between the Father and Son, we can see why Psalm 2:7 is used the ways it is in the New Testament. Some Western texts of Luke 3:22 quote Psalm 2:7, making Jesus become the “Son” at his baptism when he receives God’s gift of holy spirit, takes on his ministry, and begins a new and very interactive relationship with the Father (however, the original text of Luke 3:22 likely did not quote Psalm 2:7). Then, Acts 13:33 quotes Psalm 2:7 in the context of Jesus’ resurrection, making Jesus become the “Son” when God raised him from the dead and he began a whole new relationship with the Father. Then Hebrews 1:5 quotes Psalm 2:7 in the context of the ascension (cp. Heb. 1:3), making Jesus become the “Son” when he actually sat down at God’s right hand and began still another new relationship with the Father. So we see that Psalm 2:7 is used differently in the New Testament than in the Old Testament, but each time it is quoted, the context makes clear what God is trying to communicate. Other Old Testament verses that are used in the New Testament in a modified way include: Matthew 2:18 (Jer. 31:15); Ephesians 4:8 (Ps. 68:18); and 1 Peter 2:9 (Exod. 23:22; cp. Exod. 19:5-6; Isa. 43:20-21);
Like Psalm 2:7 is modified in the New Testament, Psalm 102:25 is modified when it is quoted in Hebrews 1:10. For one thing, the subject of the verse changes from Yahweh (Old Testament) to Jesus Christ (New Testament). Since the subject of the verse changes, it seems logical that the action being attributed to the subject changes also. Many Old Testament verses testify that God created the original heavens and the earth (cp. Gen. 1:1, etc.). However, both the Old Testament and New Testament tell us that there will be a new heavens and earth after this one, that we are currently inhabiting, passes away. In fact, there will be two more. First, the heaven and earth of Jesus’ 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom, which will perish (Isa. 65:17; Rev. 20:1-10), and then the heaven and earth of Revelation 21:1-22:21, which will last forever. The context reveals clearly that Hebrews 1:10 is speaking of these future heavens and earth.
If we simply continue to read Hebrews, remembering that the original text had no chapter breaks, Scripture tells us, “It is not to angels that He has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking” (Heb. 2:5). This verse is very clear. The subject of this section of Hebrews is not the current heavens and earth, which God created, but the future heavens and earth, that the Son will oversee. The reader must remember that the word “beginning” does not have to apply to the absolute beginning of time, but rather the beginning of something the author is referring to (see commentary on John 6:64).
Although we believe the above explanation to be the correct one, we must point out that there are theologians who read Hebrews 1:10 and see it as a reference to the Father. Verse 10 starts with the word “and” in the Greek text, so verses 9 and 10 are conjoined. Since verse 9 ends with, “Your God has set you [the Christ] above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy,” these theologians see the reference to “the Lord” in the beginning of verse 10 as a reference back to the God last mentioned, i.e., the Father. Andrews Norton explains this point of view:
Now the God last mentioned was Christ’s God, who had anointed him; and the author [of the book of Hebrews], addressing himself to this God, breaks out into the celebration of his power, and especially his unchangeable duration; which he dwells upon in order to prove the stability of the Son’s kingdom…i.e., thou [God] who hast promised him such a throne, art he who laid the foundation of the earth. So it seems to be a declaration of God’s immutability made here, to ascertain the durableness of Christ’s kingdom, before mentioned; and the rather so, because this passage had been used originally for the same purpose in the 102nd Psalm, viz. [Author uses KJV] To infer thence this conclusion, “The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed be established before Thee. In like manner, it here proves the Son’s throne should be established forever and ever, by the same argument, viz., by God’s immutability.”a
In the way that it is used in the Old Testament, theologians such as Norton say that the verse shows how the unchanging God can indeed fulfill His promises, and they see it used in exactly the same way in Hebrews. Their conclusion is that since God created the heavens and the earth, and since He will not pass away, He is fit to promise an everlasting kingdom to His Son.
In contrast, authors who believe that the verse refers to the Son include: James Broughton and Peter Southgate, The Trinity: True or False; Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting, The Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound; Patrick Navas, Divine Truth or Human Tradition?; and the Racovian Catechism (see Thomas Rees, transl.).