To oversimplify, we might say that in Heb 1, the author makes his case for the deity of Christ while in Heb 2 he makes his case for the humanity of Christ. Although few doctrines have wider and deeper Biblical attestation than the deity of Christ, no chapter of Scripture has such a concentrated argument for his deity. The author deploys a wide range of literary strategies to prove the deity of Christ.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…
What makes Jesus the culmination of that historical process? What makes him so special? If he's just another creature, that would be an arbitrary culmination. What makes it different in the case of Jesus is that he's different in kind. Not just more of the same.
whom he appointed the heir of all things…
In Heb 1, there's an interplay between the divine sonship of Christ and the Davidic sonship of Christ. Jesus is heir to the Davidic kingship. But he's so much more than that. Ultimately, he's heir to the Father's kingship. In principle, a human could be David's heir, but only a divinity could be the Father's heir.
To some extent, this trades on an anthropomorphic narrative: the transition of power from an aging monarch to his successor. In human affairs, this can take different forms.
The king may have a son who's the heir apparent. In theory, he will ascend the throne upon his father's death (cf. Heb 9:16-17).
However, that's not a sure thing. As the king weakens with age, he becomes vulnerable, both to palace coups from within and deposition from without–by invaders who conquer his realm.
To secure transition to the rightful heir, a king will sometimes appoint his son to be coregent or abdicate the throne in favor of his son. That way, when he still has power, he can ensure the succession.
Heb 1 plays on the second scenario. The scepter passes from the Father to the Son.
Although this is somewhat anthropomorphic, it has a corresponding reality. The divine messiah does become the cosmic ruler.
But one might ask, if the Son is truly divine, then in what sense was he ever waiting in the wings? Although the Son was always royalty, the Son Incarnate wasn't always royalty. Although the Son qua Son cannot be promoted, since he begins at the top, the Son qua Incarnate can be promoted.
through whom also he created the world.
The Son is the agent of creation. That's a distinctive divine prerogative. And that sets him apart from the creation. The Creator of the world is not a creature. And the Son stands to inherit what he himself made in the first place.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature
Here we have three interrelated images:
i) The "glory of God" alludes to the Shekinah in the wilderness. A manifestation of God's holy presence.
ii) "the exact imprint of his nature" connotes exact resemblance and representation. A figurative facsimile that's indistinguishable from the original.
It doesn't describe a process or product. Rather, it's the effect of a metaphorical process. The Son is identical to the Father. That can't be said of mere creatures.
iii) Apaugasma is a double entendre. It can either mean "radiance" or "reflection." The author probably trades on both senses to make it a linking image connecting the two other images. In common with the Shekinah, it shares the "radiant" connotation. In common with the "exact imprint," it shares the representational connotation (i.e. mirror image).
and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
Not only is the Son the agent of creation, but providence. The emphasis on his "powerful word" hearkens back to the creative word if God in Gen 1.
You are my Son, today I have begotten you
That's from a coronation Psalm, using an adoptive metaphor to symbolize the enthronement ceremony.
And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says
That uses primogeniture as a figurative honorific title to designate the Son's preeminent rank in the celestial hierarchy.
Let all God's angels worship him
The angels do obeisance to the Son because he is the new king. They function as royal courtiers in the divine throne room. It's the same principle as Isa 6 and Dan 7.
Angels are the highest creatures. For angels to worship the Son implies the divinity of the Son. He is above the angels, just as the Father is above the angels. He is on the divine side of the creature/Creator divide.
8 But of the Son he says,“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
Here the Father directly addressed the Son as "God."
This is originally from a wedding Psalm for the Davidic king, but in typological escalation, the application of the divine title to Jesus is taken literally.
10 And,“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment,12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”
This depicts the Son as the Creator God, without beginning or ending. Unoriginate and everlasting.
For further reading:
Luke T. Johnson, Hebrews: A Commentary (WJK 2006)
Craig Koester, Hebrews (Doubleday 2001)
Peter T. O'Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews (Eerdmans 2010)
J. Ramsey Michaels, Hebrews (Tyndale 2009)
Thomas Schreiner, Commentary On Hebrews (B&H 2015)
Richard Bauckham, “The Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Epistle to the Hebrews,” in Richard Bauckham, Daniel R. Driver, Trevor A. Hart and Nathan MacDonald eds., The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009) 15-36.