Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Heb. 3:1 “(Jesus), who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.”
In God’s household, Jesus was faithful, as Moses had also been (NB 12:7). Moses made mistakes in his personal life, but in the duties assigned him regarding Israel’s religious life, he was faithful. No one could have done a better job.
In this complimentary way, our author broached the “untouchable” subject, Moses. The Hebrews were not lured from Christ so much by angels, prophets, or priests. The real rival was Moses. He was the one to whom the Jews were clutching.
It is hard for us to imagine how highly the Jews regarded Moses. He meant more to them than Luther to Lutherans, Calvin to Presbyterians, Wesley to Methodists, Whitefield and Spurgeon to Baptists, Napoleon to France, Churchill to England, Washington and Lincoln to “America.
The Jews boasted, “We are Moses’ disciples” (JN 9:28). To speak against Moses was tantamount to speaking against God (AC 6:11). A Rabbinical saying stated, “There are fifty gates to wisdom. Moses holds the key to all save one.” In other words, he was vastly greater than all others combined.
There had never been a man like Moses. His nearness to God was unique. YHWH miraculously preserved him as a baby, and spoke to him “face to face” as to a friend. At the last, the hand of God dug his grave. Israel became a nation due to Moses. He confronted Pharaoh, brought Israel out of Egypt, and through the Red Sea. Israel’s life had been spared because of Him. He destroyed the golden calf, and saved the nation through his intercession. Israel had continued to exist because Moses had given them the Law and their form of worship.
In one person, Moses was a prophet, priest, and king. He had been God’s man, and his authority had never been questioned. Centuries had gone by, but no man had ever rivaled the supremacy of Moses.
Speaking of Moses was a delicate matter, so delicate, in fact, that our author touches on it only this once. The subject of Jesus being greater than Moses was thorny, and had to be handled carefully, but at the same time, the truth had to be stated.
Heb. 3:3-4 “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, in as much as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.”
“All things” regarding God’s household; it exits solely due to God’s power. Jesus, being God, created the household, and thus excels Moses, who was a member of the household. Moses belonged to the family, but Jesus built it. Moses did not create the family; only Jesus says, “I will build My church” (MT 16:18).
Heb. 3:5-6a “And Moses verily faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house;
Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant. “Minister” would better translate the word. It refers to one who serves due to affection. Used often of Moses in the Septuagint, it was a term of honor, not derision. The author will say nothing derogatory about Moses. Our writer shared his reader’s veneration for Moses and would not undermine the great leader in any way.
Being a servant, though, Moses was not as important as the son, the heir. Jesus builds the house, and also owns it. Moses ministered in a house belonging to another, Jesus ministered to His own house. Moses was “in” the house, under authority. Jesus was “over” the house, possessing authority.
Moses was not an end in himself. His work was preliminary, pointing to Someone coming in the future. Moses and the Law were not the final word. More was yet in store.
By Moses God spoke in lightening and thunder, but by Jesus He spoke in broken, bruised, and dying Son. A servant brought Law from Sinai. A Son brought rivers of grace from Calvary.
To hold on to Moses was to hold on to symbols rather than substance. Jesus is the reality to which Moses pointed. “Look at what Moses looked at. Love what Moses loved.” To follow Jesus does not mean to cast off Moses, but rather to find that which Moses wanted. Christ is the Son of Moses gladly served.
Heb. 3:6b “… whose house are we,…”Our author was trying to comfort his readers. Leaving Judaism did not mean they had left the family of God. Rather, coming to Jesus was the only way to belong to God’s household.
These Jews were in a great trial. Their families, their culture, their heritage, their training—everything was calling them to know this is not an option. Turning back to Judaism would be a leaving of God’s family, not an entering of it.
We who know Christ are God’s house. A mark of a good house is that it remains firm and stable. A tottering house brings little joy to its owner.
God dwells in us. A king resided in us. We are a palace. May we never be overgrown with weeds of retreat. We must garnish ourselves with sweet flowers of faithfulness. Never look back.
Heb. 3:6c “… if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”
“Hold fast and firm unto the end.” The message is clear. Christ was faithful, Moses was faithful, YOU be faithful. God requires faithfulness from all His family.
Perseverance is ever the mark of God’s people. Continuance proves reality. Saints endure to the end. If you have trusted in Christ, you will “hold fast and firm unto the end.”
Two evidences of perseverances have prominence here: confidence and rejoicing in hope. “Confidence” literally refers to boldness. The Jews were astonished at the “boldness” (same word used here) of early believers. There has never been much of a place for cowards within the household of believers. “The fearful” are listed among those to be excluded from the New Jerusalem (RV 21:8).
The first readers of Hebrews were tempted to hide their faith, but that is not acceptable. Believers are people of courage. Julian the Apostate offered Basil time to consider renouncing faith in Jesus. The believer replied, “Do what you intend, for I will be the same tomorrow that I am this day.”
Believers persevere in boldness, and also rejoice in hope. Hope involves absolute assurance regarding things future and invisible. Glory awaits us and we rejoice in it as if it were already ours. The first readers of Hebrews were in danger of forgetting the future and the invisible. They were obsessed with the present and the visible.
These first century Jewish believers were supposed to rejoice, but it was difficult to do because their kinsmen were in sorrow. It was hard for them to think of a Messiah who had gone to glory, leaving behind Jews still in bondage. Jesus did not accomplish a national deliverance as Moses did. Israel was still as much under the yoke of Rome as before Jesus came.
Messiah would eventually bring all the Jews ever dreamed of, but it would happen in the future. The only way for these early Jewish believers to survive was to live on hope.
Do we not find ourselves in a similar dilemma? We are bound too often by the present and visible. We long for deliverance now, we want total victory now, we want sin and oppression ended now, and we yearn for temptation to be removed now. We want this evil world changed now.
This world is a sad place. Without hope, we would drown in despair. The assurance of future Glory sustains us, and has ever been a mark of believers.
As Luther lay dying, Dr. Jonas asked, “Reverend father, do you die firm in the faith you have taught?” The dear warrior for God opened his eyes and said. “Yes” That was the last word he uttered. To this end, hope had remained firm.
Reserve a portion of your heart for hope. Staring only at the present and the visible will drive you to despair. Confidence in the future sustains.
Donald Cargill, on the scaffold, July 27, 1681, handed his well-used Bible to a friend and said, “I bless the Lord that these thirty years and more I have been at peace with God, and was never shaken loose of it. I am no more terrified at death, or afraid of hell because of sin, than if I had never had sin: for all my sins are freely pardoned and washed thoroughly away through the precious blood and intercession of Jesus Christ.”
Boldness coupled with absolute assurance regarding things yet future and unseen. Does this describe you walk before the Lord? Are you persevering? Christ was faithful, Moses was faithful, YOU be faithful, also.