For an introduction to this series, click here.
November 6, 2007
The writer of Hebrews begins to compare Jesus to one of the greatest heroes of the Old Testament, Moses.
"Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope." (3:1-6)
Moses was faithful with what God had given him. He was a good servant in God's house. But Christ is more than a servant. He is a son, and therefore He is over the whole house forever, not just a temporary servant.
"Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, "They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways." As I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter my rest.”'
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (3:7-13)
This passage is one of the first major clues that this epistle is partially addressed to unbelievers. A genuine believer cannot "fall away away from the living God." But someone who is merely exposed to the Gospel can. Non-believers participating in a Christian-influenced synagogue were in real danger. They could easily rebel against God just like their ancestors in the desert centuries before. All the recipients were indeed brothers, since they were Jewish like the author. But they were not all brothers in Christ, and we should not read "brothers" and assume they were.
"As it is said,
'Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.'
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief." (3:15-19, ESV)
The writer quotes this same verse from Psalms again, this time emphasizing the fact that unbelief doomed the Jews led by Moses to death. Notice that the Jews died in the wilderness because of unbelief, not because of any outward sin. Unbelief is the worst sin man can commit. Ultimately, unbelief is the sin that sends people to hell. No doubt the overwhelming majority of the recipients were good, upright people. But being good and upright is not enough. God always has and always will require belief and faith in Him. And in this time, that means faith in Jesus Christ.