Hebrews 3:1-6 - Jesus Is Greater Than God's Faithful Servant Moses
TODAY’S THEME: JESUS, NOT MOSES, IS WORTHY OF OUR CONSIDERATION, OUR CONFESSION, OUR BOASTING, OUR CONFIDENCE AND OUR HOPE!
BECAUSE JESUS WAS FAITHFUL TO HIS FATHER WHO APPOINTED HIM (SENT) AND HE IS FAITHFUL OVER HIS HOUSE AS A SON (HIGH PRIEST).
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. (Hebrews 3:1-6)
As we come to Hebrews 3:1-6we are introduced to a new character: Moses. These Jews had a high regard for Moses and they lived in a culture that revered Moses. Moses was well known to the Jews that this letter was written too; but he may not be as well known to us. So let me begin this morning by talking a little bit about this man.
Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…”.
The Old Testament prophets all spoke about the One that had been promised to come into the world. Consider Luke 24:25-27, “And he, Jesus, said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Moses was one of those faithful prophets that Jesus mentioned by name who pointed to the Savior who was to come. God had raised Moses up to deliver His people from Egypt with a mighty had. Through Moses God gave His people the Law at Mount Sinai. We are told in scripture that Moses talked face to face with God (Exodus 33:11). We are also told that God had made His deeds to the people but He made His ways known to Moses(Psalm 103:7). Moses is a special character in biblical history as we will see in Hebrews 11:23-28.
Because of these things God’s people respected Moses and looked up to Him. Unfortunately, even though Moses pointed to Jesus they did not receive Him when He came. We read in John 1: 9-11 we read, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.”
Moses had become the peoples confidence, their boasting and their hope; not Jesus (Hebrews 3:6). In doing this they rejected truth and grace and they embraced the Law that could never justify them. The apostle John says in John 1:17, “For the Law was given to Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Because the Law could never justify someone Jesus warned the Jews in John 5:45-47 saying, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for He wrote of me. But if you do not believe His writings, how will you believe my words?”
In Hebrews 3:5 we read, “Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later…”
The word ‘servant’ here is not the term that is most often used in the New Testament for ‘servant’. Usually, the word δούλοςis used and it speaks of a slave and a bond servant. But Moses is described as a servant who has a high rank in the household of their master. This refers to a servant who has been given authority to speak and rule for their master. Moses is described in our text as this type of faithful servant (3:2,5; 11:23-28).
We are also told that he was faithful ‘to testify to the things that would be spoken later’. Moses always spoke about the shadows and types that were to be fulfilled one day in Christ (Hebrews 9:11-14, 23-28). The fact that we are told that Moses was faithful ‘to testify to the things that would be spoken later’ should point us back into the Old Testament to see how Moses did this.
Let’s begin in Exodus 19:16-19 where Moses describes the terrifying encounter that made the people ask for Moses to speak to God on their behalf. We read, “On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.”
Exodus 20: 18-19 shows us the people’s response to these things. We read, “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”
Here we see that Moses receives a promotion. The people want him to be the mediator between them and God. What was Moses’ response? We read of this in Exodus 20:20-21, “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin. The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.’”
On that day the people stood far off but Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. Moses began to speak to the people but Moses knew that this was a temporary job for Him. He knew that He was to point to Someone greater who was to come and speak to the people for God.
We see this in Deuteronomy 18:15-16where we read, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’”
We read that the people ‘desired’ that the LORD would raise up a person who would speak to them. Moses was temporarily raised up to do this, but their desire could only be fully fulfilled by Jesus. When the Christ came they were to listen to Him.
As we come to to Hebrews 3:1-6 we need to be reminded that the author is speaking to believers who are struggling because of persecution and suffering. They are suffering because they have come to believe that Jesus Christ was this Prophet who was to come. They no longer looked to Moses and the Law for justification but to Jesus Christ. Because of this they are being scoffed at, ridiculed, loosing their status and their temporal goods. Because of this they are tempted to turn away from Jesus and go back to the Law and to Moses so that life would return to normal. They are tempted to let go of their confidence, boasting and hope in Christ (3:6).
We will see in our text that the author of Hebrews will speak very highly of Moses and he in no way speaks ill of him. Instead he says, “Moses...was faithful in all God's house” (v.2). And he says, “Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant…” (v.5).
Why would the author of Hebrews want to make enemies between Moses and Jesus when we read in Deuteronomy that God would raise up for the people a prophet like Moses? (18:15)
Why would the author of Hebrews try to cut Moses down when he says, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among the brothers”? (18:18)
Yet, he is also very clear that Jesus is greater than Moses. He will say, “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.)”
Let’s us look at Hebrews 3:1-6,
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. 3 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. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 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.
This text is a chiasm. A chiasm is a literary device in which a sequence of ideas is presented and then repeated in reverse order. If you diagrammed a chiasm it would look like a pyramid in which you see certain points from bottom to top. And then you would repeat those points on the way back down. The peak is the point that the author is trying to emphasize.
In this chiasm the first and last seventh lines, highlighted in blue, refers to believers.
holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus
And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope
In the second and sixth lines of the chiasm, which is highlighted in orange, focuses on the faithfulness of Christ.
the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him
but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son
In the third and fifth section of this chiasm, which is highlighted in green, the faithfulness of Moses is the focus.
just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house
Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later
The middle section is the climax of the chiasm, which is highlighted in red, the author emphasizes that Jesus is greater and worthy of more honor than Moses. He writes, “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.).”
This is the main point of our text.
Hebrews 3:1 begins with these words, “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession…” and that is what we will look at today.
Earlier this week I sent Ray Hass a text and he replied back, “Your welcome, Saint”. Three words that I appreciated. These words reminded me that I have been sanctified by Christ and set apart by Him. Ray did not ask me if I had been faithful that day. He did not ask me if I had spent time in my devotions. He did not investigate to see if I deserved in any way to be labeled a saint. Ray knows that I trust in Jesus and that I place my confidence in Him, that I hope in Him. Ray called me a saint because of my faith in Christ and not because I earned the title in any way.
Thomas Goodwin once said, “We should continue to use the name of ‘saints,’ that the reality of the true religion be not lowered by avoiding this title; for in these times it is to be feared that the name is out of use, because holiness itself is out of fashion.”1
We’d do well to call each other ‘Holy Saints’ when we greet one another. That is what the author of Hebrews does when he calls these struggling and discouraged believers ‘Holy Brothers’. The author reminds them that their faith in Christ has sanctified them and made them holy.
Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters and the author of Hebrews is not being ashamed to call them ‘Holy Brother and Sisters’. Christians may struggle in our flesh but our nature has been changed in a radical way. Namely, we have been made holy through Christ.
Jesus has suffered and died so that we could become children of God. His death has purified all believers from their sins and set them apart. But this is not all that has happened to believers. This author reminds them that they have received great privileges through their faith in Christ. All believers are partakers together in a ‘heavenly calling’.
The word ‘partakers’ “describes participation in some common blessing or privilege...The bond of union lies in that which is shared and not in the persons themselves.”2
Last month I had the privilege of performing three weddings. In everyone of those weddings a family member would get up and testify that the bride or the groom would be accepted and warmly received into the family because of their covenant with their spouse. That is exactly what we are to do in the church. I have a relationship with you, and you with me, because of Christ. We have different experiences, different backgrounds, different lives; but we share in the same Christ and we are all heirs of the grace of life.
The apostle Peter believed this to be true. We see this when he speaks to husbands saying, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)
I pray that we would become a church, a family and a community who would consider ‘the bond of union that lies in that which is shared and not in the persons themselves.’ What sweet and consistent fellowship we would enjoy together. What forgiveness and grace we would give to each other.
Consider the words, “...you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus”. I have often been drawn to thankfulness and worship because of these words. In Hebrews 2 we learned that Jesus took upon flesh and blood so that He could suffer and die for us. He partook in these things so that we can now share in a heavenly calling. What an amazing exchange.
We once were slaves to death, and fear, and were subject to lifelong slavery but now we share in a heavenly calling. Jesus’ suffering is our comfort; Jesus’ death is our life; Jesus’ great trial has brought a great victory! Because of this Jesus is to be our confidence, our boasting and our hope.
Jesus approached a holy God in our place and received the punishment that we deserved. He is now the Mediator of a New Covenant. This covenant is better in every way and its promises are better. The covenant that Moses gave to the people has been fulfilled in Christ and now all who listen to Jesus and come to Him will enter into the rest that He alone can provide.
Last week we looked at what was fitting and right for the Father and the Son to do to save us. The author of Hebrews now tells us what is fitting and right for us to do in response to these things. It is fitting that we should consider Jesus the apostle and high priest of our confession. It is fitting and right that Jesus is our confidence, our boast and our hope.
I had mentioned earlier that Moses was a special individual in biblical history as we will see in Hebrews 11:23-28. Because of this the Jews boasted in Moses, they put their confidence in Moses, they hoped in Moses. HOWEVER, AUTHOR OF HEBREWS HAS TOLD US THAT JESUS, NOT MOSES, IS WORTHY OF OUR CONSIDERATION, OUR CONFESSION, OUR BOASTING, OUR CONFIDENCE AND OUR HOPE!
Do you have that hope? Have you placed your hope in Christ or is your hope in yourself or in someone else?
If you have that hope that we talked about today then rejoice in it. Determine to consider Jesus: When you go to the Word see that it is pointing you to Jesus, Pray to and meditate upon Jesus, Praise and Worship the LORD, Fellowship with those who are trusting in Christ.
1The Golden Treasury of Puritan Quotations, p,47
2Raymond Brown, The Message of Hebrews, p. 74-75