Hebrews 3:1–15 comment (0)
September 14, 2006
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Hebrews 3:1–15
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Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Christians who consistently serve God obviously are believers. They remain true to their profession of faith in Christ, and there are no doubts about their salvation. Others struggle to live like believers. They want to be faithful to God but only succeed to varying degrees. Some have a little success, while others have a fair amount.
Still other professing believers live in worldly ways and seemingly make no effort to live in ways that correspond to what they have professed. God wants us, in our lifestyles, to remain true to our profession of faith in Christ.
The recipients of the Epistle to the Hebrews were being severely tempted to leave Christianity and to return to Judaism. For this reason, the writer wanted them to understand that Jesus is greater than Moses; Jesus is the fulfillment of the entire system of Jewish religion. Although both Moses and Jesus are good examples of faithfulness, Jesus’ example is better and more important because He is God’s Son, while Moses is God’s servant.
The recipients were converted people, called “holy brethren,” a phrase which could only apply to people in God’s family. As such, they were able to give a confession of their faith in Christ. As such, they were to focus their thinking upon the One who is both the Apostle and High Priest of their faith. Thus Jesus is superior to Moses.
Moses was a great leader, but Jesus is the One sent by God as the supreme Revealer of the Father. Jesus is not only Apostle but He is also High Priest; Moses was never a high priest. This was an encouragement to those first-century Jewish believers to remain faithful to Christ in the middle of the tough times they were experiencing (Heb. 12:4).
The comparison between Moses and Jesus is made clearer by the term “house,” occurring seven times in these verses. It refers to the people of God, not to a material building. Moses was a servant in the house, while Jesus is the Son over the house. Moses was a member of the household staff but Jesus built the house.
The “if” clause (6) should be understood in the light of the context of Moses leading Israel out of Egypt. The writer was not suggesting that his readers could forfeit their eternal salvation. Rather he was saying that those who hold fast to their confidence are proving they are truly born again.
The author did not want his readers to follow the poor example of Israel in their failure at Kadesh Barnea (Num. 14). By quoting Psalm 95, he pointed out that Israel challenged God’s authority by its rebellion in the wilderness. As a result, that generation failed to enter into the rest of dwelling in the promised land and died in the wilderness.
No believer today, Jew or Gentile, can go back to the Mosaic religious system; there is no temple or priesthood. But every believer, at times, is tempted to give up his trust in Christ and to return to worldly living. We need to reject the bad example of Israel’s unfaithfulness and, with confidence, hold to our confession, especially in times of suffering.
The root of ancient Israel’s failure was an “unbelieving heart.” We must be careful not to fail to believe God’s Word. “Unbelieving” carries here the notion of “faithless.” The writer was describing Christians who are not being faithful to God. They stand away from Him, not close to Him.
Believers who doubt God’s Word and rebel against Him do not miss heaven, but they do lose the blessings of their spiritual inheritance and they will endure chastening from God.
The writer appealed to the Hebrew believers to rededicate themselves to serve God faithfully, calling for them to encourage others to faithfulness, to persevere themselves and to be open to God’s leadership.