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Hebrews 3: Why The Contrast Between Jesus And Moses?

Today, I felt led to discuss Hebrews 3. Hebrews 3 contains some amazing contrasts/comparisons and challenges the believer to ask the question: Why does the writer compare Jesus to Moses? What is the significance?  It takes us deeper into why we should not only stay grounded in God’s Word, but the importance of maintaining an attitude of gratitude.

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly callingfix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” Hebrews 3:1

This verse tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus. The word fix is Katanoeo, which means “to direct one’s mind to an object”. So we are not just to “fix” our eyes on Him, but to direct our minds to the things of God- to meditate on it. (Psalm 1:2, Joshua 1:8)

Hebrews

It also makes reference that we share in a heavenly calling which addresses two needs in every Christian:

  1. To hear from God and to go to God.
  2. The need for revelation and reconciliation.  

It is a heavenly calling because it comes from Heaven and calls us to a reconciliation to Christ.  We become partakers, or joint heirs in the blessings.

Different versions call Jesus different things.  Here, He is referred to as both apostle, and High Priest.  Some versions refer to Him as a messenger.  

Why an apostle?  

Different versions call Jesus different things.  Here, He is referred to as both apostle, and High Priest.  The definition of an apostle is “one sent as a messenger” or “to send out”.  There are three characteristics of an apostle:

  1. You must be sent by someone else. Jesus was sent by God.
  2. Sent on a particular mission. To reconcile Jew and Gentile to Christ, salvation, authority, etc.
  3. Sent with sufficient power to accomplish it.  God infilled Jesus with the Holy Spirit upon His baptism which marked the beginning of His ministry.

Jesus is God’s ambassador and our example of living a right relationship with God.

A High Priest?

Jesus as our High Priest means that He represents God before man, and man before a holy God.  He acts as almost an intercessor. We know the power of the name of Jesus over the enemy. As a High Priest, He sacrificed Himself for our sins in order to reconcile man back to God which fulfills the second need in every Christian (and the scriptures!)

As an apostle, Jesus instructs us how to live a godly life.  He bears the message of God that is often told indirectly through parables, or sometimes more directly to the Pharases and Saducees. His role is a guiding light for humanity.  As a High Priest, He is closer to God and above us.  He links man and God together (compare this to the veil which was torn on Jesus’ death).

"He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house." Hebrews 3:2

Why the comparison to Moses?  Wasn’t Jesus greater?

The verse is saying just as Moses was faithful to God in his time, so was Jesus faithful to God’s house.  The writer is actually referencing Numbers 12:6-8 which states, “Hear now my words: if there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known to him in a vision.  I will speak with him in a dream.  Not so, with my servant Moses.  He is faithful in all my household.  With Him, I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, as he behold the form of the Lord.”

For most of the prophets, we see God speaking in dreams and visions.  Many required interpretation. With Jesus and Moses, we see a one-on-one relationship with God. There is a clear communication with God that is different than the rest.

Why is this? Were they more holy? We don’t really know. All we see are the subtleties of the relationship.

“Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.  For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” Hebrews 3:3-4

This references Jesus as our chief cornerstone upon which our foundation of faith is built.  He is the rock on which we stand.  Moses was part of the house, yet not the builder of the house. Jesus was the head of the house (Jesus as the head of the church, and the church as His bride (head-house), and Moses was the house along with the rest of the believers.

“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future.  But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” Hebrews 5-6

This makes a clear distinction between Jesus and Moses.  It establishes Moses as a faithful servant in God’s house, and Jesus as the faithful Son over God’s house.  Moses was a servant of God, whereas Jesus was the owner of the house.  Again, it makes reference to the fact that Moses was a servant of God and thereby part of the house, but not what the house was built upon which was Jesus.

Warning Against Unbelief

“So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did.  That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’  So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” Hebrews 3:7-11

Another poignant reference to Moses wherein the people rebelled against God despite witnessing many miracles.  God repeatedly called them, “stiff-necked” as they continually whined but never remembered what God had done for them.

Furthermore, even though they were set free from the bondage of slavery (which they cried out to God about), they had never released themselves from a poverty mentality.  We see them saying that being slaves in Egypt was better. They continually disobeyed God and hardened their hearts.

As a result, we see God’s anger and wrath burn against the people that He made a covenant with- the descendants of Abraham. God promised them the Holy Land rich is blessings. However, they aren’t keeping their eyes on the promise- they are only grumbling about the here and now.

This scripture warns us not to be like them- forgetting the miracles that God has performed in our lives.  When we forget all that God has done, we lose our thankfulness and our gratitude.  Complaining comes naturally as we become impatient waiting for things to happen. In our minds, it isn’t happening fast enough.  However, it is God who teaches us perseverance, and perseverance comes through testing. Most of us chose the whiny way out when confronted with adversity instead of focusing on the blessing coming at the end. Often, we miss out on what God is doing in the here and now.

When we remain thankful, our hearts remain receptive.  We can hear God clearly.  When we complain, our hearts harden.  We forget the wonders of God and fall away.

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13

This warns us to continually guard our hearts so that we don’t turn to sinful lusts of the flesh which in the end, will cause a hardened heart.  If we fail to meditate on God and His goodness, our thoughts will quickly turn from Him and sin will enter in.  Sin itself, as the Israelites highlight, is the result of hardening our hearts towards God.  It results from a turning against God and pursuing life in the flesh- something that we are warned about throughout scripture.

This is why we are advised to remember God, reflect on His nature, and to reflect on what He has done for us.  Reflection (meditation) draws us closer to Him as we appreciate the sacrifices He made.  We remain in awe of Him.  We also remain in Him.

“We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.  As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”  Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?  And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness?   And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:14-19

This highlights why the Israelites were not able to enter into the promised land.  Their bodies, due to their disobedience, perished in the wilderness.  Why?  Because they wouldn’t change their thinking.  They were not appreciative of what God had done for them.  They refused to change their ways.

Comparatively, those that did not die in the wilderness where the children of the following generation.  Many of these people were not tainted by slavery in Egypt because they had never experienced it.  They had no recollection of how hard life was, and thus had nothing to compare life to. All they witnessed growing up were the miracles of God.

Just as the Israelites bodies perished in the desert because of their hardened hearts and unbelief, so will our eternal spirits perish if we turn from God.

The deep revelation into Jesus as our foundation and His role in our lives is amazing.  The deep comparisons and contrasts to the apostle/High Priest, builder/house, Jesus/Moses and ending with perishing on earth/eternal damnation challenges our thinking as believers.  We learn that in order to remain in Christ, we must focus on Him, otherwise we run the risk of becoming ungrateful.  Once we lose our thankfulness, our focus is off of God, and onto ourselves. It is then that our hearts harden, we turn from Him, and may potentially suffer a life short of Heaven’s glory.

Who wants that?

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