Hebrews

Hebrews 3

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.

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.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
    they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 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. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

***

Last week we came to understand that because we are human, Jesus was made human. He was tempted just as we are, but withstood the temptation to raise fear above God and therefore never sinned. It is because of Him and by Him that we are being sanctified to become more like Him, which is to be holy.

In Hebrews 3:1-2 the writer explains that because of what Jesus has done, we (who are called here ‘holy brothers’) who all share in that heavenly calling by God to be made holy and set apart, need to consider Jesus. What does it mean to consider Jesus? What are some ways you can think of to consider him? Well, we can always ask: who, what, where, when, why, and how… and this will come in handy for prayer time, too. For example, if we look again at the verse, just after it says, “consider Jesus”, we get some great descriptors of who Jesus is. He is our Apostle – interestingly, the definition is ‘the first successful missionary. He is the High Priest of our confession – the best and only pure representative to confess that God is who should be worshipped, and the one who is authorized to come before God on our behalf to atone for sin. Jesus was faithful and obeyed God who appointed him for the work that he did here on earth.

In considering Jesus, the writer of Hebrews now takes us back through Israel’s history to show just how superior Jesus is in faithfulness to God – even more so than Moses who led the Israelites for 40 years. (read vs. 3-6) Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses.. but why? The writer uses the illustration of a house and it’s builder. Remember from John 1:1-3 that all things were created by and through Jesus. The nation of Israel was built by God. That is the reason it is special – not because of something they did, in fact as we will see, they did nothing. So the house, Israel, was built by God (who is Father, Son, Spirit) and Moses was part of that house.. but God chose Moses to be a faithful servant for Him over that house. Moses was like the ‘house keeper’ in charge of making sure everything was in order and ready for the owner of the house when He came. But Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. Who has more power: the servant of a house or the son of the Master of the house?

At the end of verse 6 we are reminded that we, too are part of this house that God has built, and we will know this because we hold fast to our confidence and our boasting in our hope – which is Christ. **In other words: a mark of someone who belongs to Christ is that they have a confidence in what is to come and when they brag or boast it’s not about sin or suffering, but about their hope in what the future holds because of Christ. This is called faith.** (read vs. 7-11) Remember what we just said about how it’s all about Christ / all about God and what he promises, and not about us and our groaning? Now we get our example to further illustrate what the writer is telling us.

The Israelites were led by Moses out of Egypt and over to the border of Canaan where they would begin preparations to enter into the ‘Promised Land’. In Genesis 15:13-16 God promised to Abraham that his offspring would posses the land of Canaan, but only after they had become servants in a land not their own. Then in the 4th generation God would bring them into the land they would inherit. Well, that is exactly what happened. The Israelites moved to and lived in Egypt 430 years, and in the 4th generation of the Levites, Moses was born. 80 years later Moses was used by God to help them escape slavery and come out of Egypt. For 2 years they followed Moses up to the border of Canaan all while experiencing God’s provision and protection – witnessing His miracles with their own eyes and during that time they were also given the Law. Then God had Moses send out a party of spies into the land to see what it was like before they crossed over the Jordan and began to overtake it from the Amorites. The group of 12 spies were gone for 40 days and when they returned, all but 2 were afraid to follow and trust God to lead them into the land. Instead they followed their fear of death and disobeyed god’s orders to go into the land.

Psalm 95:7-11 is quoted here in verses 7-11 and shows us God’s perspective of the situation of his people’s hearts. (read 7-11) Through the Holy Spirit and the psalmist, God explains the problem with the people and His reply to it. They hardened their hearts against his promises. For 2 years they were hearing what this promised land would be like and then when they finally get there they trust in fear rather than God and He gives them over to their fears. They feared death – and God gave it to them. They never saw the promised land. Only Joshua and Caleb, the 2 who trusted God to lead them, were rewarded 40 years later with their trust when they entered the promise land. Then the writer turns the attention back to us – we who have confessed that Christ is our Lord, that we trust Him with our lives – and he warns us.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

Let’s take all we’ve learned from Hebrews thus far into account and put it into action with this 2nd warning. We know that Jesus is God and that he has delivered a message of salvation to us that is true and attested to by God. We know that Jesus has released us from slavery to the fear of death and conquered death so that we who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit can rest upon and trust in God that we will be delivered from the penalty of sin which is death. We need to be careful to always trust God and not trust instead in fear because trusting in fear will make us fall away from God. (read 13-15) Instead of fearing, we should be exhorting one another, always showing each other where sin (or our trust in things other than God) is causing our hearts to turn away from the truth we trusted in and believed in when we were first saved. And we will know who is God’s by their ability to hold firm, even unto death, in trusting God.

Do we get this power to trust and have faith by ourselves? NO. We are told in the scriptures that our source, and our faith, is a gift from God: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9. And it is by God’s power that we remain in Him: My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. – John 10:29

(read 16-19) We know it’s going to be difficult to trust God rather than fear because the writer reminds us that those Israelites who witnessed with their own eyes what God could do were the very ones who hardened their hearts against Him and disobeyed – and God promised them they would not enter His rest because of it. So we see that they were unable to enter God’s rest for them (the Promised Land) because of their unbelief that He could get them there.

Applications:

Use these questions to think more deeply about what we’ve learned in Hebrews 3 and how you could apply that to your life.

1. What are some examples of things or doubts that cause you to trust in fear rather than in God?
Knowing what our ‘triggers’ are can help us to be prepared for them with God’s word. Let’s say I have a problem with worrying about what will happen tomorrow. I can be ready for when those fears come with a scripture like this: “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:31-34. I can turn to God and trust in His word over my fears.

2. What does it mean to you that your salvation in Christ is kept by God’s power and not your own?
We are kept in salvation by God’s power, not by our own power (see John 10:29; 1 Peter 1:3-5). We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus (see Ephesians 2:8-9). Enduring faith, however, is proof positive that a person is genuinely partaking in the salvation Christ provides. It is evidence of a full-fledged devotion to Christ, a devotion that endures no matter what hardships may come.

Attributes of Jesus from Hebrews:

Use these as a help during prayer or when you need to be reminded of Who you serve, Who saved you, and Who loves you.

  • Jesus IS God
  • He is higher in authority than angels.
  • His message was true and attested to us by God.
  • He is the ‘Son of Man’ – through Mary
  • He is the ‘Son of God’ – through the Holy Spirit
  • He currently reigns as King
  • He is sinless
  • He is faithful to God
  • He is our representative
  • He is our High Priest

 Warnings from Hebrews:

  1. We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Heb 2:1)
  2. Make sure your heart is trusting in God over fear so you don’t fall away from Him. (Heb. 3:12)
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