Jesus Is Superior To Moses
(The following text is taken from a sermon preached by Gil Rugh in 1978.)
Our last study concluded with verses 10-18 of chapter 2. The focus of this section was on the explanation for the incarnation and suffering of Jesus Christ. Why did Jesus become a man, suffer, and die? As one will remember, there are three explanations. First, Christ had to be identified with humanity. Second, in being identified with humanity, Christ defeated the devil and delivered man from his sin. Finally, Christ became High Priest so that He might function on behalf of man.
The point that the author made in Hebrews 2:10-18 is that humanity is unique in the fact that salvation has been provided to no other part of creation. Christ became a man, dwelt among humanity, and was sacrificed for the sins of humanity. He did not become an angel, or a lion, or any other part of creation. Salvation is offered only to human beings. When Jesus Christ became a human being, died on the cross, and rose from the dead three days later, He defeated Satan and the power of death. He provides forgiveness, and assures those who believe in Him, an eternity in His presence.
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ (was faithful) as a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
In chapter 3 of Hebrews, the author considers Christ's superiority to Moses. Remember, this book was written to converted Jews, so in their view, Moses was a very great and powerful man. The Bible tells us that there was never a man before or after him who walked with God, and talked with Him the way Moses did. The purpose of the author is not to belittle Moses. Rather, the author will show that even though Moses was a very great man, Jesus Christ is superior to him.
Chapter 3 begins, 'Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.' The author addresses the Hebrews as 'brethren' and people who are under a 'heavenly calling.' These phrases are different terms meaning the same thing. The word 'brethren' is a common expression used throughout the New Testament denoting those who are part of the family of God. This term is reserved only for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, and trusted Him alone for salvation.
Notice that they are called 'holy brethren.' This is the only time in the New Testament that this expression is used, although the word 'holy' is often used to describe believers. It means 'saint,' or people who God has 'set apart' for Himself.
These are people who have a 'heavenly calling.' This is a term that has two meanings. First it is a call from heaven. Secondly, it is a call to heaven. It is the same type of calling that Paul refers to in Philippians chapter 3. It is the goal and the destiny which we anticipate as believers in Jesus Christ--eternity in God's presence.
Basically, the author is giving a command in verse 1. He says, 'Therefore...consider Jesus Christ.' The author is saying 'In light of the fact that Jesus Christ delivered man from sin (He became a man, He suffered and died, and then He was raised from the dead), there is continual emphasis upon His humanity, upon His earthly life, upon His death, and upon His priesthood.' The word 'consider' is is in the aeorist imperative. This is the strongest way to give a command in the Greek language. The author is not saying 'If you have some spare time, I would suggest for you to think about Jesus.' He is saying, 'Because of who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done, you must consider Him. You have no other alternative.'
The same command holds true for us. Since the beginning of the book of Hebrews, there has been considerable attention given to the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we read through the book, we must constantly 'consider' the person and work of Jesus Christ, because that is the essence of our salvation. This is the goal of the author of Hebrews in this command. He is revealing the person and work of Jesus Christ in order that we have ample information about Him, so that we may dwell upon Him.
Two areas of Christ's person that the author is focusing his attention on in verse 1 are His apostleship, and His priesthood. The author says '...consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.'
The first area of Christ's life that we are commanded to think about is Christ as the 'Apostle.' This is the only time in the Bible that Christ is referred to as an 'Apostle.' An 'Apostle' was one who was sent from God with a particular message to convey. Commonly, we think of the 12 apostles whom we read about in other areas of the New Testament, but Christ is called the 'Apostle.' He was sent with the most important message God has ever given, or will ever give.
So the author is imploring us to think about Christ as the one who has been sent with the most important message God has for us. Incidentally, this is a point that we are told over and over again throughout the Bible. John 3:17 says 'For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.' Again in verse 34 of John chapter 3, Christ is referred to as '..whom God has sent... .'
The second area of Christ's life that we are commanded to think about is Christ as the 'High Priest.' We saw this attribute of Christ in 2:17, where it was written that Christ had to become like us in all things that He might be a '...merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.' He provides satisfaction for our sins. He is our representative before God, proving that He satisfies God's demand for righteousness.
One will note that Christ is the Apostle and High Priest of our 'confession.' The word 'confess' means to 'agree on' something. When someone says they have 'confessed,' they are saying that they 'agree' with what has been said or done. When someone becomes a believer in the person and work of Jesus Christ, they 'confess', or 'agree,' that Jesus is the Apostle and the High Priest. He is the one who offered Himself on our behalf and satisfied God's justice.
There is a dividing line that exists for all of humanity. On one side are those who have confessed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for their sins, and is the Apostle and High Priest. These are the 'holy brethren', the children of God. Their future is an eternity in God's presence, experiencing all His blessings.
On the other side, there are those who refuse to trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ. They refuse to confess that Christ is the Apostle and the High Priest. Their future is an eternity in hell, separated forever from the presence and love of God.
The idea of Christ's Apostleship and Priesthood are tied together in 1 John 4:10; 'In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' God sent Christ (apostleship) to be 'the propitiation for our sins' (high priesthood).
The author emphasizes Christ's faithfulness in verse 2; 'He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.' This verse is not a contrast between Christ and Moses, but rather a comparison of like characteristics. Christ was faithful, just as Moses was faithful.
One will note that Christ was faithful to 'Him who appointed Him.' The word 'appointed' can have two meanings. It can mean 'to be made,' or 'to be appointed.' Some, who deny the deity of Christ claim that verse 2 proves that He was 'made' or created. However, as we have examined, that would be completely out of context with chapter 1, where Christ is described as the creator of all things. The context of Hebrews 3:2 is Jesus Christ appointed by the Father, just as Moses and Aaron were appointed to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.
Numbers 12:6-7 illustrates the faithfulness of Moses; 'He said...Not so My servant Moses, he is faithful in all My household.' Moses was unique. God spoke with him face to face, not in dreams and visions like the other prophets. Why? Moses was faithful to God's household, the people of Israel. In like manner, Christ's faithfulness is also clear. He accomplished the work that God had sent Him to do (John 17:4).
The point is clear; Moses and Christ were both faithful to God, but that does not mean they were equal. In verse 3, the author illustrates the fact that Christ is deserving of far more glory than that of Moses; 'For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.' Even though both Christ and Moses have been faithful, Christ is worthy of more honor because He was faithful on a different level. Moses was faithful as a servant in a house. Christ was faithful as the Son, over a house. The truth of Christ's superiority is obvious. Moses lived in the house, while Christ built the house.
The 'house' that the author refers to is a spiritual house. In the Old Testament the house was Israel, but in the New Testament, the house is the church. Paul addresses this subject in Ephesians 2:19. He says, 'So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household.' Notice that not everyone is part of God's household. Paul writes that unbelievers are 'strangers and aliens.' But for believers, we now are part of the family of God. We are members of this spiritual household 'having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit' (Ephesians 2:20-22).
Peter also addresses this subject in his first epistle. He says 'You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ' (1 Peter 2:5).
The author continues the thought of Christ as the builder worthy of great honor in verse 4. He declares, 'For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.' This is an obvious statement. Every house must be built, whether it is physical or spiritual. But the builder of all things '...is God.' One will note the connection of verse 4 with verse 3. In verse 3, Christ was identified as the builder worthy of all the honor. Now, in verse 4, the builder of all things is God, who is worthy of all honor. The point the author is clarifying is that Christ is God.
Verses 5 and 6 contrast the position of Moses and Christ. The author says, 'Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.' One can clearly see, by this illustration, the vast superiority of Christ's position. Moses was in the house, while Christ is over the house. Based on this evidence, it is Christ who is superior, and worthy of all the honor.
The Hebrews were trying to go back to Moses, which was impossible. Moses was a servant in the house of Christ, therefore he was obeying the builder. One cannot rebel against the builder (Christ) and have a relationship with the servant who is obeying that builder (Moses).
The purpose of Moses' ministry was '...for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later... .' Moses was a witness to what would happen at a future time concerning the Messiah. In Deuteronomy 18:15 we are given an illustration of this truth; 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.' Moses commanded that a Messiah would come and that the people should listen to Him. And the Lord said, '...it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him' (Deuteronomy 18:19). The warning here is clear: whoever does not listen to the words of the Messiah will be swiftly and severely dealt with.
In John 5:46-47, Jesus Himself addresses this subject. He says, '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.' Jesus is saying that the Jews cannot try and separate the teachings of Moses from the words of Christ. No distinction can be made. If one accepts the teachings of Moses, he must accept the words of Christ. If one rejects Christ, he also is rejecting Moses.
When one recognizes the truth that Moses was a 'servant' while Christ is the 'Son,' it becomes easy to realize that there is no middle ground. It is Christ or nothing. Christ is 'over His house' as the head of the body. To follow His servant Moses, but reject Him, would be ridiculous.
The author characterizes us as 'whose house we are,' and then follows it with a condition; 'if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.' This is a warning that says, 'If you continue to walk with the Lord, you will belong to Him.' This raises the question 'what about eternal security? Are we saved once and forever the moment we trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ? The answer to that question is 'Yes! ' The moment a person believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ, he is saved forever.
The point the author is making is that those who are really part of God's house will demonstrate that fact in their lives. They will hold fast. Some of the Hebrews who were professing Christians wanted to return to Judaism because of the pressure. But what that indicates, according to Hebrews 3:6 is that these people were never true believers to begin with. How can we say that? Because those who are true believers will '...hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope until the end.'
All of us probably know someone who has claimed to be a believer, and they start out excited about the Lord, and ready to serve. Then, just as suddenly as they arrived, they are gone. They go back to their previous life. Do you know what that indicates? 1 John 2:19 says, 'They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.' They left so that they could show that they were never part of the family of God in the first place. These are those who we see in the parable of the soils in Matthew chapter 13. They are the seeds that fall in shallow ground and spring up immediately, but die because they have no roots.
Where are you? Have you come to understand that Jesus Christ, the Apostle and High Priest, died on the cross in order to pay the penalty for your sins? If you say you have, are you remaining true to Him? Are you attending a Bible believing church where you are fed the pure milk of the Word of God? If you are not, but instead have returned to your old, liberal church, because you don't want to cause problems in your family, or because you feel more comfortable there, that is an indication that you never were a believer. If you are more willing to give up Christ, than give up your old life, you are a seed thrown in the shallow ground, and you will shrivel up and die.
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