1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, as Moses also was faithful in all his house. 3 For this one has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but he who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over his own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested me, tried me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.' 11 So I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was he angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  Version: New Kings James Version

COMMENTS

General:

  • Whereas chapter 2 emphasizes that Jesus is on our level – an older brother – here it is emphasized that he stands on an entirely different level.
  • In light of Jesus' superior ministry, we are not to admire the various features of the old way more than Christ (v.1). He is more glorious than Moses, the supreme representative of the first covenant (vv.2-6). Thus we come to the fourth major comparison of the letter.
    • The first is prophets / a Son.
    • The second is angels / Son of God.
    • The third is the High Priest / Christ.
    • The fourth is Moses / Christ.
    • Whereas Moses was sent from Sinai to Egypt, Jesus was as apostle from heaven.
  • Thinking back to the time of Moses, the writer urges us not to be like the Israel of the desert generation, who for some 40 years resisted God's word (vv.7-19).
    • The writer is citing an historical and biblical example from a millennium and a half before his time (1446-1406, or possibly 1290-1250 BC). 
      • Please see Psalm 95 -- required background reading for appreciating Hebrews 3-4.
      • God spoke to the people through Moses (see Numbers 12 etc), through his Spirit. Thus to resist the Word of God was tantamount to refusing to hear his voice.
    • God's Spirit speaks through his word; when we resist his word, we are resisting his Spirit, and vice-versa. See 3:7,15; 4;7,12.
    • In v.11 the "rest" is the Promised Land itself, which was meant to be a "rest" from wandering and warfare. (Instead, even after the possession of the land, it became a place of compromise and backsliding.)
    • The familiar verse 12 is in effect urging us not to be like the desert generation. The reference is to Numbers 14.
      • Daily = “today.” The point is more that we are living in this Day—hence the urgency – than that daily encouragement is needed, though that is true, too.
      • Hardening? Can you find other verses in Hebrews that speak of a process whereby we move away from out secure position in the Lord?
      • The practical solution: to exhort each other to daily faithfulness to the Lord (v.13). This safeguards against the hardening effects of compromise. We all need spiritual oversight in mentoring.
        • 3:12 and 5:12 show us we need direction from others (interpersonal motivation).
        • 4:12 shows us we need direction from the Word (biblical motivation).
        • 5:12 and 12:12 show us we even need "direction" from ourselves (self-motivation).
        • 6:12 shows us we need "direction" from the real-life examples of spiritual persons, e.g. characters in Scripture (exemplary motivation).
        • 12:12 shows us we sometimes need the discipline of God himself (divine discipline), in which case we must embrace this discipline, neither over-reacting nor under-reacting (12:5).
    • V.14ff clearly tell us we must listen to God's voice, faithfully obeying him to the end. For more, click here.
      • Those who rebelled in the desert (v.16) had been saved (from Egypt). Apart from Joshua, Caleb, and the younger generation, the participants in the exodus died without entering Canaan (Numbers 14:30,38; 26:65; 32:12).
      • DId Moses' successor (Joshua) see any better success? The spotlight moves ot him in chapter 4.
    • Vv.18-19 equate obedience and faith. They are two sides of one coin. The false antithesis between faith and deeds is a relatively modern contrivance, stemming from the Reformation (16th century). We are not saved by "faith alone" if that means a faith without obedience. See James 2:14-26.

Advanced:

  • In v.1 Christ is called an "apostle." Since an apostle is an emissary, Jesus was the apostle from heaven.
  • Notice also in v.1 that the writer is clearly addressing Christians. This is important because the book is filled with warnings about the possibility of losing one's salvation (e.g. 3:14; 6:4ff, 10:26ff).
  • 3:2 – Numbers 12:7 LXX – Moses faithful in God’s house. 1 Chronicles 17.14 + 1 Samuel 2:35 LXX – faithful in God’s house.
  • The only passage in the O.T. that explicitly says Moses was a priest is Psalm 99.
  • To further illustrate the concept of v.7, see Nehemiah 9:20 and 30. It becomes clear that in O.T. times the Spirit spoke through prophets and inspired teachers (see also Acts 28:25). There is a good chance this is how the Spirit usually operated in the apostolic period: Acts 21:11; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; etc. But also see Acts 8:29 and 10:19, where the Spirit spoke directly (it seems) to Philip and Peter, respectively.
  • The passage being expounded is Psalm 95.  (Be sure to read it!)
    • Instead of joy, security, and worship, there were obstinate rebellion and forfeiture of blessings.
    • We must learn from history!
  • Re: v.19, some Greek MSS of Hebrews interchange believe and obey -- so closely related are these two concepts theologically in the original faith.

Thought questions:

  • If I'm drifting spiritually (2:1), becoming hardened by sin (3:12), only Jesus can reorient and center my life. How can I become more focused on Christ (3:1)?
  • Entire generations can drift. What parallels am I aware of between the history of old covenant Israel and the new covenant Christian community?  
  • In light of vv.12-13, am I in good communication with brothers and sisters? Am I openly sharing my life, struggles, etc, with others? Who can I encourage today?

THESE STUDIES ARE FOR PREMIUM SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.  PLEASE, DO NOT COPY.