WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7
SCRIPTURE: HEBREWS 3
As I have said in the previous two devotionals on this book, the overarching theme of Hebrews is Jesus is better. The chapter before us today takes on the fact that Jesus is better than Moses. That doesn’t mean Moses is bad. It simply means Jesus is better.
From our perspective that probably doesn’t elicit much of a response from us. We undoubtedly know that Moses was an important figure not only in the Old Testament but also throughout history. We would also undoubtedly know that as important as he was, he didn’t measure up to Jesus’ standards.
First century Jewish believers would have known that as well. At least, they would have kind of known that. From their Jewish heritage, Moses was perhaps one of the two most important men in the Jewish religion. The other one would have had to have been Abraham. So, this assertion that Jesus is better than Moses would have been startling to many.
As the chapter opens the writer refers to His Jewish audience as holy brothers. This tells us that this chapter is written with believers in mind. They (we) are told to consider, to think about Jesus. And then Jesus is referred to as an apostle. He is not an apostle in terms of men like Paul or Peter or John were apostles. The word apostle simply means “one sent”. The apostolic ministry was the concept of one being sent with a particular message. In that context Jesus was obviously “One sent”. “God sent His Son” to us. And Jesus came to us with the message of the Gospel.
He is also our High Priest. In the Old Testament, Moses was the prophet. His brother, Aaron, was the High Priest. Both of those offices and subsequent responsibilities were fulfilled by Jesus.
In verses 3-6 we read about a house. This probably should not be taken literally. Moses was responsible for the household of faith (the Jewish people) in the Pentateuch. That was a most important responsibility. But Jesus, who is better, was the One who created that house or household of faith.
In verses 7-11, the writer quotes Psalm 95:7-11. This Psalm captures the sad truth that the Jewish people had a really hard time staying faithful. They had a tendency to wander away from God. And wandering away from God almost always results in a hardening of the heart of the wanderer. As hearts are hardened, the wandering tends to increase to the point that the wanderer loses sight of how God says we are supposed to live. The result, in verse 11, is “not entering My rest”. That doesn’t mean they ceased to be God’s chosen people. It simply means the privilege of entering into the Promised Land was taken away as punishment for their continued disobedience.
In verse 12, we are warned not to follow that same path. The concept of “turning away” or “falling away” does not refer to rejection but to rebellion. This is not a rejection of who God is but a rebellion to who God is. It is the result of the pattern we just saw in the above Psalm.
Part of the solution to this problem is consistent encouragement from others to stay close to God. The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation or solitude. It can only be lived in community. It is in the context of Biblical community that we find the encouragement and the exhortation to stay true to the One who saved us.