Jesus is Greater Than Moses
And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.Hebrews 3:1-6
In this Gem I will continue to unpack this short passage filled with nuance. When we reach the second and third pericope, I will make comment about my division of the block text and my choice of titles. Some of you have asked me questions about my choice of division and the titles I chose, so we will address that at the right time. Now is not that time. You have the time now to pause and consider the elements I have highlighted, which are all highly significant to the point the author is making. Both authors, the author of this letter and the Ultimate Author.
Did you see the hidden little hints to the Ultimate Author?
- God who appointed Him (Christ)
- The One who built everything is God
‘His Work (Christ’s) was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later.’ What a powerful statement! God is always and forever orchestrating all things. Do you notice the subtlety of what the writer has said? Jesus is greater than Moses for two essential reasons in this passage. He is the founder of the household of God. That is the “house” the writer is focusing on; not the house but the household which comes from the founder – the true Children of God. All those who are ‘in Christ’ to use Paul’s terminology. The writer then utilises the analogy of the house but he means the household, the prodigy of the founder of the house. Then the writer switches the analogy, still using [‘oikos] “house” and “household” but comparing the servant with the Son. What is the servant in the house when compared with the Son? For the Jews reading this portion, hearing Moses described as a servant, it must have been a shock. Moses, who was the Law Giver, the foundation prophet, to be classed as a servant in the house would have been challenging to say the least. But that is what he was. If the angels are ministering spirits, servants to those who will inherit salvation, then so too is Moses and all the prophets. When Jesus, the Son came, the One who rules over the household was present. That will also be the case when He comes again.
Christ is the head of the house. In the words of the writer, “this Son has come in these last days to communicate the truths that God would later reveal. Using the words I quoted from Peter in the last Gem, Christ communicates those things which the prophets themselves longed to know more about and which the angels longed to see. The Ultimate Planner, the Builder of the House, was God the Father. This Son is the One who brings the ultimate revelation of the fulfilment of all God planned. To seek and to save the lost and to bring all those who are truly His Children, who are sealed with the promise of the Spirit into life eternal. All Christ’s work was to work the work of the Father to bring many sons (and daughters) to glory. (To use John’s terminology)
The Bible presents the idea of Jesus being the Corner Stone, but in terms of communicating the oracle of God, He is also the capstone. The one who takes the ultimate message and makes it complete. He is the One by whom God communicates the truths yet hidden. Of course that is also what the Holy Spirit is there to do. What is He but the Spirit of Christ Jesus. He indeed will lead us into all Truth, to again borrow from John.
Notice with the last verse of this segment (Verse 3:6) the writer returns to his purpose in writing the letter. To encourage the Jews in Rome not to flee to the synagogue in order to make life easier during Nero’s reign; not to forsake Christ in order to escape persecution. We are God’s household if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. I am sure you will see what I have done with the word house by turning it into household. Notice again the human author of this letter has returned to including himself in the challenge by using the pronoun “we”.
If we are to appropriate this hope we are all looking for, then we need to cling to Christ, to be found in Christ. Hold on to your courage; hold on to your confidence. I think it is curious that the NLT has both words. Both senses come from the Greek word [parresia] which means ‘courage’, ‘confidence’, ‘boldness’, ‘fearlessness’ in the presence of a person of higher rank. Oh how appropriate that comment is in the context of Nero’s coming persecution. It is also interesting that this word [parresia] is reminiscent of the word [parousia] although they are not derived from the same root. The writer of the letter will go on to talk about this in the chapters to come. You will be able to see how his thoughts progress because they are the revelation of the truth of God to be revealed.
The confidence here must be that which relates to the truth of the message we have heard (the Gospel). We must hold on to the confidence we have in the message we have heard. With that confidence we must stand with courage to keep holding on in the face of opposition and persecution. That was the message given to the Jews who were soon to face the threat of Nero. Dare I say, it is also the message we need to hold on to in the face of the threat of end time persecution. This message is just as relevant to us in this day and age as it was to the Jews living in Rome before (and during) the persecution of Christians by Nero.
Let me finally focus on the word [ἐλπὶς ] – “hope“. Christian hope is far different from the nature of the world’s hope or secular hope. Have a look at Gem 170 where I broke open the meaning of Christian hope in the context of Romans 5:5-4.
And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.Romans 5:4-5
That is what the writer to the Hebrews is meaning by referring to our confident hope in Christ. When we really believe the truth of God about Christ, we have both the confidence and the courage to stand against all opposition. But we need to hold fast to the truth of the Gospel and not relinquish it for a shadow of something else, even Judaism. “We have to stay faithful to the end.” ( 3:14) as the author says later in this same chapter. To what end? The end is not the end of life but to the moment when the reality of our hope comes with the coming again of the Son – the parousia. Yes you are getting the right message. All of what this writer has put into his letter is interconnected. How like the Bible.
This is a good place to leave it. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, then take a peak at our next pericope or segment:
Israel Rebelled and Missed Entering Their Rest (Heb 3:7-19).
I was dazzled by the revelation of the truth, and obtained complete answers to the questions: What is the meaning of Life? And the meaning of other people’s lives?Leo Tolstoy referring to the Bible
Faith isn’t faith until it’s ALL you’re holding on to. Don’t lose hope, hold on to faith.Sidney Mohede
I Would Rather Have You Hate Me For Telling You The Truth Than For You To Love Me For Telling You Lies.Robb Thompson
A lie can travel around the globe before the truth puts on its shoes.Rick Godwin
There is a price to pay for speaking the truth but there’s a bigger price for living a lie.Ian
Hey Bro. I’m having difficulty getting my head around one thing you’ve written here. Why did you put (Christ) after ‘He’? I’ve read it in a number of different versions and all link the ‘he’ with Moses. The next verse starts ‘But Christ’ which brings the subject back to Him.
Yes, you and a few others. I was waiting for someone to comment Mike and you were the first. Well I guess Tania was when she was reading the Gem first off and queried me as to whether “that is what I meant to say”. But you are the one who nailed your colours to mast publicly here on the comments. So I was not disappointed.
You will find your answer in the body of Gem 2059. The four people who questioned or commented deserved to have your questions addressed directly.