(With a supplemental summary of Hebrews 2:5-9)
JESUS IS GREATER THAN MOSES
"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" (Hebrews 3:1-6, NASB).
The superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ is a suitable subject for contemplation. In the light emanating from His Person, everything else is clarified. Too, our own persons are affected by the consideration of Christ. As it is written, "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18, NASB). We are not transformed by rule-keeping, or the conveyance of additional information--although both are integral to our salvation. It is essential to grasp the REASON for our justification. The implications and effects of regeneration will never be attractive to us until we can see the foundation upon which God's acceptance of us rests. A concentration upon Christ will result in moral change. From one perspective, the new birth was accomplished by the personal awareness of God's only begotten Son. While it may contradict stilted theologies, it is still good to consider this truth. It is a matter of revelation. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 4:6). This experience is the illumination referred to in the book of Hebrews. "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated . . . ("enlightened," NASB "received the light," NIV (Heb 10:32).
Notice the means to our initial enlightenment--"the light of the knowledge of the glory of God" is realized by means of "the face of Christ." That is to say, the means to understanding the expression of God's Person is the focused consideration of His Son! Who God is, and what He has accomplished cannot be comprehended apart from being occupied with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our regeneration was accomplished through this means, as well as our continued advancement in the Spirit. While this seems very apparent, your own experience will confirm that it is very elusive. The remarkable flood of worldly--and even theological--distractions, hide the face of Christ from men. It is common for seemingly devout church people to be occupied with things other than Jesus. It may be a career, a mission, or some other form of institutional fervor. What is even more, much of what comes from the pulpit and classroom obscures Christ, rather than bringing Him within the consciousness of the hearers.
The book of Hebrews was written to those captivated with Law--rules and regulations. For this reason, it is right up to date! No need for a historical analysis of the book to benefit from it--only a personal analysis! Mind you, there is nothing wrong with rules and regulations when they are correctly handled. As it is written, "We know that the law is good if one uses it properly" (1 Tim 1:8). However, when the Law, in any form, becomes the means of appropriating Divine acceptance, Jesus is consequently relegated to the background--if a place is reserved for Him at all.
Here is an arresting admonition. "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession" (NASB). It is refreshing, is it not, to be called "holy brethren." You may not consider this to be true of yourself. However, if you are in Christ Jesus, it is true. Notice the logic of the Holy Spirit. He does not say, " . . . holy brethren, that have achieved perfection of life . . ," or " . . . holy brethren, against which I can find no fault . . ," or " . . . holy brethren, that have reached the goal . . ." In this text, the Lord identifies us with His call, not our achievement-- "partakers of a heavenly calling." Praises be to God for that association!
Allow me to develop this thought briefly. The appropriate consideration of Jesus requires a proper assessment of our calling. When we, by faith, view ourselves as "holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling," will accentuate the grace of God. Paul spoke for every child of God when he said, "by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor 15:10). That is an honest and insightful assessment that will color the way we look at Jesus. If we look at Jesus academically, He will be interesting. If we consider Him as a religious person, He will appear helpful--maybe even necessary. However, if we contemplate the Son of God as someone made holy by means of a heavenly calling, He will be perceived as indispensable to our initial and continued acceptance by God.
The word "consider" (from katanoh,sate) means to observe fully:--behold, consider, or discover. It is not a casual word, nor does it describe a carefree recollection of Christ. The aim of this contemplation is to grasp the true significance of Jesus--to see Him from a heavenly perspective. The reason for this exhortation is twofold. First, no progress will be made in the faith without a due consideration of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, we will be drawn aside into meaningless bypaths if we do not consider Jesus.
A consideration of Jesus will yield benefits and advantages nothing else can do. Too often men ponder things unrelated to their "eternal salvation." They are invariably distracted from the goal by such considerations, disabled in their quest for eternal life, and brought down into the realm where Satan gains the advantage. But such is not the case when Christ's Person and accomplishments dominate the heart and mind. In this consideration the understanding is cleared, the heart warmed, and the will sanctified. Remember, God has nothing to offer that does not come through His Son. Furthermore, those resources are realized ONLY when we are focused upon Christ Jesus. In the words of Scripture, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith . . . " (Heb 12:1-2). I want to again emphasize that, in this book, the Spirit is bringing us to contemplate the Son of God. That is the Divinely appointed means to recovery, spiritual growth, and fruitfulness.
HE WAS FAITHFUL!
What a marvelous word is said of our Savior: "He was faithful to Him who appointed Him." Do not take the faithfulness of Christ for granted! It was accomplished in the arena of temptation and struggle. In this world, faithfulness assumes opposition and distraction. That was never more true than in the earthly tenure of our Savior.
God sent His Son on a mission transcending the fondest expectations of both men and angels. How refreshing to read the various expressions of that mission in Scripture. To be the Savior of the world--"And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14). To fulfill the Law and the Prophets--"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matt 5:17). To reveal those that had hope, and those that did not--"For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind" (John 9:39). To bring abundant life to those in the grip of darkness and death--"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). To voluntarily lay down His life, and triumphantly take it back again--"No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father" (John 10:18, NIV). To bring Divine illumination to the sons of men--"John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness" (John 12:46).
To destroy the devil--"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 1:14). To destroy the works of the devil--"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). To proclaim freedom, recovery of spiritual sight, the release of the oppressed, and announce the day of grace--"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19, NIV).
To testify to the truth of God, making it accessible to a fallen race--" . . . for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth . . . " (John 18:37, NIV). To save sinners--"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners . . . " (1 Tim 1:15, NIV). To give His life a ransom for man--"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt 20:28).
To show His justice and justify sinners--"He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Rom 3:25-26).
To condemn sin in Christ's flesh, and fulfill the righteousness of the Law in believers--"God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom 8:3-4).
That we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ--"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21, NIV). By saying the Son was "faithful to Him Who appointed Him," the Spirit is affirming the above objectives--and more--were all accomplished by the Son. Adam did not fulfill the expectation of the Lord, but Jesus did! Abraham occupied the land of promise in the capacity of a stranger (Heb 11:9), but Jesus occupied His domain in reality! Moses once spoke hastily with his lips, marring his impeccable record (Psa 106:33), But Jesus did not! The Son of God was flawless in His obedience, thorough in His work, and glorious in its accomplishment! The devil had no part in Him--no place in which to gain a foothold (John 14:30).
How marvelous the confession of Christ. "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak" (John 12:49-50). " . . . I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me . . . " (John 14:31). The mission of our Savior was large, and the work exacting! Yet He fulfilled it to the finest detail. He was "faithful to Him that appointed Him!" Mark it well! What Jesus can do for you is important, but what He did for God is MORE important. The foundation of your salvation what he did for the Father! His obedience to God ranks even higher than what He did for you. In fact, that is what makes His work vicarious! Were the Son disobedient to the Father, or unfaithful in His mission, His death and resurrection would have no efficacy for us!
MOSES WAS FAITHFUL IN ALL HIS HOUSE
Aside from Jesus, Moses suffered more at the hands of God's people than any other man. If ever there was a man with a reason to be unfaithful (from the carnal point of view) it was Moses. However, he knew the truth declared by Paul centuries later: "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Cor 4:2). Even in Scripture, such men are rare. Hear once again what God has said about Moses.
"Moses was faithful in all God's house." What a remarkable testimony! Who is the man that will stand in criticism of Moses after hearing the Divine assessment of his person? The remarkable faithfulness of Moses must be seen in view of his call and ministry. God commissioned him to appear before Pharaoh and order him to let God's people go (Ex 4:21-23; 5:1; 7:16; 8:1,20,21; 9:1,13; 10:3,4). Moses led the people out of Egypt, at one time, at midnight, with all of their children and possessions (Ex 11:4ff). He led them across the Red Sea, being commissioned to part it with a raised rod and faith in God--with the voice of murmuring Israelites in the background (Ex 4:10-14). He brought water out of a rock midst the voice of complaint (Ex 17:3-6). With faithfulness and wisdom, he judged the disputes among Israel (Ex 18:13-14). The Law, with all of its complexities, was "given by Moses (John 1:17)--without addition, subtraction, or modification. Jesus equated the Law of God with what "Moses commanded" (Matt 8:4; 19:7). The record of Moses confirms that he lived in harmony with God's agenda!
When a clash arose between the world's agenda and that of the Lord, He chose the latter. Thus it is written, "By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward" (Heb 11:24-26, NRSV). Prior to Christ, he lived a more acute awareness of the Messiah than many professed believers of our time!
Think of what is said of Moses--He was "faithful in all God's house." God did not give Moses a house of his own, yet he was faithful in God's house. He discharged his ministry faithfully, even though those that were the beneficiaries of that ministry were calloused and ungrateful. "By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king's anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel" (Heb 11:27-28). When he left Egypt, he was not running from Pharaoh as much as resorting to his Refuge!
God says he was "unafraid of the king's anger" because he saw Him who cannot be seen! He saw far beyond Egypt and the desert into which he journeyed. That is why he was "faithful in all God's house." We live in a time of fallen leaders--professed spiritual leaders that have fallen into sin and disgrace.
There is a tolerance of and sympathy for this sort of phenomenon that is uncomely. Such men, who have access to far more than Moses, must go and sit at his feet, learning of faithfulness. Moses did not have what is now experienced in Christ Jesus. He saw the promises afar off, but, like all who lived before Christ, he died "not having obtained the promise" (Heb 11:13). He was "faithful in all of God's house," and they are not! He will doubtless rise in the day of judgment against vacillating self-acclaimed leaders that fell into sin because they chose to live in darkness. Without fellowship with Christ, without the indwelling Spirit as it is in Christ Jesus, and without justification as it is in Christ Jesus, Moses "was faithful in all of God's house." A great man., indeed!
COUNTED WORTHY OF MORE HONOR
With all of the emphasis on the unworthiness of man, it is imperative that we consider the worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our text is refreshingly to the point. "For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses." With men, glory, or honor, is not always associated with worthiness. It is possible to attain to worldly honor dishonorably, or to receive undeserved honor. It is also possible to receive glory and honor because of the corruptness of the times. This is not the case, however, with our Savior. He has been "counted," or "deemed worthy" of greater "dignity, glory, honor, praise, worship" (do,xhj). This is the "glory and honor" referred to in 2:9. God Himself bestowed this "glory and honor."
It was granted to Him because of His obedience as a Man. This is important to note. The Father did not honor the Son because He was Divine, but because of His achievements in the war-zone of "this present evil world" (Gal 1:4). It was because He was "faithful to Him that appointed Him." Remember, that faithfulness related to the salvation of a fallen race; the reclamation of people sold to sin! The required work was so large that it could not be accomplished by an enumerable company of angels! Nor, indeed, could it be accomplished by the spoken word of the Almighty!
Keep in mind, God has bestowed honor upon Moses. A recollection of that honor is necessary if we are to grasp the significance of this comparison. God said of Moses, "Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD" (Num 12:6-8). How many men have received such honor? Let those that purport to have direct revelation from God compare themselves with Moses! Other men had their dreams, but that is not how God spoke to Moses! He was trustworthy--"faithful" in all of God's house. With him God spoke "mouth to mouth," or "as by the means of blowing." It is a prosaic way of saying God put His own words into Moses' mouth. In speaking of the coming Messiah, Moses said God would "put His words" in the mouth of the coming Prophet (Deut 18:18).
This was an honor higher than that of Adam, into whose nostrils God breathed the breath of life (Gen 2:7). Of Moses it is said, "Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex 33:11, NASB). Hear the glory and honor given to Moses. " Since then no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, for all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel" (Josh 1:10-12, NASB). So far as the Scriptures are concerned, Moses is the only man God personally buried (Deut 34:5- 6). His miracles are unparalleled for magnitude. A man of remarkable meekness and humility, it is said of him, "Now the man Moses was very meek (humble, NASB, NIV) above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Num 12:3, KJV).
The name "Moses" is mentioned no less than 848 times in the Word of God! Only the names of "David" (1,085) and "Jesus" appear more frequently (983 in the last 27 books of the Bible alone)! A number of the times "David" is used, it actually is referring to the coming Messiah, Who was the "son of David" (16 times; i.e., Matt 1:1; 9:27; 22:42), and was often called "David" (Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23; 37:24). The kingdom of Christ was also called "the house of David" (Isa 22:22; Zech 12:10; 13:1). The frequency of the mention of "Moses" is staggering! We read of the "word of Moses" (Ex 32:28; Lev 10:7), "the face of Moses" (Ex 34:35; 2 Cor 3:7), "the hand of Moses" (Psa 77:20; Isa 63:12), "the law of Moses" (Josh 8:31; Mal 4:4; Lk 24:44), and "the book of Moses" (2 Chron 25:4; Ezra 6:18; Mark 12:26). His "body" is the only one ever involved in a dispute between the devil and an archangel (Jude 9). Time forbids us to elaborate on the things attributed to Moses; i.e., God led Israel by him (Psa 77:20; Isa 63:12). In fact, the Spirit states the people "came out of Egypt led by Moses" (Heb 3:16). Here was a man, greatly honored by God! Jesus equated believing the Law with believing Moses (John 5:46)! What a singular honor for Moses to have that also said of him! God did not speak to Moses in parables, similitudes, and "dark sayings." Moses was able to come close enough to God to understand! What honor was given to Moses! Think of it! He was given to behold "the form of the Lord." No one in all of Israel was afforded such an honor. Of wayward Israel it was said, "You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form" (John 5:37). But Moses did! It is not that God has a "shape" or "form," even though some suppose He does. What Moses beheld was a similitude, or likeness--something that accommodated itself to his vision. God made Himself personally known to Moses!
Our text states that the Son has been counted BY GOD as worthy of "of more glory than Moses." And why so? Because He did more! His works were of a greater order! Moses was dominating among men for 40 years, during which great things were wrought by his hand. The Lord Jesus was "cut off out of the land of the living" (Isa 53:8) at a relatively young age. Moses lived 120 years, and Jesus lived a little more than 33 years--but there is no comparison in their accomplishments! Jesus has been deemed worthy of greater honor than Moses!
Moses did not bring the people to God, because he could not change them. Jesus changes the people, and brings them to God! Moses, with all of the sacrifices instituted under the Law, which came by him, could never remove a single sin. Jesus "put sin away by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb 9:26). Moses could not frustrate the devil, but Jesus "destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil" (Heb 2:14). Jesus was "counted worthy of greater honor" because He accomplished what God wanted to be done. He "reconciled the world" to God (2 Cor 5:18-20), and opened up the way to the Father (Heb 10:20). Compare the people led by Moses at the conclusion of his ministry, and the people of God at the conclusion of their earthly sojourn under the tutelage of Jesus. In his valedictory address to the people he had led for 40 years, Moses said the following. "You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day I knew you" (Deut 9:24). Now, the result of Christ's ministry, Who is worthy of more honor than Moses. "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24).
HE THAT BUILT THE HOUSE IS GREATER
There is a tendency in men to exalt the means above the objective, the worker above the work, and the servant above the Master. It is remarkable how this predilection dominates in religious circles. It is not unusual to hear evangelism emphasized above the Gospel, an apparently successful person above the work accomplished, or the one serving the Lord above the Lord Himself. This may be excusable in the world--but it is not in God's Kingdom. When we speak of Jesus, we are not speaking of One that simply has been given glory and honor. He is WORTHY of all glory and honor! The Holy Spirit now rivets this truth into our conscience.
"The builder of the house has more honor than the house." Keep in mind, Moses was a servant in God's house--he had no house of his own! He was a servant, Jesus is the Lord! He managed another Person's house, Jesus administrates His own house. Israel was the house of Moses, a vast multitude which no man can number comprises Christ's house! But note what is said here. It conflicts sharply with the thrust of much of today's religion. Hear the affirmation again. "The builder of the house has more honor than the house."
Often I hear zealous preachers and church representatives speak of the congregation as "people centered." It all sounds very nice, and even has an air of religiosity about it. You will not find these people- devotees, however, speaking much about Jesus. He does not seem to fit into their program. The Person that built the house has more honor than the house! Others--like the movement with which I have been identified--make the church (or "the house") their focus. That is what they are about, getting the church back where it ought to be. This too appears to be very noble. However, The Person that built the house has more honor than the house!
The "house" is precious, and is not to be despised but the Person that built it has more honor than the "house." The "house" has brought us many benefits, and our closest associations on earth are in the "house" but He that built the house has more honor than the "house." This "house" is nothing less than the "temple of God," indwelt by Deity and wherein truth and grace are found. As it is written, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1 Cor 3:16-17). Have a zeal for "the house!" Take heed how you build upon it, and be sure you do not defile, corrupt, or pollute it. But always know, the One who builds the house is greater than "the house." Give the honor and glory to Him. The "house" did not save you, Jesus did! The "house" did not die for you, was not raised for you, and does not sit at God's right hand for you--Jesus does! Let the greater glory go to Him!
One last word on this pungent thought. Once the priority of the Son is seen and embraced, the individual cannot emphasize the institutionalism. While it may sound extremely strong, it is nevertheless true: institutionalism is the direct result of "not holding the Head" (Col 2:19). There is a natural enmity between institutionalism and the Kingdom of God, over which Jesus presides. The Son of God is over an eternal kingdom: institutions are temporal by nature and Divine appointment. Just as the temporal competes with the eternal, and the natural opposes the spiritual, so institutionalism competes with Christ's Kingdom. It will simply not settle for lesser glory, nor will it ascribe the greater glory to the Son. Even a lawful involvement in the institution will soon confirm this to your spirit.
TESTIMONY OF THINGS TO BE SPOKEN LATER
The ministry of Moses involved infinitely more than leading the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and delivering the Law. There was an eternal perspective to his work that will challenge our thinking. The text says, "Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later" (3:5, NRSV). The point of the text is this: the PURPOSE for Moses faithfulness involves a preparation for what God would say at a later time. Like John the Baptist, he was preparing the way for the coming of the Son, Christ Jesus the Lord.
Think of Moses faithfulness! God said of him, "My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house" (Num 12:7). The benefits of that faithfulness are not limited to his generation, or even to his nation. By faithfully conveying the Law and its attending ordinances, he provided a series of types and a nomenclature that would be employed to elaborate on God's great salvation! God was not merely giving the Israelites information and direction in the Law and its associated service, He was preparing the world to understand coming redemption! Moses was actually in charge of developing a spiritual vocabulary. He did not do it with as dictionary, but with type, symbols, and shadows. God used Moses to introduce and elaborate upon the concepts of sacrifice, blood, altar, holy place, holiest place, high priest, intercession, etc. I want to say this as strongly as I can, yet without deprecating the disciplined study of language. It is not possible to arrive at the meaning of key Scriptural words [particularly relating to eternal salvation] by a study of language alone. Regardless of the thoroughness of lexical aids, words like "lamb, "sacrifice," "blood," "atonement," "holy," "mediator," "salvation," and "intercessor" cannot be properly understood without the ministry of Moses. He was charged with providing a framework for the development of these concepts-- unique to the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. With this in mind, several verses in Hebrews come to life.
A Way to Understand Christ's Ministry
Those that labor under a system of Law, attempting to work their way into God's favor, know nothing of a heavenly Minister. They are looking for salvation to be affected upon earth. Actually, it is affected in heaven. Thus the Spirit says, "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (8:1-2). The real message God wanted to get across to humanity was NOT the manner in which they were to live, but the living heavenly Minister, His only begotten Son! He knew that the knowledge of that Minister impacts upon human conduct. Moses oversaw the construction of the tabernacle. That portable sanctuary was "pitched" by man! They built it, and they set it up. That was, however, a figure of a heavenly residence, wherein an effective High Priest ministers.
The PURPOSE for Moses ministry involved preparing people to understand the idea of a heavenly High Priest, Intercessor, and Mediator. Just as heaven is superior to earth, so the ministry and Person of Jesus are superior to that of Moses! Were it not for the Person and ministry of Jesus, there would have been no need for Moses and his ministry--none at all!
Legalists are fond of pointing to the commission to Moses as an example of punctilious obedience. Make no mistake about it, his ministry is, indeed, an example of such obedience. Further, any other kind of obedience is unacceptable. Having said all of that, it is refreshing to read WHY Moses was ordered to be precise in the construction of the tabernacle. " . . .seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount" (8:4b-5b).
The instructions for building the tabernacle were remarkably precise in every way. Length, height, and width were specified. The exact measurement of every article of furniture was given. The types of material to be used in the making of the furniture, as well as the tabernacle itself and its veil, were outlined. Nothing was general. Everything was specific. The material of the altar of sacrifice differed from that of the altar of incense. A precise schematic was given for constructing the golden lamp stand that was to be in the holy place. Precision marked every aspect of the ark of the covenant: i.e., the material used to construct it, what was to overlay the material, and what was to be inside the ark. Precision, precision, precision (Ex 25-27)! God warned Moses to be precise in making the tabernacle--to carefully follow the detailed pattern provided to him in the holy mountain. "And see that you make them according to the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain . . . Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain" (Ex 25:40; 26:30, NRSV).
The Son of God and His redemptive ministry is what sanctified the tabernacle! Without Him, the entire tabernacle service would have been meaningless. That is why Moses had to be precise! If the shadow is distorted, the ability to discern the real Minister and the real tabernacle will be effected! God was not showing the necessity of rules, but providing a way to comprehend the height and depth and length and breadth of salvation. The real secret to faithfulness is not detailed commands, but fellowship with the Son. We are "called" to such a fellowship (1 Cor 1:9).
The Way to God Revealed
The way of approach to God is revealed in the tabernacle service. This service was given to Israel, and pertained to them (Rom 9:4). It did not, however, end with them! They were the custodians of a "service" that prefigured, or foreshadowed, "the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory" (2 Tim 2:10). The "way" into the presence of God had not been made known. What is even more, the people were not capable of comprehending that way without being introduced to it. Apart from the tabernacle service, this "way" has no earthly parallel. It is not a mere matter of protocol, and thus was not prefigured by the approach to earthly kings. Nor, indeed, was it a matter of human ingenuity--a product, so to speak, of man groping for God.
In the tabernacle service, Moses revealed the way to God. " . . .into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure . . . " (Heb 9:7-8). And how was the way revealed? This way involved Divine requirements, and therefore had to be precise. Because this will be covered later in our lessons, I will only summarize a few of those requirements here. Remember, this is the REASON for the tabernacle service--to depict these requirements.
The altar of sacrifice revealed the way to God necessarily includes a substitutionary sacrifice. The laver revealed that those approaching God must be washed--cleansed from impurities. The holy place was separated from the outer court, showing that only qualified and prepared people can enter the presence of God.
The tabernacle itself was covered with badger skins, yet inside was a remarkable display of beauty and value. This taught men that fellowship with God does not appear valuable from the outside. It is, however, exceeding precious from the inside.
Within the holy place, there as a lamp, declaring that illumination and enlightenment is found in fellowship with the Lord. There was also a table with show bread, proclaiming that sustenance is experienced in the service of God. The altar of incense acquainted men with the necessity of being pleasing to God. Whoever approaches God must bring with them a fragrance that appeals to Him. The veil that separated the holiest place from the holy place revealed that real fellowship can only be experienced on a personal level.
Those that come into this arena must be qualified--not by mere ritual, but through redemptive provision. Within the holiest place, God communed with the High Priest from the mercy seat, which covered the ark of the covenant. This showed that the deepest and most profound contact with God is based upon mercy, and that His mercy supercedes, but does not obliterate, His demanding Law. Effective intercession was not made in the outer court, or even in the holy place. It was only accomplished within the holiest place--in contact with God.
This intercession also required the blood of the sacrifice. This teaches us that the blood of atonement is made effective in heaven, not upon the earth. The blood of the atoning sacrifice touching the heart of God is what makes the sinner acceptable. Do you see why Moses had to make the tabernacle according to the pattern revealed to him in the mountain? It was not a mere lesson in obedience, although that was involved. This was God's way of preparing the world for the way of salvation. The way to God was made known--a way absolutely indispensable to Divine acceptance. The One that built the house has more honor than the house--even though the house is built by God! What glorious things will be experienced by those that perceive this reality!
THE SON IS OVER THE HOUSE
Moses was a servant over God's house. The Son is over His OWN house. "But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house." Some have argued over whether "His house" refers to God or the Son--whether the Son was over God's house, or whether it belonged to Himself. The technicalities of the language are of no consequence here. The distinction being made is that of a servant versus a son. "Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant," while "but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house." Moses was a steward, Jesus has been given the house! From another view, the Israelites were in the care of Moses, but they did not belong to him--they belonged to God (Judges 20:2; 2 Sam 14:13; Heb 11:25). In Jesus' day, some Jews called themselves "Moses' disciples" (John 9:28). That is not to be compared with being "in Christ." Moses' ministry primarily involved testifying of things to come. He really did not give the people spiritual advantages. This was not due to any deficiency on his part; he was "faithful in all of His house."
It was the nature of his ministry to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus Christ! He (the Son) was the appointed Head over the house. That condition confirms the superiority of the Son of God. If it was not for Christ, Moses would have had no ministry at all! The Son was the whole reason for the indispensable ministry of Moses, the man of God. He was also the reason for the Law, with all of its attending ordinances. The Son, on the other hand, provides eternal riches to His house, bringing them to God--something Moses could never do.
WHOSE HOUSE ARE WE
The point of this treatise is to increase the confidence of the people in the Lord Jesus Christ. They had allowed teachers to turn them from God's appointed Person to procedures, from grace to Law, from the Son to a lifeless system. In salvation, our status changes. We are "translated into the kingdom of God's Son" (Col 1:13). We have not been called to a discipline, but to a Person. Our primary relationship is not to an institution, but to the Lord and His Christ.
In what sense is the Son "OVER" His house? For some, it is in the sense of Lordship. In a sense this is certainly true--but this is not the sense of our text. I often hear the people of God told they should "submit to the Lordship of Christ." All of this is spoken as though believers were really not reconciled to God. They are addressed as though their basic propensity is away from Christ. Left to themselves, they are told they would surely drift into darkness. It is as though they had not been born again, and were not really regenerated. Thus, they are told to "submit," as though they had not already done so. This is the mentality that dictates the view of the Son being "over" His house in the sense of being Lord over it.
It is needful to remind you of the real status of believers. Although "we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another," that is not the case with us now! Now, "the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind" has "appeared." In that kindness, "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Tit 3:3-7, NASB).
The transformation was real, constituting us "new creations" in Christ Jesus. "Old things passed away," and everything became "new" (2 Cor 5:17). Isaiah prophesied of this remarkable change. The condition of the people, as well as their character, would be changed. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes" (Isa 35:5-7). Those that can see ought not be addressed as though they were blind! People that can leap should not hear sermons that represent them as lame! Those that can sing are not to be considered dumb.
Where waters break forth, and streams are found, we no longer speak of the wilderness and desert. That is why the Apostles consistently referred to believers as people that had been changed by the grace of God. Even though they often had deficiencies, they were addressed as people that had been changed. " . . . you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints" (Rom 1:6-7, NASB). " . . . to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor 1:2, NASB). "you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor 6:11, NASB). " . . . In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight" (Eph 1:7,8, NASB). "He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Col 1:13,14, NASB). This should suffice to confirm the point that is being made.
What does this have to do with the Son being "OVER" His house? A great deal, indeed. As the Divinely appointed Householder, the Son of God is in charge of the household. His role is to feed, equip, and protect the people of God. He leads them in the paths of righteousness, opens the eyes of their understanding, and mediates the Covenant to them. They are answerable to Him, to be sure, and will give an account of the things they have done in the body, whether they are good or evil (2 Cor 5:10). There can be no diminishment of this perspective in our hearts. However, the most powerful motivation for godliness is not accountability, but insight into Divine provision. When speaking of his unusual labors in the Kingdom, Paul traced it back to "the grace of God," not an awareness of being answerable to the Lord (1 Cor 15:10).
Peter tells us how we become "partakers of the Divine nature." It is not by trying to be like Jesus, as noble as that effort is. Nor, indeed, is it through perfect obedience--if there is such a thing. The Holy Spirit moved Peter to say it this way. "Thus He has given us, through these things, His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4, NIV). "These things," through which the provisions come, are His "glory and virtue" (KJV), or "glory and goodness" (NIV). His glory speaks of the expressive part of His nature, and His "virtue" or "goodness" speaks of His intention to bless. These most excellent attributes are the cause behind the provision--the means through which we will "participate in the Divine nature." And what has been given to ensure we can be "conformed to the image of His Son," becoming "like Him" (Rom 8:29; 1 John 3:1-2)? The Legalists would say "the commandments." The libertine would say "license." Do not miss the appointed means! They are "HIS PRECIOUS AND VERY GREAT PROMISES," OR His "EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES" (KJV).
Why is this the case? Why not use commandments as the basis for conformity to the Divine image? Because only Divine commitments can stimulate faith! Paul well said, "The law is not based on faith" (Gal 3:12, NRSV). Commands give us something to do, promises give us something believe. Do not think for one moment this deprecates obeying, or doing the will of the Lord! Faith is the root, and obedience is the branch- -and "faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ" (Rom 10:17, ASV). The Gospel is the announcement of Divine provision, not a demand to fulfill a code! For that reason, faith can take hold of it!
What does all of this have to do with us being the house of Christ? As the One "over" the "house," the Son of God is providing the spiritual realities of which the promises speak. He is the appointed Provider for those that believe the promises. It is true, we "through faith and patience inherit what has been promised" (Heb 6:12, NRSV). It is the ministry of the Son, however, that brings it to pass. Were it not for Him, neither faith nor patience (perseverance) would be of any consequence!
This truth is brought home by this provocative statement: "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" (v 6, NASB). Note the power of these words. He does NOT say we are His house if we are faithful! Nor, indeed, is membership in Christ's household traced back to our deeds. These observations are not intended to demean faithfulness or works--and none should imagine such things. The Spirit is leading people away from the notion that Law is the means of obtaining the favor of God. Identity with Christ is shown in the fruitage of confidence and hope--two indispensable elements. It is interesting neither of these are considered essential by the Law-keeper. They are perceived as signs of presumption, and are vigorously opposed by those enamored of Law.
When we came into Christ, we came in with "confidence" and "hope." These accompany the new birth, and are invariably found in those born of the Spirit. That is why early believers "gladly received the Word" (Acts 2:41), "rejoiced" (Acts 8:39), and even "took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance" (Heb 10:34). Even the spiritually juvenile knew the Father (1 John 2:13), understanding their sins had been forgiven (1 John 2:12). The lack of confidence and assurance indicates a walk in darkness. These qualities are not associated with maturity alone, but with faith--something "common" to everyone in the body of Christ (Eph 3:12; 2 Tim 1:12; Heb 10:22).
Those in the house will receive spiritual nourishment. They will be under the care of the "Good Shepherd," Who cares for His own (John 10:13-14). The prophets foretold of the ministry of our Good Shepherd, and their words are wonderful. "Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd" (Ezek 34:23-24). That is the ministry of the Son, Who is over His house. Under the Headship of the Son, the people of God are nourished and strengthened. This is one of the glorious traits of the "day of salvation." As it is written, "For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2, NKJV). I like the word "succored" that is used in the King James Version. To me, it is a more specific word than "helped." This word is translated from evboh,qhsa,, which means run to the aid of one who cries for help . . . help, come to the aid of, rescue. It is not that Jesus is our Servant, running at the sound of our voice. The idea is that He is alert to our needs, able to be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Heb 4:15). We are in His care, and He cares for us-- with His heart. That is what it means to be over His house!
However, that care and provision will be directly proportionate to the "confidence and the boast of our hope." These are the means through which identity with Christ's house are realized. It is interesting to note the extreme rarity of these qualities in our time. If our hearts are not affected by this great salvation, we will not be succored by the Head of the house! Our tenderness makes us able to receive His nourishment! Our sensitivity to His presence is the means through which Divine resources are received. Our "fellowship" with the Son (1 Cor 1:9) is the appointed environment in which nourishment from the Head can be ministered (Col 2:19). Those experiential areas (tender hearts, spiritual sensitivity, and fellowship with the Son) produce "confidence and the boast of our hope." A sense of security grips our hearts when we walk with Christ.
Hope becomes a jewel, nestled in our hearts, as we commune with Him. We are thus His house, becoming those to Whom He ministers, in a "dry and thirsty land, where no water is" (Psa 63:1). "We are saved by hope,", i.e., it provides the incentive to separate ourselves from the world and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord (Rom 8:24,25; 2 Cor 7:1-2). Sanctification is too often preached from Mount Sinai--imposed as a duty upon men. To be sure, without holiness, "no man shall see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). The Holy Spirit declares the way this is accomplished, and it is related to hope. "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when He is revealed, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:1-3, NRSV). From the standpoint of our text, this joyous hope is what identifies as Christ's house! That has some arresting implications!
This confident hope requires interaction by the Son, for Whom we wait. How will we be able to hold out to the anticipated day of His return? For many, this is too challenging. They do not believe it is possible to endure the hardships of life, meet the demands of the Law, and labor in the Lord's vineyard. It all looks to difficult, and thus they give up. Those with sensitive hearts already know you cannot mandate faithfulness under these circumstances; i.e., it cannot be accomplished by Law. Moses cannot give us what we require!
We need a greater than Moses! This is the point of our text. We have found such a One in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. By virtue of our confidence in Him and anticipation of His coming, we are in His house. He will see to it that we finish the race! He will underwrite our efforts, feeble though they may be. He is the Finisher as well as the Author of our faith! He is the End as well as the Beginning, and the Last as well as the First. You cannot be in His house and have deficient provisions! It simply is not possible!
Dear child of God, you are "complete" in Christ Jesus (Col 2:10). He is superior to Moses because of Who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing! Moses could give the Law, but he could not place it within men's hearts. He could tell the people what God demanded, but he could not make them willing. He could bring them to the borders of the promised land, but he could not take them in! His ministry is a commentary on the nature of Law--any law that becomes a supposed basis for Divine acceptance. It is not that the Law is sin--it is holy. The Law is certainly not carnal--it is spiritual. The sinaitic code is not evil--it is good. It is not unrighteous--it is righteous. As it is written, "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good . . . For we know that the law is spiritual" (Rom 7:12,14). The difficulty was not with the Law, or with Moses--it is with the people to whom it is addressed!
The Law is "weak through [or because of] the flesh" (Rom 8:3). We needed a Savior, not a code; a Deliverer, not information! Our need was a Householder--One that could care for the house, or the people. Moses was the meekest man in all the earth, but he could not bring the people one millimeter closer to God. He could not take away their sin, or tame their rebellious nature. If anyone could have done it, Moses could! He spoke with God "face to face and mouth to mouth." He saw the glory of God in a private showing, and heard God expound His own nature. His face even glowed with the glory of God (Ex 34:29-30; 2 Cor 3:7)!
If a fellow-sinner could bring us to God, it would be Moses. It was to Moses that God said, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion" (Rom 9:15, NIV; Ex 33:19). If we needed someone that did great deeds for the people, who could transcend Moses? Through his hand, God brought ten unparalleled plagues upon Egypt (Ex 3:19-20; 4:21; chapters 7-11). By him, the Red Sea was parted (Ex 15). He brought water out of a rock (Ex 17:6), and was used to bring bread from heaven (Ex 16:4; John 6:32). When his hands were held up, the Israelites would win the battle, and when they were lowered, they would begin to lose (Ex 17:10-12). Who can you find with better credentials among the sons of Adam?
"Eternal salvation" (Heb 5:9) required a greater than Moses! The requirement was greater, and thus a greater Deliverer was demanded. God's house is larger, with greater demands than those experienced by the Israelites. Thus, we have a greater Savior and Provider! Thank God for the Son! Praise God, "He is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy" (Jude 24, NIV). You will stand at last before God, spotless and rejoicing, because of the Son. To be sure, your effort is involved. You believed! You received! You fought the good fight! You kept the faith! You race the race! None of that was done for you--YOU did it! But was it not for the Son, Who is over the house, you could not have believed, received, fought the fight, kept the faith, or run the race! All glory to the Son! He is greater than Moses, and His house is the confirmation of that fact!
We must remember the Spirit is confronting us with "the MAN Christ Jesus." He is not trying to convince us of the Deity of the Son of God. Rather, He is showing us the fact and reason behind the Word becoming flesh, and dwelling among us. This is the means appointed by the Father to enable to fulfill the destiny determined for him. The creation of man found him "lower than the angels"--but that was not his final appointment. In the beginning, God crowned man with "glory and honor," declaring this pinnacle of His work "very good" (Gen 3:1). The target for man was even higher than it appeared. God did not divulge the fulness of His purpose at the first. Man was not ready to receive it. What He did reveal was large enough to challenge humanity. "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Gen 1:26, NASB). That certainly was larger than tending Eden's garden, as large and luxurious as it was.
In our text, the Spirit lifts us far beyond the limitations of nature. He informs us that "the world to come" has already been assigned to the care of some of His creation. It is not, however, to the angels. As faithful as they are, they are not the governors of the coming ages. "The world to come" is often mentioned in Scripture. It is to be the object of our attention. Jesus spoke about "the world to come" as an environ where blasphemy against the Spirit would not be forgiven (Matt 12:32). He also revealed that those who forfeited temporal things for eternal ones, would receive eternal life in "the world to come" (Mark 10:30). Right now, it is possible to taste of "the powers of the world to come"--to feel its influence within our spirits (Heb 6:5). This is, indeed, a very real world of which we speak! "The world to come" is the "new heavens the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness." We that are in Christ Jesus are looking for the revelation of that world (2 Pet 3:13). It is the "world without end" of which the Spirit speaks (Eph 3:21). This is the realm over which believers will "reign with" Christ (Rom 8:17). Sitting with Him in His throne, the redeemed of the Lord will "judge the world," and even "angels" (1 Cor 6:1-2). Daniel stated the case succinctly when he thrice said, "But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come . . . and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom . . . Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him" (Dan 7:18,22,27). That is the appointed destiny of man. However, it will only be realized in Christ Jesus.
The Spirit is clear on this matter. Right now, we do not see man in control. That is because he is not presently in control, false prophets notwithstanding. It is true that believers have access to infinitely more power than they imagine. It is for this reason the Apostle prayed for their hearts to be opened to see "what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Eph 1:19). "But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him" (v. 8). Some suppose this to be speaking about Jesus. That is not at all the case; in fact, it is a serious misjudgement. Jesus has been exalted far above all things, and possesses the reigns of the universe. He reigns over the impersonal and personal creation--and there is nothing exempt from His rule. When our test says, "we do not yet see all things subjected to him," the Spirit does not refer to a matter of perception. Right now, everything is NOT subject to mankind. The presence of sin makes that presently impossible.
However, we do see Jesus--the man Christ Jesus! Everything IS under Him! But He is more than a Figurehead with a token rule. He is OUR Representative. Soon, He shall gather us to Himself, to sit with Him in His throne (Rev 3:21). His current reign is the divinely-appointed pledge of our coming participation. He has been exalted as a Man, because "the world to come" has been given to men. If we wonder concerning our destiny, look to Jesus. There is the First fruit of what we shall be! Doubt it not! "We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is" (1 John 3:2b, NASB). We will not only be "like Him" in appearance, purity, and desire; we will also be "like Him" in regal splendor and authority. We will not be His equals, but we shall be "like Him." Now, in this world, we are being prepared to govern "the world to come." Until then, "we see Jesus," already crowned, already reigning, already honored! There is no question about His status--and soon there will be none about yours!