Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Hebrews 3

February 26th, 2012 by Vic

February 26, 2012

Hebrews 3:1-14

“Second Warning”


Last Sunday we read that Jesus was superior to angels even though He became man.  He became our champion who secured our salvation to the throne of God.


Today’s Scripture declares that Jesus is superior to Moses.  This chapter calls us partakers and brothers and warns us against apathy toward the word of God.


3:1-6 Because Jesus was faithful we are sharers of a heavenly connection.  The first verse looks back on chapters 1-2.


‘Therefore’ because of all that Jesus did for us and because of who He is, we can be holy partakers of the divine nature.  Paul also calls us holy brethren.  Peter calls us a holy nation, a royal priesthood.  They all agree.  We have a heavenly connection.


Last week we read that because Jesus has made men holy He was not ashamed to call us brothers.  We share the divine nature.  We are holders with one another.  2 Peter 1:4 says we become partakers of the divine nature by believing in the promises.  We are Kingdom citizens.  We are salt and light.  We are to make a difference for good in this world of sin.  His kingdom has come.  His will is being done on earth where Jesus reigns in the hearts of men as it is in heaven.

Jesus was a partaker in human nature a little differently than we are partakers of the divine nature.  He took for Himself human nature to become like us.  But we receive holiness to become like Him.  We do not become gods as Mormons suggest.  We don’t work for it.  We receive holiness by faith so we can walk and talk with our God.  Jesus is God forever.  We had a beginning.


Think about your nature.  Have you ever excused your stupidity by saying, “Oh it is just my nature”?  Have you every excused your anger by saying, “Oh it is just my nature”?  If you are a Christian can you really say that?  Is Christ living in you?  This great salvation that this Hebrew sermon is discussing says we can be holy.  This great salvation provides a power to put off the old habits and ways and put on the new. (Heb 12:1; James 1:21; Rom 13:12; Eph 4:22; Col 3:8; 1P 2:1)


“Therefore, holy brethren, sharers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, your Apostle and High Priest.”


The writer addresses the readers as holy brothers.  We have been set apart for God’s service since Jesus cleansed our hearts from all sin.


We are commanded to consider Jesus.  The word ‘consider’ is the word used of astronomers.  You are to gaze on Jesus as astronomers gaze on the stars.  Gaze on Jesus as lab technicians look at their objects under the microscope.  Gaze on Jesus as researchers look at their objects of research.  Notice the things you have not seen before.  Fasten your attention on Jesus in order to learn all the nuances of Him who is the Way, Truth and Life.


This is not a quick glance that sees only the externals and goes to something else.  You are not commanded to just look at Jesus, but you are to consider Jesus.  This is more than an analytic or logical consideration that allows you to put your observations in a category.  Bible study is different than bird watching.


This is a command, to actively spend some time thinking.  This is a command to work at knowing Him better.  This is a command to ponder.  This is a command to stand in awe.  This is a command to realize the majesty is greater than my understanding.  Peter tells us to look to Jesus like a light in a dark place.  Don’t take your eyes off Him.


He is our Apostle and High Priest.  Moses is called an apostle in the OT and Aaron is the High Priest.  Jesus is compared to Moses and Aaron.  This is the only place in the NT that Jesus is called an apostle.


We will come back to the comparison with Aaron in 4:14, but here Jesus is compared to Moses.  Consider Jesus our Moses, our Apostle.  The word ‘apostolon’ means one sent with a commission and authority.  An apostle is an ambassador sent with all the power and authority of the country and the king who sends him.


On one occasion the Roman king of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes, invaded Egypt.  Rome desired to stop him.  Rome sent Popillius, an ambassador or apostle to tell Antiochus to abandon his projected invasion.  Popillius caught up with him on the borders of Egypt.  Antiochus and Popillius talked of this and that for they had known each other in Rome.  Popillius had no army, no armor, no big show of authority or force.  Finally Antiochus asked him why he had come.  Quietly Popillius told him that he had come to tell him that Rome wished him to abandon the invasion and go home.  “I will consider it,” said Antiochus.  Popillius smiled a little grimly; he took his staff and drew a circle in the earth round Antiochus.  “Consider it,” he said, “and come to your decision before you leave that circle.”  Antiochus thought for a few seconds and then he said, “Very well, then.  I will go home.”  Popillius himself had not the slightest force available, but behind him was all the power of Rome.


So Jesus came from God, clothed in weakness with all the power of God.  Moses was described as an apostle.  He was sent by God to Pharaoh.  Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.”  The goal is not to be sent, but to represent the one who sent you.


3:2-6  Moses was faithful in His house, God’s children.  Jesus is still being faithful over His house; whose house we are.


Moses was part of the house he was faithful over.  Jesus was builder of that house He is over, so received more honor.  God is the builder of all things (3).


Moses was faithful in giving a testimony of something better to come (5).  Jesus is faithful in the fulfillment of what Moses spoke.  Both were faithful to God.  But Jesus had greater glory than even Moses.  The fulfillment is greater than the type.


In the Jewish mind Moses was right next to God.  Moses was highly thought of and that is not depreciated here.  It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of Moses in Judaism.  They felt that no one could ever stand closer to God than Moses did.  But this is precisely what the writer to the Hebrews is saying.


Moses was faithful in ALL as a servant (5).  He was entrusted with the care of the whole family of Israel.  The word for servant is a word of dignity.  This is not a doulos slave, but a free servant (therapon) who voluntarily carries out his master’s wishes.  This word for slave only occurs here in the NT.  The word relates to our word therapist or trainer.  It carries overtones of dignity and honor.  It describes a relationship of intimacy and trust.  Moses had a very special relationship with God, but Jesus was a Son (6).


The house of Jesus is us.  He is the manager and the owner’s Son.  Our body is the temple of God (1 Cor 6:19).  We are holy brothers and sharers with Christ if we hold on to our hope.


Compare 3:6 and 3:14.  There is a condition for us to be partakers of Christ.  There is a condition for us to be part of Christ’s house.  We must hold fast our faith.  We must be faithful as Moses was faithful.  We must be faithful in our confidence and hope.  We must be faithful and hold on in our boldness and hope.  There is some effort and discipline involved.


This word for hold is a nautical term for maintaining a steady course.  We are to hold fast, keep a steady course, hold the anchor line.  The first word for confidence means freedom in speaking.  It is the boldness that the disciples prayed for in Acts.  It is the freedom to speak without any fear of the consequences.  There is another word that describes speaking in favorable circumstances, but this word implies unfavorable circumstances.  This boldness comes from within and triumphs over unfavorable circumstances.  It is an inner strength to speak the word of God without fear.  You do not hold it lightly, but tightly to stay on course.


We are God’s house if we hold firmly our confidence and continue to live in terms of God’s promises.  Failure to obey causes a tragic and catastrophic loss.


3:7-19  The Second Warning

The quote from Psalm 95 confirms that our response to the word of God can be unbelief.  The first half of this Psalm is a call to praise and worship.  It is read regularly in Jewish synagogues Friday evening and Sabbath morning.  The second half warns against hardness of heart or unbelief (12 & 19).  The first warning was against neglecting the great salvation that has been made available in Jesus.  This second warning is against hardening your heart through fear and unbelief.


According to Num 13-14 Israel was camped at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran, on the verge of entering Canaan.  The land of promise was in sight.  The spies came back with a bad report and the Israelites rejected the promise through fear and unbelief.


This writer is warning the Christian readers.  The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures and is right now speaking to you through those Scriptures.  What God said in the past is still being spoken today.  God’s word is today.    Satan’s word is tomorrow.  You can see the fulfillment of God’s promises in your life or you can reject the promises and suffer the consequences.  You are right now standing on the verge of God’s promise for you.  God brought you out of slavery that He might bring you in the land of rest.  The decision you make right now determines the rest of your life.  This is true with every decision you make.


They hardened their hearts (8).  They did not learn God’s ways (10).  They were deceived by the attractiveness of sin (13).  They were not able to enter the Promised Land.  The deceitfulness of sin had dulled their hunger and thirst for godliness.  They turned their back on the promise of God.  Their lives consisted of wilderness wanderings.


3:12  “See to it!  Be always watchful.”  You will be tempted to loosen your grip and refuse to believe God’s promises.  Do not turn away from the Lord with an evil impure heart of unbelief.


3:13  “Encourage one another every day.”  This does not say you will be encouraged by everyone.  There will be mutual encouragement, but this command is for you to take the initiative and encourage someone as long as today lasts.  If you fail to encourage another there is a danger of your heart and their heart being hardened by the attractiveness of sin.


The word for sin (hamartia) literally means missing the mark.  Here it is the sin of refusing to obey God and acting upon his promises.  You fail in your goal of entering the promised land.


3:14  The wording suggests a business contract.  We have a provisional relationship with Jesus Christ.  He will be faithful, but we must also display good faith in our agreement.  Don’t be like the children of Israel at Kadesh who demanded new leadership and a return to Egypt.


If we hold these beginnings fast, if we keep looking to Jesus, we will enjoy His Sabbath rest, Canaan land.  For as long as you practice holding fast you need never sin (2P 1:10).


God has done His part.  We must hold.  We must take time to consider Jesus.  We must commit ourselves to walk in His steps and trust in His promises.  We must say Yes, Lord Yes.


If you do not hold fast, if you are not stubborn in your commitment, there is a danger of drifting to destruction. In verses 12-13 we can see 4 steps to destruction.  We are given a warning.  From these verses we can identify 4 steps for a Christian to go to hell.


1. carelessness  — everything is going well (12)

2. unbelief  — a heart that tests God (12)

3. sin  — deceive ourselves with sin’s attractions (13)

4. we lose our grip and harden our heart (14).


3:15  We are warned again.  What was written in the Psalm applies to us today.  There are catastrophic consequences for disobedience.


3:16  No one is immune to temptation.  All the children of Israel had witnessed the miracles of God’s salvation.  They left Egypt triumphantly.  They heard God’s voice.  Yet the majority complained and rebelled against God.  They found out it is stupid to shake your fist at God.


3:17-19  The consequences of refusing to obey God is radical discipline.  There are consequences when you break the law.  God was still gracious and merciful, but there are some consequences and scars of sin that will remain.  Immorality has consequences.  Bitterness has consequences.  Gossip has consequences.  Anger has consequences.  Gluttony has consequences.  Pollution has consequences.  Skiing outside the marked area has consequences.  If you sin, you will suffer consequences.  It’s the word of God.


Open defiance of God barred entrance into the promised rest of God.  When the Israelites realized their stupidity, they sought to repent.  But repentance does not heal consequences.  In their presumption they decided they would enter Canaan as God had said.  They again had not listened to God.  The oath of God was unchanging.  There are consequences for sin.  Repentance does not undo what has been done.


A minority group did believe.  They entered Canaan triumphantly, but had to wait 40 years.  The sin of some affected the lives of others too, but in the end God was able to display His faithfulness.  The next generation has the same promises and conditions.  God is still speaking.


Every Christian stands every today at the edge of all the promises that God has planned for him.  You can continue to obey and enter into His blessing and rest or you can return to Egypt.  Life will not be easy.  There are trials and peril ahead.  There are giants in the land.  God stands with you.  He has brought you out of the slavery of sin.  You’ve come this far by faith.  God continues to offer you abundant life.  The land is fertile.  The fruit is abundant.  Walk with God and find rest.


Fix your thoughts on Jesus.  Hold on to the promises.  Keep a sensitive heart.  Learn God’s ways.  Encourage one another.  Don’t be deceived by the attractiveness of sin.  Hold on.

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