author continues his warnings. In this section, he compares the past – in the
example of the people of Israel in the time of Moses – with our future. The
first word tells you that this is an example of the last argument: the more
you know, the higher the standard to which God will hold you.
The subject is hope
1Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly
calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we
confess. 2He was faithful to the one who appointed
him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as
the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of
everything. 5Moses was faithful as a servant in all
God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his
house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
we might begin by noting to whom this passage is addressed:
- Holy brothers. This is written to those who are holy – set apart
for God. So this is not an exhortation to salvation; rather, it presumes
that you are already set apart for God.
- Who share in the heavenly calling. Not only are you set apart, but
God has called you to some specific task. You are “under orders” from
heaven itself, and heaven’s monarch, God the Father.
- “Whom we confess”. This is no secret calling. Rather, you are the
ones who confess the name of Jesus, stating publicly that you believe.
then, defines the minimum qualification for what now is said.
made it clear that he is talking to Christians, he introduces Christ as High
Priest – a thought on which he will elaborate in future lessons. But he sets
before us two characteristics of Christ. Note these two:
is faithful – and as such, is example to us.
is worthy of honor. Not only should we honor him in our speech and in our
conduct, we should know that God rewards those who are faithful with
honor. The objective of this lesson is to make sure that you are included
among those so honored.
Son versus servant
this idea would be made clear by an example. In my daydreams I have often
wanted to be the owner (and patriarch) of a grand hacienda. It would be a
place of hospitality and good times. Such a place needs many workers –
household servants, if you will. But when I die, no servant will be promoted
to the head of the house; rather, my son will inherit it.
the house of God referred to in this passage is the church. It is no secret
that some will fall away from the church – abandoning the hope of the
Resurrection. It is said that we are saved by hope.
But so often we find that our hopes are rather disappointed; we see the wicked
prosper and despair – or begin to chase the same things they long after. So it
is that our author sticks in an “if.” We shall be saved IF:
hold on to our hope – always looking forward to the coming of our Lord and
the resurrection of the dead.
also hold on to our courage – for courage is the foundation on which all
Example of Israel
Hebrews 3:7-11 NASB Therefore, just
as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, (8)
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN
THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, (9) WHERE YOUR FATHERS
TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.
(10) "THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID,
'THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW
MY WAYS'; (11) AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, 'THEY SHALL NOT ENTER
Of faith and evidence
of the common mistakes of new Christians is that they feel weak in the faith –
and long for a miracle or two to strengthen that faith. But consider ancient
Israel – miracles enough to overwhelm anyone. But what was their reaction?
faith. Faith looks forward – but it should also look backwards and see what
God has done. It’s easy to say we would have believed had we seen all that
they had seen. So why didn’t they believe?
answer, simply, is hardness of heart. Faith is a relationship of trust between
two persons, one of whom is God. To have faith is to risk being hurt – to be
tender hearted, in other words. It is only the tender heart that can have
how, then, can one detect the signs of a heart that is hardened? If this is so
serious a problem (and it is), we need to know the early warning signs. We are
given them here:
- Testing God. The Christian who is constantly demanding that God
perform to his own timetable; the Christian who is constantly putting his
relationship with God to a test of his own making – these are the ones who
- The heart astray. Here we see a clear indication: it is when God is no
longer first in your heart. That which takes his place is often a good
thing; it is never the best thing.
- “Not known my ways.” Perhaps the simplest of the
warning signs: you no longer take the time to discover what God desires.
Prayer is short and formal; Scripture reading is done only in Bible
class; warnings of your brothers and sisters ignored. (I told you this
passage is addressed to real Christians).
“happy old grandfather” view of God is not espoused here (or anywhere else in
the Bible). Rather, see God’s reaction to what amounts to betrayal by those
who call him Lord:
This seems rather a petty thing at first – but shouldn’t God have a
problem with those who claim his name but do not follow his teaching? The
strongest wrath of God is reserved for those who do this. There is such a
thing as righteous anger.
- “On oath.”
So that you might know that he means it, that it certainly will come to
pass, God takes a solemn oath. He who cannot lie wants you to see with certainty
the danger of sliding away from him.
- Never enter his rest. Are you always busy, always
worried? Do you live your life from crisis to crisis? Is there no peace
in your heart? The Israelites had the same problem, arising from the same
sins. He will not give peace to those who claim his name unworthily.
What should we do?
that’s what happens to those who get it wrong. But what should we do to
prevent this from happening to us?
Hebrews 3:12-17 NASB Take care,
brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil,
unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. (13)
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is
still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened
by the deceitfulness of sin. (14) For we have become
partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our
assurance firm until the end, (15) while it is said, "TODAY
IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN
THEY PROVOKED ME." (16) For who provoked Him when they had
heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led
by Moses? (17) And with whom was He angry for forty years?
Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the
“See to it…”
note the phrase. Our writer is talking to us as brothers, giving us stern
advice in a gentle manner.
not have a sinful heart. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of
desiring that which you should not have. Whether it is coveting, lusting
or pride, keep your heart from it.
not have an unbelieving heart. Make the leap of faith wholeheartedly.
of the effect sin has on the heart: it produces unbelief. (I recall
Granoff’s Law: “I want to sleep with my girlfriend, therefore there is no
teaching, it’s usually wise to follow “thou shalt not” with “thou shalt.”
one another. Do it on a daily basis. Christianity is not a solo
flight, but a team effort. Each of us has the ability to encourage another
– so none of us is without excuse.
in right relationship with the authority God has set up in the church – do
not rebel. In our time, rebelliousness is colored as a virtue, but it is
on firmly to the end. Marathon runners will often tell you they have only
one goal in running: to finish the race, to make it all the way to the
finish line. So it is with us – we must hold on to the end.
– sharing in Christ.
reward glitters at the end of the race. We shall become joint heirs of the
kingdom with Jesus. It is beyond imagination what God will do at the return of
Christ. But again, there is the “if”:
- If we hold on firmly. This is no half-hearted
effort. It will require all that you have and all that you are.
- If we hold on to the end. If you make it half way through
life, and then quit – you didn’t finish the race. The trophy will not be
- If we hold on with the same confidence. This is not to be done with
timidity. It is to be done boldly. Having trouble with boldness?
Remember that you are a child of the King of Kings – and this is how you
stay that way.