I. Keep Faith in the Son, Jesus Christ, because He is a Superior Messenger (1:1-3:6)
He is Superior to Moses (3:1-4:13)
Point: Christ is Superior to Moses because Moses was a Servant in and Christ is a Son over God’s House (3:1-6).
“Therefore,” he writes, drawing on 2:17-18, “since we have a merciful and faithful high priest” Hebrews 3:1 1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;…
…and “boy,” he seems to say to himself, “isn’t he the best high priest ever…’how am I going to get to that topic? Hmm….Not going to until 5:5-10…I could talk about the high priest Aaron and how Christ is superior to him, but let’s go back further and deal with the law-giver first, Moses, Aaron’s brother….ok”
Hebrews 3:2 2 … He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.
consider Jesus who was faithful like Moses was faithful…” (vv.1-2).
Who is Commanded?
“holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling”
You and your brothers and sisters in Christ are uniquely set apart for God’s purpose. You share common calling, a heavenly calling. This emphasizes eternal affairs.
What is Commanded?
V.1 … “Consider” (“thoughtfully regard”) Jesus. Jesus is described as the “Apostle” and “High Priest of our confession.” The preacher seems to combine both the role of Moses (apostle) as well as Aaron (high priest). Moses was sent out by God as also Christ. He is our “confession”; we confess him to be as He is described here.
Moses and Jesus Compared (3:2)
The preacher compares Moses and Jesus. Both were faithful to God. Christ was faithful to God who appointed him. God appointed Moses and Moses was faithful in God’s “house” (Israel).
Moses and Jesus Contrasted (3:3)
Faithfulness is where the comparison ends here. 3:3, Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses. The house refers to Israel.
Jesus deserves more glory than Moses to the extent that Jesus (“He who built the house”) deserves more glory than Israel (“the house”). A reference to Num. 12:7-8.
(Parenthesis -3:4): If you did not understand why the builder of a house has more honour than the house, he explains in verse four, that every house has to be built by somebody but that God is the builder of all things.
Keep in mind that in v. 3 the house-builder is Christ; in v. 4 the all-things builder is God.
Verses 5 and 6 are the climax of the six verses. Jesus is the Son whereas Moses is merely a servant. Moses’ ministry was great, but limited.
He was a servant. His service was his giving testimony of the things spoken about later. This would include his prophecies concerning the Messiah. That was Moses.
In contrast, Christ was not a servant, but a Son. He is the Son over his own house. Keep in mind that in v. 2 the house is God’s (“His house”); in v. 6 it is Christ’s.
And today, v.6, the house of Christ are those who persevere in faith in Christ.
Warning #2 “Do not harden your heart with unbelief and so fail to enter His rest.” (3:7-4:13)
Whereas the first warning had as its backdrop Christ’s superiority to angelic messengers, this warning has as its backdrop the failure of the Israelite nation to believe in God.
The first warning argued from the lesser to the greater. If the message accompanied by angels, the Mosaic law, was exacting (disobedience deserves retribution), how much more is the message of Christ.
In this second warning, arguing from Moses (spoken of in 3:1-6), the preacher uses the example of the Israelites in the wilderness. The first warning was an argument; this second warning uses an example.
The major issue in chapters 3-4 is the concept of “the rest.” What is this rest?
The Rest in Hebrews
In 1973, Walter Kaiser, Jr. writes in an article in Bibliotheca Sacra that … “In 1933 Gerhard Von Rad aptly observed that ‘Among the many benefits of redemption offered to man by Holy Scripture, that of “rest” has been almost overlooked in biblical theology….’”
Kaiser continues, “Forty years have not substantially changed that assessment of the situation. In fact, except for the brief and conflicting opinions delivered in commentaries on Hebrews 3 and 4, only a few major articles in the journals and fewer graduate theses have been devoted to the concept of “God’s Rest” in the last century. Most biblical theologies of the Old Testament and New Testament, biblical encyclopedias, theological wordbooks, Festschriften, and systematic theologies are ominously silent on the topic. The question is why?
While reasons may vary, the overriding cause lies in the “sheer difficulty of the concept.”
Therefore, skipping this and moving on to ch. 5… =O)
(HA! not even the scholars want to touch it!)
Upon studying the Bible’s teaching on the concept of “rest,” you would discover that the rest which God gives is, at the same time,…
Historical (Canaan; “Joshua”)
Soteriological (salvation, “those who believe enter” it)
Eschatological (the kingdom and our reign with Christ; Ps. 95 context).
The word occurs in Heb 3:11, 18; 4:1, 3(2x), 4, 5, 8, 9, 10(2x), 11.
Psalm 95 and Hebrews 3-4 work together to climax the Bible’s teaching on the “rest.” Beginning in 3:7, the preacher cites Psalm 95.
Psalm 95 is in a series of Psalms (93-100) whose theme is eschatological. It depicts a time when the Lord alone is the King reigning over all people and all lands. It is describing a time when the divine kingdom will rule upon the earth.
The concept of the divine rest is, therefore, to be interpreted within this context: the second coming of Christ, since the preacher heavily argues from an OT passage which itself has this as its context.
Participation in this rest demands a decision now. As we study these chapters, we will find that enjoying the eschatological rest, that is, the land of Israel, is entered into by faith today. The Lord made a down payment on his promise concerning the final and complete eschatological rest when he gave the promised land to Joshua.
Different Types of Rest?
It seems that there are different types of “rest” in these chapters.
1. The Divine Rest (4:1–3, 10–11) or Rest of Faith
2. The Creation Rest (4:4)
3. The Sabbath Rest (4:4,9) or the Rest that Remains (6–9)
4. The Canaan Rest (4:8)
5. The Redemptive Rest (4:10)
6. The Eternal Rest (4:9)
So how do we reconcile them?
Now, read Heb. 3:7-11.
What we will find is that the preacher…
Connects believers of the gospel with believers under the law by using the concept of “rest” (4:2).
Connects the future “rest” (eschatological) with the past rest (creation story), when God rested from his works. Ah…wow.
Different Words for Rest Yet the Same Concept
The first two words are related (noun form and verb form: “rest” and “to rest”).
Even though this is the case, the concept is the same throughout these two chapters.
Major Concept of “Rest” in Hebrews
The “rest” in Hebrews 3-4 started when God rested the 7th day from his work of creation. God wanted man to participate in that rest with him then; but man rebelled. Yet, the “rest” remains available today.
Therefore, the “rest of God” under discussion is dynamic. It has several aspects and has progressive stages. It was inaugurated at creation and pictured in the physical inheritance of Canaan by Israel. It is entered into by faith today, and it is fully realized in the millennial reign of Christ and eternal state [New heaven/New earth].
By way of application, for us, we enter by faith into this rest. For us, the rest is the millennial reign of Christ. See Psalm 116:7-8. Rest is after the resurrection. I can return to my rest, because God has delivered me from death by resurrection.
The Rest is Presently Offered
Four texts emphasize it is a present offer. Hebrews 4:1, 6, 9, 11.
People today can share in this rest because the promise has been “left” to us (4:1) and because it “remains for some to enter it” (4:6). Similar wording occurs in 4:9 “a Sabbath rest remains.” Clearly, people today can “labour to enter that rest” (4:11).
How to Enter that Rest
Entrance into this rest is through faith in the gospel (4:2). Note that the good news was preached in the wilderness just as it was preached to us. Point: We can enter that rest just as they could have. See Hebrews 4:3, 7.
Summary of Hebrews 3:7-4:13
3:7-19: The Israelites’ example exhorts you not to fail to enter God’s rest because of unbelief.
4:1-13: Because the promise concerning entering his rest remains (“Today” -it’s always “Today”; it’s never not today. Today was then and now.), believe the gospel to enter it.
Therefore, since Christ is superior to Moses because Moses was a servant in and Christ is a Son over God’s house (3:1-6), “do not harden your heart with unbelief and so fail to enter His rest” (3:7-4:13).
3:7-11 is an example of what happens to those who do not hold fast to their hope (3:6). A reference to the Israelites. They hardened their hearts and doubted God’s ability, goodness, etc. and refused to trust Him to conquer the enemies in the land. The result was that they forfeited their right to enter Canaan, which is one aspect of God’s “rest” (vs. 11).
Beginning in verse 12 and running through verse 19, the preacher applies the bad example of the Israelites. Just like Israel failed to enter into God’s rest because of unbelief, so also can readers of the book of Hebrews fail to enter God’s rest if they prove faithless.
Hebrews 3:12-15 contain a paradox. Manward side The preacher seems to believe that exhortation prevents hardening through the deceitfulness of sin (3:13). This is the manward side of perseverance.
Hebrews 3:14 explains that perseverance proves initial salvation. And basic theology proves that initial salvation is all the work of God. For example, Ephesians 2:8-9. This teaches that grace, salvation, and faith are all the gift of God. Therefore, 3:14 also contains the divine side of perseverance. Yet, verse 14 does not negate the manward side.
Beginning in chapter 4, the preacher argues that a rest remains for God’s people to enjoy. The rest was not finalized when the Israelites entered into the Promised Land. Just like faith was required for the Israelites to enter the “rest” of the Promised Land, so also is faith required today to enter into God’s rest.
You should be diligent to place your faith in the gospel so that you enter into God’s rest, because God’s word (present), v. 12, in which contains the remaining promise of rest, is still active. That means that God knows your heart, whether you believe the gospel and enter into His rest or not. You will give an account to God and God’s word (future) will reveal your heart.
(Ex.3:10,13,15; 4:28; 5:22; 7:16). ↑
. Vol. 130: Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 130. 1973 (518) (134). Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary. ↑
Since Paul is bold to equate this promise with the gospel, especially the phrase “In thy seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gal 3:8), it is no wonder that our writer is also bold to proclaim that the wilderness generation also had the same basic gospel proclaimed to them (4:2; cf 3:17 for the antecedent of “as well as unto them”). ↑
It’s like asking, “Are we there yet?” No, we’re never “there” but we’re “always here yet.” ↑