Hebrews 3–4:13. Of House and Home.
Key Notes: House, builder and servant. Three dimensions of rest. Today in history. The hardened heart. Against deception.
We previously read that Jesus is greater than prophets and greater than angels, being the exact represntation of God's essence. Yet He became a human being to free us from the fear of death.
3:1–6 Jesus is also greater than Moses.
3:1 Consider Jesus, the Apostle the Sent One, the Ambassador of God, the High Priest. Jesus as High Priest was introduced in 2:17 and His superior priesthood will be the theme of Heb.3–10.
3:2 Both Moses and Jesus were faithful in their appointments but Jesus is the Son and the builder of the house, whereas Moses was a servant in the House. Moses was the great leader of Israel in the Old testament, but he is eclipsed by His Master. "Moses my servant" is the way he is most often spoken of by God in the Pentateuch. Jesus showed His dominance over Moses' Law early in His ministry, taking responsibility for advancing the interpretation of the OT. Six times in Matthew 5 Jesus said "You have heard....but I say to you." For example,
"You have heard that it was said 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you....'" (Matt. 5:43–44)
The builder of the modern house may also be more important than the inhabitants. On a walking tour, if the guide tells us the house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and occasionally we think we are more excited about the architect and less interested in the people who live in the house.
3:5 Moses testifies to things that would be spoken later. He is a type of Christ: lawgiver, savior from bondage, leader and guide. Deut.18:18–19
3:6 We are his House. What is the House? It is not a building. It is God's Household, the People of God. 3:2. Note that there are not two Houses, an OT and a NT House. Christ is over the House that Moses was in; He did not make another House. There is continuity between Abraham and other OT believers and us.
Paul uses the words "Household of God" and "Temple" to describe the same idea in Eph. 2:17–22.
"...You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in Whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord...."
3:7–4:13 Jesus' rest is also better than Moses' or Joshua's.
3:7–11 is a quotation from Psa.95:7–11. It contains a solemn warning: "Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." The psalm is a reference to Israel's first rebellion at Rephidim (Ex 17:1–7) where they argued with Moses about the lack of water and challenged God's care and presence.
3:12–4:2 Then the lesson is applied to us:
"...that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (3:13).
"For we share in Christ if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end" (3:14).
Israel lost her first confidence, and was afraid to enter the Promised Land. The people fell into unbelief and died in the wilderness. The Gospel came to them as it came to us but they did not receive it in faith.
The word "Today" was used at different times in OT writings. When is Today? (3:7
The invitation to enter Canaan was given by Moses about 1450 BC, the first Today. Deut.9:1
*"Today" was written by an unknown psalm-writer, about 1000BC in Psa.95:7. "O that today you would hearken to his voice!"
*The writer of Hebrews is speaking sometime before 70AD.
*"...as long as it is called Today" (Heb. 3:13) shows that Today is whenever we hear the voice of God.
The invitation to respond to God in obedience is open as long as life lasts and as long as God continues to call. Therefore "Today" is an indefinite open time of invitation extending into our 21st century. The invitation has been open for thousands of years.
If you hear His voice…. Do we hear God’s voice calling us away from sin, futility, disobedience and doubt?
It is often a “still, small voice”. IK.9:12
“Adam, where are you? “ (Gen.3:9)
"Hagar...where have you come from and where are you going?" (Gen.16:8)
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (IK.19:9)
"Rest" is used ten times in the passage. Rest has three or four meanings in the passage.
•It meant first going into Canaan. It was the homeland for Israel. "For you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord your God gives you. But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land which the Lord your God gives you to inherit and when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about so that you live in safety...." (Deut. 12:8–10) Here Rest means certainty, safety, an end to wandering in the wilderness. But that would not mean the end of work.
•A third meaning of the word is 4:9–10 "there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his". Is this rest for the people of God present or future? It is written in the present. It is an end of trying to gain salvation by our works and resting in His grace.
*Could it be also future? 3:11 "Let us strive to enter that rest" implies future fulfillment.
Therefore God's Sabbath rest and Israel's destination in Canaan are word pictures of our salvation: an end to our futile works; a place of certainty, safety and an end to wandering. Our final rest is in Heaven.
What is the problem that keeps us from our rest? 3:12–13 "an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God...that none of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
sin ------------> hard heart ------> falling away -----> apostasy.
We think apostasy is due to wrong thinking about doctrine, e.g. the Trinity. Hebrews says sin is the root cause of apostasy. If your friend is falling away from Christ, and says it is due to doubt, it is more likely due to sin.
The key word is deception. Sin is our common fault. We react to it by minimizing it: " it's OK", "it's just me"," I couldn't help it," we all do it", "it isn't that bad". That is deception. Some sins, like alcoholism and drug abuse, involve awesome self-deception.
What protection do we have against self-deception?
4:12 “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” The word of God, the Scripture, probes our consciences, trims away our hardness, our calluses, and cuts out the cancer of sin.
4:13 “Before Him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
The eye of God sees our inmost being. If we allow His eye to protect us against the deception of sin, we will enjoy the Rest of God. Otherwise we may continue to wander in the wilderness.
Our two protections against deception are:
•the word of God.
•the eye of God.
The tension in Heb.3 is created by recalling the rebellions of Israel in the wilderness, which happened when they were under pressure. The Israelites reacted badly when they were overtaken by fear. The first rebellion occurred in front of the Red Sea. (Ex.14:11). The second occurred when they were only 90 days out of Egypt; there was no water and they panicked, thinking God was not with them.
“Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex.17:7)
Years later, when there was another water shortage, they rebelled again and talked about going back to Egypt.
When they got to the edge of Canaan, the majority of the spies said “We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” (Num.13:31). Israel raged against the Lord and end up dying in the wilderness.
Israel lacked faith. God was angry with them not because they were ungrateful, but because they did not believe Him. “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in Me in spite of all the signs which I have wrought among them.” (Num.14:11). Also Deut.1:32; Psa.78:15,17,22.
God had gotten them out of Egypt by mighty plagues, and through the Red Sea while Pharaoh’s armies drowned, but that was three months ago. We know God is, we think God is, perhaps God is, but could it all have been a coincidence? Here we are out in this desert and there has been no water for 30 hours!
People are happy with God when all goes well. But if God should put a stress in our way, we easily turn against Him in anger, deny His goodness, perhaps even doubt His existence. That leads to the hardening of our hearts.
I was talking to a lab technician over lunch. He said “I used to be a Christian, but then I got divorced.” He was bitter with God over the divorce. He also became promiscuous, as most divorced people do. So his heart was hardened against the Lord and he went astray.
It is like homelessness. None of us are far from it.
This is a lesson about our house and our home.
Hang onto Jesus no matter what happens. As Job said “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." (Job.13:15).
Trust Him always, no matter what.
When Psa. 95:7 is quoted, these expressions are used by the Hebrews writer.
3:7 "as the Holy Spirit says";
4:5 "as He (God) said";
4:7 "saying through David".
These references indicate that although David may be the writer, it is God who is speaking. This is a clear example of what we mean by the inspiration of Scripture.
Can you find the Gospel in the Old Testament? (Heb. 4:2). Read Isaiah 53.
"Today when you hear his voice….” (Heb. 3:15)
Today do you hear his voice? Do not harden your heart.