Faithlife Sermons

Study in the Book of Hebrews: Hebrews 3:1-19

Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jesus is our apostle and high priest. Do not turn away from believing in Jesus Christ.

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So far, Hebrews has made the case that the Son of God is superior to the angels. Having existed before the angels and been over the angels, he temporarily became a little lower than the angels. He joined the human race in order to suffer and die as the sacrifice for the sins of the people of God. In chapter 3, the writer of Hebrews gives an extended warning against unbelief. The first part of chapter 3 focuses on a comparison between Moses and Jesus. He concludes that Jesus’ faithfulness is superior to Moses. After quoting from the Old Testament, he gives a commentary on the implications of the passage. His challenge is for his readers to stay faithful to their profession of faith.

1. Jesus’ faithfulness is superior to Moses’ ()

Hebrews 3:1–6 CSB
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. Now every house is built by someone, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. But Christ was faithful as a Son over his household. And we are that household if we hold on to our confidence and the hope in which we boast.

A. Jesus is pictured as the model of faithfulness. (Hebrews 3:1-2)

Hebrews 3:1–2 CSB
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was in all God’s household.
He uses the word “therefore” to make the transition. He is going to give us the implications of Jesus’ superiority to the angels. He says that his readers are “holy” because they have professed faith in Jesus Christ and have been cleansed of their sins. They share in the heavenly calling.

i. Share - closely related companion; business associate or house mate

The idea is that we are on a journey following in the footsteps of our great high priest, Jesus. He is the trail blazer. We are following his path.

ii. Consider - think about, notice, pay attention

Some translations say fix your thoughts. The idea is to focus on Jesus, not something or someone else. is the only place where Jesus is referred to as an apostle. An apostle is a special messenger from God. Obviously, Jesus, the Word of God, is the special revelation about God from God. Also, Jesus is called the high priest of our confession. Our confession is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The writer is calling their attention back to Jesus which is to be the central focus of their lives.

iii. Jesus’ faithfulness to compared to Moses.

Both Jesus and Moses were faithful to the calling they had received from God. In Jewish tradition, there is none greater than Moses, the law-giver. Jesus began a new era, just as Moses died. Moses established the household of the ones who were to be faithful to the covenant. Jesus established a new household of the faithful.

B. Jesus, not Moses, should be our ultimate model of faithfulness ()

Hebrews 3:3–6 CSB
For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. Now every house is built by someone, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. But Christ was faithful as a Son over his household. And we are that household if we hold on to our confidence and the hope in which we boast.
Verse two is a comparison between Jesus and Moses. Verses three through six is the contrast.

i. Jesus built the house in which Moses lived.

The Creator is worthy of more glory that the creation and the creatures.

ii. Moses was a faithful servant. Jesus was the faithful Son.

Moses did his work in the house that God made. He was God’s servant and he served faithfully, as all good servants should. Sons are different than servants because their work and authority is different. Sons have the duty and obligation to protect the estate. It will serve for their inheritance.

iii. If you are faithful to your confession, you are part of the household of God.

“hold on to” - keep, detain, contain, occupy, or possess.

We are to hold on to sound doctrine and the teachings of the Word of God in which our confidence and hope are found. We keep a tight grip so that we don’t drift away into error. I saw a quote recently which said something to the effect of “You never drift into theological truth”. We tend to drift towards error. We seek and search and hold onto truth. “We may be considered part of the people of God if we hold fast to the Christian faith” (NIV Application, p.128)
Now the author will turn his attention to a negative example and a warning.

2. The Faithlessness of the Israelites in the Desert (Hebrews 3:7-19)

A. The writer quotes from

Hebrews 3:7–11 CSB
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers tested me, tried me, and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked to anger with that generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.” So I swore in my anger, “They will not enter my rest.”
Hebrews 3:7-11

i. Do not harden your hearts.

ii. As you did in the rebellion,

This is not to mean that the readers are part of the rebellion, rather, he calls their attention to the negative example of their fore-fathers. They rebelled against God’s commands to enter and possess the Promised Land. They had seen God work on their behalf and even though they had seen what God can do, they did not trust him to be faithful to them.

iii. God was provoked to anger with that generation.

Because of their failure to obey, God was angry with them and judged them. God was patient and longsuffering with them; however, God is also righteous and just. He must deal with sin after giving opportunities for repentance and obedience. They would not enter into God’s rest. We are going to wait to discuss what is meant by “God’s rest” until chapter 4. So, you will have to come back for that discussion.
With the backdrop of the rebellion of the children of Israel and the punishment they experience, the writer moves onto his warning.

B. Warning: Don’t turn away from the faith ()

Hebrews 3:12–19 CSB
Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. For we have become participants in Christ if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. As it is said: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion. For who heard and rebelled? Wasn’t it all who came out of Egypt under Moses? With whom was God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

i. Not everyone who makes a confession of faith is a true believer. (Hebrews 3:12)

“Outward association does not reflect the inward condition of the heart.” (NIV Application, p. 129)

“turns away” - apostenai - apostasy - turning away from what you once believed

This is not about neglecting your faith or drifting away. This is about rebellion. You heard. You know. You followed for a time, but then you rejected. The equivalent of the children of Israel going back to Egypt after they had been delivered by God from the slavery. True believers persevere in the faith.

How do we know if someone is really saved?

We know by answering the question, “are they staying faithful to following the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ?” Faithlessness is evidence of the absence of salvation. “We have no right to give assurance to those who have turned their backs on God - in fact, we should affirm their lack of assurance!” (NIV Application, p. 143)

ii. Believers have a responsibility to constantly encourage each other. (Hebrews 3:13)

Encouragement is a ward against sin’s deception and allure. Negativity breeds contempt. Contempt can cause people to fall away. Encouragement is powerful and gives us strength to stay faithful. I think this applies to so many areas of life. A spouse cheats. You talk to them and try to figure out why. Normally, a symptom is that they didn’t feel valued by their spouse and someone else valued them. It doesn’t excuse what they did, but it give us a warning sign. An employee leaves their job. Why? Many times it is because they don’t feel valued. They aren’t being encouraged. I think we need to be very purposeful to be encouragers.

iii. Only the faithful will receive the inheritance from Christ. ()

The New Testament presents the redemptive work of Christ as a new Exodus.

iv. The writer repeated the quote from Psalms to emphasize the urgency. ()

v. The writer concludes by making it clear that unbelief results in punishment. ()

They didn’t receive God’s rest because of their unbelief. This chapter emphasizes the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.
Matthew 24:13 CSB
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
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