Explore the Bible Series
September 17, 2006
Lesson Passage: Hebrews 3:1-15
Hebrews, for almost two full chapters, asserts Christ’s supremacy to the angels (1:5-18), but the text now takes a somewhat different direction. Chapter Three claims that the Lord Jesus has preeminence over Moses as well as the angels. Of course, First-Century Jews venerated Moses as the great lawgiver, and these Hebrew/Christian recipients of this treatise apparently considered, under the duress of persecution, a retreat into the law system of the Old Covenant. The author of Hebrews masterfully cut off this route of withdrawal from the battlefield of faith. The fundamental argument of this chapter centers on Christ’s preeminent sonship and Moses’ humble servanthood in the household of God; therefore, these believers must hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope.”
The key verses in this chapter (vv. 12-19) continue the great theme of perseverance in the faith (These verses contain the second great exhortation of the Book of Hebrews). One of the essential marks of saving faith centers on continued trust and obedience to Christ, even in the face of immense hardship. No man has any right to consider himself a Christian who fails to persevere in the faith. Sadly, Baptist church roles teem with people who had temporary religious impressions but have failed to hold fast their profession. The Parable of the Soils (Mark 4:1-25) describes those who immediately receive the word with joy; then, when affliction or persecution arise, they shrivel under solar glare of pressure (the rocky soil). Others hear the word, but the concerns of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for the world’s trinkets choke the word, and they become unfruitful (the thorny soil).
Chapter Three uses the illustration of
The readers of the Book of Hebrews found themselves in a
similar circumstance. A greater leader,
the Lord Jesus, stood as ensign over the congregation of faith; however. The
Master’s way seemed fraught with hardship and danger. Some recoiled from the
narrow path and stood, as ancient
Dear reader, you are not exempt from the warnings of Hebrews. The siren call of the world allures many who once made a fair profession of faith in Christ. Hardship comes, and they seek a “safer”, easier path. Perhaps they take some comfort in the multitude of those who throng to “hot tub religion” (J.I. Packer’s term). Inborn rebellion reigns in the soul, and these false men refuse to hear the voices of those who warn them of the dangers of the by-path. Above all, they turn from their only sure guide and guardian, the Lord Christ. Remain faithful to those things taught to you from the beginning.
Outline of the Lesson Passage:
I. The Character of the These Readers (3:1)
A. “Holy brethren”: This designation builds on Hebrews 2:11-13. Christians share a holy bond of brotherhood because Christ has transformed them into a sacred family. He is the Only Begotten Son of the Father, and he holds together a family of adopted siblings from every tongue, tribe, social class, race, and nation. He has torn down the middle wall of partition and made all Christians into a holy brotherhood. Point of application: if this claim is true, all racism, classism, sexism or nationalism is sin against the redemptive work of Christ.
B. “partakers of a heavenly calling”: Those whom God has chosen, he calls by the Holy Spirit and the word. He enlightens the minds of his elect to understand the claims of the gospel, convicts of sin, renews the will and the affections, and reveals the delightful glory of Christ. No one can respond favorably to the outward call of the gospel unless the inward, heavenly call occurs. Those whom God calls come freely and willingly to Christ and embrace him as Scripture reveals his wondrous character and work. This heavenly call helps the poor sinner to see the Lord Jesus as the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. The text demands that believers consider (literally “think down upon”) Christ’s authoritative mission as one sent from God and his High Priestly work for sinners.
II. Christ’s Superiority to Moses (3:2-6)
A. Christ and Moses were both faithful to the respective tasks appointed to them by the Father (v. 2).
B. Christ is worthy of greater glory than Moses on two grounds (vv. 3-6)
1. Christ built the “house” of God and Moses did not (vv. 3-4). The “house” here may denote the household of faith; or, it may employ the term “house” as an analogy of an architect erecting a building. Just as builder constructs a house, so Christ is the designer and builder of God’s true house.
2. Christ was (is) a faithful Son, and Moses merely served in the household of God. Obviously, a faithful servant receives the approval and commendation of the Master; nevertheless, the Son enjoys a favored position in the household that that servant will never share. Once the Heir has come to the Father’s house, the servants assume an inferior position. Again, the author exhorted his readers to hold their confidence fast because the Son holds a superior position to any servants, including Moses, in the Father’s house.
III. The Example of Israel’s Faithlessness (3:7-11) Quotation from Psalm 95:8-11
Application: Lessons from Kadesh Barnea
1. The failure at Kadesh Barnea occurred in the context of months of ingratitude and complaining.
2. Until the evil report by the ten unfaithful spies, the Scriptures give no evidence of that anyone questioned the Lord’s will concerning the Promised Land.
3. The unbelieving report of the faithless spies spread like a deadly contagion among the people. Just a few men set off a firestorm of unbelief that infected an entire generation of people.
infected masses rose up against the God-ordained leadership of
the people realized their error, they sought to proceed with the invasion of
IV. The Second Exhortation (3:12-19)
A. A somber warning (v. 12): Unbelief comes from an evil heart that holds the living God in contempt.
B. A helpful safeguard (v. 13): “Exhort (encourage) one another daily.” Constant vigilance, in the context of the church, must be practiced to safeguard the Lord’s people. Sin will weave its web of deceit and draw away the hearts of professing believers, and the heeding these deceptive appeals leads to the hardening of the heart.
C. Motives for heeding this exhortation (vv. 14-19)
1. “We are partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (v. 14).
examp0le of unbelieving
Personal note: I realize that I have overreached the verses for this lesson, but these last verses in Hebrews Three, in contrast to our lesson materials, seems to fit with the current study more so than the materials for next week.