In chapters one and two we saw that Jesus is greater than the prophets, the scriptures and the angels, and he has greater authority than anyone. Now in chapter three the writer to the Hebrews brings in that great Jewish icon – Moses.
Moses was the man God used to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and guide them towards the land He had promised them.
It was Moses who told Pharaoh off.
It was Moses who met with God on Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments.
It was Moses who wrote the book of the Law that taught the Israelites how to worship God.
It was Moses who oversaw the beginnings of Israel as a nation.
In the eyes of the Jewish readers of this letter, Moses was one of the big four: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Moses. These four were the patriarchs – the fathers of Israel.
Now the letter brings a direct comparison between Moses and Jesus.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.
But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.
Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.” (3:1-6, NLT)
As great as Moses was, he was just a human being serving God. We are right to honour him for the way that he served God and the things God did through him, but we have to keep these things in the proper perspective.
You could copy and paste any number of names into that paragraph. Peter, Paul, Augustine, St. Francis, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, John Wesley, William Booth, Alexander & Mary Boddy, George Jeffreys… whoever you admire from church history or present, they are all just human beings serving God.
Then, on the other hand, there’s Jesus.
The writer draws a contrast between Moses and Jesus, comparing Moses to a household servant and Jesus to the firstborn son. This would have been a familiar analogy to the original readers.
Most large households would have had servants. Some of these servants would have been so valued that they were considered to be part of the family, albeit in a lesser capacity. In fact, there’s a provision for this in the Old Testament Law (Deuteronomy 15:16-17).
Think Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey.
As important as that servant is – as much as the family greatly values them – they are still a servant.
The firstborn son carries the authority of the father. He is the one who will inherit the house, so he is responsible for running it. Apart from the father, he is the most important person in the household.
Jesus is also the builder of the house. He was present at the creation of everything and holds everything together (see John 1; Colossians 1:15-17).
Moses was a great servant of God and through him, God did many amazing things, but Jesus is far greater than Moses.
The writer is calling these Jewish believers to look beyond their history and see the new thing God is doing. There is richness in their history that they are right to celebrate, but always in the proper perspective.
We have a tendency as human beings to idolise other people. This isn’t just about the celebrity-obsessed culture of influencers and reality TV stars. We do this in the church too. We need to be careful not to inappropriately elevate other people who are simply human beings serving God. Let’s remember always that no-one is greater than Jesus, and He is the one who should be elevated.
I’d love to get your thoughts as I go through this letter. What are you noticing as you read? What is God saying? What does it all mean for us in the 21st Century? Talk to me in the comments!