Summary: A warning against straying
September 23, 2012
I have a very fast car, and that’s made obvious by the fact that my grass is so green.
If you’ll try to figure out how those two go together then you’ll understand how I felt this week as I studied Hebrews 3 and 4. These couple of chapters (more than any of the others) are translated and punctuated and laid out in such a confusing way that it’s tempting to just try and get through them.
I don’t think it’s going too far to say that these two chapters lay the groundwork for everything that comes after, and if we don’t understand these we’re really going to be thrown for a loop (especially in chapters 6 and 10). Let me give you another summary of Hebrews and the main point of these two chapters to begin. If you find yourself lost as we’re wading through the words in each verse, just come back to these four things:
1. We must read Hebrews with the mindset of a first century Jew. They’re certainly accused of abandoning Moses and the temple to follow after a false god.
2. The main point of Hebrews is to encourage the Christian Jews by showing that Jesus is greater than all—they hadn’t abandoned Moses; Moses (as a forerunner and friend of the groom) only pointed towards Christ.
3. The Old Testament rituals and people are types and shadows, and Christ is the fulfillment of all these things.
4. Much of Hebrews (especially these two chapters) is a warning against falling away. If it was a sin to ignore Moses and the angels, how much more sinful is it to ignore their Master? (2:2 and 12:25)
And that’s pretty close to where we left off last time. Moses was a faithful servant in the house of God “for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” That is, Moses was a figure pointing towards Jesus Christ who is a faithful Son over the house. If anyone could ever trust in Moses, then we can certainly trust in his Master:
whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
“Confidence” and “rejoicing” are strong words—they don’t just give the idea of having the matter firmly resolved in our heads—it’s something more public and outward. Rejoicing is “boasting.” Confidence is “fearlessness.” Think about Moses standing before Pharaoh or watching the people pick up stones to kill him. He was faithful as a servant in the house because he held fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope unto the end.
7Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith,
“This is why the Holy Spirit says,” and He says this in Psalm 95. The first half of this Psalm shows us that Christ is God, King, Creator, and Shepherd, and the second half says, “To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. 10Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”
And Hebrews is a commentary on these verses:
To day if ye will hear his voice,
Think about this in relation to Hebrews 2:2 and 12:25:
2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward.
25See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.
This isn’t a verse begging people to be saved, and it’s not even a verse about “will.” It’s a warning to show the true children of Israel the consequences of rejecting the true Prophet of God. “They heard Moses’s voice back then, so today if you hear His voice…”
8Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
This is the reference to Numbers 14. The 12 spies were sent out to Canaan, but they came back with a negative report. The people started murmuring and saying that God only brought them so far to kill them. They decided to elect a new leader for themselves and to go back to Egypt. Moses encouraged them to avoid rebellion in their fear, but they wouldn’t listen and planned to stone him. God appeared and basically said, “You’re not going in.” So we’re warned “harden not your hearts as they did in that day,”