Summary: The Jews and Jewish believers so cherished Moses, they were tempted to exalt him above Jesus, or to make them equals. Jesus demands to be our primary loyalty.
To Swerve or Not to Swerve?
1. Doug Anderson recently shared a joke with me that illustrates the distinction between cause and correlation. Here goes. An Amish man and his son are at the shopping mall for the first time. They see two shiny doors open (an elevator) and an elderly woman enters. The doors close. The numbers on the elevator go all the way up and all the way back down.
Out walks a beautiful young woman. The Amish lad asks his dad, “What is that?”
The dad says, “I don’t know – but go run and get your mother!”
2. Likewise, there are many things we do not understand and some may appear to be mysterious when they are not.
3. Such is the case with the Book of Hebrews. Written to whom? Why were some Jews returning to mainstream Judaism and denying Jesus? How do this defections sit with the other members of the church? What is the writer to the Hebrews (probably Apollos) trying to do? Why would he use Midrash (same faith)?
Main Idea: The Jews and Jewish believers so cherished Moses, they were tempted to exalt him above Jesus, or to make them equals. Jesus demands to be our primary loyalty.
Jesus and Moses are on the same team; Jesus affirmed Moses, & Moses predicted Jesus.
I. Jesus Christ is the ULTIMATE, Even Superior to Moses (1-6).
A. Many great minds, religious leaders, philosophers: Jesus is ABOVE all.
God gave the Torah through Moses. Judaism is based on the Law, the Torah. To the ancient Jewish mind, the most gracious thing God had done was to give Israel the Torah. So they naturally respected Moses more than the other great men and women of the Old Testament. To say Jesus is greater was a hard sell for some.
B. The readers: HOLY and FAITHFUL brothers (1,6b).
1. Fellow Jews (brothers) who are holy (believers); holy = set apart (sanctified)
2. Share in a heavenly calling (difference focus between Israel/church)
3. We are God’s true house if we persevere in trusting Jesus (6)
C Jesus was like MOSES in some ways
• The author never puts down Moses, but goes out of his way to show great respect. Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah and Elisha are key figures in the OT.
1. Noted for great FAITHFULNESS (not my will, but thine)
2. God’s representative (APOSTLE) and special prophet (Deut. 18:15-19)
3. They both INTERCEDED for the people (Heb. 7:5, Ex. 32:32)
D. Jesus is GREATER than even Moses
1. Moses is represented by the tabernacle, Jesus is its BUILDER, as God.
2. Moses was God’s SERVANT, but Christ is the privileged SON.
qerapon (server, minister, an honorable and dignified office) vs. doulos
3. Even today, Christians may EXALT a modern leaders over Jesus, in practice.
E. All HISTORY is built around Jesus Christ.
1. Driving Hannah home —- hard to believe that a project like the US 31 bypass could be done — it is an engineering feat, with many phased, and planned out years in advance. That’s how God does things.
2. The Jewish people and leaders recognized that all history would revolve around the Messiah
From (non-Messianic) Jewish sources (quoted from David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 670):
'"And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.' This phrase from Genesis 1:2 alludes to the spirit of the Messiah, because Isaiah 11:2 says, 'And the spirit of Adonai will rest upon him'"(Genesis Rabbah 2:4)
"At the beginning of the creation of the world king Messiah had already come into being, because he existed in God's mind even before the world was created." (Pesikta Rabbati 33:6)
3. The incarnation, atonement, resurrection, ascension, and who would come to Jesus and be saved (elect) was decided before the world was created; that’s planning ahead!
II. Therefore, Swerving from JESUS is Worse than Swerving from Moses (6-14).
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus warned us that there would always be imitation believers among true believers; in time, the truth becomes obvious…
A. Verse 6 begins a TRANSITION to a Midrash (elaboration of OT text)
B. Midrash is about Israel’s rebellious, RESISTANT response in the desert (7-11)
1. The “Holy Spirit says” implies two truths: the inspired nature of all Scripture, even though God used men to write it, and the present tense (says) tells us God speaks to us through Scripture, which is why all Scripture is relevant.
2. It explains why every believer needs to read/contemplate the Bible on his or her own — spending at least a few minutes in the Word daily or often.
4. Because the Hebrews did not listen & trust, they did not enter rest (Canaan)