This week read chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews. As you do, keep in mind the principles taught in the first two chapters. In the first chapter of the book of Hebrews we are introduced to a “Son,” who is greater than any human prophet or angelic being – in fact, he is God. In chapter 2 we learn that this Son is Jesus who, fully God, is also fully human. He needed to take on flesh to suffer and die. In His suffering and death, he is crowned with glory and honor (2:9); he is our brother (2:11-12), the founder of our salvation (2:10), and the sanctifier of his people (2:11); as our faithful and merciful high priest, in his death, he freed us from slavery to sin and the fear of death (2:14-17), and he enables us to overcome temptation (2:18).
As we move to the next section of the epistle in chapters 3 and 4, we come to the lengthiest and most solemn warning, in an epistle known for its warning passages. It is vital that as we read chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews, we continually remind ourselves of the context, lest we make the mistake that many have made of either not applying the warning as forcefully as it ought to be applied, or wrongly applying it and creating undue fear. First, take note that the warning is surrounded by texts revealing the high priesthood of Jesus Christ (2:17, 3:1, 4:14-16). As the warning evokes spiritual weakness, may it only serve to drive us to the merciful high priest who is acquainted with every kind of temptation that faces us. Second, his faithfulness, noted in 2:17, is a major theme of the prelude to the warning in 3:1-6. Third, this faithful high priest and Son of God who we learned is greater than the angels who mediated the Mosaic law is also greater than Moses, the great lawgiver himself. All these points are vital to keep in mind as we move into the strong exhortation that dominates the text.
Before moving into full-blown warning, the author once again reminds us of the greatness of Jesus. Of all the Jewish heroes of the faith, Moses stands out as supreme. It could be argued that Moses is the most important human being within Judaism. The idea that this Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus, is greater than their hero lawgiver would have been shocking to the recipients of this letter. But then again, no more shocking than they would have already been from the content presented in chapter one. It is almost as if after taking chapter 2 to exposit the full humanity of Jesus, he wanted to give one more exposition of his greatness, before moving into the exhortation. In our text we will find that Jesus is greater than Moses, for though Moses was a faithful member of the house (people of God), Jesus is the builder of that house.