Series on Hebrews, II Superior Prophet, A Superior by Person, Text: Hebrews 3:1-6. The Last Prophet

Introduction:

Chapters 1 and 2 teach us to hold fast to Jesus because he is the Creator, the King of the universe, who has come to deliver us. Now we see the superiority of Christ as Prophet. Who was the great prophet of Israel? Moses! For the Jews Moses was the measure. Moses was the George Washington of Israel many times over. He was their national hero and the author of their constitution. The law of Moses was and still is their greatest source of pride. Undoubtedly Jesus rankled the Jews by his claim to superiority. In Matthew 12 after he has just claimed to be Lord of the Sabbath and the strong man who conquers Satan. He says that a greater than Solomon is here, a greater than Jonah is here. In Luke 7 he says John the Baptist was the greatest prophet of the Old Testament and then asserts his own superiority to John the Baptist. In the Gospel of John Chapter 8 he says he is greater than Abraham. In Matthew 19 he again pulls rank on Moses forbidding divorce which Moses permitted. The author of Hebrews echoes the words of Jesus and  tells us how he is greater. This Prophet is our Brother, our Builder, and our Benefactor in a better way than Moses. If a greater than Moses is here, then it is folly to go back. The point  bears repeating. People who seek to be saved by doing good are no different than these Jewish converts who were in danger of forsaking Christ and going back to the law. So consider carefully why this is a terrible mistake.

I Jesus our Brother

Ironically it is Moses who predicted a greater prophet. In Deuteronomy 18 he says vss. 15-18 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”  The LORD said to me: “What they say is good.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” Both Moses and Jesus came from among the brethren. Both were prophet and apostle and priest. And both Moses and Jesus were faithful. So how is Jesus superior? Notice in verses 1 and 2 we are told to fix our thoughts on Jesus the one we confess, Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Nobody confesses Moses as an individual because there is nothing to confess about the man. Nobody is to concentrate their attention on Moses because he is a sinful human being. But Jesus not only is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, He makes us holy, and brings us to heaven. Thus believers are called holy brothers here, and partakers of the heavenly calling. To confess Moses and gaze upon Moses is to become bitter and unhappy because we come to believe that all our happiness depends on being more virtuous than others. Someone has said, “Many a man has followed the ten commandments all his life, but no one has ever managed to catch up with them.”  The futility of following Moses is ironically illustrated by the fact that Newsweek magazine reported in 1984 that over a hundred Torahs had been stolen from synagogues. The Torah is Moses writings.  A NYC Police investigator said, unless these Torahs are being sold to unwitting people, what is the point? Surely the Torah is the one thing that’s useless if it’s stolen. I’m in favor of publicly posting the ten commandments, but not as a way of salvation.

II Jesus our Builder

In elementary school, I had a textbook on American History called “The Builders of Our Nation.” Moses was regarded as the builder of the nation Israel, but he wasn’t. God was the builder and Moses was only a servant in the house. Jesus is God, which means he is the builder as we read in verses 3 and 4,  Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. God does not dwell in temples made with hands, buildings of wood and stone. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:19 -22 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. An architectural plan requires a cornerstone, a redeemer, who is the foundation of a new world.  You are God’s house as our text says in v.6b.  The builder chooses the stones and places them. Now Paul says in Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. This is the difference between the builder and the building blocks. The agent of change is Jesus the builder. Jesus says I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. He says this after Peter has confessed who he is: the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter is confessing Christ as the builder. In that same passage in Matthew 16 Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” They say John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Elijah, or another one of the prophets risen from the dead. In fact, in Luke the word prophet is singular, “the prophet” apparently referring to Deuteronomy 18 and Moses prediction. Six days later is the transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and when Peter says let’s build three shelters, Poof, they’re gone and God says wake up this is my Son. Hear Him-he is the builder. You can’t build your life on religion but only on Christ.  Peter can build shelters till the end of time, but churches can’t save, Jesus can.

III Jesus our Benefactor.

The third difference between Moses and Christ is that Moses only predicted the glory that was to come, but Christ is the glory. Verses 5 and 6 declare, Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. This is the primary meaning of John’s words, the law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. He doesn’t mean the law is bad and Jesus is good. Rather the law could not save but Jesus can. Saving faith needs more than words, more than promises. It needs someone who has kept the promise. At best Moses failed. He couldn’t even bring the children of Israel into the land of promise. He saw it from a distance. This is a parable on his position in history.  Like the law he delivered, he can help us see our need, but he can never bring us into the inheritance. Moses died on mount Nebo because he had broken faith. Jesus died on Mount Calvary because we had broken faith. Moses brings you broken laws. Jesus brings you the Law of the spirit of life because he obeyed perfectly to the point of absolute surrender on the cross. Moses says walk in the way in which I failed to walk. Jesus says I am the way walk with me and I will walk in you.

Conclusion:


Like the oft repeated chorus to a song comes the refrain. Hold on to your courage and hope. There is no hope for these Jewish converts in Moses, no hope for America, no hope for you, except in Jesus the Son of God who paid the price of your salvation on Calvary. The author of Hebrews has already said it in 2:14,15, Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. This is the true exodus. Not the exodus of Moses from slavery in Egypt, but the exodus of Jesus from the slavery and penalty of sin.