I would like to start with a quote about faithfulness from a man by the name of Vance Habner. He wrote the following:
God is faithful, and He expects his people to be faithful. God’s Word speaks of faithful servants. Faithful in a few things. Faithful in the least. Faithful in the Lord. Faithful ministers. It all points to that day when He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” What terrible times we have trying to keep people faithful in attendance and loyalty. How we reward, coax, and analyze church members into doing things that they don’t want to do, but which they would do if they loved God. The only service that counts is faithful service. True faith shows up in faithfulness. Not everyone can sing, serve, or preach, but all can be faithful.
I am not sure that I agree with everything that Vance Habner said, but I do know this – I agree that we need to be faithful. Did you know that faithfulness is spoken of a number of times in the gospels? For example, in Matthew 23:23 we are told that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees. Jesus rebuked them for paying attention to many little details while they ignored major issues such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. In Galatians 5:22-23 we are given a list of the fruit of the Spirit. The first fruit of the Spirit is love, then peace, patience, joy, goodness, kindness and faithfulness. Isn’t it interesting that one of the fruits of the Spirit is faithfulness? The Holy Spirit is working to make us faithful. We get excited about love, peace, joy, and sometimes we forget about patience. Patience is something we all struggle with, but how about faithfulness? I have to admit faithfulness is not something that I often think about when I think about the fruit of the Spirit.
In the gospels there are many parables from Jesus. Among the parables there is one about a servant who received a reward because he was faithful. The one who was faithful got a reward. The principle is one who is faithful receives honor. Faithfulness is important in the Christian life. I find that all too often we are motivated by our emotions. When we have a difficult time or encounter a difficult situation, we get moody, and then we are not very interested in being faithful at that point: therefore, we aren’t. But 2 Timothy 2:2 calls us to be faithful. God wants us to be faithful. The Holy Spirit is working so that we will be faithful. That is, we are supposed to be faithful. The reason we are discussing faithfulness is that our study is about faithfulness. It is about Jesus and about Moses who were both faithful.
Review of Chapters 1-2
Our study begins in Hebrews 3:1. The book of Hebrews was written to Jews. Some of them were not Christians and some of them were Christians. Both worshiped together and that is also true today. We will discover later that they had gone through a difficult time, and some of these folks had questions about Jesus. The book of Hebrews is written to help non-Christians come to faith and Christians to become serious about their faith.
So far in our study in Hebrews we have discovered that Jesus is greater than the angels. That was an important truth for the Jewish readers because they were struggling to understand who was Jesus Christ. It is an important truth for everyone. Throughout the book of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit is trying to help the Jewish readers understand who Jesus was and is. In the process of teaching that Jesus is greater than the angels, the Holy Spirit taught that Jesus is also our Creator and God.
The unbelievers had heard about Christ. They had heard He died on a cross, but they were starting to move away. Therefore, in the beginning of chapter two they were called to believe in Jesus. In Hebrews 2:3 we read,
How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Hebrews 2:3 (NASB)
The point was how are you going to escape judgment if you ignore Jesus?
Written to Holy Brethren
In Hebrews chapter three we are going to be told that Jesus is greater than Moses. If you are not a Jew it will be difficult to understand why it is important to know that Jesus is greater than Moses. It is important to understand that Jews highly regarded Moses. Jews had high regard for both angels and Moses.
Therefore, let’s look at chapter three, verse one. We are told,
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession . . . Hebrews 3:1 (NASB)
This verse tells us who the passage is written to. It is written to the holy brethren or those who are partakers of a heavenly calling. Now, the question is who are those folks? What does “holy brethren” mean? The term “brethren” is very common in the New Testament, and it can refer to Christians as well as non-Christians. But the keyword is the “holy.” The Greek word for holy is “hagios“. It means holy or holy ones. The word “holy” implies that they were holy. Years ago, I was talking with a man who was describing a certain individual. He told me that this man was really holy, and he honored and respected that man because he was really holy. I knew what he meant. He did not mean that the person was without sin, that the person was without fault, or that the person did not have any serious problems in his life. He meant that the person, for the most part, was as holy as you can get in this life. That is not the meaning of the word here. The Greek word hagios has the idea that a person is without sin. A person who is holy as God is holy. That is, all of your past sins are forgiven, all of the sins that you commit today are forgiven, and all of the sins that you will commit in the future are forgiven. All of your sins are forgiven! All your sins are forgiven as far as the East is from the West. All of them are forgiven. Who is holy? Those whose sins have been forgiven in the past, the present, and the future already. Christians! Christians are people who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. They are people who believe that Jesus is God, they believe He died to forgive us of our sins. They are people who see themselves as sinners and have asked God to forgive their sins. Christians are the holy brethren.
As a result, the holy brethren are partakers of a heavenly calling. Later on in Hebrews 11:16, we will find that they will inherit a heavenly country. Hebrews 12:23 will say they will inherit a heavenly Jerusalem. In Revelations 21 we read the following,
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. Revelation 21:1 (NASB)
The verse tells us that the current heavens and the current earth are all going to disappear some day.
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them . . .” Revelation 21:2-3 (NASB)
This is a picture of the new heaven. Sometimes we think of heaven as being a place where we will be sitting on clouds. Well, no, no! There will be a place for us to live, a place to walk and a new city called Jerusalem. Since we will be partakers of this heavenly calling, we will inherit a new country, a new land, and a new Jerusalem. The capitol will be in heaven. It will be called Jerusalem. It will not be the Jerusalem of today. It is a future Jerusalem with all the magnificence, and God will be there.
Jesus Christ is Our Apostle & High Priest
Hebrews 3:1 says,
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession . . . Hebrews 3:1 (NASB)
Now you may say, wait a minute, the Holy Spirit is talking to Christians. Why would He ask Christians to consider Jesus? Because these Christians were struggling in their relationship with Jesus Christ. They were wondering about who Jesus is. Now, I do not know if you are a Christian and if you have some doubts about who Jesus really is. If you do have questions, then this study is for you. In fact, the entire book of Hebrews is for you.
The Spirit says “Consider Jesus.” He tells us two important things about Jesus. First, Jesus is the apostle and high priest of our confession. Now the Greek word for apostle, apostolos, means “sent one.” That is, Jesus is a “sent one . . .” We will talk more about that in a little bit. We have already been told that Jesus is our high priest in Hebrews 2:17. In that verse we were told that “Jesus is our merciful and faithful high priest.” So, verse one is essentially a summary of key parts of chapter two. Therefore, Jesus is the apostle and high priest of our faith, of our confession. Jesus is the One who was sent to die for our sins and became our High Priest as a result. As High Priest He forgives our sins and comforts us. This will become clearer later.
Jesus Christ Is More Faithful Than Moses
The Holy Spirit has been setting us up for a series of comparisons between Jesus and Moses and a critical conclusion. It is important to know that when the Holy Spirit said “Apostle,” He was actually preparing us for a statement about Moses in verse two.
He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. Hebrews 3:2 (NASB)
If you think back to the time when God met Moses, called him and sent him to the Israelites to deliver them from Egypt into Canaan, that reveals Moses was a sent one – an apostle. He was one sent by God. Therefore, when the Spirit says that Jesus is the apostle or a “sent one,” that was a very important comment because it prepares us for the point that both Moses and Jesus were sent.
When the Spirit said that Jesus was the High Priest of our confession it is important to understand that Moses was never a high priest. At this point, a Jewish reader would start comparing Jesus and Moses. Jesus is a sent one. Moses is a sent one. Jesus is a high priest but Moses was not a high priest. A Jewish reader is going to be making all of these comparisons. The conclusion is that Jesus is more important than Moses, because Jesus was a high priest, but Moses was not.
Verse two is important so let’s slow down and think about this verse. It says, “He was faithful to him.” Now, the question is who is he? The him refers to Jesus. “And was faithful to him who appointed him.” The one who sent Christ was God the Father. Therefore, watch this, Jesus was faithful to God the Father. When we think about being faithful, faithfulness is always toward somebody or something. Faithfulness always has an object. If you are faithful, you are faithful to somebody or you are faithful to something. For example, are you faithful to your wife? Are you faithful to your husband? You can be faithful to your wife, or unfaithful to your wife. You can be faithful to your husband, or unfaithful to your husband. You can be faithful to your employer, or you can be unfaithful to your employer. You can be faithful to your country, or you can be unfaithful to your country. You can be faithful to your church, or you can be unfaithful to your church. You can be faithful to God, or unfaithful to God. Therefore, we have the conclusion that Jesus was faithful to God the Father who appointed Him. This is a very important conclusion about Jesus.
In John 6:57 Jesus says, “As the living father sent me . . . ” I like that, Christ was faithful to the living Father. God the Father was not a dead father. God is not dead. He is a living Father. We cannot see him, but He is living. He is alive and He is active. The important part of the verse is that the living Father sent Jesus. He appointed him. Look at John 8:16,
But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me. John 8:16 (NASB)
The verse says the Father appointed Jesus for a task and sent Him to accomplish that task. In John 15:10 we find that Jesus was faithful to his Father’s will. Jesus is an example of faithfulness. We are to be faithful as He is faithful. Therefore, in Hebrews 3:2, we see that “He was faithful to Him who appointed Him.”
Now, here is the comparison to Moses, “. . . as Moses also was in all his house.” That is, Jesus and Moses were both faithful but in different ways. The Jews would have recognized that Moses had been faithful. In Numbers 12 there was a discussion that occurred between Moses and Miriam and Aaron. In Numbers 12:1-7 we read the following,
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, he said,
“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.
I shall speak with him in a dream.
“Not so, with My servant Moses,
He is faithful in all My household . . . Numbers 12:1-7 (NASB)
Do you know what God said about Moses? Moses was faithful. Notice the word “all” in this passage. “Moses was faithful in all of his household.” Verse 8 says,
With him I speak mouth to mouth,
Even openly, and not in dark sayings,
And he beholds the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant, against Moses?” Numbers 12:8 (NASB)
If I had been Miriam or Aaron, I do not think that I would have been very happy at that point. If God had rebuked me for having war with Moses – verbal war – I do not think I would have been very happy because I would have just been rebuked by God Himself.
What is important about this passage? It gives us an important truth about the relationship between God and Moses. The truth is that God and Moses talked mouth to mouth. This reveals that they had a very close relationship. When God communicated with Moses, He talked with him one-on-one. Some prophets received dreams or visions, but not Moses. With Moses, God talked with him one-on-one. But the best part of this passage is that God says Moses was faithful. Remember that in Hebrews 3:2, we were told, “And he was faithful to Him, who had appointed Him as Moses was in all of his household.” Jesus was and is faithful just as Moses was faithful. Just as Moses was faithful, Jesus was faithful too!
The New American Standard Bible, the New King James Version, the New International Version, and the New Living Translation gloss a very important point of truth in this verse. In verse 2 we were told, “Then, He was faithful to Him.” The impression left is that Jesus was faithful. It implies that Jesus was faithful in the past. The Greek word for the English word was is a present participle which implies ongoing activity. Consequently, it should be translated as “is.” He is being faithful. Moses was faithful in the past, but Jesus is still being faithful. Jesus was faithful while here on the earth to the Father, and Jesus is still faithful in heaven. He is continuing to be faithful. Jesus is better than Moses because He was also a high priest. Jesus is better than Moses in that he is more faithful than Moses. He is faithful on an ongoing basis.
The Builder and the House
When we come to verse 3 we see a black and white statement that Jesus is superior to Moses.
For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. Hebrews 3:3 (NASB)
We are told that Jesus is counted worthy of more glory than Moses. We must ask, why does the Holy Spirit say that? Is it because Jesus is a high priest? Is it because Jesus has been more faithful and is continuing to be faithful? Is that the reason Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses? The answer is no! Those are not the only reasons.
The Spirit is going to give us a third reason, and the reason begins to unfold in the last part of verse 3 and continues through verse 6. Here is what He is going to do: He is going to make a comparison between a builder and a house, and then make a conclusion. The Holy Spirit says, “The builder of the house has more honor than the house.” Now stop and think! Why would the builder have more honor than a house? He designed it, right? He decided what the house was going to look like, its dimensions, its color, and all the details about the house. The builder is the one who is the master architect. The builder determines exactly how the house will be built. The builder has more honor than the house. That is why the builder has more honor than the house. Now the only question is who is the builder? Also, who is the house?
Jesus Christ is Builder
Verse 4 tells us who the builder is.
For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Hebrews 3:4 (NASB)
Somebody might say, “When I build something, I build it. That means I am the builder” That is what the verse says. It says for every house is built by somebody, but then we are told the builder of all things is who? The answer is God the Father. This reminds me of Psalm 127:1. It is a verse that I memorized years ago and I have remembered it to this day. It says,
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain. Psalm 127:1 (NASB)
The verse says that every house is built by somebody but the real builder is God. Unless God is active in the building process, we can build all we want, but we are not going to get anything built. God is the real builder. I can try to preach a sermon, but unless the Lord is active in the process, I am wasting my time. I can try with all my heart, but unless God is actively involved, just forget it. It is just not going to happen. God is the real builder.
Moses Was A Faithful Servant
But what about the house that the builder built? Verse 5 describes the house.
Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later . . . Hebrews 3:5 (NASB)
We are told that Moses was faithful in all His house. This sounds like Moses owns the house. But, no, he is not the builder or owner. Verse 5 says Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant. He is a servant in the house. Servants do not own the house in which they work. He is a worker in the house.
If we can look back to Numbers 12:7 we realize that Moses was faithful in all his house. In Numbers 12:7 God said “Moses was faithful in My house.” This means that there are two faithful individuals: Jesus and Moses. This passage is about faithfulness. It is a section about who is more faithful but Jesus is more faithful. He was and is more faithful than Moses. Moses was only a servant in the house that God owns, and if he is a servant in the house, then someone else built the house.
Jesus Christ is the Builder
Verse 6 is the first time that we see the name “Christ” in the book of Hebrews. We have not seen His name earlier in this book.
. . . but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house — whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. Hebrews 3:6 (NASB)
We have seen “Jesus” before. We have seen the term “Son” before, and now for the first time we see “Christ.” The Spirit wants us to know that Christ is the son over God’s house. Remember that Jesus is called the Son of God (Hebrews 1:5).
For to which of the angels did He ever say,
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?
“I will be a Father to Him
And He shall be a Son to Me”? Hebrews 1:5 (NASB)
Next we are told that Christ is a Son over His house. That is, God the Father is the owner and builder of the house and Christ is over the house as a manager.
The House is Christians
But who is the house? The house is all true Christians! The verse says, “Christ was faithful as a Son over His house — whose house we are . . .” Because the Holy Spirit wants to make sure that any reader understands who are true Christians. Then He quickly adds, “. . . if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” That is, any true Christian will continue believing in Christ and not depart from the faith. Just because someone once claimed to believe in Christ does not mean that they are really part of “His house.”
But Moses Was Not Completely Faithful
Now you might be thinking, “That does not mean very much to me. I am a Gentile and that does not mean very much to me.” For the Jews this was a powerful argument. The first time I read this passage I had a question going through my mind, but it was not answered in these six verses. The events that occur in Numbers 20 happen in the last year of Israel’s wilderness journey. The Israelites have been journeying from the land of Egypt to the land of Canaan, and only months are left. They are camped at a place called the wilderness of Zen. The Israelites find that there is no water. They find that there isn’t a lot of food, and start complaining. They complained to Moses. He and Aaron go before God and ask God to resolve the situation. God tells Moses to speak to the rock and then water would flow. But Moses goes out to meet the people but he does not speak to the rock. Instead he hits the rock, and as a result, God tells Moses he cannot go to the Promised Land. Every time I think about that, I always think that if I had been Moses, that would have been the worst news that I could have heard. It would have been the worst because it was my responsibility to take the Israelites out of the land of Egypt into the land of Canaan. It would have also been the worst because I wanted to see the Promised Land. But I was derailed by a group of people who were unbelieving and unwilling to trust God.
As a result, Moses got stuck wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Now he is at the very end of the 40 year journey and about ready to enter the Promised Land, and he sinned. Because he hit the rock, God said he could not go. Just imagine dying before you get there. Later in Deuteronomy 3:23-27, we can read that Moses complained and pleaded with God to let him go into the land.
Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon. Deuteronomy 3:25 (NASB)
But God said, “Enough Moses. Be quiet. I don’t want to hear any more about this. You are not going.” Then in Deuteronomy 32:51, God tells Moses that he broke faith with Him. Moses broke faith. I take that to mean that Moses was not faithful. He was not as completely faithful as God had wanted him to be. This example from the life of Moses reveals that God expects much from those who serve him, especially those whom He puts in positions of responsibility.
If I’d been a Jew reading this passage, I would have said, “Wait a minute! Moses could not go to the Promised Land. That reveals he was not always faithful.” Isn’t it amazing that the Holy Spirit does not mention that incident at all in Hebrews 3. He does not mention it at all. He could have. It would have proven how much more faithful Jesus was. But the Spirit does not. This reveals that God looks at the pattern of life of a man or woman and not at a single disappointing event in his or her life.
Jesus is Superior to Moses
Yet, this shows us that Jesus is really faithful. He was and is more faithful than Moses. But the Holy Spirit didn’t need to do that. There is enough evidence to show that Jesus was and is faithful, but do you know what the example of Moses does reveal about our God? It screams that God’s merciful. In the New Testament, nothing is said about Moses’ slipping-up at the end of his ministry. Nothing! What Moses only gets in the New Testament is honor. That’s all he gets. He gets honor and accolades. That is God’s mercy! God’s love! It reveals God’s faithfulness to us. It is truly terrific that God does not say anything negative about Moses at all in Hebrews. Moses was faithful in his general management and his general oversight of the Israelites. It was not necessary to say about what happened at the end because Moses was faithful as a pattern of life. Moses brought the Israelites all the way up to the point of entering the Promised Land and they were able to go in on their own. Moses was incredibly faithful for 40 years, through pain and struggle and trial. It is incredible what Moses did, but Jesus is even more incredible. What is the point of these six verses? Jesus is greater than Moses.
Now we could have asked, “Jesus is our example of what?” The answer is faithfulness! We are called to be faithful too! We saw that at the very beginning of the message. God has called us to be faithful too! We are to be faithful to him. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is what? Faithfulness! Are you faithful? Are you faithful to God? Are you faithful in every area of life as He would want you to be? Or, do you just pick when to be faithful? Or, will you do things for God when it is convenient, or when you feel like it? I find sometimes that my problem is not that I have an intellectual issue, but because I have an emotional problem. Emotionally, I do not want to do certain things because I do not feel like it. Yet, God asked us to use our head and be faithful. I would like to close with an illustration that I think will make the point that we are to be faithful.
One of the most tragic events during the Reagan presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble. A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corp. Commandant Paul Kelley visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt Germany Hospital. Among them was Corp. Jeffery Lee Nashton. He was severely wounded in the incident. Corp. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man. Yet, he survived. As Corp. Kelley neared him, Corp. Nashton struggled to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the commandant. On the slip of paper were two words, “Semper Fi,” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words, Corp. Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who had sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country. These are those who have remained faithful. I was thinking to myself, maybe Christians should adopt Semper Fi – Forever faithful. Wouldn’t that be great? We are called to be faithful forever!