“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 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. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” (Heb 3:1-6)
Jesus Is Superior to Moses
In chapter 1, the author talked about how Jesus is superior to all the prophets and angels. Now, in chapter 3, he explains Jesus’ superiority over Moses.
Hebrews 3:3 says,
“Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself” (Heb 3:3)
The importance of Moses in the history of Israel can’t be emphasized enough. Through Moses, God delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh’s oppression. God gave his laws and the ten commandments to Moses.
The five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—are collectively referred to as the Torah and are considered to be the most important books in the Old Testament.
All Jews learn about the Torah from an early age and thus it has an impact on every aspect of their lives. The Torah isn’t just the law they are to follow, but their identity.
So, early Jewish Christians generally held one of two views. On the one hand, traditional Judaism was quite clear that God had given Moses his law, and that this law was absolute.
On the other hand, some Christians were so excited to think that the new age had arrived with Jesus that they thought that there was nothing good to say about Moses and the law at all. We already saw this conflict and tension in Romans. Keeping the law of Moses was probably the most serious debate in early Christianity. That was the reason the first council was held in Jerusalem in Acts 15.
And, like Paul, the writer of Hebrews is determined to resist all those opposing views. He makes it clear that Jesus brought about God’s new age so that the law that Moses brought to God’s people can no longer have the last word.
But, he never denied the importance of Moses and his law. If that had been the case, he wouldn’t have even mentioned his name or the law.
What the author is pointing out is that even though Moses matters, Jesus matters even more. Then, he explained how Jesus is superior to Moses.
First, Hebrews 3:2-3 says,
“He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.” (Heb 3:2-3)
Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Here, God’s house refers to God’s people. Moses was worthy of receiving honor because he faithfully guided them in accordance with God’s will for them.
But, even though Moses played a very important role in the history of Israel, Jesus is worthy of greater honor than him since Jesus was the builder of God’s house. Moses was faithful to God’s house, but he himself was also part of it. But Jesus was not part of God’s house. He was the founder of the house.
The author continued,
“For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything” (Heb 3:4).
Here again, the author equates Jesus with God. In the previous verse, he introduces Jesus as the builder of God’s house. And, right in the next verse, he says that God is the builder. So, again Jesus wasn’t one of God’s creatures because he himself was God in his nature. Therefore, Jesus is superior to Moses.
What’s more, according to Hebrews, Jesus wasn’t only the builder of God’s house, but Lord over it. Hebrews 3:5-6 says,
“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house…” (Heb 3:5-6)
The main contrast between Moses and Jesus is made with the picture of the servant and the Son. As I said before, Jesus being the Son of God is a very important subject that continues to appear in Hebrews.
Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, but Jesus owns the house as the Son of God. Moses only bore witness to what God said to him, but Jesus himself was God’s perfect revelation as we discussed in chapter 1.
These were the reasons the author of Hebrews used to explain why Jesus is superior to Moses. Moses was a temporary servant, but Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Moses was part of God’s house, but Jesus is the builder of the house. Moses was faithful to God’s house as a servant, but Jesus was faithful to God’s house as the Lord of it. Moses only delivered God’s message to God’s house, but Jesus was God’s revelation himself.
In addition, even though the author speaks about how Moses was faithful to the mission God gave him to serve his house, we know that he wasn’t perfect. When God called him, Moses tried to reject the calling several times at first. And, when God commanded him to speak to a rock to pour out its water, Moses angrily struck the rock twice with his staff instead, which didn’t honor God or show his holiness in the sight of the Israelites.
But, Jesus never rejected God’s calling even though it required him to go through suffering and even lay down his life. When he was falsely accused, mocked, spat on, and slapped, he didn’t try to defend himself but remained silent because his highest priority was to show God’s holiness and righteousness. Moses made mistakes, but Jesus never failed to obey God’s will.
Even though Moses was faithful, his faithfulness wasn’t even worthy of being compared to Jesus’ faithfulness.
So, from these facts, we know how Jesus is superior to Moses. But, the author’s intention is not really to diminish Moses by making Jesus superior to him. He knew exactly how great Moses was considered to be in Israel’s history. He didn’t deny the fact that Moses was one of Israel’s greatest leaders.
The author’s main focus was not to diminish Moses, but to lift up Jesus. And, his intention is clear. By comparing Jesus to Moses, he shows how great Jesus is and by doing so encourages his readers not to abandon Jesus to follow Moses, which would mean reverting to Judaism.
To go back to Judaism is like going from something great to something old and inferior. It’s like giving up eternal things for temporary things.
Therefore, by explaining Jesus’ superiority over Moses, the author strongly urges the readers to fix their thoughts on Jesus and not turn away from him because of the severe persecutions and hardships in front of them.
We Are His House
So, the author of Hebrews explained how Jesus is superior to Moses using the metaphor of God’s house. Then, what does this house refer to?
Most first-century Jews who heard the term ‘God’s house’ would immediately have thought of the temple. But, Hebrews introduces the concept of God’s house not as a building but as God’s people.
After writing about how Jesus is faithful over all God’s house, the writer continued,
“And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” (Heb 3:6)
It’s true that God’s house was primarily represented by a physical building of the temple in the Old Testament. But, in the New Testament, the concept of God’s house changed.
Paul said, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Co 3:16)
When Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, he called the Christians there the church of God. He said,
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God… to the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ - their Lord and ours” (1Co 1:1-2).
Thus, in the New Testament, the temple of God or the church of God doesn’t refer to a physical building anymore. All of God’s people sanctified in Jesus, who call on the name of the Lord, are God’s church, God’s temple, and God’s house that he dwells in.
This enormous change occurred when the curtain separating people from the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom. Now, we can go into the Most Holy Place where God’s presence is through Jesus’ blood and therefore we become God’s house.
One more thing we need to remember regarding God’s house is that it doesn’t only refer to individuals, but also a community of believers.
Paul said in Eph 2:19-22,
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his 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” (Eph 2:19-22).
I think this is a beautiful image of Christians being God’s family and God’s house together. We can’t stand alone. We can’t be a true church unless we’re linked with other Christians. For us to become a holy temple in the Lord, we must be joined together on the basis of the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ. In that sense, we’re more like bricks that make up God’s house.
This truth was likely comforting to Jewish Christians. Just as it is today, because of their faith in Jesus, they fell away from Judaism, their family and friends. So, the fact that they now belonged to a new family in God through Christ that was eternally guaranteed gave them strong confidence.
This also applies to our faith. “We are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope” (Heb 3:6) in Christ Jesus.
This is the basis of our confidence. If we continue to cling to Jesus, our salvation is surely guaranteed because the one who builds us as his house is God. For us to remember this truth is important because it brings us perseverance.
Throughout the entire book of Hebrews, we see the connection between safety and perseverance. Because we know that our salvation is safely guaranteed in Jesus, we can persevere through hardships.
Hebrews constantly tells us that Jesus is able to save us, to empathize with our weaknesses, and to help us as our eternal high priest. That should be the basis of our faith and perseverance.
As Christians, we don’t put our hope in ourselves, but in Jesus, our high priest. We don’t put our hope in what we’ve done, but what he has done and will do for us. The one who promises to help us and protect us never fails us and he is eternally faithful to his house.
In him, we become God’s house together. That’s the reason we’re gathered here and worship him together. I hope everyone of us here today experiences his great love, protection and guidance so that we can put our hope only in Jesus and be built as God’s holy temple, church, and house together.