Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Hebrews 3

Verses 1-19

Shall we turn in our Bibles now to Hebrews the third chapter.

Wherefore, holy brethren ( Hebrews 3:1 ),

The word wherefore immediately leads us back to that which is immediately preceding, and that is the declaration of the superiority of Jesus over the angels. Because He is superior over the angelic beings being the Son of God.

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus ( Hebrews 3:1 );

Here we are called upon to consider Jesus, and that's what the book of Hebrews, really, is all about. And again later on we'll be called to consider Jesus.

Paul calls them, "holy brethren and partakers of the heavenly calling." He calls Jesus, "the Apostle and High Priest of our confession."

The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrews. Those who had grown up and had been thoroughly trained in the religion of the Hebrews, in Judaism, who were used to having a high priest; used to the ceremonies in the temple; used to all of the regalia and the worship of the priesthood. They were used to the high priest going in on the Day of Atonement and making atonement for the sins of the people. Now he is going to declare we have a high priest, and in time he is going to show the superiority of our High Priest over the priests who are after the order of Levi.

But for the time being in chapter three, he is going to show us the superiority of Jesus over Moses through whom the priesthood was established. In other words, God established His house, the spiritual house, through Moses. And it was through Moses that the tabernacle was set up and the dimensions and all declared. And so he's going to show the superiority of Jesus.

"Consider now the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, the Messiah Jesus."

Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all of his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who has builded the house has more honor than the house ( Hebrews 3:2-3 ).

Now it is interesting that the figure of the house is used for the congregation of the people of God. We are told in the New Testament that the church is the building of God. We are the royal priesthood. We are of the household of faith. This idea of the house of God being the church, God's people, where God dwells. In the Old Testament Israel was the house of God and the temple was known as the house of the Lord. When Solomon built the temple, he called it the house of the Lord. "I know that the heaven of heavens cannot contain you, how much less this house that we have built." ( 2 Chronicles 6:18 )

The interesting thing to me, the glorious thing to me is that God desires to dwell with His people. Now, He could dwell anywhere in the universe that He pleased, and He does fill the universe, but it is the Lord's desire to come and to dwell among His people. God just loves dwelling among His people. Oh, that we would recognize the presence of God as He comes to dwell among His people. And so tonight as we lift our voices in worship and praise unto Him, God dwelling here in the midst of His people. Just an awesome reality how God loves to dwell among His people.

The one who builds the house is greater than the house itself. It was the Lord who built the house; thus, He is greater than the house. He is deserving of more honor and glory.

For every house is builded by some man ( Hebrews 3:4 );

That is the idea of the effect and a cause. You cannot have an effect without a cause. Every house is built by some man. You look at a house and you like the architecture and the style and you say, "I wonder who built that house. I wonder who drew up the designs." And if I would try and snow you and say, "Nobody built that house, just one day it appeared there. You know, we had an earthquake and the earth was shaking and all, and pop. Right out of the earth here this thing is; beautiful dormers and stainglasses and the whole thing, just marvelous." You'd say, "You're crazy, man." You can't have an effect without a cause. You can't have a house without a builder. Things just don't happen that way, unless they're man according to the evolutionary theory. Every house has a builder, the cause and effect, and the builder of all things is God. It is the argument of cause and effect.

Here's the house. And if you've got a house, you have to have a builder of the house. Here's the church. You have to have one that built the church. Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build My church." So he who has built the house is greater than the house itself.

and he who built all things is God. Now Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after ( Hebrews 3:4-5 );

So Moses was faithful; he gave to us the laws of God. He was a servant and he declared unto us the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, the worship, the ordinances, which were all a shadow of Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote in Colossians, "These things were all a shadow of things to come. The real substance is Jesus." If you go back in the law, if you go back in the sacrifices, if you go back in the ordinances and in those things, you will find that Jesus is behind it all. It is all pointing to Jesus. The offering for sin and all, they are all pointing to Jesus. So he was a faithful servant as he testified of those things which were to be spoken after. So there is the prophetic aspect to the writings of Moses that were fulfilled in Jesus.

But Christ as a son over his own house ( Hebrews 3:6 );

Moses was a servant in the house, faithful, but Christ is as the son over the house.

whose house we are, [the house of Jesus Christ, the building of God, the church, the place where God has chosen to dwell] if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end ( Hebrews 3:6 ).

Here we have the exhortation towards perseverance. There was a danger and it was happening that some of the Jews who had come out of Judaism and all of its traditions, they were beginning to slip back into Judaism, going back to the traditions. So Paul is warning them . . . I believe it is Paul. Whoever it was that wrote Hebrews is warning them, and if I slip and say Paul, you'll know that that's my opinion. Is warning them to maintain their hope that they have come to in Christ and hold fast that confidence and the rejoicing of hope unto the end.

Wherefore as the Holy Spirit saith, Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of the temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works for forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest ( Hebrews 3:7-11 ).

So he is going to make reference to this ninety-fifth Psalm a couple of times here in chapters 3 and 4, as he is going to be pointing out the superiority of Jesus over Moses. For Moses, a servant in the house bringing them the testimony of God and the law of God, could not lead them into the rest. Moses could not lead them into the Promise Land. They came to the waters of Meribah, which means strife. They came to the wilderness to the area of Meribah and they cried unto Moses and said, "You've brought us out here to die. We have no water. We're going to perish. We would have been better to have stayed in Egypt." Moses had been hearing this stuff for forty years, and he had had it. He couldn't take it any more. He went in before God and said, "God, I've had it. I can't stand it. Nothing but murmuring and griping for forty years. They're not my children. I didn't produce all these people and I'm sick of trying to carry them." God said, "Moses, they're thirsty. They need water. You go out and speak to the rock that it might bring forth water." But Moses was angry. He was upset. He was sick of their murmuring and so he went out and said, "You bunch of hypocrites, always murmuring and complaining. Must I take my rod and smite this rock again to give you water?" He took his rod and he smote the rock. The water came forth and the people drank. But God said, "Moses, come here, son. Did I tell you to strike the rock?" "No." "What did I tell you?" He said, "Speak to the rock." "Why did you smite it?" "I was angry." "Yes. Moses, you are my representative to those people. They look to you to understand Me, my attitudes. Moses, you misrepresented Me. You represented Me as being angry and upset. I'm not angry and upset. They need water and I know that. I'm compassionate. I'm cognizant of their need. Because you failed to represent Me before the people, Moses, I just can't let you lead them into the land." "Oh, come on, Lord. You can't be serious." "Yes, I am Moses." "Lord, that's been the ambition of my life. It's the only reason I've been hanging around." "Sorry, Moses." "Oh, please!" "No way." And though Moses besought the Lord, the Lord would not let him lead them into the land. He could not take them into the rest.

That is significant in that Moses being representative of the law through history, it is interesting to observe the fact that the law, or the works of the law, can never bring you into the place of rest in the Lord. By your obedience to the law, by your keeping the law, it will never bring you into rest. The law cannot bring you into the rest of God.

The people provoked God earlier in their history, then they came to Kadesh-Barnea. It is an eleven-day journey from Mount Horeb to Kadesh-Barnea the scripture says, but it took them forty years. They came to Kadesh-Barnea in the beginning. They sent spies into the land, of which ten came back with an evil report bringing fear into the hearts of the people, which ultimated in unbelief. They said, "We can't go in. We can't do it. We can't take the land." Because of that heart of unbelief, God was provoked. He said, "All right, because you're not trusting in Me, you say that you're afraid if you go in there your children will all be killed, I'll tell you what. This is going to be the longest funeral procession in history. You're going to stay here in the wilderness until you all die and your children for whom you feared, they will be the ones who will go in and take the land."

So they never entered into God's rest. Moses couldn't bring them into God's rest, and so he quotes from this Psalm. As the psalmist, talking about the goodness of God and the mercies of God and all, turns to the subject of their failure in the wilderness to enter into the rest. "Harden not your hearts," He said, "as in the day of provocation when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. And I said, They have not known my ways, so I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter into my rest.'"

Take heed, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God ( Hebrews 3:12 ).

Again, the departing from God. These people had been delivered from Egypt. They'd come out of the bondage of Egypt. The issue isn't the deliverance from sin, the issue is the entering into the fullness that God has for you. There are many people who have peace with God because they have been delivered from the power of sin from darkness into the kingdom of light, but they don't have the peace of God. They have not entered into the rest. They haven't entered into that full, rich, abundant life of the Spirit that God has promised unto us. Their Christian experience is a wilderness experience, as they wander through the wilderness. They don't really enjoy the walk with the Lord as they should be enjoying it. It's sort of a constant trial where God wants you to come into that fullness of the life in the Spirit and know the victory of the Spirit of God within your life, entering into that rich fullness of the Lord.

And so they wandered for forty years as an example of what happens when we, by our unbelief, fail to receive the promises of God. So we are needing to take heed that we not depart from the living God.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end ( Hebrews 3:13-14 );

Again, the exhortation towards perseverance twice here in the text. Actually, three times within the text. "If we hold our confidence steadfast to the end."

While it is said, Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved for forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? and to whom sware he that they should not enter into the rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief ( Hebrews 3:15-19 ).

It is important for us to notice their failure was the failure of faith. They did not believe God was able to bring them into the land. They, somehow, were looking at their own resources and looking at the power of the enemy. They were saying, "We can't do it. We're unable to go in." Many times we find that it is our unbelief that keeps us from entering into that full rich life that God would have us to experience and to enjoy. Again, our problem is our looking at our own resources and looking at the power of the enemy. Always when we get our eyes off the Lord and onto the enemy, terror fills our heart, and unbelief. We've got to know that there is greater power with us than that which is against us. "Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world" ( 1 John 4:4 ).

And so Jesus the High Priest of our confession, greater than Moses in that Moses was only a servant in the house. Jesus, the Son, ruling over the house, the builder of the house. Moses unable to take them into God's rest, whereas Jesus will bring us into God's rest.


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Hebrews 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.