Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (Hebrews 3 NKJV).
MOSES THE FAITHFUL SERVANT
We know the story of the Israelites in the wilderness. God performed miracle after miracle, delivering the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt and preserving them throughout their journey through the wilderness. But again and again, the Israelites turn and grumble and complain against God. One incident, relevant to today’s sermon, comes right on the heels of God sending quail to feed the Israelites. Aaron and Miriam complain against Moses because he had married an Ethiopian wife (Num. 12:1). But God rebukes Aaron and Miriam, telling them that Moses was his faithful servant (Num. 12:6-8).
HOW MUCH MORE THE SON?
Remember that Hebrews has been arguing that the Son, Jesus Christ, is so much better than the expectations of his Jewish audience. The Son is better than the angels, who moderated the Old Covenant (kal v’chomer). So here is another example of this same argument. Moses was a faithful servant, to whom the Jewish people listened carefully. But Moses was just a servant in the house. Now the faithful Son of the house has arrived. So how much more ought the Jewish people to listen to him?
Hebrews now turns to Psalm 95, and will continue to draw on this Psalm into the next chapter. This Psalm takes the readers back to the wilderness, where God’s faithful provision was on constant display. And yet the Israelites regularly responded to this steadfast display of faithfulness with doubt, grumbling, and apostasy. Hebrews notes that the warning given in this confined to a very particular time period – “today.” As long as it is called “today” the sin of the Israelites in the wilderness needs to be looked out for.
It is a deceitful temptation, set on dislodging your confidence in God’s goodness for you. God’s claim on our lives is exclusive. But over time it is very easy for priorities that we had intended to be lesser to slowly climb up to compete with our love of God. This deceitfulness prompts Hebrews to recruit our friends into holding us accountable – “exhort one another daily,” (v. 13).
OBEDIENT TO THE END
Hebrews is ultimately about warning us against the great tragedy of falling away from the faith, something that can seem so impossible some moments and, yet, in other moments can be a real threat. This is a warning intended for the covenant people. Covenant Christians, circumcised people, baptized people, can fall away. There is a real warning here. Perseverance is the outward distinction between saving faith and temporary faith. And this faith is the obedience that the Gospel requires of us.