“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 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.” (Hebrews 3:1-3)
You can’t technically count on one hand the number of individual people that God used as “book markers” as he brought his plans for humanity to fruition, but regardless of that, Moses still stands amongst the tallest of those that the holy scriptures make mention of. God used Moses to reveal heavenly glories that were previously unknown as a whole to the people of God. He stood as a model of humility, meekness, wisdom, strength and faith. If one were to actually read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy you will see that Moses led the people of God in jaw dropping ways. But all this being said, this same Moses was quick to fall on his face whenever he came before the glory that was to come!
If we were to say that Moses stands head and shoulders amongst the builders of God’s people when it comes to glory (and he does) then it’s just as right to say that Jesus’ feet are off the ground that Moses removed his sandals for (because he did). A refusal to acknowledge the glory revealed through Moses didn’t do away with the glory, and a refusal to acknowledge the greater glory of God revealed through his son doesn’t diminish the results of his work – a house of God built upon a foundation that stands as strong today as the day that it was built (1 Timothy 3:14-16). Jesus entered the world with a proclamation of glory and he left the world with a glory to be proclaimed. And glory still be to his name for it!
Living as the patriarchs and living under the law of Moses will not do what the son of God has done – revealed a more glorious way through a more glorious house built by a more glorious name that leads to a more glorious land. And when we get to that place through all of that glory, there will be even more glory to consider and behold.
“For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 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.” (Hebrews 3:4-6)
How do we determine whether we get a good “return on investment (ROI)?” The question came to my mind when I read an article that named ten universities and argued that they did not give a good “ROI.” While I was greatly relieved to see that the schools I attended did not make the list, it intrigued me that several “Christian” universities were listed, primarily because the cost of their tuition was several times the average income for their students’ dominant major field, religious studies. Other universities listed focus on the arts; apparently the average income for an artist is less than the average income for a high school graduate with no more formal education. There are other areas in which such a study might adduce a poor ROI: supporting a missionary in an impoverished area, a degree in education (also mentioned in the study above as one of several occupations that society values, but reimburses poorly), or donating to a losing political campaign.
How do we determine whether we get a good return on investment? Time spent with our children may not produce apparent income, but may help mold them into productive, law-abiding citizens and faithful Christians who appreciate beauty in the world around us and respect authority. Money spent preparing for ministry may not yield a financial fortune, but may enrich one’s life with friends, faith, and hope. The basis for valuation in the article I read obviously was financial return. I suggest there may be areas in which this is not the only variable and some in which it may not even be a factor.
I baptized an man the first Sunday I preached at a church over thirty years ago. I remember it well because he was taller and heaver than me; I dropped him as I brought him up from the water. In the months that followed, I invested time in visits, study, and prayer with this person. Despite that inauspicious beginning, when I visited that church a few years ago, he was there and helped lead the service. I gained no money from the experience, but I was elated; I felt rich.
Near the end of the book of Hebrews, its author penned these words, “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Le us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:12-14). Money does not provide the only means of valuing success. Neither does popular acclaim. Some of the colleges mentioned in the study may be poor choices, but others may equip their students to introduce joy, peace, hope, and faith into our world despite their failure to enrich them. If we earn the respect of our family and those with whom we work, if we enjoy what God has given us, and if we look forward to the future (even to meeting God after death), then I suggest that we have an excellent return on investment. What do you think?
Curious as to what the groups members who are preachers are preaching on tomorrow, along with your sermon text and main points.
Here is mine, roughly translated from Portuguese.
Care to not fall away from the living God
Hebrews 3:12-14 – 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. ESV
- The deceitfulness of sin: the danger of a hard heart (13).
- The frequency of encouragement: every day (13).
- The motivation for faithfulness: sharing in Christ (14).
Little doubt, the writer of Hebrews, whoever he may be, God knows, is a second generation disciple. The basis for this view is found in Hebrews 2:3 where the writer speak in third person about those who heard him (Jesus). Perhaps it was Barnabas or Apollos, but certainly not Paul. This would push the date of the book later, at least to the mid-sixties.
Much is made in this letter of the continuing sacrifices offered by the the priestly line of Aaron. These formal sacrifices ended in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the temple. It is hard to think the book would be written in this way if these sacrifices had ended, so sometime before the destruction makes sense.
This gives us a date for the book in the fairly narrow range of mid to late sixties. What we see is the date is dependent on the authorship and one of the potential explanations of “the day” in Hebrews 10:25 is dependent on the date. If we could determine the date of the book was after A.D. 70, the siege of Jerusalem by Titus could no longer be considered one of the possibilities for “the day.”
The date does not rule out the razing of Jerusalem by the Romans as a potential explanation for “the day.” I do believe, however, the context goes a long way toward that end.
The context of Hebrews 10:25 in the verses following suggests a wider audience than just the folks at Jerusalem. He indicates a judgment, punishment, and vengeance broader and greater than that of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The writer condemns everyone who doesn’t act on the truth and profanes the blood of the covenant. The sweeping indictments made from verses 26 to 31 are more fitting for an end time scenario than A.D. 70.
When we view “the day” in verse 25 as a reference to final judgment it makes a good segue into the broad condemnation that follows. It serves to enhance the warning not to skip out on Sunday services. Why should we attend? Well it’s not about brownie points with God though too many Christians treat it that way. In doing so they miss the main thrust of the warning. Hear what the writer is emphasizing. Without the regular, positive influence of fellow Christians we become increasingly vulnerable to sin and the possibility of falling away which will lead to condemnation in final judgment.
My first attempt, obviously amateur, at an audio recording on my Mac. Hear it at this link.
According to our yearly reading plan for the New Testament, we begin reading the book of Hebrews today. So for our Nudge, pick one of the exhortations of Hebrews and discourse upon it. Don’t just quote it or refer to it, but make some sort of comment or write a commentary, if you’re so disposed.
What have you heard or seen of news in the congregations?