I. Jesus is superior to Moses (1-6)
II. Do not reject God like in the past (7-11)
III. Stand firm in obedience and faith (12-18)
I. Verses 1-6
• Why are the brethren called “holy”? Are you holy?
• What is our heavenly calling?
• Why is Jesus referred to as the Apostle? What does “apostle” mean?
• Why is He referred to as a High Priest? What things did He and does He do as a Priest?
• Who appointed Him (from verse 2)?
• What comparisons and contrasts are made between Jesus and Moses?
• Why did the author compare these two figures?
• What is the conclusion?
• Explain verse 6. What does it mean that we are part of the house of Christ?
• What signs will show whether or not we are really part of His house?
Verses on holiness:
2 Corinthians 7:1 – Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Thessalonians 4:7 – For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
Leviticus 20:26 – You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.
2 Timothy 2:21 – Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
Philippians 3:14 – I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Acts 3:22 – For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.
Ephesians 2:22 – And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
1 Timothy 3:15 – If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Holy brethren – God has called all believers to be holy.
1 Peter 1:15-16 – But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
This is God’s plan for us. He desires us to be 100% holy all the time. On this earth because of our old, sinful flesh we struggle for this holiness. Paul himself was in a constant tug of war between sin and righteousness (Romans 7). Holiness basically means to be separate (see Leviticus 20:26). We are called to be separate from the world and from sin. We are to be different, set apart.
Are you different? Can people notice something different or even “weird” about you? If not, that is probably because you are not different and have not separated yourself from the world’s ways as you should.
Application: In what ways might believers tend to act like the world around them? In what ways do you need to start being different?
Though we are in a constant struggle for holiness, it is something that we cannot achieve on this earth. Through the process of sanctification and consciously putting off and repenting of our sin, we can get nearer this target, but will never reach it until we face God and He finally wipes away all our sin. Yet the author still calls believers holy. Why?
In God’s sight that is what we are. When God looks at us, He sees not our own sins, but the righteousness of Christ who swapped Himself for us. This is something like the love of a parent, who always looks at the positive side of his children and not the weaknesses. Did you ever meet a parent who was constantly praising their child as being practically an angel and you thought, “Really?” Parents tend to view their kids in the best possible light.
When Christ looks at us it is similar. Only in our case He actually replaces our sins and clothes us with His righteousness. Knowing that God looks at you as holy, how should you respond?
2. Partakers of a heavenly calling – We are citizens of heaven and ambassadors of Christ. Our identity is not to be rooted in our nationality, tax bracket, or club we belong to. It is not in our favorite sports team, our gender, or our vocation. Our core identity is rooted in the fact that we are Christians, followers of Christ. We serve God’s kingdom, the kingdom of heaven over and above every earthly pursuit. As we have seen, God calls us to holiness. What else does He call us to do? He calls us to be a light in the world. He calls us to share the good news with everyone, everywhere. He calls us to live our lives worthily as His soldiers, His messengers, even His family members.
There are as many causes as there are people. Recently I have gotten solicitations for donations from orphan groups, from Alzheimer associations, from environmental groups, and from groups who focus on the needs of animals. Many of these are good endeavors, but none of these are even close to comparing with the heavenly cause we live for, advancing God’s kingdom and glory on earth. We are allowed to join this cause not just in the low position of an unpaid volunteer, but actually as a family member of the boss. We are children of God and are called to represent our Father to the world.
Application: Are you living worthily of the calling with which you have been called? (Ephesians 4:12) What specific things can you do to advance God’s kingdom here on earth?
3. Apostle – An apostle means “sent one”. Jesus was sent by the Father as He Himself attested to many times.
4. High Priest – A major theme of chapters 4-10 will be Jesus as our High Priest. Here and at the end of chapter 2, the author alludes to this, but doesn’t go into detail. We also will save a detailed examination of it until those chapters. For now, we should note that a priest is someone who goes in between people and God, like a mediator. Jesus performed this task, bridging the gap between us and God.
5. Jesus is superior to Moses. Remember from chapter 1 that a major theme of Hebrews is Jesus’ superiority and pre-eminence. The writer spent much of chapters 1-2 proving that Jesus is superior to the angles. Now in verses 1-6, he shows that Jesus is superior Moses. How did the Jews view Moses? Moses was the most respected figure in all of Jewish history (it is interesting to note, however, that he was not nearly so popular while he was alive.)
It was through Moses that God freed His people from Egypt. It was through Moses that God performed many awesome wonders that became known around the world. It was through Moses that He gave the people the Ten Commandments and the entire Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible). Moses was raised up so high in Jewish culture that it was actually a problem where people were almost becoming followers of Moses instead of followers of God. By showing that Jesus was superior to Moses, the author could show that He is indeed the Messiah and therefore worthy of praise and obedience. He gives several comparisons and contrasts between Jesus and Moses.
A. Jesus and Moses were both faithful to do all of the tasks that God gave them.
B. Jesus should receive more glory because He built the house (God’s kingdom), while Moses was a servant in the house.
C. Moses was a servant in God’s house, while Christ was actually God’s Son. Who has a higher position, Son or servant?
6. We are this house. We are the body of Christ. Christ has brought us by adoption into the very household of God. Signs of being in this house include holding fast and keeping firm in our hope until the end. Some may appear for a while to be part of the house, but then fall away. True members of God’s family will never fall away. What does it mean to you that you are part of God’s own household? What should you do because of this?
II. Verses 7-11
• Why does the author say that this passage (from Psalms) was authored by the Holy Spirit? What does this tell us about the authority and inspiration of Scripture?
• What does it mean to “harden your heart”?
• In what way did they provoke God?
• How were they testing God?
• What kind of “works” or miracles did they see that God did for the forty years they were in the wilderness? Did these convince them? Why or why not?
• Why could they not enter into the Promised Land (My rest)? What does this tell us about God’s nature and the consequences of sin?
Psalms 95:7-11 – This passage is quoted from there.
Psalms 78:40-53 – The people didn’t follow Him even after God had done so
many miracles in their presence.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Just as the Holy Spirit says – This passage is quoted from Psalms 95. Scholars are not 100% sure who authored it, but many believe David did. Yet here the writer ascribes these words to the Holy Spirit. Why? It doesn’t matter who the human author is. All of Scripture is inspired by God. The Holy Spirit moved people to write down God’s message. The human writer was the tool the Holy Spirit used to bring God’s message to the people.
This is another reminder that all of Scripture is God’s words and not mere human’s own opinions. In the beginning of chapter one we noted that we cannot comprehend God on our own. Only if He reveals Himself to us, can we understand His character and plan. Because He did reveal Himself to us and has given us His message, we must PAY ATTENTION to it and take the time to diligently study it!
2. The author first quotes from Psalms 95 about the failures of the Israelites in the Old Testament and then will go on to explain these verses making points and applications from them. Notice that in the coming passages he reviews these verses sometimes more than once. Pastor John MacArthur says that he makes a 3-point exposition of this passage: firstly, “beware of unbelief” (12-19); secondly, “be afraid of falling short” (4:1-10); thirdly, “be diligent to enter” (4:11-13).
3. Let’s review the history of what happened during the 40 years in the wilderness. What did those 40 years teach us about people? What did they teach us about God? Is there an example that should be avoided? What can we learn from what those people did that can be applied to our lives today? What consequences did they face for their unbelief and disobedience?
III. Verses 12-18
• In what ways might an unbelieving heart manifest itself?
• How can we increase our faith in God?
• What can we do to help others not fall away?
• What specific things can you do to encourage others?
• In what ways would you like other people to encourage you?
• What does it mean that we are partakers of Christ?
• Why do you think the author talks so many times about holding fast?
• What provokes God?
• What happened to the people who provoked God?
• Do you remember what happened when they first were commanded to enter into the Promised Land? What then happened when they tried to enter by their own strength?
Verses on the deceit of sin:
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Romans 7:11 – For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 – And all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
James 1:14-16 – But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.
Verses on encouraging others:
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encoura