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More Faithful Than Moses

We need to stop turning back and continuing forward in our pursuit of Christ.


At the end of Hebrews 2, we are told that Jesus had to be made like us. He had to become one of us in order to redeem us. He had to be made like his brothers and the sisters in every respect in order that he might be our merciful and faithful high priest. To make propitiation, to make an atonement, to satisfy the wrath of God, the judgment of God on our sin. And because he did that, he so closely identified with us that he even faced temptation on our behalf, because he himself has suffered when tempted, he's able to help those who are being tempted.

Now, building on this great truth, that Jesus is our merciful and faithful high priest, that he's made propitiation for us, the writer of Hebrews admonishes these Hebrew believers in Chapter 3:1-4 saying,

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 in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were being spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a Son. We are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

Don’t Turn Back

Remember that the theme of the Book of Hebrews is to tell us to keep moving forward. Probably few, if any of us are Jewish believers, people who were once following Judaism and then came to Christ, there might be some in here. So, we don't have that direct application of facing the exact same situation that these Hebrew believers were facing. Yet, we still have that same temptation to turn back, to look nostalgically behind us, or to go back to the law to think that somehow we can leave the free grace of God that God's given us. We can go back into that way of thinking that says, "I have to contribute to my salvation. I have to do something." We feel like we have to do something extra just in case it's really not of grace.

Well, if we add to the grace of God, it's no longer grace. If there's anything that we do that in some way, makes us participate in the great work of saving our souls, then our souls are not saved. And we don't know God's grace.

Let me give you a situation. Let's say that there's a certain part of the world where sailors are always facing rough season. And last year, 300 sailors were washed overboard at some point in this very tumultuous area. But we hear that 100 of these sailors were saved because dolphins in the area came and began to push them toward the shore. And 100 sailors were pushed toward the shore by these dolphins, and made it to the shore and lived.

Now, let me ask you a question. What would you conclude about dolphins from that? What would your thought about dolphins be? Would you conclude, “Wow, dolphins are pretty intelligent. They see that these guys are in trouble. They're obviously pretty well disposed toward humans. They come up and they see guys in need and they help them.” And you would conclude that dolphins are intelligent and benevolent, because you heard of 100 sailors who made it to the shore, because dolphins pushed them.

But the reality is, you shouldn't conclude anything about dolphins from that, because what you don't know is what happened to those 200 sailors. What if you found out that they were pushed further out to sea by the dolphins who wanted to watch them drown? You don't know that, but you've got a very selective bit of evidence there and you say, "We can conclude from this that dolphins are intelligent and benevolent." The truth is we don't know why the dolphins pushed them, there's no evidence that says why they pushed them. We don't know if they just happen to push them towards shore. We don't know if 200 others push the other sailors out to shore, we don't know. But what we do is we look at it and say, "Aha! That proves it." When the reality is it proves nothing. It's just the experience of this one person.

I think we do that. A lot of times, we look at people and for them it's all about effort. It's all about working. It's all about trying. There's no notion of grace in them, but then, we look at their lives and they look holy. There are certain activities that they will not do. Certain things that they always must do. Places they will not go. Places they always must go. And we think, That's what holiness is. The reality is we don't see all their lives. We don't know all the evidence. That cannot be what we look at to determine what holiness is, what salvation is. The writer to the Hebrews is telling us that there's one focus and that focus has to be Christ.

Moses Is Not the Standard

So, they keep wanting to turn back because they see that Moses was a great leader. Moses was ordained of God. Moses spoke on God's behalf. And though that's true, Moses is not the standard. See, the temptation is always disguised as a good thing.

Satan is sophisticated, and he does not come to people who want to go to heaven, and they want to honor the Lord. He doesn't typically tempt them with the vile stuff. He tempts them with the vain stuff. He doesn't tempt them with doing outright evil. He tempts him with doing good in the flesh, and with the motive of self-preservation, with the motive of helping God out. We have to come to grips with the fact that we're a lot more likely to leave grace for law than for sin.

The Book of Galatians talks about falling from grace. A lot of people grab onto that phrase, and say, "Well, look right there. It says you can lose your salvation, you can fall from grace." But when you read it, he's not talking about falling from grace into sin. The way you fall from grace is to fall from grace into law. When you go back to the law, when you begin to run to the law to justify you, and you begin to say, "Well, I do this and I do this and I've done that. And therefore, God owes it to me to answer my prayer, to bless me, to take care of me, to make sure that I don't get cancer. God owes it to me because I do this, this and this." You've fallen from grace.

You may not be drinking, and drugging, and prostituting, and you may not be going into these things that even the world looks at and says, "Oh, that's terrible. That's sinful." But if you have fallen into the law, you've departed from grace.

If we fall into sin, the consequences of sin show us our need of grace. When we fall into sin, when our lives are broken, when we have nowhere else to turn and nothing else to do, we realize the consequences of our sin. That's when we cry out for God's grace, "Lord, I need you. I need your help because I've made a mess of this thing." But the problem with falling into the law is that the law, the consequences of law, often look like holiness and deceive us.

So, here I am totally apart from God's grace, not trusting in Christ for eternal life, but I'm reading the Bible and I'm doing everything in my power. I'm saying, "I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to commit adultery. I'm going to try and live by the golden rule. And I do all these things to the best of my ability." Which you would admit is still not good enough, but at least enough to fool people, enough, maybe, even to fool myself that I'm a good moral person. I'm honest, I have integrity. And the reality is we all know people like this. I know atheists with great integrity. I know non-believers who are very moral people.

That might look like holiness. It causes us to look at them and say, "Well, man, if anybody's going to heaven, surely that person is." When we do that, what are we thinking? We're thinking law. We're thinking that somehow God's deal with them is based on their performance. So, we start to evaluate ourselves.

This is the deceptiveness of the law. It's not like sin where we know, "I've blown it. I've messed up. My life is a mess. I need God's grace." When we fall into the law, the consequences of the law look like holiness. It looks like we've got it together. It looks like everything's in order. And we can fool ourselves. We can fool other people, and things in general are going okay. But the problem is we're doing a good thing, that is not the best thing.

Lester was over my house this week. And he came over and helped me with some things on my house. And he told me this story, and I didn't believe it, because it sounded like a joke I used to tell about a pig having a wooden leg. I thought he was pulling my leg, he's not. I looked it up on the internet. He told me about a lady who had a calf, and she spent $40,000 on this calf to get prosthetic legs. The prosthetics are made out of titanium and different alloys and cost a lot. When they interviewed her, she said, "Oh, it's just the right thing to do." She says, "I'm so proud he’s a hero." Here's my favorite part of the story, the last line of the article says, "He has a bright future now." I look at that calf and you know what I say, brisket. That's what I say.

I got to think, is it good to be kind to animals? Is it good to be altruistic? And in general, a nice person and treat animals well? Well yeah, that's a good thing. But do you think maybe, there's a better use for $40,000 than getting prosthetic legs for a calf that one day is going to end up at McDonald's. She did a good thing and people look at that and they go, "Oh, how sweet." And think, what a great thing. I mean, this is where our culture has gone is that we value animals more than we value human life. Now, it's a good thing to love pets. I'm not against pets. I'm not against cows. I've got nothing against animals. But do you think there's something better?


I would suggest we all have good things in our lives that we do, but they're not the best thing. This is what the writer to the Hebrews is setting up here. He says, basically, that Moses is good. The law is good, but only because it points to Christ. So, his theme here is about when you're tempted, remember at the end of Chapter 2, "That Jesus, he suffered himself when he was tempted. And so, he's able to help us who are being tempted. And so he says, therefore, holy brothers and sisters, you who share in a heavenly calling consider Jesus. Consider Jesus."

There's only two main verbs in this passage. And the first one is “consider.” So, when you're tempted to turn back from your faith, to make it about what you do instead of the one in whom you believe, he says consider, and it gives us some things we all consider.

First thing is your heavenly calling. Notice he says, those of you who are sharers, you share in this heavenly calling. In other words, salvation is not something that we could ever do. It's nothing we could accomplish. It is an act of a sovereign God who called us. It was the Holy Spirit that took the Word of God and began to open our hearts and to cause us to see our sinfulness and our need of a Savior. It was God who called us. So the writer is saying, consider your heavenly calling. Don't turn back on that, trust what the Holy Spirit has done in your life. Don't turn away from that heavenly calling, consider your confession.

Because, notice these two aspects of salvation. First of all, this heavenly calling, that's initiated by God. But then our confession, this is our response. It's a response of intellectual submission. You have to believe that God is, that he exists, that he's a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. You have to believe that his Word is true. You have to believe that Jesus was the sinless Son of God. He lived a sinless life. He died on Calvary's Cross to bear the sins of his people, that he rose from the grave to defeat death on our behalf. You have to intellectually believe those things. You have to assent to those things, but intellectual assent alone is not enough. There has to be a volitional surrender. Not only am I believing this in my mind, I'm surrendering my will to it.

The devil believes it intellectually, the demons believe and tremble the Bible says, but there's no volitional acquiescence. They don't surrender their will. They can't say, "Lord, do with me what you will. I want to serve you." This is what salvation is. It's our response. That's what our confession is, that when God gives us that heavenly calling, we respond. Every day is our outward response. Every day we say, "I still believe."

Consider most of all Christ. And here's where the writer spends the greatest amount of their time. Clearly, the focus of the passage.

First of all, he calls Jesus “our apostle.” The word apostle in the New Testament has both a technical and a non-technical meaning. The technical meaning, we speak of the 12 and Paul as the Apostles. But the non-technical meaning of the word simply means a missionary. Literally apostello, apostle, means to be sent out. So, an apostle is a missionary. Jesus is “our apostle.” That is, he was sent out from heaven to accomplish this. The first and great missionary to represent God to man. In so doing, to reveal to us the truth of the gospel, which is our confession. He's “our apostle.”

He's also the high priest. Now, high priest has a very different mission, a very different ministry. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest is sent in, he goes into the Holy of Holies, he goes into the mercy seat. There, as he sprinkles blood on the mercy seat, he is doing this to represent man to God, he's saying we're sinners. Our sin merits judgment, justice, punishment, and death. The blood of this lamb sprinkled on this mercy seat is done to picture that one day, your own Son will give his life. His blood will be sprinkled, and his blood will be shed to atone for our sins. Every time the high priest did that, he was picturing something that would come.

So, what the writer to the Hebrews is telling them is, Jesus is that. Jesus is the apostle who was sent out representing God to man. He's the high priest who's been sent into the Holy of Holies, to represent man to God. And because of that, he's more faithful than Moses. See, of course, every Jewish believer would have an incredibly high respect for Moses as do we.

Servant vs. Son

There's a specific event in Moses’ life that the writer here is referring to in Numbers 12. Let's look at the high regard with which God loved Moses. In Numbers 12, there's a problem. Miriam, Moses' sister and Aaron, his brother, began to get a little big for their britches. They began to think that because God sometimes speaks to them too, that they're as important as Moses and they want as much credit as he gets. This angers God.

(Read Numbers 12:1-5)

The picture here is kind of like going to the principal's office. "Hey, you three. I want to see you." But then God tells Moses, "Stand aside. I just want you to see this. Aaron, Miriam step forward." Here God is in this pillar of cloud and he says, "Step forward." I mean, you step forward and they did.

(Read Numbers 12:6-9)

In the middle of this story, there's two things that come out. One is that God's assessment of Moses is that he's faithful in all his house, he's a faithful steward. God trusts Moses. God speaks to him not like he speaks to anybody else. Moses is in a completely different category. But the other thing, look at this phrase, "He sees the form of the Lord."

Let’s look back at Hebrews 3:2, speaking of Jesus, "He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house, for Jesus had been counted worthy of more glory than Moses."

The writer of Hebrews is acknowledging Numbers 12:7, but goes further, "Moses was faithful in all of God's house. But Jesus has been counted more worthy, worthy of more glory than Moses, as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself, because every house is built by somebody. But the builder of all things is God."

The writer of Hebrews is saying when you look at a house, you don't say, "My, that's a lovely house," just for the house’s sake. You don't think that the house just got there. You say, "Who built that house? Who's the architect of that house? That's incredible. I love that design. That is well-made." The architect, the builder. They have much more honor than the house itself. The house only exists because there is an architect, because there is a builder.

Moses has honor. Moses is worthy of honor, but Jesus is worthy of more honor, like a builder is more worthy of honor than the house. Because Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later. Remember that phrase, God said, "Moses, beholds God in a form."

What does that mean? Moses was faithful as a steward. Jesus was faithful as the builder. Moses is God's most faithful employee, but he's an employee, he's the steward. He manages the house, Jesus built the house. Moses was faithful as a servant. But he said, Jesus is faithful as a Son. So, why would you be content to run to the servant when God wants you to be intimate with the Son? Not only that, notice the prepositions here. Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a Son. You see the difference?

In everything, Moses was faithful as a servant, Jesus as a son. Moses was faithful in God's house, Jesus was faithful over God's house. Moses testified of things in the future. It said that he saw what was coming, the things that would be spoken. The Lord told Moses things about the coming Christ. Moses testified of things in the future, but when Jesus came, Jesus fulfilled the things that Moses saw.


Why is that significant? Because when you are tempted to turn back from your faith, you've got to continue. After all of this, I'm saying, consider how much Jesus is better than Moses. Consider how much better those things that Jesus is and what he's done.

Look at what the writer says in verse six, "… And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory." When you're tempted to turn back from your faith, you have to continue forward. You continue going. You got to hold fast.

Does this mean that we lose salvation? No, what he's saying is, the only guarantee that your salvation is real is that you continue. Your confidence in Christ has to continue because Christ cannot fail. If I begin to go back to the law, then my confidence is going to be in myself. If I'm trying to do it myself, if it's about what I can do, what I can perform, what rules and regulations I can keep, then my confidence is going to wane and flex depending on my performance.

Isn’t that the way most Christians are? We fall into sin. I don't know if I'm really saved. Is this genuine? And you know what, that's a legitimate question to ask when we're in sin, because our assurance of salvation is always dependent on whether or not we're walking with the Lord. Because when we're in sin, of course, doubts are going to come in. This is why he says you got to continue your confidence in Christ. Christ cannot fail. You got to hold fast to that profession.

I believed in 1967 when I was a seven-year-old boy, and today I still believe. Every day I have to say, I still believe. Every day I want to persevere. I want my life to show that I still believe. When my car pulls out of my driveway on Sunday morning, I'm coming to worship the Lord with God's people, I'm saying, I still believe. When I take communion with the saints here in the church, I'm saying, I still believe. When I give, and I tithe, and I serve, I'm saying, I still believe.

Hold fast your profession. Continue your confidence in Christ. Not in yourself, because you will fail, but Christ cannot fail. Continue your boasting in hope which cannot fade. We are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in hope. My boasting is not in myself, you see that? You don't boast in your deeds and your performance, you boast in your hope.

Here's the key, the only evidence of genuine faith is that it's always moving forward. If I want to go from here to Southern Seminary, I can go on I-64. I can go on U.S. 60. I can take some back roads and crisscross and go on a very circuitous route, but I'm still going the same general direction. There might be a couple of places I loop back, but eventually, the road turns back and I'm going that way. That's a lot of times in the Christian life, there are those that they're progressing and sanctification and growing in the Lord and it's a much straighter road. There are those that take twists and turns and they get off the path and they have a lot more work and trouble and problems because of the consequences of their sin than others, but still, they repent, they return.

The general direction of their life is, I'm wanting to move toward Christ. I'm wanting to grow, but you know what, there are those that they go for a little while, they say, "Oh, this is the way I want to go." Then they turn back. They go back to the law. They go back into sin. I don't need the Lord. I don't need other believers. I don't need to serve. Some people say, "Oh look, they lost their salvation." But the reality is that they'd never had genuine salvation.

When Jesus told the Parable of the Sower, remember the different kinds of soil. The only one that he considered genuine was the one that took root, there was a chute and it bore fruit. Bearing fruit is the ultimate thing. It says, we are his house indeed if we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

Here's my question to you. Are there areas in your life where you've turned back? You've left your pursuit of Christ, and there are other things that you've given more prominence in your life than Christ. Perhaps there's law, and you've run back to performance. In your way of thinking, you think that God owes something to you because you do this or that. In your thinking, you've made it more about your works than about grace. The admonition to you today is the same, whether you have fallen into outright sin or to legalism, that looks like holiness. Either way, it's a turning back to Christ.

What we must do is determine those areas in our lives where we've turned back. We're not walking with the Lord like we once were. We're not resting in grace like we once did. We're not living in holiness out of love for Christ like we once knew to do.

What is it that you need to do to move forward today? For some, you need to begin the journey by putting your faith and trust in Christ. For others, you've done that, but you need to be baptized to make that public confession of faith that he says we need to hold fast to. For some, it's repentance, getting things right with someone else. For some, it's getting your church membership up to date and serving the Lord in the body the way he wants.

I want you to ask yourself, what is it that I need to do to move forward. And then ask yourself this, am I willing to do it right now? If you're not willing to do it right now, then don't call Jesus Lord.

Hershael York is pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky, as well as professor of Christian Preaching and dean of Southern Seminary's School of Theology in Louisville, Kentucky.

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