Heb. 3:1-6



WE commence the second section of the epistle to the Hebrews. It extends from the beginning of the third chapter to the fourteenth verse of the fourth chapter. The contents of this section may be stated briefly thus: That the Lord Jesus Christ, the mediator of the new cove­nant, is high above Moses, the mediator of the old dispensation, inasmuch as Jesus is the Son of God, and Lord over the house; whereas Moses is the servant of God, who was faithful in the house. And upon this doctrinal statement is based the exhortation that we should not harden our hearts lest we fail to enter into that rest of which the possession of the Promised Land was only an im­perfected type.


This section consists of two parts—a doctrinal statement, which forms the basis, and an exhor­tation resting upon it.


The doctrinal statement, contained in the first six verses of the third chapter, is the subject of our meditation this morning.


Before the apostle advances in the argument, and shows the glory of the great High Priest by contrasting Him with the glory of Moses, the mediator of the old covenant, he recapitulates in an exhortation the teaching of the preceding chapters, and he admonishes the "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling," to be con­tinually, perseveringly, and earnestly looking un­to "the Apostle and High Priest for their profes­sion, Christ Jesus." He does not say my brethren, because in this epistle he keeps himself in the background; and when he speaks of than as "brethren," he evidently refers to the blessed truth juste announced, that Jesus, the Son of God, is not ashamed to call us brethren. He means therefore those who by the Spirit of God have been born again, and who can call God their Father. He addresses those who of God are in Christ Jesus, who were quickened together with Him; for when He rose from the dead He was "the first-born among many brethren." 'He calls them "holy brethren," because upon this fact of brotherhood is based their sanctification. "He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one." Set apart by the blood of Jesus unto the service and love of God, they are sancti­fied for ever by that one sacrifice which Jesus offered upon the cross. He reminds them of the "heavenly calling" which they have received now, and of which the earthly calling unto Canaan was only a type; "heavenly" because God the Father and Jesus the exalted High Priest are in heaven, and because the Holy Spirit who brought the glad tidings of salvation came down from the heavenly sanctuary to dwell among men ; "heavenly" because the end of their calling is, that as the many children of God they shall be brought unto glory; "heavenly" because while waiting upon earth their citizenship is in heaven, and the whole spirit, character, and aim which characterize them is not according to this world, but according to that sanctuary and city where is their hope.


It is therefore for us to "consider" or (as the very expressive word implies), to look carefully unto "the Apostle and High Priest of our profes­sion." This is the only Scripture in which Jesus is called the apostle, yet, though the word is not used, the thoughts of frequent occurrence. Often Jesus testified that the Father sent Him, that He came obedient to the mission and will of His heavenly Father, that His whole life was only a fulfillment of the mission entrusted to Him; and as He was called in the Old Testament times "the Angel or Messenger of the Covenant," so it is in accordance with the whole teaching of Scripture that He is called here by the name "apostle."*[I] Of Christ the Head are all energies and ministra­tions in the body. If there are bishops, it is because Christ is the Bishop; if there are pastors or shep­herds, it is because Christ is "the Shepherd of the flock;" if there are evangelists, it is because Christ came and brought to mankind the glad tid­ings; if there are apostles, it is because He is the Apostle, the head of all apostolic dignity and work. He is the Apostle sent by God to us men; the High Priest, as representing us before the Father.*[II] Him we are to consider in faith: for herein is all our safety: looking unto Jesus, we have peace and joy; for this is the joy of our life, that all perfection is in Christ. And in prayer; for can we see Him in His holiness without the peti­tion rising in our hearts, "0 that I might be conformed unto Him!" We are to look upon Him as a painter looks upon a model, with the full inten­tion and desire of imitating Him. We are to keep constantly in sight of Him, as our only infallible Guide upon earth. All this is included in that one word, that one expression, "consider." Gaze up-on, meditate upon, "the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus."


Let us look at the word "profession." We are very apt to undervalue things with which abuse and danger are connected, and which may be easily counterfeited. There is such a thing as a mere outward, empty, hypocritical profession; but is that a reason why we should not attach import­ance to confessing Christ? Jesus says, "Whoso­ever shall confess me before men, him will I con­fess before my Father, and before the angels. And whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny." With the heart we are to believe unto righteousness, and with the mouth we are to confess that Jesus is the Lord. It may be merely an outward thing, a mere lip-utterance, to say, "I believe in Jesus;" it may be only a form to sit down at the Lord's Table; but as the outward expression of an inward reality, it is a great and blessed fact. Let us not be secret disciples; let us not come to Jesus merely by night, ashamed to bear testimony to the gospel. Let us not despise the outward and visible church, although, alas! There is much error and sin connected therewith. Our confession of Christ in the outward church, in the congregation of professed disciples, in the ordinances of Christ's institution, let us not un­dervalue it! Remember with gratitude that you have publicly professed Christ; that into the Church of Christ you have been received by bap­tism, and acknowledged at the Lord's Supper as a brother and partaker of the heavenly calling. Let the remembrance of this be to us continually helpful, and stimulate us to adorn the doctrine of the gospel by a Christ-like life and walk.


The Hebrews are exhorted to look unto the Apostle and High Priest Jesus, to Him of whose glory (chap. Heb 1.) and of whose sufferings and death (chap. Heb 2.) they had been reminded; they are to look unto the Man Christ Jesus, the Son, who through His self-humiliation on earth be-came the merciful and faithful High Priest, hav­ing finished the work which the Father sent Him to do. And in order to show to the Hebrews the exceeding great glory of Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him*[III] Mediator of the new covenant, he contrasts the Lord with Moses, the servant of God.*[IV]


To speak of Moses to the Jews was always a very difficult and delicate matter. It is hardly possible for Gentiles to understand or realize the veneration and affection with which the Jews regard Moses, the servant of God. All their re­ligious life, all their thoughts about God, all their practices and observances, all their hopes of the future, everything connected with God, is with them also connected with Moses. Moses was the great apostle unto them, the man sent unto them of God, the mediator of the old covenant; and we cannot wonder at this profound, reverential affection which they feel for Moses. You read in the gospels and in the book of the Acts with what joy and pride they said, "We are the dis­ciples of Moses." It was their glory and boast; and we cannot wonder at this when we think of Moses, of his marvelous history, of his grand character, of the unique position assigned to him in the history of God's people, and the wonderful work given him to perform.


Think of the history of Moses. It was won­derful from the very commencement. Sheltered in his tender infancy from the cruelty of Pharaoh, courageously tended by his God-trusting parents, watched over by the angels and rescued from the persecution of his enemies, he was brought up at the very court of Pharaoh. Trained and educated by the Egyptian sages, he became learned in all the wisdom of the most advanced nation of the age. When he was a young man he was the only free man of his people; and of his own voluntary choice, by faith, he esteemed the reproach of Is­rael greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. And afterwards, when his fiery zeal, not yet chas­tened by the grace of God, brought him into con­flict with Pharaoh, he was led into quiet and ob­scurity for forty years, that, leading a shepherd's life, he might learn the wisdom and patience of the saints. Then, called by the mysterious appear­ance of God in the burning bush, he was appoint­ed to be Israel's deliverer, and endowed by God with power, he went forth. By faith he led his people out of Egypt, and through the Red Sea; and after ruling over the children of Israel. for forty years, after a life of prayer and self-denial, of unparalleled trial and suffering, and of heroic patience and strength; after forty years of divine manifestations, blessings, and miracles, see him at last ascending mount Nebo; his eye was not yet dim, nor his natural force abated. He beheld the land, and died, and the Lord buried him, so that no man knoweth of his sepulchre. No doubt the angels who had watched him in his cradle on tine waves of the Nile were there, ready to carry him into his place of rest, and with awe witnes­sing the conflict between Michael the archangel and the great adversary. (Jude.) What a marvelous history is the life of Moses! And look at his character. There is no man in the whole history of the Jews to compare with him, until you come to Him who is Lord of all, the Lord of glory, and to that chief of apostles, who was able to say, "Be ye followers of me, as I am of Christ." How wonderful is his faith in God! his zeal for the glory of God, and for the honor of Jehovah! his importunate prayer and wrestling with the Most High! his love for his nation, which makes him willing to die, and be blotted out of the book of life, rather than that Israel should be destroyed! his never-wearied patience and meekness! 'His whole life was a sac­rifice of love and of obedience to the God of his fathers Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, who ap­peared to him in the burning bush; a life of self-denial and affection to the people of his choice.


Look at his peculiar position. He was mediator of the covenant, the ambassador (apostle) and plenipotentiary (as it were) of God. All God's dealings with Israel were transacted through him. He was a prophet, priest, and king in one person, and united all the great and important functions which had afterwards to be distributed among a plurality of persons. As a prophet he was dif­ferent from all other prophets; for God spake to him face to face; and therefore he said, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me." Jesus in His prophetic office is foreshadowed by all the pro­phets; but none of them except Moses could des­cribe Jesus as a prophet like unto me. Through Moses the whole of the Levitical dispensation was instituted. The learned Bengel says—"While two chapters in Genesis are given to tell us how the world was created, there are sixteen chapters to tell us how the tabernacle was to be built. For the world was made for the sake of the Church; and the great object of all creation is to glorify God in the redemption and sanctification of His people." It is frequently and emphatically stated that Moses obeyed God fully, and made all things as he saw the pattern on the mount. As a prophet, and in the priestly spirit of love and meekness, he ruled over Israel, and showed them God's mighty wonders.


Look again at the work Moses accomplished, at the great things which the grace of God per-formed through him. Through him God brought Israel out of Egypt and led them through the Red Sea; He gave the Ten Commandments and the whole law by him; by him the whole national life of Israel was organized; through him God laid the foundation of the theocracy, and all sub­sequent revelations of God have their root in the work which was wrought by Moses. Even in the future, restored Israel will remember and honor him, and be guided by the law given through him. God bears witness to His servant that he was faithful in all God's house. In every department of this great and compli­cated building Moses obeyed the Lord implicitly and fully; according to everything that God told him, he performed it. Faithfulness is what God marks, loves, and honors; a perfect, sincere, and constant desire to obey the will of God in all that is entrusted to our care.


But after admitting fully the grandeur and ex­cellence of Moses, the apostle proceeds to show the still greater glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. It must have struck you that in many respects Moses was a type of Jesus. Both were as infants threatened by cruel rulers, and both were marvelously sheltered by the living God. So in after life Moses was in some respects like Christ. Moses was the only freeman who espoused the cause of the nation; and Jesus was the only Free and 'Holy One who could take up the cause of the leper. But yet, what a difference! The zeal of Moses was not free from earth-born elements, and had to be purified. But there was nothing in Jesus that was of the earth earthy; no sinful weakness of the flesh was in Him who conde­scended to come in the likeness of sinful flesh. His love was always pure, His zeal holy, His aim single. Moses spake face to face with God, and was the mediator between God and Israel. The Lord Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King in one person, but He is perfectly and eternally the true Revealer, Reconciler, Ruler, as the Son of God. Moses was willing to die for the nation; the Lord Jesus actually died, and not for the nation only, but to gather all the children of God into one. Moses wrought the law on tables of stone; the Lord Jesus by His Spirit, even the Holy Ghost, writes the law on our hearts.


But notice the imperfection of Moses as a ser­vant. The one sin of his life, which is mentioned as the cause of his not being permitted to enter the promised land, seems at first sight not to mer­it such a severe punishment. Moses was doubtless guilty of other sins; but why is this one sin singled out? Not merely because he was im­patient, but because he did not sanctify the name of God among the people. Whereas God was will­ing to show pure mercy, Moses was not able to rise to the height of this great argument, and showed the vehemence of his anger and displea­sure. How different was Jesus! He declared the full, perfect, and free love of God. He exclaimed on the cross: "Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do." And the message He now sends is nothing but salvation for the lost

and guilty.


The house, the building, means the children of God, who by faith, as lively stones, are built upon Christ Jesus the foundation, and who are filled with the Holy Ghost ; in whom God dwells, as in His temple, and in whom God is praised and manifested in glory. The illustration is very simple and instructive. We are compared unto stones, and as every simile is defective, we must add, not dead stones, but lively stones, as the apostle in his epistle to the Ephesians speaks of the building growing. The way in which we are brought unto the Lord Jesus Christ and united with Him is not by building, but by believing. The builders rejected the “chief corner stone" (Psalm 118:22); but "coming unto Christ" (1Peter 2.), simply believing, "ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house." When we go about the works of the law we are trying to build, and as long as we build we are not built. When we give up working, then by faith the Holy Ghost adds us to Christ, and grafts us into the living Vine, who is also the Foundation. We are rooted and grounded. The house is one, and all the children of God are united in the Spirit. Some are strong and are pillars, others are weak and rest upon those whom God has appointed to be strong, and to support and encourage the feeble. "None liveth unto himself;" and “if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it." If one grows and rejoices, it is for the good of the whole. The glory of the Lord is to show itself in the whole church, thus united by the indwelling Spirit. But not merely does God dwell in the church as a whole, it is the peculiarity of everything spiritual that every part of it is again a whole.*[V] Not only is it true, that " wheresoever two or three are gathered to­gether" in Christ's name, He is in the midst of ahem; but if a single person loves Him, the Father will love him, and will come and make His abode with him. An individual is thus also a temple, a habitation filled with the Holy Ghost. The Father and the Lord Jesus Christ dwell in him. Israel 'could understand this because it was symbolized .by the temple, and the reality and substance of the symbol was also promised to them in the days of the Messiah. For what was the promise of the new covenant? “I will dwell in them, and they in me." What a marvelous idea is here presented to us! A Christian is like the tabernacle; he is a sanctuary. There is the holy of holies, the holy place, and the outer court. But in all the glory of God is to be revealed; the holiness of God to be shown forth. His body is the Lord's; the mem­bers of his body are Christ's members. His eyes, his lips, his feet, all the physical energies which God has given unto him, are a part of the house in which the Father and the Lord Jesus? Through the Holy Ghost, take up their abode. His reason, memory, imagination, affections, will, conscience, all that is in him, behold, it is a house where God is to dwell. God is to walk in it, to dwell in it, to rest in it. He is to be not merely a visitor, but an indwelling guest, "abiding in him." Sometimes God will convert this wonderful dwelling-place into His temple, and there will be heard the voice of prayer and praise. Sometimes He changes it into a banqueting-hall, and there will be heard the voice of rejoicing and the melody of thanksgiving, the assurance of that love which is better than wine. Sometimes it becomes a battle-field, and the Lord is a man-of-war, and conquers the enemies of the worm Jacob, and succors the saint who is tempted.


How manifold are the mansions in which He dwells 1 As there are many mansions in the Father's house above, as there are many mansions in His Church below, so also are there many rooms in the spiritual house of the individual believer ; in various manifestations of grace, strength, and love, does God dwell in us.


You who believe in Jesus are His house, His own ; for as the Father appointed Him to be Mediator, as the Father laid the foundation in Zion, so Jesus the Lord bought you with His own blood, and sent into your hearts His own Spirit. We are emphatically Christ's. This is of God, and by the Spirit ; but Christ dwelleth in us ; we are His own house.


But the apostle adds—shall I call it a condition? Shall I call it an encouragement? Oh, there is nothing hard in the exhortations of Scripture!—" If you hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of your hope unto the end." I do not look upon it as a condition in the sense of contingency. If it were possible that we who have come unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and who have loved and served Him, or rather let me say, have experienced His grace and faithfulness—if it were possible that, after all, we should forsake Him, and turn away from the faith, oh, of all things this would be most fearful and of all prospects this would be the most wretched! What is the one thing which the Chris­tian desires? What is the one great thing which he does? What is the one great secret which he is always endeavouring to find out with greater clearness, and grasp with firmer intensity? Is it not this: "My Beloved is mine, and I am His"? The inmost desire of our heart and the exhorta­tions of the word coincide. To the end we must persevere; and it is therefore with great joy and alacrity that we receive the solemn exhortations: “He that endureth unto the end shall be saved;" No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." We desire to hear constantly the voice which saith from His heavenly throne, “To him that over­cometh will I grant to sit with me in my kingdom, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne."


And with the exhortation is the word of promise: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." “They that trust in the Lord shall be like mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but standeth fast for ever." “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one."


Oh, blessed word and promise of God, that He will keep us unto the end! But how is it that we are kept? Through faith, through watchfulness, through self-denial, through prayer and fasting, through our constantly taking heed unto ourselves according to His word. " Hold fast," if you desire it to be manifested in that day that you are not merely outward professors, not merely fishes exist­ing in the net, but the true and living disciples of the One Master, " Hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of your hope firm unto the end." Faith is the mother of hope; but how often is the mother strengthened and cheered by the daughter! There is first faith—" By faith are ye saved, not of works"—then hope. “For we are saved by hope," looking forward to the recompense of the reward. Do not imagine that hope is in any way inferior to faith and love. Some seem to think hope is of nature, a feature of our natural character, an ele­ment in our natural disposition. They would not be ashamed to say they had little hope, although they would not like to confess they had little faith or little love. Why? Because they take a per­fectly erroneous view of what hope is. It is a gift and fruit of the Holy Ghost just as much as faith and love. As hope is an essential feature of the Christian character, so it is of grace, and not of nature. The lively hope which God by the Spirit gives unto us, comes through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It has not its root in the first creation, and is not strengthened by that which is of the flesh. The same apostle, who teaches us that we are saved by faith, declares that we are saved by hope. (Rom. 8: 24.) For though the grace of our Lord is exceeding abun­dant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 1:14), yet we are still in conflict with sin and temptation, in a body of death and a world of evil. We hope for the full and perfect salvation; we shall see Christ as He is, and be like Him; we wait for the redemption of the body, and the regeneration of the world. Hence hope refers to the future, even to the coming of the Lord Jesus; and yet it possesses already the substance and earnest of the inheritance. For is not Christ, who is our hope, ours even now by faith and in love ? But hope, looking to the glory of Christ and to the transfiguration of our body, is the very strength, essence, and impulse of heavenly-mindedness. In proportion as we hope, we rise above the sins and vanities of earth.*[VI]


Cherish the hope which In Christ Jesus is given unto you who believe in the Saviour. Look for-ward to the coming of the Lord, to the joy and glory which He will bring unto His disciples. Be not afraid, for He will sustain you during all your difficulties and trials, and you will surely be kept unto that day. And be not afraid that the glory and brightness will overwhelm you ; for Christ the Lord will be glorified in you, and thus be your strength, and you shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of your Father. Hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of your hope. In calm and humble assurance, looking only unto Christ crucified for sinners, you cannot but rejoice in hope of the glory of God. As you trust in Jehovah your righteousness, so you look forward to Jehovah your glory. The God of hope (the source and object of hope) fill you with joy and peace in believing, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Rom. 15.)


What more suitable encouragement could we have at the beginning of the year than these words of the apostle? The end spoken of is nothing else but the appearing of the Lord Jesus, when hope shall be changed into sight. The day is approaching (Heb 10:25), and with it our glory. We look back on the years through which we have been led. On a day like this we feel as if we had come to a milestone, on one side of which we can read the inscription, telling us how many years and stages of our journey have been completed. But on the other side, where curiosity expects to find the number of years yet before, us, what do Faith and Love and Hope read ? What else but this—" Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." And again—" Unto them that love God all things work together for good." And again—" Whose house are ye, if ye hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of your hope unto the end." We know how many years have elapsed since the First Advent ; but on the other side of the milestone we read, no date, but the words—" Watch, for ye know not the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cloth come." And we can also testify, " If you believe in Jesus, if you love and follow Him, if you abide in Him, then when the Lord comes again you will have confi­dence, and stand before Him."


Look unto Him, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth ; and you, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, oh, consider, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession—Jesus! Amen.





[I] * Compare Heb. 2:3, where Christ is likewise represented as the Messenger, the Proto-Apostle : apostellein is applied to Christ's coming in Matt. 10:40; 15: 24; Luke 4: 18; John 3:17; 4:9, 10. Christ is the Messenger of the Covenant, Mal. 3: 2; Exod. 23: 2,3. The remark already quoted with reference to Heb. 2: 3,4 (page 15) is applicable to this passage also. The apostle Paul, if, as we think, he is the writer, sinks his own apostleship, and points the Hebrews to the One Lord and Head.



[II] * According to Bengel's simple distinction apostolos, qui Dei causam apud nos agit; dpxtepeus, qui nostram causam apud Deum agit. But notice also the essential connection between the two ideas; He who was sent, Kai.' ezoxen, was sent in order by His sac­rifice to become the High Priest. Lo, I come—(apostolos) to do thy will (apxiepeus),



[III]  * poiesanti, literally made. But not in the sense of created, but who appointed, ordained and furnished Him with all that was nec­essary to carry out His great mission. "A body hast thou pre-pared for me." (Heb. 10:5.) Comp. also Mark 3: 14, original.



[IV] * "The servant of Jehovah, the King Messiah, will be greater than Abraham, more exalted than Moses, higher than all the an-gels of ministry." Ancient Synagogue's Comment on Isa. 52:13.



[V] * Oetinger.



[VI] * Apostolic teaching on hope is both copious and unanimous. Rom. 5: 1-5; Rom 8:15-39, Rom  12:12, Rom 15:13; Eph. 1:12-14,18; COL 1:5,23, 27; 1Thess. 1:3; 2Thess. 2:16; 1Peter 1:3; 9-12; 1 John 3: 13. Beside the passages in this epistle, Heb 6: 11, 10:23, 11: 1, &C.