Shall we turn now in our Bibles to Hebrews, chapter three, as we continue our journey through the Bible.
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, Writing to the Hebrews, to the Jews who had received Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Messiah, those who had come recognize Jesus as Messiah.
Holy brethren, partakers of this heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Calling their attention, their careful attention, to Christ Jesus, Who was, first of all the Apostle. The word apostle, literally means, one who is sent. And Jesus was sent by God to this world. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. God, Jesus said, did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Throughout the Book of John, over and over again, Jesus asserts that He was sent by God. Thus, an apostle, sent by God to the earth.
But He also is the High Priest of our profession. Now, in the previous chapter, he began to introduce the subject the subject of the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ for the believers. In verse seventeen of chapter two, wherefore in all things, it behooved Him to made like unto His brethren that He might be a merciful and a faithful High Priest in all of the things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Now throughout the Book of Hebrews, there is going to be that pointing to Jesus Christ as the High Priest. Here it begins in the latter part of chapter two, the beginning of chapter three, but it is something that is going be an interwoven theme throughout the entire Book of Hebrews, the fact that Jesus is our High Priest!
Now the high priest was appointed by God to represent God to the people. He was God’s representative. He was to speak to the people the Word of God. On the other hand, he also was to represent the people before God. Only the High Priest was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies. And only one day in the year, Yom Kippur, to represent the people before God and to offer unto God, the offerings for the sins of the people. That was his job representing the people to God and then in turn, coming out and representing God to the people.
The High Priest, under the Levitical Order had to be a descendent of Aaron. But now Jesus is our High Priest, and as the Book will continue, it will be pointed out to us that He is not of the Levitical order, but of a higher order of priesthood then that of Levi. For we know that Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. There is nothing of the Scriptures that speak of the tribe of Judah, being a priestly tribe. But He is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. And as we get to that we will discuss that more fully.
But, consider now, the One who has been sent by God, who is the Apostle and High Priest, One who represents us to God and One who represents God to us, of our profession, Christ Jesus.
2Who was faithful to him that appointed him, He was appointed by God. The declaration by God, was, I have sworn that Thou art a Priest forever, after the Order of Melchizedek.
So faithful to Him that appointed Him as also Moses was faithful in all his house. Now in chapter one, the writer to the Book of Hebrews, shows the superiority of Jesus Christ, over the angels. He is superior to the angels.
Now he is going to show us that Jesus is superior to Moses! Now Moses was held in high esteem by the Jews, because he was the one to whom God gave the Law. He was the representative of God to the people, in bringing them the law of God, the Word of God. And to the present day there are many Jews that will only accept the Books of Moses, the first five books, as truly inspired. They hold Moses in high esteem. But now the author of Hebrews is going to show that Jesus is superior even to Moses. So He was faithful to Him that appointed Him that also Moses was faithful in all of his house, that is, the house of Israel, as Moses was appointed the spokesman of God to the house of Israel.
3For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. Moses was faithful in the house, the house of Israel. But the One who built the house, has more honor than the house itself! And thus He has more honor than even Moses, because it was Jesus who built the house.
4For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. Here is another declaration in the New Testament, of the deity of Jesus Christ. He is the One who built the house and the One who built all things, is God. And so the declaration, again, Jesus is God!
5And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, Moses, was only a servant in the house. He served faithfully.
But, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Moses was a servant in the house. Jesus was the Master over the house. And of course, this house is the church.
Jesus said, upon this rock, I will build My church, the house of God, the church of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, we are likened unto a house. Living stones, fitly joined together, finding that oneness, that is ours in Christ Jesus.
So Moses was a servant in His house, that is the house of Jesus, the Jewish nation. Jesus is the Lord over the house. The Son is over His Own house, whose house are we.
If we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. You are the house, the church, if you hold fast. The perseverance and the necessity to persevere if you hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, firm unto the end.
Now it seems that one of things that prompted the writing of this Book to the Hebrews, was that many of the Jews, who had come to embrace Jesus Christ as the Messiah, recognizing that He was the Messiah, and that the Scriptures actually declared that the Messiah, had to suffer and die, and thus, recognizing that Jesus was the Messiah. Because tradition is such a strong and powerful thing, some of them were being drawn back into legalism. Being drawn back unto the Law. Even to the extent of going with sacrifices for sin offerings to the temple.
And so the emphasis is the importance of holding fast the truth of Jesus Christ, persevering to the end, not turning back to the Law, for a relationship with God, not looking again to the Old Covenant, but continuing to relate to God through the New Covenant.
We do read in the Book of Acts, that there was a problem in the early church. And of course it stemmed from the church in Jerusalem, that sought to sort of co-exist with Judaism. And the disciples, were still going into the temple to worship.
You remember in the third chapter of the Book of Acts, Peter and John were going into the temple in the hour of prayer, when they encountered the lame man, who was subsequently healed.
Paul the apostle, when he came back to Jerusalem, was wanting to celebrating the feast. So he went through the purification rites in the temple so that he would participate in the coming feast there in Jerusalem.
Many of the priests, it says, came to the faith. Many Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Those in Jerusalem, were still somewhat bound with the traditions of Judaism and with the Law. They came to the Gentile church in Antioch, and they said, you cannot be Christians unless you keep the Law of Moses and are circumcised.
When Peter first went to the Gentiles, he said to the people at the house of Cornelius, you know that it is unlawful for me, being a Jew, to enter into the house. However the Lord spoke to me and said, I’m not to call that unclean, which He has cleansed. But Peter was concerned about it. And he knew that when he returned to Jerusalem, he would be questioned because he went into the house of a Gentile. So this is the heavy, legalistic, background of the church. They hadn’t completely broken free from the traditions and the legalism of Judaism.
And this is true of many people today, in that tradition has such a strong hold on us. That many times, we are guilty of holding tradition even above the Word of God! And that was one of the problems in the early church, especially in the church in Jerusalem with the Jewish believers. There was still that deep ingrained traditional worship, under Judaism that many of them were holding to. And so in trying to hold to both, there were those who were slipping back into that legal relationship with God, under the law.
Now let it be known that God doesn’t want a legal relationship with you. That’s far too formal! God wants a loving relationship with you! He doesn’t want you to feel bound to Him by a law. He wants you to feel bound to Him by love! And He wants a loving relationship with you.
And I like to say on my own part, I like it much better relating to God in a love relationship than I would in a legal relationship.
There is something interesting about a legal relationship and that is, there is that tendency to just see how far you can go without breaking that bond. Looking for the loophole and seeing how much you can get away with and still retain a relationship.
But with a loving relationship, the thought is, just how close can I stay to Christ? And bound by love, I’m bound by much stronger chords, than I would be if I were bound by rules and regulations and by the law. I thank God for this loving relationship that He has called us to, the relationship that we have with Christ Jesus.
So because there was this tendency, for the Jews who were trying to mix the law with faith. There was the tendency of returning back unto the law, thus the warning that Christ is the Son over His Own house, that is the church, whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, firm until the end. Our continuing in that hope and the rejoicing unto the end.
7Wherefore (and the second wherefore that we have in this chapter) (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: Now there are a couple of instances, which are called provocations, where the people provoked God by their unbelief and where then Moses then provoked God by his rash actions.
The first provocation came when they had come to the border of the Promised Land. They had come to Kadesh, Kadesh Barnea. And they were ready to enter in and to take the land that God had promised to give to them. God promised to go before them. God promised that He would drive out the enemies before them. And He would give to them this land as an inheritance. And so as they journeyed from Mt. Horeb through the wilderness, they came to the border of the land to Kadesh Barnea.
It was at this point that some of the elders of the people came to Moses. And they said, let’s send men into the land to spy it out, in order that we might establish a strategy, a war strategy, to take the land. And so they appointed one man from each tribe, who went into the land to sort of spy it out. And when these men returned, ten of them brought an evil report. They said it isn’t a very good land. It’s a land that eats up the inhabitants. In other words, it can’t support the people that are there. And besides that, the cities have walls that are so high, they go up into heaven. And we saw giants there! We were like grasshoppers in their eyes. And they inspired fear in the hearts of the people. They began to rebel. They said, let’s choose a leader who will take us back to Egypt! We can’t take the land!
But Joshua and Caleb brought back an entirely different report! As they were coming back they were passing through the valley of Eshcol. There, they picked a cluster of grapes, so large, that they carried it on a staff between them. And interestingly enough, that is the symbol of tourism in Israel today. The ministry of tourism has its symbol, Joshua and Caleb carrying this cluster of grapes on a staff. They say that they were the first tourists in the land. So it is the symbol of the ministry of tourism.
But they brought back this huge cluster of grapes. They said, oh, it’s a great land! Here’s the fruit of the land! This proves that the land is just rich in agricultural possibilities. The people said, yes, but we hear the walls are high. They said, no, not really that high.
But we heard that there are giants there! They said, they’re bread for us. We’ll eat them up, you know. But yet the people listened to the ten and the evil message of the ten. So they said, our children will wiped out. We will be destroyed. You know, we can’t do it! And it was unbelief that God would not keep His promise to drive out the enemies before them and to give them the land. And thus, they had provoked God by their unbelief, not believing that God would keep His promise in giving to them, this land.
So God said, because you did not believe Me, you will wander or roam in the wilderness until this whole generation dies off. And your children, which you said would be their prey, they will enter into the land. But none of you shall enter in, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, because of your unbelief.
So God was provoked because of their unbelief there at Kadesh Barnea.
But then again as they were approaching the land, some forty years later. And for the most part the people had died off, that generation. And as they were approaching the land again, they came to a place where there was no water. And they began to murmur against Moses, much as in the beginning of their journey at Horeb, when they were without water and God said to Moses, strike the rock! It will give water.
So again, they came to Moses and they began to make accusations. You brought us out here to kill us with thirst. It’s better off that we had stayed in Egypt. You haven’t brought us into the land! And making all of these accusations, that really upset Moses!
He went before God. He said, what am I going to do with these people? Here they are, again complaining and griping and all. And God said, Moses, speak to the rock and it will bring forth water!
But Moses was angry! He was angry with the people. And so he went out to the people. He took his rod. And he said, you rebels, how long do I have to put up with you? Must I smite this rock again to give you water?
And he took the rod and he smote the rock twice. And the water came forth. But God said to Moses, Moses, you didn’t represent Me before the people. And for that reason, you cannot go into the land. You will not be able to lead them into the land!
You see, Moses was God’s representative to the people. And he had misrepresented God! God saw their thirst. And God was pitiful toward them. He was understanding. And He wanted to supply for them. So He said to Moses, just speak to the rock. But Moses was angry. And he said, must I smite this rock, you rebels? And he misrepresented God, making the people think that God was angry with them, when He wasn’t!
I think that being a representative of God is a very serious business. And as a minister, I realize that I am a representative of God, that my life should represent God before the people. And I take that very seriously. I want to be a proper representation of God. I don’t want to misrepresent Him.
And here is Moses now, towards the end of his career. He did well! But now, towards the end of his career, he gets upset. He loses his temper! He yells at the people! He calls them a bunch of rebels! And he makes them feel that God is really upset with us!
I hope that I never make you feel that God is really upset with you, because God loves you! And God loved the people. And yet they felt like God was upset with them and thus God was provoked with Moses and he was not able to enter into the land, because he did not properly represent God, there at the waters of strife. He called it Meribah, the waters of strife, where Moses failed to represent God.
Later on, Moses said, oh Lord, please, let me go in! I want to see the beautiful mountains of Israel! I want to see the mountains of Lebanon and all. I’ve heard about them. Oh, I would love to see them! And God said, don’t speak to Me of this matter again. You can’t do it because you failed to represent Me there at the waters of Meribah. That was a tremendous price that Moses had to pay! He could not enter into the Promised Land.
Now, these experiences are all allegorical. They are real! But they are also allegorical. The experiences in Egypt, the bondage under the Egyptians, that horrible misery of being enslaved to the Egyptians, is a type of the believer’s bondage, when in sin! The power that sin has over a person and the bondage that it brings them under. They are bound and in bondage to sin. That’s the land and lie in Egypt. And Pharaoh represents Satan, who makes the task harder and even more difficult. He is unwilling to let them go.
Their passing through the Red Sea is a symbol of water baptism, whereby they leave the old life and enter into a new relationship with God. Out of the life of bondage, into a new relationship with God.
The wilderness is representative of that new life that we have, but yet trying to live a life now that is pleasing to God in the energy and the ability of our flesh. Where we are, sort of just passing through this realization, that though I want to do good, evil is still present with me. And the good things that I would do, I’m not doing. But some of the evil things that I really don’t want to do, I find myself doing.
And Paul aptly describes it in Romans, chapter seven, the latter part there, as he talks about his struggle with an awakened consciousness, a new relationship with God in Christ. But yet not having entered into the place of victory through power of the Holy Spirit.
And so the river Jordan represents the coming to the realization that I have been crucified with Christ. Now there are those who say, well Jordan represents our death and our entering into heaven. But not so! It actually represents the death to self, the reckoning of the old man to be dead, crucified with Christ, that I might live in the newness of live in the power of the Spirit.
The promised land is that land that God has promised to us, a victory. A victory through the power of the Holy Spirit. An overcoming life, a victorious life, the land of promise. It comes after the death to self to my own ambitions, to my own desires.
And it is interesting that Moses in representing the law, could not bring them in to the promised land! You see, the law cannot bring you into this relationship of victory in Christ Jesus. It can lead you up to it.
And that is why it took Joshua, whose name in Greek is Jesus. It took Joshua to lead them into the land. Moses could not lead them in, because of the provocation at the water of Meribah, when he didn’t represent God.
The reason why I say that the promised land is not heaven is that they still had to fight the enemy when they came into the land. They still experienced these battles. It’s interesting they also had battles in the wilderness, but they didn’t gain anything by them. It was not until they entered into the promised land that through the battles they really began to gain real territory.
The Lord said, everyplace you put your foot, I have given it to you as an inheritance. But that is something you have to go in and claim it! And so we, in our walk in the Spirit, have to step in and claim the blessings of God! We have to claim the territory over the flesh, over the life of the flesh, the things of the flesh. We have to move in and by faith, claim the victory of Jesus Christ! And every place we put our foot, God has given that to us as a possession. So, the whole experience is an allegory, as Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians.
And so the day of provocation, wherefore as the Holy Ghost said, today, if you would hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness, 9When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. When your fathers tempted me and proved me, and they saw My works as the result for forty years. They tempted God. They said that God wasn’t able to do what He promised to do. They provoked God by their unbelief. And their unbelief kept them from the rich, full, blessings, God wanted to give to them.
So God said, 10Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, (those that were over twenty years old) and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. What an accusation! They have not known the ways of God. Their error is in their hearts. It is a heart of unbelief. And they really don’t know God.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The more and the better you know God, the greater your faith. And that is why we are encouraged to study the Scriptures, because the Scriptures reveal to us the person, the character, and the nature of God. And the more you know God, the easier it will be for you to trust God! And how do you know Him? By reading about God, the things that God has done! The things that God wants to do for those who will put their trust completely in Him! And how glorious it is to be able to put our trust in God and see the marvelous works of God, that He will do for us and through us, when we put our faith and trust in Him!
So God declared He was grieved with that generation and He said, they do always err in their heart; they have not know My ways.
11So (as a result) I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Now, the promised land was a place of God’s rest for them. The life in the Spirit where they are resting now in the work of God, not in their own efforts anymore. The wilderness represented their efforts, their struggles. But now entering in to the finished work, the rest that God has for His people. But God said, He was provoked by them and thus He swore in His wrath, they will not enter into my rest.
So the warning then by the writer is, 12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you (or of us) an evil heart of unbelief, departing from the living God. David said, search me oh God and know my heart. Try me. Know my thoughts! See if there be some way of wickedness in me. And so we are here warned to take heed, lest there be in us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.
As we said, the Jews, many of them, were in danger of leaving this loving relationship, provided through Jesus Christ. They were trying to go back and find through the law, through Moses, that old covenant, but once coming to the New Covenant, there’s no way that you can relate to God through the old Mosaic covenant again.
So, be careful that you don’t depart from the living God, 13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. How deceitful sin is! It gives a promise of excitement, a promise of joy, a promise of anything your flesh might long for! It’s deceitful because it makes promises of these things, but it doesn’t produce. And the end result, it does produce misery and pain and suffering. There may be the moments of excitement, the moments of thrill, but ultimately they will end in abject misery and woe.
It’s sort of like riding a raft in white water. It’s an extremely thrilling experience—white-water rafting. There are few things that excel the excitement. The adrenaline rushes and all, that you get in white-water rafting. And there are many great areas, here in California, even, where they do white-water rafting. Through portions of the Grand Canyon, through the Snake River in Idaho, through the American River in California and all, these are great places for white-water rafting.
There is tremendous white-water above the Niagara Falls, as Lake Erie dumps, you know, over the Falls. But I’ve never been drawn to try white-water rafting in the rapids above Niagara Falls! I don’t deny what it wouldn’t be extremely thrilling, and the promise for the thrill would surely be there! But you know what the consequences would be!
And so with sin. The only thing is, that sin hides the consequences. It doesn’t show you what it will lead to. There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof, is the way of death. And Jesus said, broad is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction. There are many that go in thereat because the gate doesn’t say, “Path to Destruction”! It says, “Path to Happiness”! This is living! This is life! And there are bright lights to attract and to draw people to it! But in reality, once you enter in to that broad way, you are on the path to destruction because sin has as its very character and nature, that destructive element. Sin destroys!
God has not forbidden you, one decent thing! The only things that God has forbidden you to do, are things that in the end result, have a destructive characteristic to them, things that in the end will destroy you! And God has forbidden you to do those things that are destructive. Sin is destructive. God is constructive! God wants to build you up and make you a better person. Sin will tear you down and destroy you. And so God has laid for us the things that are destructive and has told us, don’t do that!
As through the prophet, Ezekiel who said, turn ye, turn ye! For why will you die, saith the Lord? Behold I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked! But that they turn from their wickedness and live! And that has been the call of God from the ages, to the sinner. Turn from your sin and live! I don’t have any pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they will turn and that they will live! And so, the deceitfulness of sin!
Exhort one another daily and that importance of having good, Godly, friends, that will exhort you when they see you on dangerous turf, when they see you drifting away, that they will come and they will exhort you to Godly living. They will exhort you to a renewed commitment of your life in serving Jesus Christ.
There is a verse of Scripture in the Old Testament relating to King Saul, at the beginning, when he was first called to be king. It said and there went with him a company of men whose hearts God had touched. And I don’t know of any Scripture that is more fraught with potential than that particular verse. When you are surrounded by a company of people whose hearts God had touched. What an encouragement it is, what a strength it is, that we are encouraging one another and exhorting one another in the things of the Lord! And so we are told to exhort each other daily, while it is called, today. Lest there be in any of us a hardened heart because of the deceitfulness of sin, having caught us in its snare.
14For we are made partakers of Christ, Oh my! What a verse of Scripture! We have become partakers of Jesus Christ! Of course every time we take communion, Jesus said, this cup is New Covenant in My blood, shed for the remission for sins. Every time we eat the bread, He said, this bread is My body, broken for you! We are partakers of Jesus Christ! Partakers of His divine nature. To think that Jesus would dwell in me and would dwell in you! That is a thought that we cannot really comprehend or grasp! That the Lord, the Creator of the universe, would dwell within my heart, that I could be a partaker of that divine nature of Jesus Christ, but yet that is exactly what the Scripture teaches. That we have been made partakers of Christ.
But again, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; The importance of maintaining that position, not turning back, not turning away from it. We are partakers, if we hold fast or hold the beginning of our confidence. When you first came to trust in Jesus Christ—you hold onto that and you don’t turn away from it. Hold it steadfast to the end!
15While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. That is, the people provoked God, but not all of them. The faith that Joshua and Caleb and had, honored God! So God said, because they trusted in Me and believed in Me, they will enter into the land of promise. So the people provoked God, but not all.
17But with whom was he (the Lord) grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? When they had come to Kadesh Barnea and their lack of faith, they did not enter in, they began one of the longest death marches in history. Forty years, it was a forty year death march, until their carcases all fell in the wilderness. With whom was God provoked and grieved for forty years? It was those that had sinned. Their carcases fell in the wilderness.
18And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So it their unbelief, even as it is your unbelief, that keeps you from entering in to the rest that God has for His people today. My belief that somehow, someway, I can please God by my works, rather than resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
19So we see (he concludes) that they could not enter in because of unbelief. That kept them back from the promised land.
Now he is not yet finished with this subject. He is going now to make the application to we in the church and the rest that God has for us. He is using the nation of Israel and their tragic experience as an allegory, but now he is going to come to us in the practical application of the allegory, and our entering in to the rest that God has for you and for me! The big question is? Are you resting tonight in Jesus Christ and in the finished work of Jesus Christ, as far as your relationship with God is concerned? Are you resting?
And as we go into chapter four, we will then get into the application, as he continues the subject of entering into the rest that God has for His people.
Father, we thank You, that You have provided for us, through Jesus Christ, a rest, where we also cease from our own labors, as we enter into the rest that You have provided. Lord, we are so thankful that You did love us. You called us. You chose us and ordained that we should be your disciples. And so Lord, help us tonight to realize that there is a place in Christ where we become partakers of His divine nature, for He dwells in us and we in Him. And where, Lord, we enter into that place that of victory, the life and the Spirit, we begin to conquer the territory and we begin to possess our possessions. Help us, Lord, to enter in to the fullness that You have for us. Help us, Lord, to leave the wilderness kind of experience, that, up and down, back and forth, getting nowhere. May we really begin to progress in our walk with You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Transcribed from “The Word For Today”, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #8208, (KJ Version)