Revisiting the passage from the previous article, the author of Hebrews uses a metaphor of a house to compare Moses’ good work with Jesus’ role in God’s plan.
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.
Hebrews 3:3-4 NIV
Now, I think of a house here as two things. The first is a physical building. We know what it’s like to live in a house or visit a friend’s house (and here, I’m including those of you who live in an apartment or other building – the illustration still holds up). We might talk about a church building as God’s house, which is consistent with how the tabernacle or temple was referred to historically.
A house (as a building) is different from a cave or other natural shelter (something we might hide in when we’re camping and a storm comes up), in that a house is built by someone. It took a design (or at least a general idea), plus work – usually lots of hard work – to put it together. Houses do not “evolve” through random events and natural selection, although the weather can give them a real beating and wear them down.
The other way that house can be used in this context is a group of people who have some sort of relationship and togetherness. In this sense, a house is often a family, one that has established some history and takes pride in their legacy. A house might not even be people who are physically related, as it brings in those who are aligned with the vision, goals, and character of the others in that house. A political dynasty in a monarchy (whose line continues to sit on the throne for generations) might even be referred to as a house, although I think that was probably more common in the past.
A house (as a clan, family, or group) usually requires a strong leader or individuals who are invested in preserving that house. After all, there are – regrettably – families who have so much animosity and infighting that they are connected only by blood, and not by purpose.
In this light (see also Hebrews 3:5-6), while Jesus and Moses were both faithful with regards to God’s house, they were faithful to substantially different callings. As significant as Moses’ role was in God’s plan for the Hebrew people, Jesus’ role in God’s plan was far greater than that.
- Moses led a nation out of slavery to Egyptians, where they were forced to work and were beaten.
- Jesus provided salvation to rescue the world out of slavery to sin, where we deserved death, both in this life and the next.
In the context of a house, I think of it this way: Moses didn’t create God’s people. God used Moses in a mighty way, but the Hebrew people had already been chosen by God. They didn’t get to just decide that they would be God’s chosen people, and compel Him to pick them. Similarly, Moses didn’t pull himself up by his own bootstraps, and fight his way to greatness. Remember, He didn’t even want to go to Pharaoh!
On the other hand, Jesus did create people – not just the Hebrew people, but all of us. In fact, Jesus had a role in creating everything. More than that, though, while Moses led people according to God’s provision, Jesus was actually the means of salvation.
- Moses led people across the Red Sea, but God parted the sea. Jesus actually made the way for us to be reconciled to God, so we could be adopted back into God’s family.
- Moses led (and was part of) God’s chosen people, but Jesus created the family of God.
This is why Jesus deserves greater honor than even Moses!
And, there’s even more good news in Hebrews 3:5-6, but let’s take a look at that in the next article (although you are more than welcome to read ahead).
From Sunday School lesson prepared for September 5, 2021
- The Lookout, September 12, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Hebrews, by Jim Girdwood and Peter Verkruyse. College Press Publishing Company, © 1997.