James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;Hebrews 3:1-4:16
COMPARED WITH MOSES AND JOSHUA
The superiority of Christ to Moses is shown in chapter 3, the comparison in which case runs in two parallel lines of two members each:
1. Moses a servant over God’s house (Hebrews 3:5).
2. Christ a Son over His own house (Hebrews 3:6).
That is an interesting phrase, “Whose house are we” (Hebrews 3:6), suggesting a plan for a sermon. In what sense are believers Christ’s house?
He built them: “without him was not anything made that was made.” He bought them: “Ye are not for your own, for ye are bought with a price.” He occupies them: “Ye in me and I in you.”
As in the preceding instances we have a digression at this point in the nature of warning (Hebrews 3:7-19). In the first reading omit the parenthesis after “wherefore” (Hebrews 3:7) down to the close of Hebrews 3:11, which will simplify the thought. The idea is that because of the greater importance of the New Testament revelation over that of the Old Testament as evidenced in the superiority of the messenger, we should take heed lest through unbelief we fall away from God, as did Israel in the wilderness. They tempted God, and as a result, the males over twenty years of age were not permitted to enter into the rest of Canaan (Hebrews 3:16-18). The Holy Ghost used that sad episode in their early history as a warning to them at a later time, i.e., in David’s day (compare Hebrews 3:7 ff., with Psalm 95:8-11), and it was just as applicable now to these Hebrew Christians. Therefore, they should exhort one another against “the deceitfulness of sin” and to steadfastness in the faith.
The allusion to the rest of Canaan naturally leads to a comparison of Christ with Joshua in chapter 4, which may be outlined thus: (1) Israel failed of God’s rest through unbelief (Hebrews 3:16-19); (2) We Christians may fail of God’s rest through unbelief (4:1-2); (3) This rest is not Canaan however (Hebrews 4:3-9); but (4) the rest of faith in God through Christ (Hebrews 4:10); and (5) it is to be diligently sought (Hebrews 4:11-13).
The proof that this rest is not Canaan is twofold: it was spoken of long before Canaan was revealed, even at the creation of the world (Hebrews 4:3-5); and it was spoken of long after Israel had entered Canaan as something still to be had. This last thought is brought out clearer in the Revised Version where “Jesus” of Hebrews 4:8 is translated “Joshua,” which has the same meaning.
It is important to understand what this rest is. In the first place, it is God’s rest and not our rest. And God’s rest does not mean cessation from work on His part, but rather his joy and delight in that work as good and perfect. In this sense He rested from creation on the seventh day, a rest which was marred by sin, but now the new rest of which he speaks is that of redemption, typified by Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and entrance into Canaan. As a matter of fact God rests in Christ as the Redeemer and Restorer of fallen man, and where He rests there only can we rest. It is not death that can be rest to us, but only Christ, and this because the secret of our unrest is sin and He only can take away sin in every aspect of it. Of course, the perfect enjoyment of this rest is still future. “There remaineth a rest for the people of God.” It is not a rest of inactivity, but of peace and harmony with all that is within and around us. Glory to God for this expectation! The sense in which we are diligently to seek it (Hebrews 4:11), is not that of self-righteous works on our part, but a carefulness not to fall into unbelief. The relation of the words that follow in this chapter (Hebrews 4:12-16) with those preceding, seems in general terms to be this: the Christian is to rest in faith, and labor to enter into the rest that remaineth, but this means that he must be guided and instructed by the Word of God, and upheld and encouraged by the sympathy and intercession of His Great High priest.
1. State the two parallel lines of comparison between Christ and Moses.
2. In what sense may it be said that we are Christ’s house?
3. Explain the warnings in Hebrews 3:7-19.
4. Give an outline of chapter 4.
5. What two facts prove that “rest” other than Canaan is intended?
6. How would you explain the rest?
7. When will this rest be perfectly entered upon by the Christian?
8. In what sense are we to seek it?
9. What relation do the concluding verses of chapter 4 bear to the preceding?