THIRD SECTION.-iii. 1-6.
Christ Jesus more than Moses.
m.—1. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus.
Consider Jesus! This is the central thought of the verse, and of the passage of which it is a part, as it is indeed of the whole Epistle. lt is the one aim of the writer to persuade the Hebrews that, if they but knew aright the Lord Jesus as the faithful, compassionate, and almighty High Priest in heaven, they would find in Him all they needed for a life such as God would have them lead. Their life would be in harmony with their faith, in harmony with the life of Him whom their faith would apprehend. The words might have been taken as the title of my book: Consider Jesus! is indeed the keynote of the Epistle.
The word consider, from the root of the Latin word for Star, originally means to contemplate the stars. It suggests the idea of the astronomer, and the quiet, patient, persevering, concentrated gaze with which he seeks to discover all that can be possibly known of the stars which the object of his study are. And Jesus, who is God, who became man, and perfected our
human nature in His wonderful life of suffering and obedience, and now dwells in heaven to communicate to us its life and blessedness—oh, what reason there is for saying, Consider Jesus. Gaze upon Him, contemplate Him. For some increased knowledge of the stars what devotion, what enthusiasm, what sacrifices are ofttimes witnessed. Oh, let the study and possession of the Son of God waken our devotion and our enthusiasm, that we may be able to tell men what beauty and what glory there is in Jesus.
Holy brethren! Thus the Hebrews are now addressed. ln the previous chapter the word brethren had been used twice. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. It behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren. The sacred name is now applied personally: Christ's brethren are brethren in Christ. And the heart of the writer warms to them personally, as he seeks to urge them to what with him is indeed the one aim of the Epistle—Consider Jesus.
Holy brethren! The word holy had also been just used. He that sanctifieth, maketh holy, and they who are sanctified, made holy, are all of one. We saw how holiness is the common mark of Christ and His people: their bond of union, and the great object they both aim at. One of the great mysteries the Epistle is to reveal to us is that our great High Priest has opened the way for us into the Most Holy Place or the Holiest of All. ln Hebrew it is the Holiness of Holinesses. There we have boldness of access, there we are to have our dwelling encircled by the holiness of God. We must know that we are holy in Christ; this will give us courage to enter into the Holiness of Holinesses, to have God's holiness take complete possession, and fill our whole being. lt is Jesus who makes holy: it is we who are to be made holy: what more natural than that the thoughts should be coupled together: holy brethren, consider Jesus.
Holy brethren! partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus! What is elsewhere spoken of as a holy calling is here named a heavenly calling. That does not only mean a calling from heaven, or a calling to the heaven, whence the call proceeds. No, there is much more in it. Heaven is not only a place, but a state, a mode of existence, the life in which the presence of God is revealed and experienced in its unhindered power. And the heavenly calling is that in which the power of the heavenly life works to make our life heavenly. When Jesus was upon earth the kingdom of heaven was nigh at hand; after He had ascended and received the kingdom from the Father, the kingdom of heaven came to this earth in power, through the descent of the Holy Spirit. Christians, at Pentecost, were people who by the new birth entered into the heavenly kingdom or state of life. And the kingdom entered into them. And they were partakers of a heavenly calling, because the spirit and the life and the power of heaven was within them.
lt is to such men the invitation comes. Holy brethren! partakers of the heavenly calling! consider Jesus! If you would know what it is to be holy and to live holy, consider Jesus who makes holy! lf you would know the privileges and powers that belong to you as partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus! He is God, the King of heaven! He is Man who has ascended to heaven as your Priest and Saviour, has opened it for you, and can communicate its life and blessedness. Oh, consider Jesus! set your heart on Him; He will make you holy and heavenly.
There is more than one of my readers who mourns that he knows so little what it is to live a holy and a heavenly life. Listen, God's word speaks to you—Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling! consider Jesus! This is your weakness: you have looked at yourself and your own strength; you have not studied Jesus! This will be your cure: each day, each hour, consider Jesus, and in Him you will find all the holiness and the heavenliness you need.
1. in the tatter part of the Epistle all the glory of Jesus as He entered heaven, and opened lt for us, as He became a minister of the heavenly sanctuary, and leads us to dwell in the Father's presence, will be opened to us. But let us even now, from the commencement, hold fast the truth that the knowledge of Jesus seated in heaven is the power of the heavenly calling and the heavenly life.
2. Do not think that you know all that can be told about Jesus. Believe that there are wonders of heavenly joy to be revealed to you if you know Him better: His dioine nearness and oneness with you, His ever-present indwelling to succour and lead you, His power to bring you into the Holiest of All, into the Father's presence and love, and to keep you there, will be revealed.
CHRIST AND MOSES.
HI.—1. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus.
2. Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also was Moses in all his house.
3. For he hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by so much as he that built the house hath more honour than the house.
4. For every house is bullded by some one; but he that built all things is God.
5. And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house, for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken:
6. But Christ as a Son, over his house; whose house are we, If we hold fast our boldness and the glorying of our hope firm unto the end.
THE writer had just spoken (ii. 17) of Christ as a merciful and faithful High Priest. Later (iv. 14-v. 7), he will speak again of Him as merciful. Here he wishes first to set before us His faithfulness. To this end he compares Him to Moses, of whom God Himself had spoken (Num. xii. 7): "My servant Moses, who is faithful in all My house." But he goes on at the same time to prove that Christ the Son is more than Moses the servant. We have seen that Christ is more than the angels through whom the law was given; we shall yet see that He is more than Aaron, through whom the law was ministered; He is more than Moses too, the mediator of the law, the servant in the house of God. In every aspect the New Testament has more glory than the Old.
Moses and Aaron together represented God in lsrael; the one as apostle or messenger, the other as high priest. ln the person of Jesus the two offices are united. As High Priest He is merciful as Aaron; as Apostle of our profession He is faithful as Moses. Moses was the great apostle or messenger of God, the Old Testament type of Christ as prophet. He had access to God, and brought the word of God to the people. Christ is the great Apostle or Prophet of the New Covenant. He ever spake of Himself as the one whom the Father had sent; in Him, the Son, God speaks to us. As Apostle He is God's Representative with us, making God known to us; as High Priest, our Representative with God, bringing us into His presence. As High Priest He stands linked to us by His mercy and compassion, as He now, having died for us, helps us in our temptation and weakness; as Apostle He pleads for God with us, and proves Himself entirely faithful to Him. We need to co'nsider Christ Jesus, not only as a High Priest in His mercy, but as the Apostle of our profession who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also was Moses in all his house. Faithfulness is trustworthiness. As we see Jesus faithful to Him who appointed Him, our faith and trust will rise into perfect and joyful assurance that He will indeed most faithfully fulfil all God's promises in us, that in us too He will be faithful as a Son over His own house. Nothing gives such strength to faith as resting on the faithfulness of Jesus. The glory of Jesus is the glory of Christianity; is the strength and glory of the Christian life.
Moses was in every respect a type of Christ. In what he suffered from his very brethren; in his rejection by his brethren; in his zeal and his sacrifice of all for God; in his willingness to die for his people; in his fellowship with God; we see the marks of an apostle, as they were to be perfectly revealed in Christ Jesus. And yet it was all only a shadow and a prophecy, a testimony of things to come. For He hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by so much as he that built the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some one; but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterwards to be spoken; but Christ, as a Son over His house. Moses was himself but a part of the house: Jesus Christ is the builder. Moses was a servant in the house; Jesus was a Son over His own house.
Whose house we are. The true house, the true dwelling of God, is His people. In Christ we are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit. Of the Church, as His body, of the individual soul, Christ says: "We will come and make our abode." lt is the characteristic of spiritual things that each part is also a living whole. Collectively and individually we are Christ's house: he that would know the faithfulness of Christ in His house, must yield himself to be His house, must allow Christ as Son over His house to be Master, to have the keys alone, to hold undisturbed possession and rule.
Whose house we are. Later on we shall see how the great work of Christ, as the great High Priest over the house of God, is to open the way into the holiest of God's dwelling, His living, loving presence. The word we have here to-day tells us beforehand that the Holiest is not only with God, and that we must enter into it; it is also with us, and God will come in to us too. God's heart is our habitation; our heart is God's habitation. When Jesus spake, "Abide in me, and I in you," He taught us that mutual relationship. The more my heart goes out to Jesus and lives in Him, the more He comes to live in me.
Whose house we are. Would you have the full experience of all that means and brings? Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider Jesus, who is faithful to Him that appointed Him, as a Son over His house. Yield yourself to Him as His house, and trust His faithfulness to do His work. And, remember, as the Epistle teaches us the spiritual meaning of the external symbols of the Old Testament, that we must not seek their fulfilment again in other external things, however much we conceive of them as infinitely higher and greater, but in that inward spiritual experience which comes when Jesus dwells in us as His house. lt is as the lndwelling Saviour that He does His work, whether it be Prophet, Priest, or King. Whose house we are.
1. Faithful to God. This is the spirit of God's house, the mark of being of His household. lt was so with Moses the servant. lt was so with Christ the Son. lt must be so through the whole household. Be it so with us: Faithful to God.
2. Whose house we are. Not like a house of stone and wood, in which the indweller has no lioing connection with it. No, Christ dwells in us as a life within a life, inspiring us with His own temper and disposition. Our moral and spiritual being, our power of willing and living and acting, within these He comes and dwells in us a dioine, hidden, but mighty power and operation.
3. Faithful as Son over His house. But He must be Master in His own house. Not only an honoured guest, while thou hast the keys and the care. So it is with many Christians. So it may not be. No, gioe Him the keys: gioe Him entire control over the whole being: as Son over His house. He will blessedly prove how faithful He is to God and to thee.
4. Consider well the faithfulness of Christ: this will work in thee the fulness of faith.
IF WE HOLD FAST OUR BOLDNESS FIRM TO THE END.
HI.—6. "Whose house we are, if we hold fast our boldness and the glorying of our hope firm unto the end.
AMONG the Hebrews there were not a few who had gone back and were in danger of falling away. They had given way to sloth, and had lost the joy and confidence of their first faith. The writer is about (iii. 7-iv. 13.) to sound a note of solemn warning, to call them to beware of that evil heart of unbelief, which departs from the living God. As the transition he writes, making the words as it were the text for what follows, Whose house we are, if we hold fast our boldness, and the glorying of our hope firm to the end.
Holding fast firm to the end. Steadfastness, perseverance, this is indeed the great need of the Christian life. There is no question that exercises the earnest minister of the gospel in our days, as in early times, more deeply than what may be the reason that so many converts grow cold and fall away, and what can be done that we may have Christians who can stand and conquer. How often does it not happen, both after times of revival and special effort, and also in the ordinary work of the Church, that those who for a time ran well, got so entangled in the business or the pleasure of life, the literature, or the politics, or the friendships of the world, that all the life and the power of their profession is lost. They lack steadfastness; they miss the crowning grace of perseverance.
The words of our text teach us what the cause of backsliding is, and whence the want of power to stand comes, even in those who strive after it. They show us at the same time what the secret is of restoration, as well as of strength to endure unto the end. Whose house we are, he says, If we hold fast our boldness and the glorying of our hope firm to the end. Or, as it is expressed a few verses further on (ver. 14) If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end. A boldness and confidence that make us abound in hope, that make us glory in hope of the glory of God, and glory in tribulation too,—this it is that makes us strong to resist and overcome. Nothing can make us conquerors but the bold and joyful spirit that day by day glories in the hope of what God will do.
It is in this that so many fail. When first they found peace they learnt that they were saved by faith. They understood that pardon and acceptance and peace and life all come by faith alone. But they did not understand that we can only stand by faith; that we must always walk by faith; that ever and increasingly we must live by faith; and that every day and every hour nothing can help us but a clear, definite, habitual faith in God's power and working, as the only possibility of growth and progress. They sought to hold fast the light and blessing and the joy they had found; they knew not that it was their boldness of faith, the glorying of their hope, the beginning of their confidence,—that this it was they needed to hold fast firm to the end. And even when they learnt something of the need of faith and hope, they did not know how indispensable the boldness of faith and the glorying of hope were. No one can conquer without the spirit of a conqueror. The powers of sin and Satan, of the world and the flesh, are so great, only he who is bold and glories in his hope upon what God will do will have strength to resist them. And he only can be bold to face the enemy who has learnt to be bold with God, and to glory in Him. lt is when faith becomes a joy, and hope is a glorying in God, that we can be more than conquerors.
The lesson is one of the most important the Christian has to learn. We shall see later on how our whole Epistle has been written to teach us that boldness is the only root of steadfastness and perseverance, and therefore the true strength of the Christian life; and how, too, its one object is to show what abundant ground for the boldness we have in the work and person and glory of our Lord Jesus.
Whose house we are, if we hold fast our boldness and the glorying of our hope firm unto the end. Would you know the blessedness of all it means, Whose house we are, Christ as a Son is faithful in His house, see here the open gate. ln spite of all the enemies that surround you, yield yourself boldly to Jesus Christ as His—your heart a home for Him to dwell in. Glory in the hope of all that He has promised to perfect in you. Hold fast the beginning of your confidence firm to the end. Was not that beginning this, that you confessed yourself to be nothing, and Christ to be all? Did you not just cast yourself on His mighty saving power? Hold fast this beginning with the greatest confidence. He will each moment guard and keep His house, and maintain His work within it. Claim boldly and expect confidently that Christ the Son will be faithful over His house as Moses the servant was over his. And when the difficulty arises: But how always to maintain this boldness and glorying of hope, just remember the answer the Epistle gives, Consider Jesus, who was faithful. Yes, just consider Jesus! How faithful, even unto death, He was to God
in all that He had given Him to do for us. Let that be to us the assurance that He, who is still the same Lord, will be no less faithful in all the blessed work He can now do in us, if we hold fast our boldness and the glorying of our hope firm to the end.
1. Faith is the mother of hope. How often a davghter can be a help and a strength to her mother. So, as our hope reaches out to the future and glories in it, our faith will grow into the boldness that can conquer all.
2. Hold fast together what this passage has joined: the faithfulness of Jesus and the boldness or confidence of our faith. His faithfulness is our security.
3. The glorying of our hope. Joy is not a luxury or a mere accessory in the Christian life. lt is the sign that we are really lioing in God's wonderful love, and that that love satisfies us. "The God of hope fill you with all joy in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost."
4. Christ is faithful as a Son over His house: how confidently l may trust Him to keep charge and rule in it.