Hebrews 3:1-6 – Jesus Is Better

 

Loving-Gods-House

“Therefore, brothers and sisters who are partners in the heavenly calling, think about Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.  Jesus was faithful to the one who appointed him just like Moses was faithful in God’s house.  But he deserves greater glory than Moses in the same way that the builder of the house deserves more honor than the house itself.  Every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant in order to affirm the things that would be spoken later.  But Jesus was faithful over God’s house as a Son. We are his house if we hold on to the confidence and the pride that our hope gives us.” (Common English Bible)

It’s hard to be patient, difficult to persevere.  If the Christian life were a piece of cake, then there would be no need for the strengthening of faith and the development of perseverance.  But faith is a muscle.  If unused, it atrophies.  Faith needs exercise, and it must be tried in adverse circumstances to grow and mature.

The reason the author of Hebrews wrote his letter to Jewish Christians is because they were losing their grip, faltering in their faith.  The hard circumstances of those Christians were leading them to entertain the notion of returning to their old ways of life, apart from Christ.

It can be tempting to think of the past as “the good old days.”  But if you think about it for any length of time, you know better.  You’re just struggling in the present, and our minds turn to filter all the crud out from the past to make it look like things were better back then.

“Better” is what the book of Hebrews is all about.  The writer consistently and persistently insists that Jesus is better than anything from the Hebrew Christians’ past.  Moses was one the most respected and impressive figures of Old Testament history.  Jews revered him.  The book of Hebrews acknowledges that respect for Moses, but points-out and reminds the people that whereas Moses was faithful within God’s house, it is Jesus who is the Master over the house.  Jesus is better than Moses.

What’s more, we as believers and followers of Jesus are the house.  Jesus Christ is Lord – not Moses, or anybody else.  Jesus cares for and protects his house.  It might be tempting to believe that a previous house we lived-in in another city or town was better.  But the reality is that we live today in God’s house.  Therefore, we must hold on and not let go of the confidence we have in Jesus and the pride and privilege we have in living where we presently live.

When life is tough, reminiscing about the past is easy.  For sure, you can find all kinds of things you miss from your previous days somewhere.  Yet, trolling your personal history, like a time-wasting galavant on the computer, doesn’t do anything for your need of faith and perseverance.  But today, Jesus has a hold of you.  Today he wants to walk with you through your trouble, and not just transport you to the past.  Now is the time to follow Jesus into all the situations that are in front of you.  You are not alone.  You can do this.

Lord Jesus, you are sovereign over my past, present, and future.  Today has its situations and problems.  Help me walk into and through them with your gracious protection so that perseverance is developed within me and my faith in you is strengthened for tomorrow.  Amen.

Exodus 5:10-23


             It was God who called to Moses out of the burning bush.  It was God who told Moses to go to Egypt because he heard the groaning of the Israelites in their slavery.  It was God who promised Moses that he would deliver the people from their awful bondage.  But the promised vision of release from captivity ran into the harsh buzz-saw of reality.  Moses did exactly what God told him to do with the result that Pharaoh forced the Israelite slaves to make bricks without being supplied with the straw to do it.  Now the people’s situation is even worse than it was before Moses showed up on the scene.  What’s up with that!?
             Since we know the end to the story, we might understand where all of this was going.  But when we put ourselves in the sandals of Moses, it is anything but clear about what was happening.  It is quite understandable that Moses questioned God:  “LORD, why have you treated this people badly? And why did you send me?  From the time I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has treated this people badly, and you have done nothing to rescue your people.”  
             There have been many times in my life when I have questioned whether I was really sent by God to be a certain place or to do a certain thing.  Maybe I didn’t really hear God.  Maybe it was my own voice in my head.  Maybe it was an emotional decision.  But there is something we must all realize:  Just because things go from bad to worse does not necessarily mean God isn’t in the thing.  We are not always, even usually, privy to the mind of God in the big picture of what he is doing.  In the midst of trouble we might think God is not at work, not paying attention, and slow to act.  Yet, God knows exactly what he is doing and sometimes we need to discern that things will get worse before they will get better.
             Wise God, I trust you that you know what you are doing even though I don’t see what in the world is going on.  Help me to see all things from your perspective so that I might have the wisdom to move forward in faith and patience.  I’m out on a limb for you; please do not let it break!  Amen.

Deuteronomy 9:6-14


            Significant things happen on mountains in the Bible.  In anticipation of a glorious mountain top experience of Christ’s transfiguration this Sunday, today’s Old Testament lesson reminds us of a great mountain event, and it was not all bunnies and butterflies.  The book of Deuteronomy is a restatement of the law, and a recounting of Israel’s history as they were about to enter the Promised Land.  “Remember and do not forget…” is the constant theme of Moses’ address to God’s people.  The positive remembrance was that God graciously met with Moses on the mountain and gave him the Ten Words (Ten Commandments).  On the other hand, the ugly remembrance was that while on the mountain meeting with God the people became impatient, insolent, and rebellious; they degenerated into a chaotic mass of people who quickly worshiped an idol.  This was not Israel’s best moment.
             But Moses wanted the people to remember that event in all of its foulness and degradation.  It was important for them to not forget how stubborn and pig-headed their parents and grandparents were in running from the true God to a false god.  The people needed to avoid the sins of the previous generation so that they could enjoy God and thrive in the new land he was giving them.
             It does no one any good to whitewash the past or to altogether ignore it.  Whether it is one’s personal past, a previous generation, or even a national history, we must face the sins of our forebears, to remember and not forget.  We must neither be so extremely individualistic that we disconnect ourselves from our generational moorings, nor be dismissive of past sins, as if they have no influence upon us today.  Mountain experiences can either be glorious, turn very dark, or a bit of both.  We are meant to learn from them all, to remember and not forget.
             God of history, your sovereign reign and rule extends to all creation and has existed for all time.  You know the sins of my past, the heart of my present, and the soul of my future.  Do not let me forget my sins, not because you hold them over my head, but because your grace has saved me from them all through Jesus Christ, my Savior.  Amen.