SERMON TITLE: Greater than Moses
TEXT: Hebrews 3:1-19 (NLT); John 1:1-14
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
Watch the sermon here.
Take notes here.
As always it’s a joy to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And there’s one thing I want you to know — and this is true if you’re worshiping with us for the first time or are joining us at our North Main Campus — I want you to know that God loves you and that I love you too.
Before we get to the sermon — I’d appreciate your prayers on Wednesday as I’ve been invited by our Campus Outreach partners — a ministry we’ve been partnering with for many years now — and I’ve been asked to be part of their all staff retreat on Wednesday where I’ll be teaching their staff — folks who are investing in college students — not only at BGSU — but at other universities in the Midwest as well.
I’ll be giving an overview on some areas of theology and how it applies to their lives and ministry and your prayers — for our time together on Wednesday — are appreciated. Thank you — in advance — for praying for us.
We’re in the second week of our Christmas series. And — this Christmas — we’re seeing how Jesus is greater. “Greater than what,” you may be asking. Well — last week — we saw fifteen reasons why Jesus is greater than angels. And — today — we’ll see why he’s greater than Moses — a key figure in the Old Testament.
ANNOUNCE THE TEXT
So let’s turn to our passage for today. If you have your Bible please turn with me to Hebrews chapter 3. We’ll be looking at the entire chapter together. And — if anyone’s wondering — we can all relax as this will not be a fifteen point sermon. We’re in Hebrews chapter 3. Beginning in verse 1.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. 2 For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. 3 But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. 4 For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. 5 Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. 6 But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ. 7 That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, 8 don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. 9 There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. 10 So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ 11 So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’” 12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. 15 Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” 16 And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? 18 And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? 19 So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.” (Hebrews 3:1-19 NLT)
Jesus is greater than Moses. But why — a great place for us to begin. Answering the question: Why is Jesus greater than Moses? Let’s find out why by returning to verse 1.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. 2 For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house. 3 But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. 4 For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. 5 Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. 6 But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.” (Hebrews 3:1-6 NLT)
The author of Hebrews is giving us a comparison between Moses and Jesus. We’re first reminded of Jesus being a messenger of God — which — should remind us of how Moses was also a messenger of God — an important messenger at that. For he penned the first five books of the Old Testament — what's often referred to as the Law of God — because it includes the 10 Commandments. Yet Jesus is a greater messenger than Moses for he not only spoke on behalf of God but — as you heard earlier from the gospel of John — Jesus is the Word of God.
But — Moses was not only a prophet — who spoke on God’s behalf — he was also a priest. Now — we don’t usually think of Moses as a priest — but Psalm 99 verse 6 tells us that, “Moses and Aaron were among his (God’s) priests…” Yet Jesus is greater than Moses because the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the High Priest. This tells us that the office of priest that Jesus holds is greater than the priestly office that Moses held. In fact — Jesus is greater than all of the priests that came before and after him. We’ll learn more about Jesus and his role as the Great High Priest from pastor Ben Borsay — who’ll be with us in two weeks.
Additionally, Moses served God faithfully as he led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, out of slavery, and into the wilderness. Moses was entrusted with God’s entire house — God’s house being God’s people — yet Jesus is greater than Moses and deserves greater glory than Moses because — though Moses was entrusted to care for God’s house — his people — Jesus is the Builder of God’s house — for Jesus is the Creator of God’s people. Again — as we heard from John’s gospel, “God created everything through him.” (John 1:3a NLT) And — not only is he the Builder of God’s people — Jesus is the Savior of the house of God — including you — if you believe.
Additionally Jesus is greater than Moses because he has made the house of God clean and holy and righteous. The house of God has been washed clean of the stains of our sin. We’ve been made pure and have been set apart by God. And our relationship with God — which had been broken — has been mended and we’re now right with him — that’s what it means to be righteous. And Moses didn’t make any of this happen — Jesus did — through his life, death, and resurrection. And this is why he’s greater than Moses — and this is why Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses.
And though Moses led the Israelites for forty years — he eventually died and his time of leading God’s people came to an end. But Jesus is the head — the leader — the King of the people of God. And — though he was born to die — on the cross Jesus defeated death so his reign and rule over his people — and over all of his creation — will continue forever. Death did not defeat Jesus — Jesus defeated death. And this should be a word that brings encouragement and confidence and hope to all who believe in Christ. Our good, faithful, loving, kind, merciful, and all-powerful King is — and will always be — on his throne — protecting and leading his people.
Moses was a great leader, but he was no eternally reigning king. And Jesus is greater than Moses because he’s both our Leader and the King of all kings.
And — now — let’s consider how — if Jesus deserves “far more glory” — let’s consider how we’re to glorify Christ. To glorify Christ — in case you’re wondering — means to praise or worship him. So the question we’re asking — “how do we glorify Christ” — can be asked this way: What should our response be to the One who is greater than Moses? We find our answer beginning in verse 7.
“That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, 8 don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. 9 There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. 10 So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ 11 So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’” 12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. 15 Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” 16 And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? 18 And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? 19 So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.” (Hebrews 3:7-19 NLT)
How do we glorify Christ — how do we magnify his all-powerful name and matchless beauty and infinite value to the world? Having seen that Jesus is greater than Moses — how are we to respond to him in worship and praise with our lives? Well — according to our verses — we’re to glorify Christ… 1) by not hardening our hearts, 2) by being careful, 3) by warning each other, 4) by being faithful to the end, and 5) by believing. Let’s look at each of these.
First, we glorify Christ by not hardening our hearts. Twice — both in verses 8 and 15 — we’re told “don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” If you’re not familiar with the Exodus story, the Israelites were slaves in the land of Egypt. They were forced to work seven days a week. The work was hard and got worse as Pharaoh engaged in spiritual combat with God through Moses. Eventually — Pharaoh let the Israelites go free because he lost the battle. And after God miraculously rescues his people from Pharaoh and his army — for Pharaoh had second thoughts about letting all of his slaves go free — thus after a miraculous rescue — and just a few days into the journey towards the Promised Land — a land of freedom — a land of provision — a land promised to be the people’s place of rest — just a few days into their journey the Israelites begin to doubt that God could provide for their needs in the wilderness. They start looking back to Egypt — longing for the land of their enslavement — and they fell for the lie we so often believe — “you know, those were the good old days.” And you’d be right to think, “What!? You were slaves in Egypt! Those weren’t good days — those were bad days. Very very very bad days.”
But this is what hardening our hearts looks like. It starts with a doubt that God will provide for your every need. It begins when we allow our circumstances to define for us who God is — “I’m hurting, so God must not be good or he’d change my situation.” Or “I’m lonely, so God must’ve abandoned me.” Or “I’m miserable at my job, my marriage is a wreck, and I drink more than I should, so — I guess — God just doesn’t care about me.” But our circumstances should not dictate our view of God — instead — who God is should dictate how we view our circumstances.
The Israelites forgot this in the wilderness. And they hardened their hearts. But we — God’s people today — are to worship his Son — Jesus — by not hardening our hearts. Instead, we’re to trust God in all circumstances as we allow who he is to define our circumstances.
Second, we glorify Christ by being careful. If we want to enter the eternal Promised Land — a land of eternal rest — we’re talking about Heaven here — we must be careful to examine our hearts. Throughout Scripture we’re warned to Investigate what’s going on inside of us. For example, what thoughts do you repeat to yourself — what beliefs are driving your behavior and do they align with God’s Word? These are the questions we’re commanded to ask so we pay attention to our inner person. For — our heart’s desire drives what we think about — which dictates what we do. And if we want to glorify Christ with our lives — if we want our lives to be full of praising the One born that first Christmas morning — well this requires much more than carving out an hour of your week to be at church. This is more than a quick devotional in the morning. This requires being careful and examining what’s going on in that part of you that’s hidden from everyone else. Your desires. Your motivations. Your passions. Don’t assume that the One who is greater than Moses makes the top of your “priorities list.” Do the work of examining yourself honestly — for we glorify Christ by being careful and examining our motivations.
Third, we glorify Christ by warning each other. This shows us that — though our faith is personal — it’s not private. Our being careful and examining our hearts — all by ourselves — isn’t the end for the man or woman who wants to glorify Christ. For our faith is personal and corporate — our faith in not personal and private. We are — after all — part of the house that Christ is building. None of us are the entire house all by ourselves — just like none of us are the entire body of Christ all by ourselves. These scriptural illustrations are meant to show us how interdependent we are of one another. Because — sometimes — or maybe more often than that — we deceive ourselves. And others can see where sin has entrapped us like a snare that’s caught an animal. Where we’ve hardened our hearts toward what we view on a screen, or defend having one more drink, or have convinced ourselves that “I just don’t have the time to read my Bible or pray or show up to church in person or whatever” — and sometimes we need God’s grace and loving discipline to come to us through a fellow Christian. Where — in love — we’re approached with a warning.
And — be prepared — for this will be a test of the hardness of your heart. And this will be a test of our love for one another. Our love for one another is tested — in moments like this — because it’s easier to choose to not step into the mess of someone else’s life and hope that things will somehow work out for the best. But we’re called to love one another — and sometimes that love will require that we warn our Christian brothers and sisters of a hardening that’s happening to their heart.
And — when we’re the recipient of a warning — how will we respond? Do you think you’re above such a warning — that may reveal a hardening that’s already taken place. Will you think you know better than the one giving you the warning — this too may signal a heart that’s turned cold. Is repentance going to be your first response to a warning from a brother or sister who loves you enough to approach you? Lord may it be so — in my life — and in all of our lives.
Fourth, we glorify Christ by being faithful to the end. There’s a perseverance that’s required of us who believe in Christ. Many start out believing in Jesus only to have their belief wane as life goes on. Deconstructing your faith is in vogue these days. Jesus once told a story to show us that there are a variety of ways people may believe in him — but only one believing — the believing that perseveres — is the believing that leads to eternal life. Here’s what Jesus said.
““Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” 10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant. 11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, 12 so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven.’” 13 Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? 14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”” (Mark 4:3-20 NLT)
Do you remember when you first believed in Jesus or maybe the faith you had as a young child? Do you remember the excitement, the joy, the hope you had because you believed? How’s your excitement today? Your joy? How’s your hope because of your belief? Jesus said a harvest will be produced in the lives of those who believe — what about your harvest? Has the soil of your heart — where the seed of the gospel was planted — how long has it been since your heart produced a harvest of evidence showing that you believe? The command to us — to be faithful until the end — is one way we glorify Christ — one way we worship him. As long as we live and have breath we’re to praise God with our lives. How is your life — today — not yesterday or years ago — but presently — how is your life demonstrating faithfulness until the end?
Finally, we glorify Christ by believing. This one’s for you — if you’d say “I’m not a Christian” or “I’m not sure what I believe.” The Christmas story — the reason why this holiday season matters — isn’t because of the trees and the lights and the presents. The highlight of this holiday isn’t Rudolph or Santa or Charlie Brown. The greatest part of Christmas is Christ — his name is in the holiday after all.
And — you know this — I know that you do. You know that the presents and the trees and the lights and the cartoons and movies we love to watch at this time of year — are all meaningless if this life is all that there is. Who cares about any of that stuff if all of life is summed up with, “Presents, lights, trees, Charlie Brown — and then death.”
But there’s so much more to life — so much more. Because Jesus is greater than all of the stuff that’s fighting to be important in your life. And — because he’s greater — Jesus deserves your worship. And not only does he deserve your worship — he commands you to worship him. Not as a tyrant — and not out of selfishness — he commands you to worship him for your eternal good. For those who worship Christ are those whose hearts are not hardened — but are full of life — because they believe in the One who gives the gift of eternal life to all who glorify him.
Moses couldn’t give life. He could take it — which he did when he murdered an Egyptian — but he couldn’t give life. And no one can give life to our hardened, dead hearts but Christ alone — who died so you might live — who was born — so you might be forever changed because the Word became flesh and lived among us. This Christmas season, may you believe in him who is greater than Moses — may you receive the gift of eternal life from Jesus — who is the greatest of all. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Moses — for his example — for his faithfulness in leading your people out of slavery — for giving him your words to record for us. But — even more so — thank you that Jesus is greater than Moses. For Jesus accomplished what Moses could not — he conquered death and is the Giver of eternal life. He leads your people into the eternal Promised Land and ensures that all who are your people will arrive safely to their eternal home.
Spirit of God, remind us of the ways in which we’re to glorify Christ. Help us to not harden our hearts. Remind us to be careful. Give us the loving courage to warn each other when a warning is needed. Give us the strength to be faithful to the end. And — Spirit of God — give the gift of believing in Jesus to those who don’t yet believe in him. May many — who hear my voice — believe in Christ today. We pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
May you go believing in Jesus — the One who gives life — for he is the greatest of all. Amen.
God loves you. I love you. You are sent.
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