3. 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.
For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.
But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself.
For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.
Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later.
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.
That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice,
don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.
There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years.
So I was angry with them, and I said, ‘Their hearts always turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’
So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”
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.
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.
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.
Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”
And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt?
And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness?
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?
So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.
4. God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.
For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, “In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world.
We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.”
But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God.
So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come.
So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.
For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labours, just as God did after creating the world.
So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
5. Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins.
And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses.
That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs.
And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honour. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.
That is why Christ did not honour himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.”
And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.
Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.
And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.
You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.
For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.
Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognise the difference between right and wrong.Hebrews 3:1-5:14
You may be wondering why I have given you such a large block of text. The simple reason is this large block is a good test for you to divide as you see fit and give titles to the sections you create. Where would you divide the text? Read through this block of text a number of times and consider where you would make the section breaks. It is not really a large block of text; in reality it is made up of three short chapters of 19, 16 and 14 verses. There are only 49 verses in this combined block. I have given my readers larger blocks of text to deal with in past Gems. The reason I have decided to encourage you all to work on the division of this block is because it’s a great passage to choose for such an exercise and a good chance for you to practise the skill.
I created Deeper Bible to give participants the tools to go deeper into Scripture for themselves. The Gems are written to demonstrate how to use the tips I give in the Deeper Bible course to understand the Bible for yourself. Once you learn to follow the flow of the text on the macro level, dealing with the details is made easier. This is a great block of text to practise on. I have told you enough about the way the author writes and what he was doing to enable you to follow the flow of his train of thought. You know his approach in this letter and why he wrote it. You know how he started the letter and the comparisons he was making and why. He began by comparing Jesus with angels. Take note of what or who he was focused on in this next chapter. Take note of the theme words or key words and the author’s train of thought. Remember I have told you the letter to the Hebrews has intermittent warnings throughout. So take the time now to follow the flow of the text and take note of the transition from section to section. Once you have read the passage a number of times and think you have got the passage sorted in your mind, take the next step. Divide this passage into sections and give each section a heading. I believe you will see how easy it is to follow the writer’s point.
Most of us rely on the titles the publishers give to each pericope, the titled sections in your Bible, to help us understand the flow of the Bible. That is not the best way to gain understanding of the flow of the text. Learn to do that for yourself and this is a good block of text to work on. I will show you how each version of the Bible varies in the way this text is divided. It is very revealing. It is a great example of how it was in the days of the Judges. Some of you will know instantly what I am saying. A continuing refrain or motif in the Book of Judges is that every man did what was right in his own eyes. The comparison below shows you how the publishers or editors divided and titled this large section of Hebrews. When you have taken the time to divide this block of text into sections and given each section a title you will see what I mean. Try it and see.
I have given you below the section titles used in four different versions to demonstrate what I mean. But don’t look at the detail until you have completed your own division and labelling. The titles on the pericope in the Bible are not sacrosanct and often they don’t actually help you to understand the flow of the text. Try this exercise and see for yourself. (No initial peeking now; unless you are really at a loss as to know what to do.) There is also something in the table I have given you below that will draw from you a question as you grapple with the exercise.
I have deliberately removed the verse numbers from the text but I have left the Chapter numbers for you if you really want to track the text. However the best thing you can do is simply follow the natural flow of the text. Pay particular attention to how one block transitions into the next. It is what happens at the chapter or section boundary that helps you understand how the sections and therefore the text fit together. Remember the original text of the Greek and Hebrew texts were run together without word breaks. When you see what I have given you at the end of this Gem you will see that your guess is as good as the experts in deciding the title of each section. I will bet that many of you can do a better job on this exercise than many of the titles and divisions given in the published versions.
Of course you also have the option of doing nothing and waiting for the next Gem when I will give you more detail. But you know who will gain the most from the challenge I have set before you all in this Gem if you do it for yourself. I guarantee, you will learn a lot from doing the task for yourself. Revelation will come to you in Gem 2055 after you have worked on the division and titles yourself:
- Where to make the break?
- What to include?
- When to begin a new section?
- What to call it?
You will also see for yourself how the divisions of the text into pericope often don’t match the chapter divisions. I have told you that fact over and over in the course of writing these Bible Gems. Don’t use the published titles below to follow slavishly, rather come up with your own. It will force you to make some interesting decisions along the way. You will see what I mean after you do it.
Section Headings Across Four Different Bibles
|Jesus Greater Than Moses||Jesus Greater Than Moses||Jesus is Greater than Moses||Christ Superior to Moses|
|A Rest for the People of God||Warning Against Unbelief||Promised Rest for the People of God||The Disobedient Generation|
|Jesus the Great High Priest||A Sabbath Rest for the People of God||Jesus is Our High Priest||The Promise of Rest|
|Warning Against Apostasy||Jesus the Great High Priest||A Call to Spiritual Worship||Christ the Way to God|
|Warning Against Falling Away||Warning Against Apostasy|
Now it is time for you to be creative and come up with the titles on the sections you choose, which may help your readers a lot more than what the published, titled sections do. Send me your attempt if you wish for my comment or evaluation.
A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a College (University) education.Theodore Roosevelt
To do good Bible study you need to follow the author’s thread or point they are making. Don’t stop too soon.Ian
Bible Study, like most skills of any value, requires discipline and practice.Ian
No Bible study is ever a waste of your time. If it doesn’t bring you what you want specifically, it teaches you more on the macro level.Ian
It’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.Robert Schuller