bible blog 969

Women and Young People have no voice in electing new Pope



Hebrews 3

Moses a Servant, Christ a Son

3Therefore, brothers and sisters,* holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,2was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses also ‘was faithful in all* God’s* house.’3Yet Jesus* is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honour than the house itself.4(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)5Now Moses was faithful in all God’s* house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later.6Christ, however, was faithful over God’s* house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm* the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.

Warning against Unbelief

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
‘Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,    as on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors put me to the test,    though they had seen my works10for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
and I said, “They always go astray in their hearts,    and they have not known my ways.”
11 As in my anger I swore,    “They will not enter my rest.” ’
12Take care, brothers and sisters,* that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.14For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.15As it is said,
‘Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’
16Now who were they who heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses?17But with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient?19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Again I would urge my readers to have patience with the unprepossessing style of this writer; he’s an original thinker and deserves attention. This passage is all about God’s house, that is, God’s household. The NRSV translation is helpful in that it clarifies the Greek version by translating “God’s house”  when the Greek says “his house.” Moses is depicted as a faithful servant in God’s household but Jesus is the son of the owner and builder of the household, namely God himself. The author identifies the household for us: we are God’s household if we hold firm. In this use of “God’s house” the author is continuing a famous difference of opinion in the Hebrew bible. When King David wanted to build a “house” that is, a temple, for God, Nathan the prophet told him that God didn’t need a physical house; on the contrary he, God, would build David a “house” that is, a royal family, amongst whom God would dwell if they were faithful to him. In the years that followed one of David’s sons did build a temple, but also showed an unfaithfulness to God’s way, which became habitual amongst the descendents of David. The argument about God’s dwelling place-whether holy temple or holy family continued at least until the destruction of the temple in 70 CE.

The early Christian writers agreed with those who thought God dwelt with his holy family,  adding their belief that Jesus was the owner’s Son, in partnership with whom they became God’s household.  I have written at length on this theme in a special blog which readers can find as (oikos is the New Testament word for house)

The rest of this passage reminds believers of the exodus story. Due to disobedience the people wandered for 40 years before entering the land of rest, the promised land. As members of God’s household the believers must listen to Jesus and obey him. Otherwise they may not get to the “rest” which is promised them by God. As this mysterious rest is described more fully in the next passage, I’ll write about it tomorrow. The simplicity of the Christian faith is well represented here. God will dwell with his household if they remain partners with his son Jesus in trust and obedience. Now that could be a challenging identity statement for the churches today.

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