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Hebrews chapter 3

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What does Hebrews chapter 3 mean?

Hebrews chapter 3 makes an important shift in topic. The first two chapters were mostly about how Jesus Christ is superior to angels. In particular, the fact that Jesus Christ is fully human is what allows Him to be our ultimate example, High Priest, and the "Captain" of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Here, the subject turns to explain how Jesus is also superior to Old Testament figures such as Moses.

According to this chapter, Moses' works were important, but don't compare to those of Jesus. Like a house, Moses was a created thing. Jesus, as the "builder" of all things, including the house, is worth far more glory and honor (Hebrews 3:3). Moses pointed to great things which God would do, but Jesus Christ actually did those great things (Hebrews 3:5). Moses was a powerful and faithful servant in the household of God, but Jesus is the Son in the house of God (Hebrews 3:6).

Driving that analogy home, the author of Hebrews gives the next warning to Christians. He uses the incident of Israel's failure to trust God, which resulted in their wandering the desert for forty years (Hebrews 3:7–12). Numbers chapter 13 and 14 describe how Israel came to the border of the Promised Land and then lost faith. Instead of trusting God for victory, they doubted that they could defeat the "giants" of Canaan. As a result, God disciplined the nation of Israel. All but a tiny remnant of that nation would wander the desert until they died, never seeing the ultimate victory God had offered.

This kind of doubt does not imply a loss of salvation. The context is Israel's experience following the story of the Exodus. In the book of Exodus, "salvation" is represented by the Passover escape from Egypt. God did not send Israel back to the Egyptians when they doubted. Instead, He withheld from them the victory of entering the Promised Land. For the same reason, Canaan cannot be seen as a metaphor for heaven, here. There were still battles to fight and struggles to experience, even for those who held to their faith. In context, this warning is not about a loss of salvation, but rather a loss of fellowship, reward, and our "spiritual inheritance" which occurs when we doubt God's Word.

This reflects a similar idea as the warning given in Hebrews 2:1–4. God's message regarding our salvation cannot be neglected without consequences. In the same way, our trust in His word and His message cannot be set aside without there being a price to pay.
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