January 23, 2017

"More glory than Moses"

Well do I remember going, with an early Christian mentor of mine (my high school baseball coach), to a Sunday evening service in which the pastor gave what was, I am sure, a well-thought-out Bible study (from Deuteronomy 18:15-19?) on the similarities between Jesus and Moses. Such a comparison does make for an interesting study. After all, the promised Messiah would be, said Moses, “a prophet like me.” And therefore there are indeed many parallels to be drawn!

But what I remember from that night was not the parallels that the preacher drew, but the comment that my baseball coach made as we headed for home: ‘It was not my lesson, but if it had been, I’d have talked about how Jesus is even greater than Moses.’ It wasn‘t meant as a slight toward the pastor, but as a reminder that, when all the comparisons have been made (between Jesus and various of His Old Testament forerunners), Jesus must, by the Father’s design, “come to have first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18). Or, to borrow language from Jonathan Edwards, on a different (but similar) theme: Moses, David, Joseph, Solomon – ‘these are but drops, but [Christ] is the ocean.’ And thus any study on Deuteronomy 18 must come to its crescendo in Hebrews 3:1-6, and particularly in v.3:
“For [Jesus] has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.”
Arthur Pink, the great Bible teacher of the last century, commenting on Hebrews chapter 3, put it like this:
The history of Moses was remarkable from beginning to end. The hand of providence preserved him as a babe, and the hand of God dug his grave at the finish. Between these termi he passed through the strangest and most contrastive vicissitudes which, surely, any mortal has ever experienced. The honours conferred upon him by God were much greater than any bestowed upon any other man, before or since. During the most memorable portion of their history, all of God’s dealings with Israel were transacted through him. His position of nearness to Jehovah was remarkable, awesome, unique. He was in his own person prophet, priest and king. Through him the whole of the Levitical economy was instituted. By him the Tabernacle was built. Thus we can well understand the high esteem in which the Jews held this favoured man of God—cf. John 9:28, 29..
Yet great as Moses was, the Holy Spirit in this third section of Hebrews calls upon us to consider One who so far excelled him as the heavens are above the earth. First, Christ was the immeasurable superior of Moses in His own person: Moses was a man of God, Christ was God Himself. Moses was the fallen descendant of Adam, conceived and shapen in iniquity; Christ was sinless, impeccable, holy. Again; Christ was the immeasurable superior of Moses in His Offices. Moses was a prophet, through whom God spake; Christ was Himself “Truth,” revealing perfectly the whole mind, will, and heart of God. Moses executed priestly functions (Ex. 24:6; 32:11); but Christ is the “great High Priest.” Moses was “king in Jeshurun” (Deut. 33:5); Christ is “King of kings.” To mention only one other comparison, Christ was the immeasurable superior of Moses in His work. Moses delivered Israel from Egypt, Christ delivers His people from the everlasting burnings. Moses built an earthly tabernacle, Christ is now preparing a place for us on High. Moses led Israel across the wilderness but not into Canaan itself; Christ will actually bring many sons “unto glory.”
What exalted prose! And what an exalted subject! Let us be sure, in all our study of the Bible, that we read it like Pink, and coach Rivas, and the author of Hebrews, and Paul … giving Jesus “first place in everything.”

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