CONFIDENCE IN HOPE

WEEK FIVE, DAY FOUR, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION

WEEK FIVE THEME:  STEWARDSHIP

DAY FOUR THEME:  TIME MANAGEMENT

SCRIPTURE:  HEBREWS 3 (CEB)

“Therefore, brothers and sisters who are partners in the heavenly calling; think about Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.  Jesus was faithful to the one who appointed him just like Moses was faithful to God’s house.  But he deserves greater glory than Moses in the same way that the builder of the house deserves more honor than the house itself.  Every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 

Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant in order to affirm the things that would be spoken later.  But Jesus was faithful over God’s house as a Son.  We are his house if we hold on to the confidence and pride that our hope gives us.  So, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice don’t have stubborn hearts as they did in the rebellion, on the day when they tested me in the desert.  That is where you ancestors challenged and tested me, though they had seen my work for forty years.  So I was angry with them.  I said, “Their hearts always go off course, and they don’t know my ways.” Because of my anger, I swore: “They will never enter my rest!”‘

Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that none of you have an evil, unfaithful heart that abandons the living God.  Instead, encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called ‘today’ so that none of you become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception.  We are partners with Christ, but only if we hold on to the confidence we had in the beginning until the end.  When it says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, don’t have stubborn hearts as they did in the rebellion.’ Who was it who rebelled when they heard his voice? Wasn’t it all of those who were brought out of Egypt by Moses?  And with whom was God angry for forty years?  Wasn’t it  with the ones who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert?  And against whom did he swear that they would never enter his rest, if not against the ones who were disobedient?  We see that they couldn’t enter because of their lack of faith.”

THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!

SOAKING IT IN:  Warning! “Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that none of you have an evil, unfaithful heart that abandons the living God.  INSTEAD, encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called ‘today’ so that none of you become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception.”

Faithfulness shows a steadfast unyielding regardless of the circumstances.  So unfaithfulness is the act of abandoning the course set before us – most commonly, if not always, due to insecurities and uncertainty.  Fear takes over and faith is pushed aside to patch the problem.   The warning above carries the illustration further concerning the Hebrew people and their “fall from grace” when Moses was absent from their presence longer than was comfortable for them.

In that time in their faith walk, they trusted Moses more than they trusted God.  They knew Moses and Moses knew God but they had no personal understanding of their relationship to God.  They had personally witnessed God’s great miracles in their escape, but they would forget and once again become people with feet of clay rather than remember all that had been done before and trusting for God’s providence in all that is to come.  They were unable to stand up to their fears while they waited without Moses.  Their faith ultimately was with Moses even though it was God who had proved Himself over and over in miraculous ways.  We are a forgetful people and would often rather put our faith in people that we can see rather than God Who we are still trying to grasp.  In the lapse of time, their faith waivered and their ‘whatiffs’ and ‘howells’ overrode their dependence on Moses and God.  They went off course and instantly into idolatry creating the golden calf.

Though they had not yet received the Ten Commandments, they’ve already broken the very first one.  I feel they were still in their very young childhood of grasping their identity and relationship with God lacking understanding individually regarding the nature of their all-powerful God.  They trusted Moses to know God and maybe they wanted to know Him…but the test of time proved them immature and unready…even to follow their trusted Moses and his instructions when he was away too long.  Such immaturity that happened over and over again in the Hebrews’ escape from slavery caused a three-day journey to take forty years.

Hebrews 3 contrasts and compares Jesus and Moses.  Moses was faithful like a servant to the household of God – the Hebrew people and is commended for his faithfulness to God during the time of Exodus.  Time and time again, Moses lead the people faithfully and interceded on their behalf, fully aware of their shortcomings.  He had the heart of a true Pastor and understood God completely – the one who began their journey and would see them all the way through. Moses remained obedient through much difficulty and troubled waters.  Moses’ obedience, his relationship with God our Father became strong and full of servanthood leading a stubborn people out of their oppression only to have them grumble and fuss over every thing – even longing for the time when they were oppressed.

Jesus was faithful like a son to God his father.   Jesus had the most intimate of relationships with our Father, God and was faithful to God throughout his earthly walk.   Even in the Garden of Gethsemane when his anguish over the what was to come through crucifixion, Jesus trusted God and stayed sure on God’s plan of salvation.  It is interesting to me that just before this time, on the Mount of Transfiguration, that Jesus had enjoyed a glorious time with Moses and Elijah.  Both Godly men who knew the hardship involved with dedicated to following God’s plan.

This Hebrews passage says, “We are his house if we hold on to the confidence and the pride that our hope gives us.”  This is where our obeidence and faithfulness come in.  There is a big IF in the middle of this verse…if we hold on to the confidence and pride that our hope gives us.”  The IF here assumes we understand that joy and opportunities of hope.  It assumes that we have reached a point in our walk with God where we are at least like Moses with enough information and experience to be steadfast in our relationship with God as well as realizing that we are “joint heirs” with Jesus and can walk confidently with our God, striving to be more and more like Jesus, going to the Father at every juncture of our living.

This is not necessarily inborn in us.  We are born with complete dependence, but pretty soon in life – beginning at least with the ‘terrible twos’ we reach for independence – to go our own way – to learn what “hot” means even if it burns our hand – pulling stubbornly our way and falling flat on our face.  Somehow, suddenly, we are full of ourselves and can always do better that anyone else possibly could … or so we – in our rebellion to authority – believe. Throughout our life we have experiences that begin to mold us to identify times when we are able to be independent and times when we need to release ourselves to dependency,  a time for learning from someone who has more life experience as we gain our own life experiences to draw on and learn from.

Here in Hebrews, there seems to be the understanding that the people addressed in this writing are in a place to know better and therefore do better in their unwavering faithfulness to God.  The writer of Hebrews wants us to know God after the example of Jesus and how he lived out a God-centered life in the midst of the disciples.  Nothing in Jesus’ 33 years of living seperated him from God.  He looked to God for everything.  He was always and forever giving thanks and praising God and watching the miracles flow – feeding thousands, healings, resurrections, joy replacing shame, storms calmed and on and on and on…and we can live like that too! 

Jesus continued forward the spoken word that had brought all of creation into being.  We have that same spirit living inside of us.  We have that same ability to turn to Jesus’ Father, our Father at every turn giving praise and watching the miracles flow.  Let us not allow fear to steal away what Jesus has already conquered and completed. 

Give us courage and confidence, dear Lord!

 

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