Messiah Superior to Moses
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling,
consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also
was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted
worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the
builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For
every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is
God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant,
to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ
is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if
indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
We come to a new section in the letter to the Hebrews; a section where the writer demonstrates that Messiah is superior to Moses. He had previously compared his greatness to that of the angels, which is to say that He was greater than the Law of Moses, which was mediated by angels. It stands to reason that the author would now compare him to the one with whom the Old Covenant was inaugurated: Moses. If he can now demonstrate Jesus’ superiority over Moses, he has basically established his superiority over the entire Old Testament since there is none greater than Moses.
We should take specific note of the way the author describes believers in verse one as “holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling.” The designation of these believers as holy is not a reference to their having attained a high degree of personal holiness, but the fact that they are sanctified in Christ Jesus (see Hebrews 2:11). The reference to them as those who “share in a heavenly calling” refers back to the fact that they are the many sons the Father is bringing to glory. This is the heavenly calling that God has given to each of his sons and daughters.
Now the author calls the readers to consider Jesus, whom he describes as the apostle and high priest of our confession. These designations could be a reference to Moses and Aaron. Apostle means “sent one.” In the Gospel of John especially, Jesus is seen as the One sent from the Father. In Jesus, all apostleship derives its meaning and designation. The High Priest was Aaron, whom the writer will shortly speak about in great length. He calls them to carefully consider Jesus in these dual roles.
Perhaps the readers are now convinced that Jesus was greater than the angels. They were now thinking about Moses, the one who founded their nation. He was the only man to stand in the presence of God and see Him face to face. It was through him that God gave the Law to Israel. Surely no one could be greater than Moses in their economy. The author’s intent in this first section is to convince them that the One He speaks of is greater than Moses in every way. He does so by first showing the similarities between Moses and Jesus and then highlighting the differences.
First, the author focuses on the similarities. This teaching would have been important because these Hebrews might have been affected by the Dead Sea Sect, which believed that Messiah would be sort of a second Moses. Both (Moses and Jesus) were faithful in God’s house. It’s that fact about Moses (his faithfulness) that God highlighted in Numbers 12 in the episode dealing with Aaron and Miriam’s criticism of Moses for taking a Cushite wife. The Lord reminds Aaron and Miriam that Moses was “faithful in all my house” (Numbers 12:7).
The writer of Hebrews also reminds the readers that Jesus is similar in that he was faithful to God. Repeatedly in John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as being faithful to speak only words given to him by His Father (John 5:19-20). But that is where the similarities end. Jesus is worthy of more honor because Moses was faithful in the house while the Son, Himself created the house (Hebrews 3:3-4). Moses was the perfect servant, but the house belongs to the One who is a Son. Moses was faithful to God in the “shadow of things to come” while Jesus was the Son of the house of whom all that the Mosaic economy pointed to. So whereas Moses was faithful as a servant in the house, Jesus was faithful as a Son to whom the house belongs.
While the writer of Hebrews doesn’t quote it here, one prophecy given to Moses in Deuteronomy was the prophecy that God would “raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see or see this great fire anymore, lest I die” (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). The “prophet like me from among your brothers” was clearly viewed by Israel as the Messiah who would speak the Word of God in the same way Moses did (John 7:40). When Jesus spoke the Word of his Father during his earthly ministry, many immediately thought that He was the Messiah, fulfilling the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15-19.