Ellet J. Waggoner
The Present Truth : September 30, 1897
“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who verily was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His house. For this Man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he that hath built the house hath more honor than the house. For every house is built by some one; but He that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a Son over His house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Hebrews 3.1-6
In this quotation we have in two instances departed from the common version and have used the rendering of the Revised Version instead, since it is more literal, and hence clearer. In verse 4, instead of “some man,” we have in the Revision “some one,” which is manifestly the correct rendering. God is not a man, yet He has built a house. Also in verse 6 have we, as in the Revision, omitted the word “own” in the first line, since it is not found in the original. As we shall see, the statement is not that Christ was faithful as a Son over His own house, but that just as Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, so was Christ faithful in God’s house as a Son.
“Wherefore.”—Note that there is no break between chapters two and three, any more than between one and two. Indeed, there is no break anywhere, since the entire book is a single letter, written for a special purpose, and having one single grand purpose. To begin reading the second chapter without any thought of the first would be almost as unsatisfactory as to begin a history lesson with the question, “What happened next?” “Wherefore, consider Christ Jesus,” is the sum of the first verse. Why, and in what capacity, should we consider Him? Because He has been tempted as a man, we are to consider Him as one of the brethren in all things like all the other brethren, only that He was in all respects faithful. No matter how highly Christ is exalted, or how great His power and glory, if we consider Him in any degree separated from us, and not as “the Man Christ Jesus,” we, to that degree, deprive ourselves of the comfort of the Gospel.
Christ Compared to Moses.—Christ was faithful to Him that appointed Him as also Moses was. That is to say, Christ was as faithful as Moses. At first glance one would think that it would be more fitting to compare Moses with Christ, and say that Moses was as faithful as Christ; but that would not be true, for Moses made at least one mistake after he left Egypt, while Christ never made any. But it is perfectly true of Christ that He was as faithful as Moses; and at the same time it is the highest commendation to Moses that any man could have. People are inclined to belittle Moses, and to speak slightingly of him and his writings; but just to the extent that they do that, they show then selves unacquainted with the Lord. When God foretold the work of Christ, He said to Moses, “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee.” Deuteronomy 18.18. And Christ said, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believe Me; for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe My words?” John 5.46, 47. Therefore whoever rejects or speaks slightingly of Moses treats Christ in the same manner.
Whose House?—Christ was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all His house. In who house? —Evidently in the house of Him who appointed Christ, and we do not need to take time to show that that was God. But we have the word of the Lord, Numbers 12.5-8: “And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forth. And He said. Hear now My words; there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him a vision, and will speak unto Him in dream. My servant Moses, is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold; wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” When God thus appears to those who in these days speak slightly of Moses, and calls them to account, they will say, as did Aaron, “We have done foolishly.” But this text makes it clear that it was in God’s house that Moses was faithful.
What is God’s House?—That question is easily answered. The Apostle Paul said to Timothy that he had written to him, “that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” 1 Timothy 3.15. Moses therefore was faithful in the church of God, that church which He “purchased with His own blood.” Stephen also, filled with the Holy Spirit, said that Moses was “in the church in the wilderness with the Angel which spoke to him in the mount Sinai.” Acts 7.38
How Many Churches?—We have already seen that the house of God is the church of God. But the church is the body of Christ, as we are told in Ephesians 1.22, 23 and Colossians 1.18. There are therefore just as many houses or churches as there are bodies. In Ephesians 4.1-6 we read, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.” Since there is but one body, and the body is the church, it follows that there is but one church which is the house of God. And so it still further follows that Moses and Christ were both workers in the same house, or in the same church. They both belonged to the same church.
The Builder.—“He that built all things is God.” But by whom did He build? He “created all things by Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3.9. Christ is “the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1.24), and in Proverbs 8.29, 30, Christ, in the capacity of the wisdom of God says that when God marked out the foundations of the earth, “then I was by Him as a Master Workman.” R.V. Thus it is that “this man”—Christ—“was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath built the house hath more honor than the house.” Christ built the house, and Moses was a part of the house, as we shall see later on.
The Christian Church.—It is quite common to date the beginning of the Christian Church at Pentecost, which is about as nearly correct as if one should date the creation of the world at Pentecost. We have already seen that there was a “church in the wilderness” in the days of Moses, and that the church is the house of God, in which Moses was faithful; else that there is but one church;—one house of God;—so that both Moses and Christ were faithful in the same house, or the same church, the one as a servant, the other as a Son. But the church in which Christ is a Son is of course the Christian Church; and as there is but one church, it is plain that “the church in the wilderness” was the Christian Church. Moses, who esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt (Hebrews 11.26), was such a Christian as anybody in those days might well be glad to be. The man who has a good Christian record as Moses had will in no wise miss the kingdom of heaven.
What is the Church?—The word rendered “church,” is from the Greek compound word ekklesia, which occurs in the English word ecclesiastical, meaning to pertain to the church. The word means “called out.” The church, therefore, consists of those who are called out, and who come out. Ancient Israel was called out of Egypt, from which all God’s people must come, for the word concerning Christ is, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.” Matthew 2.15. In the Old Testament we have the word “congregation,” and it would he much better if it were used in the New, instead of “church;” for those who come out in response to the call, naturally come to the One who calls them, thus con-grega-ting, flocking, or gathering together. “Congregation” is derived from two words that signify an assemblage or herd of cattle; and this idea is retained in the Church of Christ, which is His flock, over which He is Shepherd. 1 Peter 5.4; Acts 20.28. All therefore who hear the Shepherd’s voice, and follow Him, are His flock, His church. He was called out of Egypt, and those who really came out of Egypt, formed His church of old. If we hear His voice, then we are His house. But as there is but one house, it follows that all Christians must be in full fellowship with those who served God in the days of Moses.
We are His House.—Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, but Christ as a Son; both however in the same house. “Whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Christ is the Living Stone, and when we come to Him we also as living stones are built up a spiritual house. 1 Peter 2.4, 5. But the same Stone, the spiritual Rock, was in the desert of Sinai,—the Rock on which Christ’s church is built. The same house in which Moses served, and over which Christ is Son, is the house of which we become a part, if we accept and retain the anointing of the oil of gladness.
God does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Therefore God’s requirements do not change; His plans are always the same. Men despise the name of Jew, and scorn to have any connection with the people whom God brought out of Egypt. So it was in ancient times. It was a reproach to be connected with the children of Israel; but it was the reproach of Christ, and Moses found more delight in it than in all the treasures of Egypt; “for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4.22), since Christ is King of the Jews, and as such was “despised and rejected of men.”
He is Faithful.—“If we believe not, yet He abides faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2.13. He is faithful to Him that appointed Him. He was faithful as a Son over God’s house. But we are that house, and sons, too, if we are Christ’s. “The Spirit itself bears witness with our Spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Romans 8.16, 17. Christ, refers to the same thing when He says that if we continue in His Word we are truly His disciples, and we shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free. John 8.31, 32. This being made free is being adopted as sons; for the bondservant abides not in the house for ever; but the Son abides ever. As sons in God’s house we are to exercise the same faithfulness that Christ did, and this we can do because He gives us His own faith. “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Galatians 2.20. Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, exercises His own faith, by which He kept the Father’s commandments, and abode in His love; so that it can be said: “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14.12. This faith alone overcomes the world. “Wherefore, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him that appointed Him,” “as a Son over His house.”