Better than angels… better than humans?
We have been encouraged to see that Jesus is the best messenger and message. Well, at least he’s better than angels. Is he better than another human? It’s that until now the people of God had always given that honour to Moses. For us it may not seem to make sense, maybe. I have seen many Christians who listen to God through a person because their way of speaking better captures their attention. A person like me. I do not think anyone here does that and it’s why that I always try to direct your attention to the word of God. My desire is not to entertain you, nor to amaze you with my words and reasoning. But it may be that there is a Christian speaker, author, a YouTube blogger, a person you use to mediate the word of God. Well, Moses stands as the best example of this this kind of person.
The author of Hebrews gives us an image to help us understand why this is a bad idea. He gives us the image of a house and says that Moses, yes, was a servant of this house. But did Moses build the house? No. It was Jesus, and so he deserves more honour. But there’s more, we are the house, verse 6. How shocking! That means we are the work of Jesus.
The argument is simple but very important. Do not confuse a servant as faithful as Moses for more than he is, a faithful servant. Do not confuse me, the person in charge of a Bible study, an author, a blogger with the person Jesus.
Why? Because the stakes are high. Those people and I do not save you
Be faithful to the person who saved you
The author quotes Psalm 95. It’s a psalm that we said earlier in the meeting. It starts with great joy and ends with a solemn warning. But the reason for citing it here is an exhortation. In the writings of the Israelites there was a way of writing called a chiastic structure. If you want to know more about it, ask me. What it means is that this text from verses 7 to 19 has a structure that emphasises verse 13: But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
What is the background to the warning in Psalm 95? God’s great rescue of his people from slavery. And so also in Hebrews we read verse 16: Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt?
The crux of the problem is forgetting what happened. When we read the Bible we can’t avoid the fact that a large part of the account is about the need to be saved. Essentially, that we die because we are trapped by death. You don’t believe that? Fine, find another account to make sense of your experiences. This account demands that you come to grips with the problem as death.
The Israelites were slaves of Egypt. Pharaoh was killing the babies: genocide. The Israelites were in the grip of death… and God saved them in a spectacular and complete way.
Now this rescue was the shadow of the great rescue that God planned to complete, the rescue from the final death. He came in Jesus. Jesus took up all this imagery of the first rescue and said I want you to understand it in terms of me. Because the history of the Bible says: deal with death.
Who do you see on the cross? A good man? A story of sadness? Your saviour who took your place in death to set you free?
To be saved means to feel saved. You realise that at this moment you experience salvation. It is an event that you can remember and feel.
If you can’t identify this moment of understanding and experiencing that you have been saved by Jesus, then I encourage to experience it. It is a real encounter that affects the mind and the heart. To know and experience that Jesus died for me.
If you can identify this moment, the danger is to forget it. It is possible to forget the most important event and not respect what it meant. Israel forgot it. They searched for other voices and forgot the one who had really saved them. But forgetting and not considering a rescue of this magnitude is serious.The history of the Israelites teaches us again.
How can it be that someone forgets an event of salvation as immense as that of Egypt? Because salvation is the beginning of the way in which God has a greater purpose. He’s looking for people who by their own will, will follow God despite the circumstances. Remember that sin is not trusting in what God says. The only way to prove your will is to be in the circumstances that allow you to show your fidelity. The image that the Bible uses in these circumstances is the desert, literally and figuratively. It is only there that we can grow and mature as people.
Who I am? If circumstances make me who I am, then every difficulty will affect me. But if I am a person who has experienced the profound reality of being saved, then circumstances do not change that, right?
Remember the chocolate of last week? Suffering is not believing that your father will give it to you. If you look at the circumstances you no longer trust the word.
The actual journey of the Israelites teaches us about our real journey of being saved by Christ. The circumstances in which we find ourselves give us the opportunity to show our fidelity. If we don’t, then neither will we truly enter rest. We’ll think more about this rest next week.
How to be faithful
The difficulty is that circumstances do affect us. But God is compassionate and his word gives us remedy. Remember that this part of the letter has a structure that focuses on verse 13: But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
That’s why we have a coffee at the beginning of the meeting, we have a WhatsApp group, we give the opportunity to share gratitude, we do community meals, we share prayer requests, we meet during the week. To participate in the life of the community is to encourage each other.
If you read something from the Bible that encourages you, share it in the WhatsApp group. If you have a need, share it so that we can pray for you. Try to arrive on time at midday to give more time to know each other.
The way to avoid a heart that goes astray, the way to not be deceived by sin is to allow your experience of salvation to continue to be expressed in community life.
But the question is: Have you experienced salvation? Do you know what it is to be free? The kids have made jail bars for each of us. Take some time today to think if you know the freedom of which the word of God speaks. It is a realisation and a feeling. And it is something we have to remember every day, encouraging each other, if we do not want to lose the true rest that is coming.