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Scripture Study Course Reflections by Don Schwager

Meditation 5a: “When you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”

Numbers 12:3-8 (RSV translation)

3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth. 4 And suddenly the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting." And the three of them came out. 5 And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the door of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. 6 And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. 7 Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (Numbers 12:3-8) 
Hebrews 3:1-19 (RSV translation)
1 Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. 2 He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God's house. 3 Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. 4 (For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ was faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, when you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, `They always go astray in their hearts; they have not known my ways.' 11 As I swore in my wrath, `They shall never enter my rest.'"

12 Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end, 15 while it is said, "Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

16 Who were they that heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they should never enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:1-19). 

Some questions for reflection
  1. Why did God call Moses the meekest man on earth?  The virtue of meekness is closely related to humility and docility (teachableness). The meek do not resist God but willing submit to God’s authority. The meek listen to God and willingly seek to understand the intention of what God wants for them. They are teachable and ready to obey rather than proud or stubborn in their own ways. Moses was both the servant and friend of God because he trusted in God and obeyed his word. 

  2. The New Testament author of the Letter to the Hebrews contrasts the meekness of Moses with the rebellious spirit of the Israelites who resisted God’s word through the instructions of Moses (Hebrews 3:7-11). What are the consequences of resisting or ignoring God’s word? 

Meditation 5b: The Holy Spirit says, Today, when you hear his voice

Reflection and commentary on Hebrews 3:1-19
The author to the Hebrews contrasts Jesus with Moses. For the Jews Moses held a very special position. He spoke with God face to face as a man speaks with his friend. He was the direct recipient of the Ten Commandments, the law of God. The Book of Numbers says that Moses differed from all the prophets. Moses was faithful in all God's house (Numbers 12:6-7). The Jews could not conceive of anyone being closer to God than Moses.

The author to the Hebrews calls Jesus the apostle and high priest of our confession. This is the only New Testament reference to Jesus as an apostle. The word literally means one who is sent forth. Jesus is the supreme ambassador of God. He came from God and all God's grace, mercy, and love were with him as the supreme ambassador. Jesus is also called the great high priest. The word high priest in Latin means bridge-builder. The priest is the mediator between man and God. He must speak to men for God and speak to God for men. Jesus is the perfect high priest since he is perfectly man and perfectly God. He alone can bridge the gulf between man and God and make it possible for us to have personal access to God.

Jesus is superior to Moses, since Moses served in God's house as a faithful servant. Jesus served in God's house as the faithful Son. The Greek term for house (oikos) has a double meaning. It can refer to the dwelling and to the family or household. Jesus is both creator of God's universe and the chief cornerstone of God's house, the Church. He is also the Son through whom we become the adopted children of God and members of the household of God.

"Lord Jesus Christ, protect me from complacency and from hardness of heart that my love for you and your ways may grow and never be cold."

[Source: Meditation and Commentary on Letter to the Hebrews]

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[Don Schwager is a member of The Servants of the Word and author of the Daily Scripture Reading & Meditation website.]
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