Hebrews Chapter 3: Moses a type of Christ, Israel a type of Church

Jan 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Hebrews, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Hebrews Chapter 3: Moses a type of Christ, Israel a type of Church

Heb. 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

The term “Apostle” means “one sent forth.” Jesus was an apostle because he was sent forth by God. In turn, the 12 apostles were sent forth by Jesus.

Comment: Jesus was the Apostle and the High Priest.

Reply: Jesus is the High Priest during the Gospel Age but “after the order of Melchisedec,” whereas he was an Aaronic High Priest for the 3 1/2 years of his earthly ministry (Heb. 5:6).

Aaron was dressed in garments of glory and beauty while he was with the underpriesthood during the seven days of consecration. Therefore, while he himself is after the order of Melchisedec, he started with the Aaronic priesthood, and we are still in that priesthood down here. When we think of the priesthood as a class, the Aaronic priesthood covers the entire Gospel Age. Stated another way, the underpriesthood down here is after the order of Aaron and, hopefully, will be made a high priesthood after the order of Melchisedec in the future, when all 144,000 have proven faithful.

Heb. 3:2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

Jesus “was faithful to him [God] that appointed him.” We are reminded of Hebrews 5:4, “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called [appointed] of God, as was Aaron.”

Jesus was faithful “as also Moses was faithful in all his house.” Many think that Moses was unfaithful because he struck the rock later in his ministry, saying, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10). However, that was only one act out of his whole life, and he was punished for that act. Neither Moses nor Paul was perfect, but both are reckoned perfect. In other words, when Moses’ ministry is summed up, he is commended as being a faithful servant of God. How nice to hear this assurance about Moses!

Heb. 3:3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.

“For this man [Jesus] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” Paul used common-sense reasoning. The builder of a house is more important than the house itself. Moreover, “house” is in the singular here, and by extension, if Jesus built one house, he can build other houses. A house cannot replicate itself, but the builder can build additional houses. An architect is more important than the structure itself. Of course this house is the “house of sons.”

Comment: Moses and Jesus both had a “house.” Moses was the head of a house of servants, and Jesus was the head of a house of sons.

Reply: The house of servants was a picture, a type, of the house of sons, the reality being more important than the shadow. As we continue, Paul’s reasoning will show that the spiritual house of sons is more important than the natural house of servants. Very high and lofty thoughts are being expressed. In the final analysis, there will be both a natural house and a spiritual house. If we read slowly and analyze what we are reading, the words will “sink down” deep into our ears and heart (Luke 9:44). Not only does the sinking down take time, but it is described as chewing the cud (Lev. 11:2,3). Rightly dividing the word of truth is only half of the process, for eating clean food is not only understanding spiritual food perfectly and rightly dividing it, but also chewing the cud. These two component parts are absolutely essential for one to make his calling and election sure. To think and meditate on and try to absorb spiritual food is chewing the cud. When we study the clean and unclean animals, fowl, fish, and insects in Leviticus, we see that those which have only one of the two qualities are considered unclean. For example, some animals chew the cud but do not part the hoof. Thus God exhibits in nature the meaning of clean and unclean for the Christian.

Q: How does the comparison between Jesus and Moses apply with the clause “inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house”?

A: Moses’ wisdom was natural wisdom based on the Law of God and the instruction that was given to him. For instance, the Tabernacle plans were given to him in vision, but it was God who provided the architecture and the vision and instructed him in every detail for 40 days.

Therefore, God built the Tabernacle. But in regard to building the spiritual house of sons, Jesus was successful because he had pre-human knowledge of God; he was given instructions before coming down here; the Holy Spirit opened the window of his mind at Jordan, enlightening him and granting him a full understanding of his previous nature as the Logos; and he understood human nature at 30 years of age.

The difference between Jesus and Moses is that the spiritual house is more important. The “house” of Moses is the whole setup of the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the nation of Israel, but God is now looking for the spiritual “house,” which is identified with Jesus. From another standpoint, the builder is different from the architect. God is the contractor, and Jesus is the agent. While Jesus is our Advocate and High Priest, he is not the Author. God calls us, and God rejects us depending on obedience. Therefore, if we view the building of the spiritual house from a contractual standpoint, God builds the real house.

Paul was trying to show that there are two houses. The house of Moses is a type, or shadow, whereas the spiritual house is the reality. Jesus is more important than Moses in that God is specially honoring the house of sons, and Jesus is identified with the building of that house— but not with the authorship or the architecture.

Heb. 3:4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

Heb. 3:5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;

Paul soared very high with his lofty thoughts. The three builders are God, Jesus, and Moses, and credit is given where credit is due. God did all of the building from the standpoint that the divine plan was in His mind, and He carries it out in His own way. If we build a house, we employ other people. First, architectural drawings are needed, and savvy or know-how is necessary to convert the plans into reality. God has supplied all the laborers in building the spiritual house that is in His mind. Jesus is like the general contractor, the one who oversees that the plans are implemented and followed. He goes on the job site to make sure that the building is done correctly, but the one (God) who sends the general contractor is over all and gets the most credit.

Paul mentioned twice the fact that Moses was faithful in all his house. He was faithful “as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.” His “testimony” of the Law is a shadow of “good things to come” (Heb. 10:1). Moreover, Moses personally was a type of Jesus. As he said to Israel, “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (Deut 18:15; Acts 3:22).

God said He would put His words in Moses’ mouth (Deut. 18:18).

How were “those things … spoken after”? Primarily they were spoken (and understood) in the Gospel Age, but from another standpoint, the light in both the Old and the New Testaments is progressive. In regard to the word “testimony,” the Church is “beheaded” for the testimony, or “witness,” of Jesus Christ and the Word of God (Rev. 20:4). The testimony is the gospel, which is very embracive, starting with Moses and progressing onward. Therefore, when Jesus said that Moses had spoken of him, Moses became a picture of the entire Old Testament. While the writings and deeds of Moses were strictly just the Pentateuch, he is also mentioned in the Psalms, for instance. Basically speaking, it was the difference between the type (the shadow) and the antitype (the reality).

Heb. 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

Comment: The implication is that some were not “hold[ing] fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

Reply: Yes, the consecration vow is to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). One of the last tests of the Christian is patient endurance. To be faithful, we must be confident in the promises and rejoice in the hope of the high calling unto the end of our course.

Comment: There is a difference in the prepositions of verses 5 and 6. Moses was faithful “in all his house,” whereas Christ was faithful “over his own house.”

Heb. 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice,

Comment: The parenthesis begins in verse 7 and ends with verse 11. Thus the “Wherefore” picks up with verse 12: “Wherefore take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”

Reply: Yes, the parenthetical statement is long.

The parenthetical statement is a quote from Psalm 95:7-11. “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.” Why did Paul quote these verses almost verbatim?

Comment: He was bringing this thought up to date, for the rest of God applies today as well.

Reply: In other words, the “today” was operative after the 40 years in the wilderness. The very fact David, Israel’s second king, wrote these words and Paul quoted them in the New Testament means (1) that after the 40 years up to the time of David, the “today … harden not your heart … [and] enter into my rest” still applied and (2) that it continued to be operative from David’s day up to the time Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews. Of course this entering into God’s rest is operative even now—and has been all down the Gospel Age.

This rest Paul was speaking about is a rest of faith, as shown by the context. The Israelites should have had faith and trust in God instead of murmuring and complaining with regard to His providences, but there is another side to this issue of entering God’s rest that is not clearly understood. The rest of God that is spoken of in the Old Testament began with the start of the seventh Creative Day. But what happened? Ever since the beginning of the seventh Creative Day, God has done anything but rest as far as what He is speaking about. The rest He entered was a cessation from creating physical, material universes, but He has been concentrating on a different type of work, namely, the work of the New Creation. While physical materials respond to God’s will, they cannot worship Him. If the lower animals are incapable of worshipping God and there is a big gulf between them and the human creation, then certainly the physical, inanimate creation is even lower as far as flesh and blood are concerned.

Therefore, the rest that Christians enter is work, but it is the work of the New Creation. For example, a person who is truly consecrated tries to cease, as far as possible, from obtaining a career or going to school. The Bible does say to provide things decent and honest in the sight of all men, but many with good intentions who first went to college and/or pursued a career never consecrated. To plan to attain a certain career or income level usually derails any thoughts of consecration. Therefore, the rest of God would be ceasing from ambitions and keeping a main focus on just providing things decent and honest and concentrating on the work of the New Creation, which is an invisible, spiritual work of faith. In that sense, God is still Emperor of the universe, but the creation of new physical things is on hold. We have no idea what God will do in the future, in addition to what He has already done, but at least the Scriptures say that He ceased from the work of the first six Creative Days. When we examine those six days, we see the nature of the work God temporarily ceased from, and as Christians, we endeavor to count all things as loss and dross for the excellency of the hope of the high calling (Phil. 3:8). Of course earthly mortgages such as elderly parents, a marital relationship, children, etc., would be exceptions.

Comment: Even in the midst of trials, we can have rest, as Psalm 107:28-30 states, “Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Through the faith of the individual, God turns that troublous wave condition of the mind into a quiet peace.

Q: What is the meaning of the expression “Wherefore … as the Holy Ghost saith”? Is the thought that the Holy Spirit originally spoke through the pen of David?

A: The Holy Spirit is in both the Old and the New Testaments, as shown in the vision of oil coming from the two olive trees to the candlestick (Zech. 4:1-3). Therefore, Paul was referring to the Holy Spirit back in David’s day.

Back there under the Law, God rewarded obedience with material blessings such as health, productivity, peace, and contentment, but actually two things were going on. When the Israelites cried to God out of their distress after having provoked Him, they saw only one side of the coin—to obey the letter of the Law. But in the giving of the Law, God had said, “If you will understand the spirit of my Law, I will make you priests and kings.” Thus the opportunity of the high calling was presented back there, but God knew the Israelites would not see that particular aspect of the call—and of course it could not become operative until Christ came to open up a new and living way (Heb. 10:20). The point is that the nation could have inherited the promise so that not only would the word of the Lord go forth from Jerusalem in the natural sense in the Kingdom, but also the nation of Israel would comprise the Law going from Zion. Had the Jews been faithful, both the natural and the spiritual promises would have been fulfilled in that nation. The spiritual promises were in the Old Testament with a tiny bit of information here and there. However, because of the Israelites’ lack of faith, the spiritual calling went over their heads except for a few individuals both before and during the Law. For example, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day … and was glad” (John 8:56). He looked for a heavenly Kingdom and inheritance (Heb. 11:10,16). We are not given the specifics in the Old Testament, but the implication is that Abraham was given some information. Moses, who was the agent used in connection with the Law Covenant, looked forward to the Messiah. Abraham and Moses are examples of the class God was looking for, but the promises went over the heads of the vast majority of His professed people.

Therefore, it becomes important to set our hopes and aims as high as possible and not to think too much of the flesh. Otherwise, we will tremble, and our thoughts and hopes will not be able to surmount the flesh. Few have responded to the calling of faith in both the Old and the New Testament times. Of course the New Testament calling is much grander in the sense of being a calling to sonship, which is what Paul was speaking about—that is, Moses’ house of servants versus a mysterious house of sons. Paul was tying in the fact that the Israelites failed in the wilderness wanderings because they lacked faith, which consists of trust, confidence, hope, obedience, patience, etc. Faith is like a seed kernel of hope. The buried grain dies and then begins to fructify and spring out of the earth; the leaf that grows is like hope. Faith and hope, if continued unto death, lead to love and the likeness of Jesus.

Heb. 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

Comment: As Christians, we are given certain trials to move us forward, to help us progress in the narrow way. The test is whether we are willing to accept the trial for our growth or whether we will harden our heart.

Reply: Yes, how we respond is one aspect of our Christian walk. Paul said, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are [rightly] exercised thereby” (Heb. 12:11). We will benefit spiritually from an experience if we are rightly exercised by it.

Heb. 3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.

Q: What were God’s “works”?

A: Examples of His “works” are the plagues on Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea in the Exodus. The Israelites forgot the ten plagues and instead committed ten remarkable acts of disobedience in the wilderness in the face of ten temptations. They should have thought about how God delivered them. As Christians, we may get discouraged, and if not watchful, we could gradually slip back into the world. With each slip comes a little more cooling off, until eventually we do not miss not being with the brethren.

The parting of the Red Sea was so remarkable that Nehemiah, Jeremiah, David, and others remembered the account in their writings hundreds of years later. They never participated in the experience yet exulted about the miracle, whereas those who actually benefited from the act and looked down and saw the Red Sea cover Pharaoh and his host forgot. Psalm 78:11 says they “forgat his [God’s] works”!

Another of the miraculous works in the wilderness was the manna that came from heaven to feed the Israelites daily. A shade umbrella cloud protected them from heat, rain, and sandstorm by day, and that same shining cloud provided light by night, assisting them especially when they traveled, and acting like a thermal blanket (Isa. 4:5,6). Also, water miraculously sprang forth from the rock. Along another line, Moses descended Mount Sinai with a shining face after communing with God.

At times for encouragement, we need to take a spiritual inventory. It is helpful to look back to what we were prior to consecration and then to reflect on what God has done in changing us— our life, thinking, and hopes—and in giving us a knowledge of His Word. Such meditations are faith-strengthening to us as new creatures. The Israelites’ hopes, aims, and ambitions were more earthly, whereas ours are more spiritual.

The Israelites also “proved” God by complaining about His provisions. For instance, they got tired of eating manna, so He gave them quail waist-high.

Heb. 3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

The Israelites “have not known my ways.” In other words, they did not meditate upon and observe what great things God had done for them. That neglect cost them something.

Heb. 3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

Heb. 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Unbelief is equated with “departing from the living God,” for unbelief gives the Devil a foothold to push one back. Unbelief is a lack of faith. People in the world believe in God, but they do not believe what He says in His Word. Thus a belief in Scripture is faith, which should be followed by a belief into Christ and into God with a full consecration.

There are different degrees of lack of faith, and commensurate with these degrees of lack of belief are different degrees of departing from the faith. The more a person departs, the less he feels the need to return, unless something extraordinary happens whereby God, in His mercy, provides a providence to wake him up. In the parable, Jesus retrieved the lost sheep that strayed from the fold (Matt. 18:12).

What are some of the ways that spiritual sheep depart from the flock? One problem is that they listen to false shepherds, who lead them astray. It is not that the sheep want to go astray, but they do not listen for the Master’s voice. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, … and they follow me” (John 10:27). We are to follow human teachers only to the extent that they follow Jesus. As Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). We are to look for guidance and providences but also for danger.

Distractions can also lead one away from the Lord. The problem with the Great Company class is that they are overcharged with the cares of this life. For example, they may want a better job and a higher salary to such an extent that they do not balance that desire by remaining faithful to the truth and the Lord’s service. The cares of this life draw them away. At least the Great Company is faithful to the Lord in their heart, but they fail to attain the Little Flock because of not living the principle of “this one thing I do” (Phil. 3:13). They are double-minded (James 1:8).

Along another line, a person may get so absorbed in some work or truth that everything else is sacrificed with regard to spiritual things in general. Incidentally, literal sheep are spoken of as being dumb in the sense that they need leadership.

In the Book of Hebrews, Paul gave advice to the consecrated. As spiritual Jews, Gentiles can benefit greatly from this advice. There is much helpful information to warn us of the dangers that follow those who are in the narrow way.

The lack of belief can also be thought of as “an evil heart.” Unbelief is indifference and a lack of attention, which dishonor God. An Old Testament example of an evil heart of unbelief is the ten spies who were sent out and returned with an unfavorable report. Only Joshua and Caleb gave a favorable report based on faith. The ten spies described the people of the Promised Land as giants like the Anakim with cities walled up to heaven (Num. 13:32,33; Deut. 1:28). In regard to the entering and conquering of the land under Joshua, the Lord said in principle, “For every step of obedience that you take, I will respond by giving you increased faith and victory” (Josh. 1:3 paraphrase).

Q: Is “evil” in the expression “an evil heart” a poor translation of the Hebrew?

A: The word “evil” can be understood two ways. From one standpoint, the circumstance is so grotesque that we can see it, but from God’s standpoint, a lack of attention and obedience to His instructions is disobedience. Satan said to the woman through the serpent, “You will not surely die.” That statement was outwardly blasphemous, although Eve did not understand it at the time. When Satan’s statement is understood in hindsight, we see that it was very grotesque.

Satan was a devil and a liar from the beginning, but there are other lesser evils that God considers “an evil heart” of unbelief. Thus there are degrees of lack of belief and disobedience, and there are degrees of obedience, resulting in overcomers and more-than-overcomers.

In this letter to the Hebrews, Paul was trying to show the subtlety of sin. Throughout the epistle, he brought in different pictures to show how sneaky, infectious, and subtle sin is. Sin is not just stark black against a white page, for there are different degrees of grayness.

Why did Paul use the term “living God”? “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Jehovah is alive, and He is watching. We sometimes do things without having the consciousness that Jesus and the angels are observing our conduct. As fallen beings, we do not win every battle by any means, but we should keep in mind that the living God is observing us and that He discerns any disbelief or lack of faith. He notes our failures as well as our successes.

Heb. 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

“Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today.” In other words, “now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). There are two salvations, one in this age and one in the next age.

Generally they are confused as both occurring now. The usual thought is that if one does not believe now, he is doomed. It is still “Today.” It was “Today” back there in the wilderness, it was “Today” up until David’s time, it was “Today” from David’s day until Paul’s time, and it is “Today” from Paul’s time up to the current day. Now is the time of the special salvation or calling. Prior to the Gospel Age, the few who responded faithfully are the Ancient Worthies, who were called as “servants” and will be rewarded accordingly. Had the Jews accepted Christ as a nation, great things would have happened to them. When they realize not only what they did to Jesus but also what they lost, they will mourn for him as for an only Son (Zech. 12:10).

Since Satan is the god of this world, those who do not give their heart to the Lord are still under the Prince of darkness, even though their hearts may not be fully in tune with the Adversary. For example, many of us who come into the truth were searching for God, wanting to know Him. Hence we were not enemies of God per se, but we were enemies through works, for none are “righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). God calls the class who are looking, searching, thirsting, and hungering to know Him, and they are rewarded.

Heb. 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

Heb. 3:15 While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” Paul brought up this same thought again, for much can be learned by reading about the experiences of the Israelites in the Old Testament, especially during the 40 years in the wilderness.

Heb. 3:16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

The older generation provoked God—those who were at least 20 years of age. (To be eligible for service in the priesthood, one had to be 30 years old.) The older generation should have noticed the miracles much more poignantly than the younger Israelites. All of the older generation—almost 2 million people—perished in the wilderness wanderings except Joshua and Caleb.

We live in a nation that is professedly God-fearing. The early settlers fled to this country to escape religious persecution. Of the 250 million or so people living in the United States today, how many have given their heart to the Lord? And of those who take the step of consecration, how many make their calling and election sure? Proportionately speaking, perhaps only one in a million of God’s professed people attains the Little Flock. A common expression for one who is esteemed in character and example is, “He is one in a million.” Although used figuratively, that expression is quite literal.

“For some, when they had heard, did provoke.” Some provoked in a very observable manner, but all of the older generation died, so there were different degrees of provocation and unbelief. Had the Israelites been obedient, they would have lived to enter the Promised Land and thus would have attained the natural or figurative rest.

Heb. 3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

That the “some” of verse 16 were the many is proven by this verse. With regard to the many who sinned, their “carcases fell in the wilderness.”

Heb. 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

The Israelites could not enter into God’s rest because of unbelief. “To them that believed not” is a study in itself. Over the years, Bro. Anton Frey provided many helpful lessons on the failings and shortcomings of natural Israel in the desert by giving them spiritual connotations.

Heb. 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

With many of these verses, Paul was speaking to the Christian of entering into a spiritual rest.

He continued to give lessons from the experiences of the Israelites as admonitions to the Christian.

The older generation of Israelites did not enter the Land of Promise because of unbelief. It is true that the ten spies gave an unfavorable report, but the people were also at fault because they believed that report to a greater or lesser extent—and this incident occurred in the beginning, that is, only two years into the wilderness wanderings (Deut. 2:14). Thus for 38 years, the unfavorable report and commensurate experiences the Israelites had in connection with weariness, thirst, etc., gradually whittled down the whole lot, yet the younger generation entered the land eventually, for as far as we know, they did not die. The younger generation prospered and multiplied in the wilderness so that while 2 million Israelites lost out, 2 million others entered the land.

But what inspired the younger generation to faithfulness? We feel that Joshua was a very inspirational leader. God chose him, and no doubt Moses could see special qualities in that relatively younger man. For instance, when Moses went up into Mount Sinai and stayed there for a while, the elders also went up and saw a vision of God in the sense of a platform with a throne. However, Joshua must have been a burning example, of which the Scriptures are silent, because only he stayed up in the mountain as long as Moses did—even though he could not go up into the cloud. God rewarded Joshua’s zeal.

It is harder for a considerably older person to see greatness in the younger generation. In fact, that is why many of the Israelites disregarded Jesus when he began his ministry at age 30. He did not have the education, background, age, and maturity of the other religious leaders. (They did not realize that Jesus had had a preexistence.) In looking at him, they felt that he was immature in his judgment and reasoning and that he was not orthodox.

Therefore, we think Joshua was a burning example, for certainly when the Israelites entered the Promised Land 40 years later, they all obeyed him when he said in regard to the circlings of Jericho, “Do not speak until the seventh day when I give the command to shout. While you are circling the city, you are not to have any private conversations” (Josh. 6:10). (Of course when the people returned to camp at the end of each day, they could speak to one another.) The point is that the Israelites respected Joshua at the beginning of his ministry. As instructed by God, Moses had conferred on Joshua the role of leadership, and the people recognized his role.

They had an appreciable understanding of Joshua and saw him as exemplary. We believe this respect started way back in the wilderness wanderings, even though the Scriptures are silent until the entering of the land when Joshua had the robe of leadership.

Comment: A large factor in the respect of the younger generation for Joshua was that the punishment of wandering in the wilderness for 38 more years was clearly a result of the unfavorable report of the ten spies.

Reply: The older generation was frightened by the unfavorable report, but what happened subsequently shows an odd quirk of human nature. When, as a judgment, God said the Israelites could not enter the land, they tried to enter anyway. Sometimes a group can misread the Lord’s providence and then do presumptuous acts that are not legitimate in His sight. As with the Israelites, the thinking of the majority can be wrong, and many died at the time of the unauthorized attempt to enter the Promised Land.

Endurance is the test of God’s people: “Be thou faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10). In almost all cases, Christians are in a long marathon race. The exception is a burning light like Stephen, who was much like the Apostle Paul in wisdom but did not have the same training. When Jesus came down here, he had wisdom but not the training. He became a faithful High Priest by the things that he suffered; that is, there were things he still had to learn in spite of all his wisdom and obedience. Moses had unusual qualifications such as being learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, having a tremendous memory, and possessing stature and leadership abilities. Paul lacked stature and was considered mean and contemptible by the Greeks, who honored man’s wisdom in the form of Greek philosophy, but Paul had the real wisdom—truth.

(2000 Study)

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