Hebrews 3:5

Thursday, 6 September 2018

And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, Hebrews 3:5

This verse makes explicit that which was already inferred. Taken together, the previous verse and this one say –

“For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward.”

The word kai, or “and,” which begins verse 5 is given to continue developing the thought which has already been put forth, and which started in verse 3:2. The “house” referred to is the Old Covenant. The author is telling us that “Moses indeed was faithful.” Moses carefully executed his duties and responsibilities under the covenant which was given through him. But he is, in fact, only a servant of the house. He did not build it, nor was he the head of it. Throughout the law, it is constantly repeated, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying…” The Lord built the house; Moses responded to the command of the Lord, executing his assigned duties as instructed.

The faithfulness of Moses is of high note, and he is thus honored for it, but that honor extends only to the execution of his duties and not to the planning of what was to be done by the Lord who prepared all things in advance. And those things that were planned by God, and then faithfully executed by Moses, were “for a testimony.”

The meaning of this is that they contained truths which would be revealed. A testimony speaks out about a matter. The Lord organized and prepared all things, and then He spoke to Moses who then recorded those things. This made the will of God known to the people. But which people are being referred to? The question is important to consider because the final words of the verse state that they would be a testimony “of those things which would be spoken afterward.” Note that the word “afterward” is italicized. It is thus inserted.

There are two views on what this means. One view is that it merely speaks of those things which pertained to the time when the law was given, and for the people of that dispensation. Hence, Moses received instruction, and he passed on to the people those instructions. His faithfulness was as a testimony of those things which would be spoken to him and for the people who would then receive it. As Albert Barnes states, “The sense is, Moses was a mere servant of God to communicate his will to man.”

The second view is that Moses’ faithfulness was a testimony to things spoken which were coming in a later dispensation. In other words, the Law was pointing forward to the Dispensation of Grace. Vincent’s Word Studies states, “The meaning is that Moses, in his entire ministry, was but a testimony to what was to be spoken in the future by another and a greater than he.” This view is supported by the fact that Deuteronomy 18:15, which speaks of a coming Prophet like Moses, was fulfilled in Christ, as is noted in Acts 3:22, 23.

As the participle is in the future sense, the second option is surely on the author’s mind. It is true that Moses was faithful as a servant, and his faithfulness was a testimony to the people who then received the word through him. That continued on throughout the dispensation of the law. However, the law itself only pointed to Christ. It pointed to Him explicitly in passages such as Deuteronomy 18:15; it pointed to Him implicitly in countless types and shadows; and it pointed to him by revealing truths which the law failed to resolve, as is explained in minute detail by Paul in Galatians 3.

The law which was received by Moses anticipated something better. Moses was faithful as a servant under the law which was given (built) by the Lord. The New Covenant is that better thing which the law anticipated, and the same Lord (Christ Jesus) is the builder of that New Covenant. In this, the supremacy of Christ over Moses is seen; and in this, the supremacy of the New Covenant over the Old is also seen.

The author of Hebrews is carefully leading his Hebrew audience to an understanding that the law is not an end in and of itself. Instead, it, and its servant Moses, both looked forward to the New Covenant. A new dispensation, built on better promises, would come from the Builder of all things.

Life application: The law pointed to Christ Jesus. In the coming of Christ Jesus, the law is annulled. As this is true, why would anyone want to go back under the law? The end-purpose of the law is to lead man to Jesus. In Him, full access to the very throne of God is realized for the people of the world. Let us never fall back on the law which keeps us from access to that throne of grace!

Glorious God, thank You that we have full access to Your throne of grace through the shed blood of Christ. He is our Mediator, and He never fails in this role. When we come to You through Him, our prayers are heard. We can have every confidence that You will handle them according to your infinite wisdom, and You will respond according to what is best for us. May we hold fast to this truth always. Amen.

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