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Today’s reading is Hebrews 3.
An observant Jewish person will have deep reverence for some of the heroes of what we call the Old Testament. I’m thinking here of people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Samuel, David, and others.
Of course, Moses would be on that list, too. As the man God used to deliver Israel from Egypt and through whom God gave the Law, Moses is heroic to all of God’s people, whether Jewish or Gentile. And the Jewish believers, who read this letter called Hebrews first, certainly had a strong respect, even reverence, for Moses.
There is nothing wrong with having a faith-hero and Moses is a good one to have in many ways. A problem develops, though, when a hero of the faith becomes more real to us than Jesus himself is. Despite all his virtues, Moses was merely a man.
The author of Hebrews wants his readers to love Jesus more than they love Moses. He urged them in verse 1, then, to “fix your thoughts on Jesus.” Every good quality that Moses had, such as his faithfulness to God’s work (v. 2), Jesus has in greater abundance. If the Jewish Christians held Moses in greater esteem than they held Jesus, then they were admiring the house more than the ingenuity of the builder (vv. 3-6). If these believers turned away from Jesus to return to a Christ-less form of Judaism (vv. 6-19), then they would miss the eternal promised land just as the Jewish people who followed Moses out of Egypt missed the Canaanite promised land.
You probably don’t think about Moses more than Jesus. That was a greater temptation for the Jewish readers of the book of Hebrews than it is for us.
But you might be tempted to follow some other Christian leader more closely than follow Jesus. If there is a pastor or author or teacher or Christian parent who contributed powerfully to your conversion, growth, and discipleship, you might follow that person more closely than you follow Jesus.
That’s dangerous because even godly people are still human. They can fall or just disappoint you.
Jesus never will.
Is there someone you love and follow so closely that everything he says or does is, to you, what a Christian must say or do? Are you in danger–or guilty–of respecting the house more than the builder (v. 3)?
That is a subtle but real form of idolatry. Love your mentors and appreciate all that they’ve done for you in Christ. But follow Jesus and worship him alone. He’s the only one worth following and worshipping, and he is the only who can get you safely to God’s eternal promised land.