The theme in the text today is faithfulness. Moses was faithful, Jesus was faithful, and we who follow Jesus are called to be faithful.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses also ‘was faithful in all God’s house.’ Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honour than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
‘Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
as on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors put me to the test,
though they had seen my works for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
and I said, “They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known my ways.”
As in my anger I swore,
“They will not enter my rest.” ’
The reference to Moses is from Numbers 12.7, and in the original Hebrew it literally says, “In all my house he is faithful”; this is perhaps better translated as the NRSV has it as “he is entrusted with all my house.”
The faithful are described as a house built by and belonging to Christ. The author then urges the readers of the letter to hold firm in hope, and not to be like the rebellious of Israel when they were in the desert – the scriptural passage is from the Venite, Psalm 95.
How are we saved? In the Reformation era a great emphasis was placed upon personal faith, and an understanding that we are saved by faith alone. However, there is also an older understanding in the scriptures that even our faith is not enough, imperfect and subject to uncertainty – we are saved by the faith of Christ. This is the famous contrast between the subjective and objective genitive where one can translate pistis Christou as either “faith in Christ” or “faith of Christ”. The ambiguity has polarized some Christians, wanting to read in one interpretation or another. My own feeling is that a) I am certain that I am saved by the faith/faithfulness of Christ and b) my faith in Christ is a sign of that healing salvation, but the strength of it should not be considered an indication of quality of that saving grace.