THE SUPERIORITY OF MESSIAH TO MOSES AND A SUMMARY OF THE FIVE “RESTS” OF SCRIPTURE: HEBREWS 3 & 4

 

I. A COMPARISON AND CONTRAST: MESSIAH THE LORD AND MOSES THE SERVANT (Heb. 3:1-6)

Moses was the most significant figure in Jewish history. Even today the Jewish community holds him in the highest regard. God used him to communicate to the nation of Israel. The present passage, while exalting the Messiah, is in no way depreciating Moses. As the mediator of the Torah, Moses was faithful (Heb. 3:2-5).

Despite his prestige, Moses remained a servant, but Jesus is the Messiah, God’s representative, and King. Moses was a witness who testified concerning a fuller revelation to come, whereas the Messiah is the very revelation of God. Moses was a faithful steward of God’s household, but Jesus constructed and constituted the entire household. Moses loved the Lord, but Jesus is equal to the Father. In the first century, Jewish believers in the Messiah felt excluded from the synagogue, but God never casts any follower of Jesus from His household.

II. THE “RESTS” OF SCRIPTURE (Heb. 3:7-19)

This passage in Hebrews emphasizes the theme of rest. This chapter describes five different types of “REST:”

  • SABBATICAL REST (Exodus 16:22-30)
    • Moses instituted a special
    • DAY OF REST when he instituted the Sabbath day for the nation of Israel. Sabbath violators were severely punished.
  • REST FOR THE FEET (Bodily Rest) (Heb. 4:8) 
    • Joshua, who led Israel into the promised land, gave Israel rest from wanderings in desert lands since the nation would settle down in a special place of God’s choosing, a land “of milk and honey.”
  • REST FOR THE SOUL  (Salvation rest)  (Heb. 4:10) 
    • The major ingredient of this rest is that one must “cease from his endeavors” since salvation is based entirely upon the finished work that Messiah Jesus accomplished when He sacrificed His life for His people (Isa. 53).
  • REST FOR THE MIND (Sanctification Rest)
    (Heb. 4:11)
    • This rest is hard to distinguish from the previous one. Since Jesus secured righteousness for His people through His death and resurrection, it remains the only means to a godly life. This rest requires labor and cooperation with the will of God. It is the rest afforded to believers who are in harmony with the perfect and divine plan of God for their life. 
  • ETERNAL REST (Heb. 4:9)
    • The author of Hebrews reminds believers of a rest throughout eternity. “There remains therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).

III. CONCLUSION

One must distinguish between the FIVE RESTS of Scripture to “rightly divide” the Word of truth. Sabbatical rest historically pertained to the Jewish people. The Jewish Messiah taught us that “...the hour comes and now is when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father seeks such to worship Him” (Jn. 4:23).

Today, every day is a “holy day” and those who worship God “must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24).                                                           

Reaching Jewish People in France During the Holocaust

Your Mission to the Jewish People has been reaching the Jewish people of France since the early 1930s and especially during the Holocaust period.

By the Second World War there were 300,000 Jews in France, 180,000 of whom lived in Paris. Some were French Jews who had lived in France for centuries, but the others were recent immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe and from Africa and Asia. 

This vast number of immigrants captured the heart of the French Protestant Church, which began to grasp their responsibility to the Jews. Many Protestant churches were active in trying to minister to the needs of these Jewish people, both materially and spiritually, as reported by a global inter-mission organization called the Christian Approach to the Jews:

Over 100,000 Jews from other parts of Europe had moved to France since 1933 and the immigrations were stepping up at this time and so relief work for the Protestant and non-Aryan refugees is organized by a committee of the Federation Protestants de France.1

Chosen People Ministries, then known as the American Board of Missions to the Jews (ABMJ), was also beginning to work in France. The son of our founder, Joseph Hoffman Cohn, had a particular burden to help the Jews of France hear about Jesus. He also wanted to care for their physical needs, as the looming shadow of the coming Nazi terror was already known by many. Joseph Cohn and other Jewish ministry leaders saw the horror coming, but, of course, could not have imagined in their wildest dreams the extremes to which Hitler would go to destroy the Jewish people. 

In the April 1936 edition of The Chosen People magazine, Cohn describes the work of Your Mission to the Jewish People during the early days of the Holocaust. He wrote:

I arranged with our honorary director in Paris, Pastor Henri Vincent, together with our missionary, André Frankel, to open up a relief station where we shall be able in the name of the Lord Jesus to bring immediate relief to substantial numbers of these destitute families. Our method is to give them tickets, which entitle each one a meal at a restaurant in the Jewish ghetto district of Paris down below the Bastille. These tickets will then be returned to us by the restaurant keeper and we will redeem them at the price of three and one-third francs per meal, about twenty-four cents in our money at the old rate of exchange. We will also provide, whenever we can, clothing, either by purchase or from gifts which Pastor Vincent will receive from friends in France. Pastor Vincent will also form a central committee, which will have charge of this relief work. Let us pray that this venture on our part will be used of God to bring a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ into the hearts of many of those who now seem to have lost all hope. We must remind them that Israel’s God still lives, and that He will send help when all else fails.2

The work of the ABMJ continued to grow in the period between the wars. The Paris edition of The Shepherd of Israel was available in Yiddish and French by 1936. Added to the staff in January 1938 were Mlles. Jermaine Mellon-Hollard and Salomon.

By the summer of 1940, the work of the Mission was forced to end and the missionaries were scattered. Cohn included a portion of a letter from Mrs. André Frankel, which provides us with a description of the tragedy of those days:

My dear director and friend, My thoughts are so often with you, and I know you pray for us in our distress. I am at the above address with my mother after a terrible travel. We are here without money and luggage. We left Paris on June 10th. André decided to leave the day after and join us, but he never came. I have no news from him and I am in terrible anxiety. He may be in danger or in prison, and as the letters do not arrive from all the parts of France where the Germans are, I do not know what to do. No news from Jean Tangui and Pastor Vincent. And what about all our people we helped?
I think we shall be able to return to Paris in some weeks. In any case our work could be continued as soon as Paris will be free, but perhaps not exactly the same. Until that time our sadness is deep. The situation everywhere is and will be distressing. We have to pray to God more than ever and to accept to suffer much more as before.
Do write me at the above address at Royat, will you? I need to hear something from you. I hope you are well, believe me. Yours affectionately, Jermaine Frankel.
3

Regular missionary efforts were becoming nearly impossible.

Cohn reported on the Chosen People Ministries efforts in Paris in a 1941 issue of The Chosen People magazine. It is evident from the report that there was deep concern for the fate of the Mission staff in Paris:

From Paris we hear nothing. This is the occupied area and there is no way for us to get money into Paris or for our beloved workers there to write letters to us. We have had some letters from third hand connections, in one case a Quaker lady with an American passport who had been able to get out of Paris and to reach the Atlantic seaport. She wrote us of the terrible suffering through which our workers are going and she bemoaned that there is no way for us to get help to them. We can only pray for André Frankel and for his good wife Jermaine and for that brave mother, and we must not forget to pray for Pastor Vincent who was in the beginning of the war at the battle front at Dunkirk and Bologna; through an indirect source we learn that he had been demobilized and was again back in Paris. 4

Of course, Cohn could not possibly have known the full impact of the Nazis’ savagery against the Jewish people.

Finally, in 1944, Cohn added a note in his lead article of
The Chosen People magazine. He wrote:

Praise the Lord! Just as we go to press, we must rearrange our forms to flash the news that has come to us this moment from Paris by way of a brother in the Lord.  Henri Vincent is alive. And praise be to His name, our beloved Jewish missionary whose name we cannot give you at this time (but you all know who he is) is alive! Here is one paragraph only from the letter we received.

“Pastor Vincent of Paris has been used of the Lord in hiding the above Jewish pastor in his building in order to keep him from falling into the hands of the Germans. Many Jewish families have been kept from German torture through the fine work of Vincent and the members of the Baptist Church of Paris. What has been done by these Baptists has also been done by other Christians of other Protestant churches all throughout France and Belgium. One of these days a story can be told of how the Lord’s work continued during the past four years.” 5

The following letter from Jermaine Melon-Frankel printed in the December 1944 issue of The Chosen People magazine gave more of the details:

My dear director and friend, It is such a blessing to be able to write again after these terrible years. I do hope you are well. Give me your news. Here in Paris we are safe, Vincent as well as my husband, our little girl, myself and all the staff.  Our work among Jews was never stopped. But we saw our people secretly and André did not live at home, but went to hide himself in three different places in friends’ homes. During this time the police came twice at home to arrest him, but he was not here, and all was well. And now is a splendid liberation! André is at home again and all the work begins again. We have now to see so many new people who are waiting for the gospel. We shall send a full report as soon as the correspondence with the U.S. will be possible again. With all our affection and gratitude. 6

Cohn reported what proved to be the beginnings of a unique post-Holocaust ministry among the Jewish people of France and of all Europe. Chosen People Ministries’ post-war ministry in Paris was an expression of the nature of our ministry from the very beginning: a deep concern for the spiritual well-being of the Jewish people, of course, but also a deep concern for the physical well-being of each individual Jewish person and for the Jewish community as well:

Many of the refugees from the Nazi persecutions know that our mission in Paris is to be the rallying center when the war is finished for Jewish wanderers in exile.  And there they hoped once more to meet their loved ones. The address of our Paris mission is in the pockets and memories of thousands of these unwanted Jews as they now hide themselves in the forests and the hills, behind the rocks, from Nazi hunters.7

Cohn again wrote regarding the post-war plans for the ABMJ center in Paris:

Perhaps we should just say by way of reminder that France will soon be open to us and we want to meet the barest needs of that desolated country when the war is done. We want to reestablish homes, we want to reunite families, we want to gather a much larger staff to headquarters in Paris. As we told you in a previous issue, God wonderfully preserved our workers through all the Nazi occupation and we cannot praise Him enough for his goodness to us.8

____________

1 Minutes of European Sectional meeting IMCCAJ 1940:4

2 April 1936 edition of The Chosen People magazine

3 CP 1940c:2

4 CP 1941a, 5:14

5 CP 1944c, 2:21

6 CP 1944d, 3:13

7 CP 1944b, 8:5-6

8 CP 1945a, 5:9

BY DANIEL GOLDBERG, TH.D., D.D.

HEBREWS 2:1-11

This letter to professing Hebrew believers in the first century contains five special warning passages as follows:     

First Warning: 2:1-4

Second Warning: 3:7-4:13

Third Warning: 5:11-6:20

Fourth Warning: 10:26-31

Fifth Warning:  12:18-29

Each warning passage is pertinent to the author’s discussion at that point.  Thus the book of Hebrews is extremely practical in terms of application to the readers’ lives. It is essential for each of us to pay careful attention to the Divine instructions which makes this Epistle meaningful to professing believers. The warning passages are designed to separate true followers of Messiah from those who are superficial and only make empty professions.

I. First Warning: Pay Particular Attention to the Eternal Gospel Truths Taught by God’s Revelation (Heb. 2:1-4)

The Greek word prosecho in the New Testament is commonly used to bring a ship to land, suggesting the opposite of drifting or slipping away (Heb. 2:1).

It is not that some essential truth might drift away from us, but that we might drift away from the divine message. Not all the seed sown by the sower achieved the full cycle of maturation. In this first warning passage, men are warned against failure to appropriate the saving message of the Gospel. This warning is the only way out from certain judgment.

In particular, three essentials are mentioned to illustrate the greatness of God’s program of salvation:

1. The message was proclaimed by the Messiah Himself (Heb. 2:3).

2. The Gospel message was confirmed by many reliable witnesses (Heb. 2:3).

3. The truth was confirmed by God through various signs (Heb. 2:4).   

II. The Superiority of Messiah to Angels Does Not Conflict with His Attribute of Humanity (Heb. 2:5-9)

The saving work of Messiah could not possibly have been assigned to Angels.  Only Christ could achieve and purchase our salvation.  In order to do so, He became a man, like unto His brethren in every aspect, taking on Himself “the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16).

Here, some verses are quoted from Psalm 8:4-6.  Psalm 8 teaches that the Messiah would enter fully into our humanity as the ideal man as God intended Him to be. Here, we see Jesus (Heb. 2:9) entering the world to show us what man was intended to be in God’s original purpose.              

III. The Sanctification of Believers, Destined to be Conformed to Christ (Heb. 2:8-11)

Every true believer is moving daily towards his future destiny. We are being changed here and now. The Messiah sanctified us by becoming one of us in His humanity. He also made us one with Him (Heb. 2:11).

Through His saving ministry we became His children (Heb. 2:10-13). Now, we belong to the household of God (Heb. 3:6). God has given us to His Son, our Messiah, and we will be His forever.

IV. Conclusion

In practical terms, what do these eternal verities mean?

First of all, we who have been set apart for our Messiah must recognize that He has first claim on our lives. Secondly, the gifts of God’s grace are granted to us to exercise for God’s glory in God’s world. Finally, time granted to us must be set apart for the worship and service of our Messiah and Savior, Jesus.

In a practical sense, our labors must reflect devotion to the Savior that is centered and associated with the body and brethren of the assembly (church) that our Messiah planted when coming to the earth (Acts 2). Messiah will soon return for His own (Acts 1:11).

 

BY DANIEL GOLDBERG, TH.D., D.D.

THE MINISTRY OF JESUS TO HIS BROTHERS, INCLUDING JEWISH AND GENTILE BELIEVERS: HEBREWS 2:12-18

Although the Book of Hebrews relates to every believer, the initial audience was likely a group of early Jewish followers of Jesus.
The author demonstrates the superiority of Jesus compared to all earthly and celestial powers, which includes His greatness compared to angels. This is why He chose to become associated with “the seed of Abraham,” rather than take on the form of angels (Heb. 2:16-17).

I. THE JEWISH ORIGIN OF THE MESSIAH (Heb. 2:16)

While on earth, Jesus joined the Jewish community at both the synagogue and the Jerusalem Temple (Mk. 1:21; Mt. 26:55). In every way Jesus identified with the Jewish community.

The author cites three passages from the Hebrew Bible to illustrate how the Messiah identifies with His people. He first quotes Psalm 22:22 to show how Jesus the Messiah faithfully reveals the Father to His Jewish family (Heb. 2:12).

Second, he quotes Isaiah 8:17 where Isaiah identifies as part of the faithful people of Israel anticipating the Lord’s intervention and deliverance (Isa. 2:13).

Third, the author introduces the next quote with the words, “and again” (Heb. 2:13; Isa. 8:18), in order to show how the Messiah, like Isaiah, identifies with His numerous “children.”

II. MESSIAH, THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST
(Heb. 2:17-18)

In Hebrews 2:17, we have for the first time the words “HIGH PRIEST.”  No other New Testament book utilizes this title for Jesus, the Messiah. Here we are introduced to the central thought of Hebrews.

In the book of Hebrews, we discover Jesus’ main occupation is a priest who mediates between God and humanity. Sin drove a wedge between God and His people; Jesus’ work restores this relationship.

In Hebrews 2 we are introduced to Jesus as our great High Priest. The author picks up the theme again in Hebrews 7 and 8. No other book within the Bible expands on the Priesthood of the Messiah like Hebrews.   

As the Great High Priest, Jesus the Messiah is both MERCIFUL and FAITHFUL (Heb. 2:17).

Messiah Jesus is a merciful High Priest. He is full of pity, compassion, grace and sympathy in all our sorrows. He is faithful in bringing down all the gifts of God to us.

He is mindful of our fears, tears and sufferings. No one wishes to comfort us and take us by the hand when we are weary, sad and exhausted like Jesus.

III. CONCLUSION: 
MESSIAH JESUS CONTINUES HIS HIGH PRIESTLY MINISTRY ON OUR BEHALF FROM HEAVEN

What Jesus accomplished at Calvary was a “finished work,” but His engagement in our lives continues by interceding and advocating on our behalf. As a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” Jesus is able to rescue those that are tempted, for He knows and understands our concerns.

Our Lord Jesus is the Great High Priest of heaven. He is worthy of our full trust and allegiance. Place your full trust and faith in Him and serve the Savior.

Ministry Report

It is exciting to share the following reports from our remarkable Israel staff. Here, Rachel G. gives an exciting overview of the work there:

Our work in Israel is dynamic and creative! It reaches so many segments of Israel’s population and it makes me excited to try to keep up with all the news that flows in from our workers. It is only by God’s grace that we are able to serve the poor and needy in a number of cities, with the blessing of local government officials. We are humbled when we can walk inside a Holocaust survivor’s home and pray with them—their journey has been long and difficult, so for them to be open to understand God’s love is amazing.  You never know when, sitting at a bustling Tel Aviv café, your neighbor might lean over to start a conversation and that conversation quickly turns to Jesus! It seems like our workers’ motto in Israel is to “always be ready to give an account for the hope that is within.” It’s simply within the everyday life that we can so easily and excitedly share about Jesus with Israelis who want to listen and engage the conversation.  

Personal ministry takes place in a variety of ways. The following are just a small sampling of the work that happens every day in Israel:

One of our dedicated staff members in Israel has befriended an Orthodox young man through a mutual interest in sports. Over the last few years, they have become very close. He shares this touching story:

A wise man once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  This was proven to me during the last two visits with a good friend of mine (who is Orthodox). He is going through some very difficult times, and as we visited together he listened patiently as I pleaded with him to draw near to the word of God. As I spoke about my faith in Yeshua, a sarcastic smile appeared on his face and he said, “You know...the only reason I’m sitting here and listening to this stuff is because I know that you care about me.” In the end, he even let me pray for him in Yeshua’s name. Many times in life, we need to earn the right to be heard. There is no simple solution except to invest time and sincere love into people. Sometimes it can take years or even a lifetime before someone trusts you enough to let you challenge their belief system. The reason for this is because after such a deep investment, our friends can know for sure that our motivation is sincere love and not a motivation of trying to prove “who is right and who is wrong.” My friend has still not given his life to Yeshua, but I know without a doubt that he has felt Yeshua loving him through me. My challenge to us all is to keep cultivating our relationships with patience and sincere love, waiting on the Lord for the time when the heart’s soil will be ready to receive the seed of life. Please keep my friend in your prayers asking the Father to reveal Himself in his life.

Gabi G. is another dedicated member of our Israel staff. Part of his ministry is to follow up with those who inquire through our online ministries. Gabi shares this wonderful story:

I logged onto the Isaiah 53 Facebook page in order to respond to the dozen messages left from a wide range of people. When I responded to Ron* he answered immediately as he was online. Ron wanted me to know right away that Jesus is not the Messiah. I asked him if he received his copy of Isaiah 53 Explained, and he responded that he had. He had even read it! Ron told me that it was pointless trying to share Jesus with Israelis and that we should just stop so we don’t waste anyone’s time. I replied that it is important to understand who Messiah is according to the Scriptures and only then should we make a decision about the truth of Jesus. Ron agreed with me! We are now looking through the Scripture to understand the role and purpose of Messiah. Please pray that Ron will continue to have a softened heart and be open to consider that Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel.

Finally, Robynne B. who ministers in Israel and around the globe through our backpacker ministry, shares this exciting story of a young Israeli girl coming to faith in Messiah! Robynne writes:

Nina* is a young Israeli I met through a friend. She comes from a secular Israeli family. She heard about Jesus and was curious to hear more and meet a Jewish person who believes in Jesus. I shared how and why I came to believe in Jesus and the things He did in my life. We met several times, looking at prophecies and things Jesus said in the Gospels.

One day Nina looked at me and said, “I don’t understand it all yet, but I believe. I love the love Jesus gives, I feel it. I believe I will understand more over time.” I could see the joy on her face!  Please pray for Nina as her family is very mixed in their reaction to her decision. Some say, “Do what makes you happy,” while others are upset with her seeking Jesus. Pray she will continue to grow in Him and her family would want His love too. 

*name has been changed

  

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