Jesus, the Son of God, is greater than Moses, a servant, and He is certainly greater than Elijah. We will do well if we first start with the teachings of Christ and use them to "interpret" the rest. He is the Chief Cornerstone (Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:20). Upon Him, everything hangs.
In Hebrews 3, Paul admonishes us to hold fast to what Jesus taught us (see also Revelation 3:11). If we do, he writes, we also will be sons and daughters in His house. We will no longer be servants, but heirs, actual children of the Father (Romans 8:16-17).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Why the Transfiguration?
Apart from Jesus, the quintessential biblical leader among men is Moses. The author of Hebrews chooses him from a fairly long list of possible candidates to compare most favorably to Jesus. It should be of great interest to us that the overall characteristic that the author chooses to encompass Moses' leadership is faithfulness.
As the author of Hebrews develops his theme of the greatness of Jesus Christ, he undoubtedly chose Moses as his human example because the people to whom he was writing already considered Moses to be the greatest leader in their more than 1,700 years of history, beginning with Abraham. Jesus Christ, though, is incomparably greater than even Moses.
The “house” to which the author refers is not a building but people within an institution, the nation of Israel that descended from the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, God used Moses, born into the family of Levi, son of Jacob, several generations later, as the human instrument through which the Patriarchs' descendants were formed into a nation.
In the record God gives us of Moses, how many situations do we see that are jam-packed with the need for clear and unambiguous leadership? Moses was God's prophet, giving the Word of God to those being formed into a nation. He also served them as priest, being the intermediary between them and God, establishing the functions of the Levitical priesthood. Moses delivered God's laws to the Israelites and led them into making what we call the Old Covenant with God.
It was also Moses who served as Israel's first political leader, the one to whom the nation looked for governance. He is nowhere called a king, but the Bible testifies that he functioned, under God, as Israel's human governor and judge both in its internal needs and in its dealings with other nations as it proceeded to the Promised Land. In addition, Moses was a military leader when hostilities called for his guidance.
In every area in which guidance is needed for a nation, Moses' example of greatness under God is superior. One of his greatest characteristics is often overlooked because his other more visible characteristics seem to overshadow it. But God did not pass over it, noting it for our guidance:
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) (Numbers 12:1-3)
None of his outstanding qualities, high-ranking positions in the nation, or obviously correct decisions in behalf of all concerned ever “went to his head.” He consistently remained kind, moderate, and even-handed toward those under him, and just and fair in his dealings. He was approachable.
With these excellencies in mind, we must not overlook Deuteronomy 18:15, which records of Moses: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” In the inspired sermon that Peter delivered to those Jews listening on the Day of Pentecost when God gave of His Spirit to mankind, he drew on this verse to pointedly reveal that this verse applies directly to Jesus Christ. In this case, Jesus was “like Moses” but far greater because, as the apostle Paul later wrote, Moses was merely a servant in the house, while Christ is its Builder. The apostle chose well in naming Moses as his comparison to Christ. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to find a human leader greater than he.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Two)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Hebrews 3:1:
1 Corinthians 9:19-22