Translations: Chinese GB Big5

HEBREWS 3:1-4:13 (web)

Christ is Superior to Moses

In His Work

3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling,
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus;
3:2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, as also was Moses in all his house.
3:3 For he has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses,
inasmuch as he who built the house has more honor than the house.
3:4 For every house is built by someone;
but he who built all things is God.

In His Person

3:5 Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant,
for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken,
3:6 but Christ is faithful as a Son over his house;
whose house we are,
if we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of our hope firm to the end.

Warning: The Danger of Unbelief

A. The Danger of Hardening the Heart

3:7 Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says,  "Today if you will hear his voice,
3:8 Don't harden your hearts, as in the provocation, Like as in the day of the trial in the wilderness, 3:9 Where your fathers tested me by proving me, And saw my works for forty years. 3:10 Therefore I was displeased with that generation, And said, 'They always err in their heart, But they didn't know my ways;' 3:11 As I swore in my wrath, 'They will not enter into my rest.'" (Ps 95:7-11)
3:12 Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief,
in falling away from the living God;
3:13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called "today;"
lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ,
if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end:
 
3:15 while it is said, "Today if you will hear his voice,
Don't harden your hearts, as in the rebellion." (Ps 95:7,8)
3:16 For who, when they heard, rebelled?
No, didn't all those who came out of Egypt by Moses?
3:17 With whom was he displeased forty years?
Wasn't it with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
3:18 To whom did he swear that they wouldn't enter into his rest,
but to those who were disobedient?
 
3:19 We see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief.

B. Challenge to Enter His Rest

4:1 Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps a promise being left of entering into his rest,
anyone of you should seem to have come short of it.
4:2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did,
but the word they heard didn't profit them,
because it wasn't mixed with faith by those who heard.
 
4:3 For we who have believed do enter into that rest, even as he has said,
"As I swore in my wrath, they will not enter into my rest;" (Ps 95:11)
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4:4 For he has said this somewhere about the seventh day,
"God rested on the seventh day from all his works;" (Gen 2:2)
4:5 and in this place again,
"They will not enter into my rest." (Ps 95:11)
4:6 Seeing therefore it remains that some should enter therein,
and they to whom the good news was before preached
failed to enter in because of disobedience,

4:7 he again defines a certain day, today,
saying through David so long a time afterward (just as has been said),

"Today if you will hear his voice, Don't harden your hearts." (Ps 95:7,8)
4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest,
he would not have spoken afterward of another day.
4:9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
4:10 For he who has entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works,
as God did from his.
4:11 Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest,
lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.
 
4:12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword,
and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow,
and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
4:13 There is no creature that is hidden from his sight,
but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

vs 3:1-6 Islam views Jesus only as another prophet.
In what way is Jesus much more than a prophet like Moses,
both in terms of what He did and who He is?
vs 3:6 What is the "courage" and "hope" that Christians are boasting in here?
Why the conditional clause? Does it imply one could lose his salvation?
And what constitutes "holding on"? Are you presently doing so?
(This issue surfaces later on in this section as well in 3:14)
vs3:7+ What type of Christians may the people who wandered and died in the desert with Moses be likened to? (Xref 1Cor 10:1-14)
Why is lack of confidence in God's promise more of a spiritual problem than an intellectual problem? (Xref Joh 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.")
Have you ever told anyone that you are confident that you are going to heaven?
3:12,13 Fall away from what? What can help prevent Christians from falling away?
3:14 How does this verse affect the assurance of one's salvation?
How do you know whether you've become a partaker of Christ?
3:18,19 What is the correlation between obedience and faith?
4:1 Fear what? Fear why? And what good does such fear do?
vs 4:1-13 What is the allegorical equivalent of "rest" for the Christian?
vs 4:11 How can one make every effort to enter that rest if "making effort" is contrary to the idea of "rest"?
(Xref Heb 6:12 "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
Rom 4:4,5 "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.")
vs 4:12 What does the the word of God have to do with entering His rest?
How do think the Word of God is alive?

NOTES

vs 3:1 "Apostle" - an initiator - like a missionary who first brings the message to a new location, Jesus was the initator of our salvation, in addition to being our High Priest.

vs 3:2 The emphasis on Jesus' faithfulness is set as an example to follow as the Christians are encourage to "hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. " vs 6

vs 3:3,4 Implies the Deity of Christ

Moses
Jesus
God
The House
The Builder

vs 3:12;4:1 These verses warn of falling away. But what they imply is that whether you endure or fall away is up to you. Which is also implied in 4:11 which commands "be diligent to enter that rest". Therefore entering the rest is partly a function of your effort. And you need to make that effort.

What if people had no choice in their personal election by God? What good would fear do? It wouldn't do any good. For if you think you're not elect then there is nothing you can do about it. But you see that such an idea doesn't fit into these verses. So also what doesn't fit into these verses is the absolute presumption that you are saved. Yes, once saved always saved, but whether you are saved is disputable if in fact there is little correlation between your faith and your behavior. He who endures to the end will be saved. What these verses imply is that fear can play a positive role in developing an enduring faith.

But as I mention below, let us not confuse this concept with salvation by works. For the object of faith is not one's works. Faith itself is not a work (as Romans 4:5 indicates). Rather it is more in the category of an attitude rather than a work. Yes such an attitude will lead to applications which even become measures of our faith. But the object of our faith is Christ and his atoning work.

vs 3:13 Developing an enduring faith is not just a function of fear and personal choice. For we are influenced by others around us. Proverbs 13:20  "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Therefore if we are serious about the faith let us be committed to meeting with our fellow Christians on a regular basis. For the mutual influence of the fellowship will help strengthen and mature our faith.

The interpretation of the conditional clauses

The conditional clauses: have been interpreted a couple of different ways.
Do these verses mean either (1. A person's salvation can be lost if they fail to continue to hold on confidently to the hope?), or (2. A person's salvation status is revealed by the quality of their faith being one of an enduring confidence that one's hope is secure, which is inevitable for the true believer?)

A verse that clearly answers this is 1John 2:19 "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
So once saved, always saved. Therefore these verse should be interpreted as revealing a person's salvation status, rather than proposing that obtaining or maintaining one's salvation is dependent upon one's performance.

vs 3:19 also affirms this, "we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief." Those that fell in the desert represent mere nominal Christians, not true believers. Jude also affirms this:

Faith and Obedience

Notice the correlation between faith and obedience. 4:6 indicates that they failed to enter because of disobedience as also 3:18. But 3:19 says it was because of unbelief. The faith that saves is a faith which is application oriented. And so there are many who may even be called "Christian" who have a faith, but not the faith which is acceptable to God for salvation.
The greek word "disobedience" = "apeitheo"<544> used in these sections is so closely tied to faith that it is sometimes even translated "unbelief", such as in John 3:36
"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe <544> the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (NKJV)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects <544> the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him." (NIV)

This word "apeitheo" generally means "not to allow one’s self to be persuaded" or "not to comply with"

Allegorical Interpretation of "Rest"

Notice how Hebrews 4 applies what the Old Testament says about entering the promise land. It uses an allegorical interpretation, while not denying the actual historical accuracy of the events, the author also views them as shadows of New Testament truth. (See The Process of Conversion page)

While most of the people who crossed the Red Sea with Moses may be likened to Christians who, though they were baptized and decided to follow Jesus, turned away from Him later on at various points. Some turned away at Mount Sinai when confronted with the concept of His Lordship over their lives. Some turned away in the desert who loved the things of this world more than the things of God. And finally others when they came to the Jordan River and realized the truth of the gospel, that entering the promise land requires faith, just as one can only obtain salvation through faith in Christ alone. This is unacceptable to many who call themselves "Christians". Yet it is written that:

While the faith that saves is application oriented, the object of faith is not ones own works, but rather the atoning work of Christ. If a person attempts obtain or maintain his salvation by his works, he has yet to receive the righteousness that comes by faith alone and the gift of eternal life. Therefore, let us learn to rest in Christ's righteousness, and let us put our faith in God's promise and not waver in unbelief, but rather be fully convinced that what God had promised He is able also to perform.

Fix Your Thoughts on Jesus

Heb 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

What person thinks about Jesus Christ will determine that person's destiny. Also Jesus is the model for the Christian life. So when it comes to deriving applications we look to Jesus.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the captain and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Heb 12:1-3

"And if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1Peter 2:20b-21

And there are many more aspects of the Christian life of which we look to Jesus as our "Par Excellence" model, one other being confession, or more accurately "profession". We are to profess the gospel. We take on much the same ministry as modelled by Christ. Professing Christ is part of the Christian life so that we can say to God at the end of our lives, as Jesus did in John 17:

vs 4 I glorified you on the earth
vs 4 I have accomplished the work which you have given me to do.
vs 6 I revealed your name to the people whom you have given me out of the world.
vs 9 I pray for them.
vs 12 I protected them and kept them safe
vs 14 I have given them your word
vs 18 I have sent them into the world
vs 26 I have made known to them your name


Jesus Built Everything

Heb 3:2-4 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.  For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Was Jesus just another prophet, as Islam proposes? How does he compare with Moses? Well if Jesus is worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as a the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself, then who is this author making Jesus out to be? In case you didn't get it he continues: Every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. The writer is saying that Jesus is God. Jesus is the Creator, as he had already said in Heb 1:10 and as is said elsewhere, for "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" John 1:3

"He  (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him (Jesus) and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Col 1:15-17


Are We His House?

Heb 3:5,6  Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future.  But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

Moses' ministry was merely a shadow, a forerunner of Christ's.  Jesus himself said to the unbelieving Jews, "do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me." John 5:45,46

 The superiority of Jesus over Moses and the prophets is alluded to in the Transfiguration of Matthew 17.
Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters— one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" Mt 17:3-5

Now as for the end of verse 6, it speaks of a condition of a saved person, a person who is part of the household of God. As Jesus said, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." Mt 10:22  And in 1Cor 15 Paul says, "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:1,2 The faith that saves is the faith that endures. Perseverance and confidence in faith are characteristic of the members of the household of the faith, and consequently are measures as to whether one is in faith. So  "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded." Heb 10:35


Do Not Harden Your Hearts

Heb 3:7-9 So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did."

For these next couple of chapters the writer will be using verses from Psalm 95. Here he's quoting Ps 95:7-9

Likewise the apostle Paul draws an analogy between backsliding Isreal and backsliding Christians in 1Corinthians chapter 10 saying, "For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did." 1Cor 10:1-6 

What is it to harden one's heart but to not listen to the Lord, whether it be refusing to ponder the implications of what the said, or simply to refuse to obey his commands. A hardened heart is one which is not receptive to the Word of God.

While there were many incidents during Israel's 40 year wandering in the desert, the particular incident referred to in Ps 95 is found in  Exodus 17:1-7 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test.  But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?"  Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."  The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.  I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.  And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

Christians may find themselves much in this same kind of situation where in the middle of walking according to God's will one runs into challenges which test one's faith. One may run out of resources or the like, and then grumble against God or against the leadership. It is not that the request for resources is sin. In fact when we are in need God wants us to pray for what we need. But it is the grumbling, the complaining, which is sin in that it shows lack of faith in God.

Jesus said, "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." Mt 13:20,21 The faith that saves is the faith that continues to believe God despite the circumstances. Prepare to have your faith tested. Because God will certainly bring you through challenging circumstances.


They Shall Never Enter My Rest

Heb 3:10,11 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’"

Heb 3:10,11 is a direct quote from Psalm 95:10,11 It was after a number of instances on the road to the promise land in which the Isrealite grumbled against God, and after the spys returned from the land of Canaan with a bad report, that God finally gave up on that generation of Israelites. In Numbers 14:27-29 he said, "How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say:  In this desert your bodies will fall— every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun."

The write of Hebrews is applying this to Christians. Salvation is conditioned upon trusting in God. To complain and grumble is not characteristic of such faith. Do not presume that just because at some point that you prayed a prayer to receive Jesus that you are now saved. Salvation is by faith in Christ. And faith is revealed by one's attitude and actions. A heart that's always going astray is not characteristic of a regenerate heart but rather that of a dog going back to his vomit, as Peter said in 2Peter 2:22 But of the regenerate heart Ezekiel writes, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them." Eze 36:26,27 And the Lord says in Jeremiah 32:40b "I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me." But if such a heart is not characteristic of a person, then he has not been born of God.

As for what he means by "rest", there is more said on the subject in this chapter and the next, so I won't comment on it here.


See to it

Heb 3:12,13  See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

"See to it" - this means that having a believing heart is not a passive or fatalistic idea. It takes effort on your part to have a believing heart. "Believing", in a Biblical sense, is not something that simply happens to you as if you have no control over it. It's something that takes effort on your part. A persevering faith, an application-oriented faith, you are responsible to develop and maintain such a faith.

One key to maintaining a believing heart is to maintain regular Christian fellowship with those who will exhort you in accordance with the Word of God. Encouragement is part of it. But the word the NIV translates "encourage" has the broader meaning "to exhort". It was used, for example, to describe Peter's address to the people after he had preached the gospel to them, "with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation.'" (NKJV) The NIV uses "pleaded" there. Among its 109 usages in the New Testmanent it's translated "urge", "implore", "plead", "appeal", "comfort", "encourage". All which seem to have an emotional element to them - an element that goes beyond dispassionate teaching.

This is one key to maintaining a believing heart. Another is abiding in the Word - by which, of course, I mean the Bible. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" John 8:31,32 Prayer is another key. And there are other things one can do to maintain a believing heart.

Sin is deceitful. Consequently even when one thinks one has a good heart one may not. Likewise such people may misjudge other Christians. "By their fruits you will know them" Mt 7:20 For "the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." Luke 8:15


A Confident Condition

Heb 3:14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

This is much as Paul has taught, as I mentioned previously. "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:2 The gospel saves only those who persevere in the faith.

But what's really interesting about this verse in Heb is that way he says it. "Have" is perfect tense, which the Greek lexicon indicates means, "an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated." Here Hebrews says that something that occurred in the past is true only if a future condition is met. The only way the logic holds up is to infer that if the past condition is true, then the future condition is inevitable. In other words this basically teaches Eternal Security, or more precisely, the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. For it logically eliminates the possibility of there being a person who in the past has come to share in Christ, but who doesn't endure to the end in that faith. There doesn't exist such a hypothetical scenario.  Thus when John saw certain people leaving the faith he said, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19 Same goes for 1Cor 15:2 mention above where Paul speaks of a present condition being true, "By this gospel you are saved", (for he doesn't say "you will be saved", but rather "you are saved") only if a future condition is met, "if you hold firmly". The only way the logic holds up is if holding firmly to the word is inevitable for those who are presently saved.

Endurance in the faith in characteristic of those who have been born of God - those who have come to share in Christ.


Unbelief and Disobedience

Heb 3:15-19  As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Unbelief and disobedience go hand in hand. There are Christians who prove to be unbelievers by their disobedience. Regardless of the fact they were baptized and attend church or church activities, partake of communion and identify themselves as "Christian", such people will end up in hell if they continue in disobedience. Paul writes in 1Cor 10:1-5 "For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert." Paul applies this to the Christian community as we see also here in Hebrews.

The word for "disobey" here is "apeitheo" which means "not to comply with" or "not to allow one’s self to be persuaded by". And in fact is so connected with the kind of faith that saves that it is often translated "believe". Case in point would be John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe  the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (NKJV) The NIV uses "Rejects" the Son. Same idea. But even more precisely there is a refusal to comply. It is not that the person in unconvinced, but rather that the person is willfully refusing to comply.


Combining the Message with Faith

Heb 4:1,2
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

Once again the admonishnment implies that our will is involved in entering his rest. Being careful not to fall short is partly our responsibility, and not only with regards to us but also with regards to our fellow Christians.

The gospel only has value to those with listen to it with faith and apply it with faith. Paul asks the Galatians, "This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Gal 3:2  The reception of the gospel is primarily the responsibility of the audience. However "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Rom 10:17 If a person honestly listens to the message, faith will be impart to them.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." Is 30:15


A Sabbath Rest

Heb 4:3-6 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.

This is not the complete thought, but enough to pause and consider. Where he's going with this is the idea that while the Bible speaks of a "rest", as in Genesis 2 where it speaks of God resting on the 7th day, yet there exists a "Par Excellent" day of rest of which other references to "rest" are ultimately pointing. For while Genesis speaks of God resting on the 7th day and yet God's rest is spoken of later on implies that such a rest is not the final - Par Excellent - rest.

Yet also with regards to the "rest" of the people of Israel spoken of in the book of Numbers chapter 14, that also is not the "Par Excellent" rest. For the rest promised in the gospel is not simply about realestate. It's about salvation from hell, the forgiveness of sins, the adoption into God's family, the regeneration of the heart, mind and will resulting in a changed behavior, the resurrection from the dead and the inheritance of the kingdom including reigning with Christ. It includes both Jews and Gentiles - all who believe.

Those who hear the gospel but refuse to enter into God's rest do so because of disobedience. Here again is the word "apeitheia". It's a refusal to comply.

Shadows of the Sabbath Rest

Heb 4:7-10
Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

Here the writer proves that the "rest" spoken of in Numbers is not the "Par Excellent" rest seeing as David spoke these words in Psalm 95 much later than the events in Numbers.

Here also he introduces another word, which was implied in the word "rest" according to the Law, namely "rest" is associated with "Sabbath". The word "rest" here in the Greek is "sabbatismos". And this is the only place in the New Testament where this particular word is used. Elsewhere in Hebrews "rest" is a different word "katapausis". Yet here we see that the rest also refers to the Sabbath rest. But again the Sabbath rest is not the "Par Excellence" Rest, but rather it points to it. For the Sabbath rest is not a final rest but rather is observed on a weekly basis. Paul speaks of the Christian view concerning the observance of Sabbath saying, "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." Rom 14:5 and "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." Col 2:16,17 The 7th day of Creation, the entry of Isreal into the promise land, the 7th day Sabbath, these are all mere shadows of THE Rest which is to come, the Rest into which Christians are entering.

Now while some may argue that Christians have entered this Rest when they were saved, I don't think so. For we are called to work, laboring in the fields. "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Mt 9:37,38 Far too many (alleged) Christians are "resting" when they should be laboring. "Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1Cor 15:58b Rather as the angel said to Daniel, "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance." Dan 12:13, may you rest in peace.

Make Every Effort

Heb 4:11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

How is it that entering into God's rest takes effort on our part and yet at the same time salvation is said not to be of works? This is a very important issue to understand. The LORD Jesus says that salvation does require effort on our part.

Luke 13:23-25
Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ "But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

Likewise Isiah exhorts, "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon." Is 55:6,7

While salvation is by faith, it is not by a kind of effortless faith. For the faith that saves is the faith that works. John 5:44  "How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?"

Salvation is not contingent upon works, but rather upon having the right attitude. Faith itself is not a work but an attitude. Intending to obey is not a work but an attitude. Having a contrite heart is not a work but an attitude. Striving, Seeking, these are not works but attitudes.

2Peter 3:14
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.


The Word is Alive

Heb 4:12
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

What is the "word of God"? Notice he's been making references to the Old Testament throughout these chapters. The word of God is Scripture. And not only where God is quoted, as in Psalm 95, but also the historic sections are the word of God as well. For what God says must be taken with reference to his deeds - his interaction with mankind. Thus God established Israel that through his interaction with the Israelites - both on an individual and corporate basis - we may know God. And this in contrast to those, particularly of a Charismatic persuasion, who reckon the Word of God to be whatever vain idea comes to mind and whatever comes out of their mouth.

Rom 15:4 "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." In particular concerning the failure of the Israelites to enter the promise land and God's judgement against them in the wilderness Paul writes, "these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did." 1Cor 10:6 and "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come." 1Cor 10:11 Followed by his application, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!" 1Cor 10:12

When it is read in faith, the word of God is alive and will bear fruit in your life. "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:10,11 And "you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." 1Peter 1:23

"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers." 1Thessalonians 2:13

 The Word is a double edged sword, for both the preacher of the word and those who listen will be convicted by it as it exposes one's motives.


Inevitable Accountability

Heb 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Thoughts and attitudes are hidden things, though they are revealed by one's actions, but only to a degree. People have secrets. Paul speaks of God judging our conscience. "This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares." Rom 2:16 And Jesus said, "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open." Luke 8:17

This is something many fear. But conversely there are also the unsung heros who have secretly done good who will be rewarded. In fact Jesus commands us, "When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Mt 6:3,4


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Jul 25,2016