Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 16

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.


The Writer's use of Scripture in this next section of Hebrews is a marvel:

For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,

As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,

although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day:

And God rested on the seventh day from all His works

and again in this passage, "They shall not enter My rest." Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:3-11, NASB 95)

Let's look at the themes the Writer is developing in this section of Hebrews, which began in chapter 3:

  • Is it faith or is it obedience? Re-read Hebrews 3:1 -4:9 and note the interplay between faith and obedience; unbelief and disobedience. It would seem as if faith is the foundation upon which real obedience grows.
  • Unbelief has a hardening effect, from which disobedience grows.
  • God will offend the mind to reveal the heart. For the ancient Israelites, the sudden lack of water gave cause for their unbelief to come to the surface.

Against this backdrop comes "Today, if you hear His voice." These are words of hope for anyone. Yesterday, He may have spoken and I may have hardened my heart--but that does not mean that He will not speak "today." This is what the Writer is trying to say in Hebrews 4:3-11. The Writer connects God's "rest" after the creation with the "rest" of psalm 95. A "Sabbath rest" for God's people that they can enjoy by completing their labors through faith.

In the context of the entire book, the Writer is saying to his unbelieving Jewish brethren, "In these latter days, God has spoken to us through His son...Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts as you did in the days of Moses." God has spoken again in a new and better way.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.


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