Christ the Perfect Promise-Keeper, Hebrews 4:1-16

Why would anyone want to fall short of God’s Rest? (Heb 4:1-2) “let us be wary lest any of you seem to have come short of it” (Heb 4:1; cf. 3:12-13, The word spoken to ancient Hebrews was just as active & living, as the word spoken by Christ. So why would anyone miss the promise of God’s rest? The Israelites had “good news” preached to them:  a promised land of freedom, atonement of sins, abundant produce, ready-made cities and freedom of worship in a governing Theocracy! But this good news “did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (4:2).The “good news” in this context is used in the same way Peter used it in reference to Noah, 1st Peter 4:6. He offers glory and splendor we could never achieve on our own.  Yet without faith, these huge & gracious offers fall into unbelieving hearts. We christians must constantly self- examine ourselves for signs of waning faith or indifference. 

Entering God’s Rest (Heb 4:3-5) is related  to the creation week in which “God rested on the seventh day from all His works” (Heb 4:4; Gen. 2:2).  This rest was established at the beginning and is a state wherein God, Himself, entered. He desires to share His Rest with his creation, which has been given holy hearts. This Rest is not the Sabbath being Saturday, although that weekly respite was modeled after creation (Ex 20:8-12), and it was not the entrance into Canaan, as will be shown in 4:8.  The disobedient Jews did not merely miss Canaan by their idolatry rooted in unbelief, they missed heaven, for the Rest God offers is intimate glorious fellowship with Him in eternity. In order for any of us to enter God’s Rest, we must have a living faith in becoming a Citizen of Heaven (Christian) and keep believing to stay faithful unto death.

The offer of rest is ongoing, it “REMAINS”, even during the days of Joshua leading the people into Canaan,and for several hundred years later “He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today …’” (Heb 4:7).  That is, the Rest offered by God was still available as David wrote Psalm 95:7-11. Also, the Hebrew writer says it is still available as he writes, and for us it remains available, till Jesus comes again. The author considers the word “today” from Psalm 95:7 crucial, for he mentions it in four verses (Heb 3:7, 13, 15; 4:7).  God offers Christians today a heavenly, eternal relief from the mental, physical and emotional burdens which accompany earthly life. This Rest is not cessation from activity, even as God has not ceased His activity following the sixth creation day, but rather the absence of stress that earthly endeavors always have (4:10). Still standing in force, is the warning, “Do not harden your hearts …” (4:7).  Human history is strewn with the bones of men and women who were offered heavenly rest along with capable leadership and divine assistance but who “did not enter because of disobedience” (4:6).   

“lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience” (Heb 4:11).  None of us can honestly believe these passages and then deny human responsibility for our own salvation. The writer has urged his readers to “give the most careful attention” (2:1), “hold fast” (3:6), “beware” (3:12), “warn one another” (3:13), “fear” (4:1) and “be diligent” (4:11).  However, salvation is not entirely dependent upon our own resources in each individual. The author now turns to the assistance of God’s word available to each of us. Since he has stressed the heart as the seat of obstinacy and unbelief, the author shows the virtues of the word in accurately assessing and exposing the heart.  The word of God is “living and powerful”; the Scriptures are not outdated words on dusty scrolls but vibrant, relevant and unassailable truths which always keep their vitality. God’s word pierces the very thoughts, intentions and ambitions of every person. No one can escape its discerning power; no part of the soul can be hidden from its double sharpened edge (4:13).  Respect for this truth can lead each of us to embrace the surgical benefits of such an instrument: God’s word is capable of removing from our heart the diseased tumors of sin and unbelief. Living words come from what kind of God (Hebrews 3:12)? A LIVING God that urges us to enter His Kingdom, Luke 16:16. The Kingdom of his Beloved Son, Colossians 1:12-13.

The last part of this passage brings a transition to the subject of the high priesthood of Jesus.  Not only do we have the benefit of the living word but a High Priest “who has passed through the heavens” (Heb 4:14).  He serves in the very place of the offered Rest: “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3). Further, He can “sympathize with our weaknesses” having shared our fleshly nature.  In the author’s mind, this all adds up to one thing: Boldness before the throne of God.  This confidence is available in our darkest hours – “In time of need” (4:16).  But sadly, we tend to shy away from God in situations of shame or discouragement.  This must be overcome by trusting God’s great love in providing redemption and desiring reconciliation.  God never discourages people from returning to Him after sin. The throne of God is a throne of what? What will we find from God in times of need? Have you found that help? Matthew 7:7-11. Then let people know!

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