About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
A Sabbath Rest For The People Of God
4 continues on in the same thought as the last chapter, that is, being
sure that his readers enter into Godís rest.
To make sure, we need to understand what the rest is that the
writer is talking about. The
Old Testament verses that have been quoted said that
question remains for us today then, what is Godís rest for us as New
Testament people. Since in
chapter 4, verse 1, says that "entering into His rest still
stands?" I believe
Godís rest is salvation. In
verse 3 it says that "we who have believed enter that rest."
I think that answers our question to what rest is.
The way to enter into rest, therefore, is to believe, have faith,
or trust, in Jesus. When we
think of trusting Jesus, we think of salvation in all of its varying
aspects. We think of a
salvation where we do not work to attain, but simply rest, relax, and
author of Hebrews encourages his readers to not to fall short of this
rest. Some would suggest that
this phrase implies that the people to whom the writer is addressing has
never entered this rest. They
are falling short of this rest which means they are not believing in
2 tells us that the Jews in the Old Testament had the gospel preached to
them. You might ask how
the Jews in Old Testament times heard the gospel of Jesus.
Well, the specific Jews that the author has been righting about
are the Jews who wandered in the desert for 40 years.
I don't believe the gospel they heard was the gospel of Jesus and
salvation. The gospel, good
news, they heard was the good news of entering the Promised Land.
If they had entered the Promised Land, and obeyed God's commands,
human history would have been altogether different.
Of course, these Jews did not obey the commands of God and thus
history has been as it has been. Jesus
needed to come to earth and provide salvation for us, as He did on the
cross. This salvation is
received by us by faith, something the Jews in the desert did not have, as
is stated here in verse 2.
2 states that the message that the Jews heard in the desert was not
received with faith. This
means that the people to whom the message was spoken not only did not
believe the message, but, they did not believe the one giving the message,
and that was God, through Moses.
in verse 3, for the third time the writer quotes Psalm 95:11 where it says
that God made an oath in His anger that those people would never enter His
rest. In other words, God
covenanted with Himself that He would never lead these Jews into the
Promised Land. Once again the
author of this letter is stressing the point that if God could be angry
with His people back then, He can be angry with His people now.
It is those particular Jews in Old Testament times that God would
not allow to enter into His rest, but as Paul says in Romans 11, there is
a remnant of Jews that will be saved.
I believe those Jews will enter God's rest at the end of this age.
writer continues by saying, "Yet His work has been finished since the
creation of the world." By
these words we are back to the Garden of Eden.
In creation God worked and on the seventh day He rested from all
His work, because His work was completed.
To be clear, this rest does not imply that God was tired.
It simply means He stopped the work of creation because it was
complete. Godís intent for
man was that man should have entered into this seventh day rest with God,
but man did not enter this rest because of his act of rebellion.
If Adam would have obeyed God, things would have been completely
different throughout history. Of
course, that assumes that someone else did not disobey and cause man and
creation to fall. When it
comes right down to it, Adam did not believe or trust the God who created
him. As a result, God told him
that he could not enter into His rest.
of the point the author is making in this section of the book is that
there is always some kind of rest offered to people of every era in
history. Adam was offered a
rest. The Jews were offered a
rest, and now we in New Testament times are offered a rest, which is our
salvation which will lead to eternal rest.
4 begins with the words, "Somewhere
it has been spoken of ..." This
may sound like the author has no clue where the quote he is about to use
is found, but this is not the case. This
is a Hebrew rabbinical idiom that actually expresses the inspiration of
Scripture. Basically, it means
that if in the Bible it's inspired.
verse 4 speaks of the rest of the seventh day of creation that I have just
5 is a simple reminder of what the author has already stated about God
covenanting with Himself that the rebellious Jews in the desert would
never enter their promised rest.
This is important. If
God was so angry with the Jews in the desert that He refused to take them
into their promised rest, how much more angry is He, or will He be, with
those who refuse to receive His promise of eternal rest.
We will talk about this later.
verse 6 the writer of this letter says that some will enter into this
rest. That is to say, that
there still is a rest for us to enter into in these New Testament times.
Man missed the rest at creation.
The Jews missed the rest in their days.
All that beings said, there is a rest today that is found in the
Lord Jesus Christ that we all can enter that has lasting and eternal
author repeats Himself a lot here. In
verse 7 he quotes from Psalm 95 again with the emphasis on the word
"today." It's today
that we must believe. It's
today that we must enter into rest. Waiting
for tomorrow may be too late. This
has been the Evangelical call to the unsaved ever since the Evangelical
verse 8 the writer brings
10 is crucial in understanding what rest the author is really getting at
here. He points out that
the rest he is talking about is ceasing from working for our rest.
He is talking about salvation that is not by works but by faith.
writer says, "Anyone who enters Godís rest also rests from His own
works." This is the
message of the gospel. This
reminds me of Romans 4:5. It
says, "The man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the
wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."
Once again, the point of salvation to be made here is that there is
nothing we can do, no matter how hard we work at it, that can bring
salvation to us. Salvation, as
Paul puts it in Romans, is spoken of in terms of us being righteous, that
is, us being perfectly right in the essence of who we are, not just what
verse 11 the author basically says that if we are to work hard, it is to
work hard at making sure we donít fall short and disobey with an
unbelieving heart. This work
is not for our salvation. This
work is to make sure we really do trust Jesus alone, and nothing else.
In one sense of the word, we do need to put all the effort we have
into putting our full trust in Jesus.
That being said, we cannot do that on our own.
The Holy Spirit must be involved in the process of repenting and
putting our trust in Jesus. Romans
12:5 clearly states that faith itself is a gift from God. That means we
need help from above to help us believer to enter rest.
this point I would like to summarize what the writer has said about rest,
because he has actually spoken about more than one rest.
He has spoken of God resting from His work on the seventh day.
He has spoken of the rest that the Jews were to enter with when
they crossed the
are basically three rests described here. They are, Godís rest on the
seventh day, a rest for
12 is a well known verse. The
NIV puts it this way. "For
the Word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing
of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and
attitudes of the heart." There
is a lot in this verse. The
Word of God is said here to be living and active.
The writer has been quoting from Old Testament Scriptures where God
has spoken to His people in the past.
Here he is saying that even today, God speaks to His people for His
word is living and active. Godís
word is alive today and is active in the sense that He is still speaking. Even
today, Godís Word is active in the proclamation of the good news.
If this is the case then, those who hear must receive the message
with faith or else it will be of no effect to them.
does God speak to us today? The
first and foremost way that He speaks is in the Bible that is revealed to
us by His Holy Spirit. The
spoken word through prophecy is another way in which we hear God's word
today. We just must keep in
mind that not all we hear is actually God's word.
Whatever we hear must be in concordance with the Bible and must be
discerned and judged. Then
there is the Holy Spirit speaking to us as individuals.
This too must be discerned and judged because we are fallen people
and we don't always hear the Holy Spirit right.
Word, that is, the things Godís says, is so powerful that it gets right
into the core of who we are. It
separates the soul and spirit within us.
It gets right into the joints and marrow of our bones.
Godís Word can get into a life more than any other words spoken
by any other person. His Word can get right into us and judge the thoughts
and attitudes of our hearts, something man cannot do.
This is what the New Testament is all about.
That is, our lives as Christians begin with the thoughts and
attitudes of our hearts. This
is where God wants to work within us.
He knows if He can get into our thought and attitudes, He can
change the way we live. All of
our outward actions are a result of the thoughts and attitude of our
hearts. Long before we
verbally hurt someone, we have been thinking such thoughts in our hearts.
The Old Testament dealt with external sins.
The New Testament thinking is to deal with the internal sins,
knowing that if the internal sins can be dealt with, the outwards sins
will not be a problem.
In verse 12 we see the distinction between soul and spirit. This distinction has been problematic and a source of debate for centuries. Is all of who we are a soul that is implied in Genesis 2:7 or are we body, soul, and spirit, that might be implied in 1 Timothy 5:23? Hebrew culture viewed humans as being a soul while Greek culture viewed humans as possessing a soul and spirit. I, at least at this moment, believe humans possess a soul. Both Old and New Testament speaks of people having a soul, not being a soul. Besides this, when it comes to the distinction between soul and spirit, if indeed there is one, things get a bit blurry.
Verse 13 carries on with the thinking of internal sins. God sees everything. He sees every thought, every feeling of the heart of man. Nothing can be covered over. Nothing can be hidden from God, so there is no use trying to hide from God, yet so often we act as if no one can see into the thoughts and attitude of our hearts. This is far from the case. God sees everything, and someday He will speak to us about it all. What will our response be on that day? The sins of those who have been redeemed are forgiven, but, as this verse states, we will have to give account of ourselves to the Lord Jesus some day.