Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hebrews 4 - Enter Your Rightful Rest

LINK: Hebrews 4 (memorize Hebrews 4:11-12)

BACKGROUND 


Hebrews 4-10 starts the section that highlights Christ as the High Priest with a focus on ministry. 


We did a bit of review of the Old Testament yesterday:

The rest [Is that a pun?] of the chapter contains a warning that the Hebrews not harden their hearts like Israel did in the wilderness. Psalm 95:7-11 is quoted here. It refers to the failure of Israel (with the exception of Moses, Caleb, and Joshua) to believe and their disobedience that resulted in the 40 years of wilderness wandering (see Numbers 13 & 14). Because of their hardness, Israel did not enter the rest in the Promised Land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 12:8-12).
"Rest" is intertwined with the word "inheritance" in the Old Testament. God wanted His people to move past the wilderness and into their inheritance in the land of Canaan. Their unbelief kept them from moving forward, they missed their inheritance, and died in that wilderness. Ultimately, the next generation moved forward to their inheritance in Canaan, and God gave them rest on every side (Joshua 21:43-45; Hebrews 3:11). 

The Old Testament Canaan represents our New Testament spiritual inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:3, 11, 15-23). Joshua led the next generation into the Promised Land, but Christ (who is way better than Joshua) will bring us into our eternal rest. Read the verses in Ephesians 1 to better understand the concept of inheritance. 


"Rest" also refers to the Sabbath rest; when God rested on the seventh day from His work of Creation (Genesis 2:2; Hebrews 4:4). The Sabbath rest pictures our rest in Christ through salvation (Hebrews 4:3; Matthew 11:28) and the Canaan rest pictures the rest we have on every side as we claim our inheritance in Christ (Hebrews 4:11-13). There is also that future, eternal rest in heaven! In Hebrews 4:9, the Greek word is sabbatismos:

Here the sabbath–keeping is the perpetual sabbath rest to be enjoyed uninterruptedly by believers in their fellowship with the Father and the Son, in contrast to the weekly Sabbath under the Law. Because this sabbath rest is the rest of God Himself, 4:10, its full fruition is yet future, though believers now enter into it. In whatever way they enter into Divine rest, that which they enjoy is involved in an indissoluble relation with God.  
(Vine's Expository Dictionary Of Old and New Testament Words: Volume 2, p. 288)
The writer of Hebrews exhorts them to exert themselves in entering that rest and not fail to do so through unbelief like the disobedient Israelites! They could be diligent (as opposed to drifting and wandering, Hebrews 2:1-3) by diligently following and believing the living and active Word of God (Romans 10:17). The Word of God penetrates and exposes our hearts, and we need daily heart surgery! 

The author concludes Hebrews 4 with a "therefore," but I am going to leave you in suspense and save that for tomorrow since it ties in with Hebrews 5!!! 


Stay tuned!


In review, Christ is better than the prophets and angels (Hebrews 1), Moses (Hebrews 3), and Joshua (Hebrews 4)!


REFLECTION

I am sort of passionate about people getting past their wilderness experiences and entering into their promised inheritance. There are so many people who are saved and delivered from the bondage of sin through salvation in Christ, but they seem to be drifting in the wilderness.


I am not going to lie; I have been discouraged by it lately. I do listening prayer with people where they hear truth from God, but sometimes, they just do not want to believe it, receive it, and run with it right into the end zone of the promised rest God has for them. Instead they function in unbelief of God's goodness in their day-to-day experience. There is such joy to be found in the Promised Land though, and I am sad about that. 


God had a better land for the Israelites beyond the bondage of Egypt; a better land beyond the shifting sands of the Arabian wilderness. This better land was free for the taking and a place of stability and rest on every side, but they doubted God's Word and would rather complain about things than believe.


How ironic that last week, instead of studying about Moses and listening to the lesson God had in His Word about this very subject, people wanted to "just pray" rather than study God's Word. I was so sad. 


Do not get me wrong: I LOVE PRAYER, but sometimes, prayer times can devolve into dump sessions with very little prayer and very little getting down to the heart issues. That is why, after leading Bible studies, prayer, and accountability groups for over 30 years, I prefer to have prayer times in response to time in God's Word, letting God use it to do "spiritual surgery" on our hearts and responding back to Him in prayer after He speaks to us through His Word. 


So how about you? Are your tires stuck in the desert sand? Do you need a tow? God has one for you but it means being diligent to pursue Him with all that is within you, and that includes pursuing Him in His Word. 


APPLICATION


Are you being diligent to study and apply the Word of God? 

Of course, God sees our hearts (Heb. 4:13); but we do not always know what is there (Jer. 17:9). God uses the Word to enable us to see the sin and unbelief in our own hearts. The Word exposes our hearts; and then, if we trust God, the Word enables our hearts to obey God and claim His promises. This is why each believer should be diligent to apply himself to hear and heed God’s Word. In the Word we see God, and we also see how God sees us. We see ourselves as we really are. This experience enables us to be honest with God, to trust His will, and to obey Him.  
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Heb 3:7, p. 290)
What is your "I will" statement for today? Who are you going to tell about it so that they can hold you accountable? 

PRAYER


Lord, Thank You for clarifying for me some feelings I have had for the past week. Help me to continue to be diligent to be in Your Word because I need spiritual surgery every day! Help me to enter that promised rest You have for me on a 24/7/365 basis because of Jesus! Forgive me for "ceasing to pray" for those people You have given me to mentor. May they come into the true rest that only You can give. Amen. 
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