Through the book of Hebrews: an exploration and discussion—Chp. 4
Review key points in chapter 3:
• As Christians we are to be set apart (holy) to serve our holy God.
• Jesus is God and the builder/creator of all things.
• We as true believers (God’s house) must prove to be genuine by persevering in the faith until the end.
• The Israelites did not persevere in the faith and were not able to enter God’s rest because of their unbelief.
• Just like the Israelites, many professing Christians will not enter God’s (eternal life) rest.
• As Christians we need each other and are called to encourage one another daily so we do not become hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
The promised land was physically Canaan, a temporary, earthly rest gained under Joshua that pointed to a rest that is spiritual and eternal in Jesus Christ.
v. 1 What does “the promise of entering his rest still stands” mean to us today? Was it different for the Israelites? “…let us be careful…” can also be translated “let us fear” What does the verse say we should be fearful of?
The writer is warning his readers and us that there was a generation to whom the rest was promised, but they missed it because of unbelief. Are there generations that miss the promise today?
v. 2 How do I ensure myself that I won’t miss out on the promise of eternal life? The Israelites heard what God was saying, but they failed to do what?
v. 3 We who have believed________________________ Does this mean at the time of genuine trust/faith in our Lord we enter God’s rest? Yes. God’s rest as far as salvation is immediate and certain. We can know with confidence that we are going to heaven because of God’s grace through faith we are saved. Eph 2:8-9.
The Israelites who heard God’s promise concerning the land of Canaan refused to believe. Therefore, “So I declared in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” “God in his anger closed the doors of Canaan in the face of that whole generation of Israelites (Nu 14:21-35). The readers of Hebrews (and even people today) faced a similar danger spiritually (NIV study Bible notes).
“And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. v. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: ‘And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.’
The writer is making it clear to us that God’s rest has been a reality since the creation of the world. It is “God’s rest” that we share today through our Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, “God’s rest” is illustrated for us as a reality since the seventh day of creation when God rested from his creative work.
v. 5 “They” refers to those who refused to believe. Again, even today many will continue to refuse to trust our Lord and enter His rest. However, v. 6 “It still remains that some will enter that rest…” However,
those who heard the “gospel” the good news of entering Canaan through the power of God, failed to enter because of their disobedience–they did not trust God.
v. 7 Psalm 95:7-8 the writer of Hebrews is demonstrating for us that there was still an offer being made to enter into rest long after the time of Joshua. “Today,” so, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
v. 8 It was impossible for Joshua to give complete and lasting “rest.” Therefore,
v. 9 “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;”
v. 10 As we enter “God’s rest” we abide in Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me Gal 2:20. Therefore, I can stop trying to work for my salvation or do anything to gain approval from our merciful and gracious God. We rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
And, as God rested from creation, we as Christians are new creations in Christ and we have all we need to enter His rest. We can’t earn more or receive less the love of God because of our behaviors.
v. 11 “…make every effort to enter that rest,…” Again, not an effort of works, but of faith that allows us to experience rest. An active ABIDING in Christ.
v. 12 The word of God is _____________________________ Has the word penetrated your heart? How so?
v. 13 What is hidden from God’s sight? What is laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account? Should true believers be nervous about this? Is it scary that God sees everything you do? cf. 1 Cor 4:5
v. 14 Since we have a great high priest…Jesus the Son of God, let us ___________________________.
v. 15-16 Jesus can do what when we are weak? How was Jesus tempted? Because Jesus was like us, yet without sin, we can approach the throne of grace how? What do we receive when we confidently approach the throne?
“Many have pointed out that the Sinless One knows the force of temptation in a way that we who sin do not. We give in before the temptation has fully spent itself; only he who does not yield knows its full force” (Morris, pg. 46).
Expositor’s Bible Commentary (1981) Frank E. Gaebelein (ed.) Vol. 12
New International Version (1985) Study Bible.