A Rest for the People of God, part 2

Hebrews 4:1–13

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         The “pastoral” author of Hebrews continues his or her exhortation, which is essentially an “encouraging word.”

2.         The focus is on the “rest,” on the one hand the rest of being in the Promised Land under Moses’ leadership, and the “rest” the believer in Jesus has.

3.         In Moses’ time, those who escaped from Egypt, a type of being in sin and slavery, rebelled once in the Wilderness and as a result died there and never entered their rest, the Promised Land. Joshua (and the name is the same as the name Jesus) brought those who survived, those under 20 years of age, into Canaan, the Promised Land. All this is a foreshadowing of what would come centuries later by means of salvation in Jesus the Messiah.

4.         For the Jewish Christians being addressed in our book Hebrews, it is clear that they may enter into their rest, the Sabbath rest, by seeking to enter that rest.

5.         It is plain, in the use of various verbs in our passage, that the author is strongly encouraging his or her readers to continue to seek the “Sabbath rest for the people of God.” The author will not know who is genuinely born again and who is no in the congregation (s), being addressed.

6.         The pastoral plea is: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest.” (verse 11) This reminds us of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5:
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail to meet the test!” Paul fully expects a “yes” answer.

7.         Verse 12 in our passage is one of the most difficult in Scripture. Here the author uses three poetic and literally devices commonly used in that era, about division being impossible apart from the Spirit, or Logos, of God. Meaning that God knows who belongs to Him and who does not. The author is confident that the readers will come to see they are at rest. 

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