Hebrews 3:7-4:16
If God's personal state of rest is available to us, then we have every reason and all the help we need to obey.
Published September 8th, 2022
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Main point summary
Hebrews 3-4
Main point summary
If you hear God's voice don't be hardened by sin, but strive to enter his rest by drawing near to his presence for help.
Hebrews 3-4
Hebrews 3:7-4:16
Therefore , as the Holy Spirit says,
And SO (because of the opportunity of being lead by a greater than Moses) just like the Holy Spirit said in Scripture
b “Today,
While today is today (ie. RIGHT NOW)
if you hear his voice,
if it is indeed true that you are hearing God speak to you (it is always possible)
do not harden your hearts
then the most important response does not have to do with understanding what he is saying, but not hardening your heart to it.
as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
It's just like in the great Numbers 13-14 rebellion, the desert testing,
where your fathers put me to the test
in which they refused to believe me until I passed their unpassable tests of me
and saw my works for c forty years.
and they ended up failing my test of them, resulting in them spending 40 years in wilderness watching me work wonders.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
So, because of that, I was stirred up to anger by that generation
and said,
and declared,
‘They always go astray in their heart;
They have reached the point at which their hearts will not love me and trust me;
they have not known my ways.’
its not just a season of trial or backsliding, they really have refused my counsel, law, and love in their lifestyle,
d As I swore in my wrath,
And so , just like I swore when incensed to anger in times past, I made this decision,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
"They shall not enter the rest of promise which I have for them, in the good land that I have prepared for them."
Take care, brothers,
Beware and be warned, brothers of God's family,
lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart,
so that none of you might end up having the blindspot of an evil heart that refuses to believe God
leading you to fall away from e the living God.
which would of course lead you to depart from your relationship with the God who lives Himself, a relationship that you have so preciously obtained.
But f exhort one another every day,
As opposed to letting each other go down that path, be watching each other and pushing each other toward faith
as long as it is called “today,”
doing so today, since that's what it says in the passage--"TODAY,"
that none of you may be hardened by g the deceitfulness of sin.
so that none of you will end up hardened and not know it.
For we have come to share in Christ,
Because look! You and I have become privileged partakers of the abundant life that Christ lives in with his Father,
h if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
only if we keep believing what we have started to believe with confident resoluteness all the way to the end of our lives, including today.
As it is said,
(While it is presently being said,
b “Today,
"This day, today right now, (I think the uncomfortable feeling of direct application should be coming through with this word)
if you hear his voice,
if indeed you are hearing God speak to you
do not harden your hearts
then it is of utmost importance that you don't shut up your will, but that you open yourself and become willing to be and do and think and believe everything He says. (You don't have to wait to know what it is before you are able to say, "if it is really of God, then, of course, I will do it)--
as in the rebellion.”
don't shut it up as they did years ago in that rebellion. (It is rebellion to harden your heart like that).)
For i who were those
Let me explain this idea of perseverance in faith for the people of God: Who were the ones who
who heard
even though they heard all the words Moses was given from God to say,
and yet rebelled?
yet still ended up not persevering, instead rebelling in the middle of the wilderness?
Was it not j all those who left Egypt led by Moses?
It was the ones who had the special privilege of being identified as among those of the great Exodus, one of the greatest things that God ever did. (It didn't guarantee them God's rest.)
And with whom was he provoked for forty years?
Furthermore, who ended up angering God so much that he left them in the wilderness wandering for 40 years?
Was it not with those who sinned,
It was those who hardened their heart and refused God's will, just like I'm telling you not to do,
k whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
resulting in their bodies rotting away, their sin guaranteeing that they would not enter God's rest.
And to whom did he swear that l they would not enter his rest,
Final question. To whom did he guarantee through an oath, through swearing, that they would not enter his rest, the rest of the promised land?
but to those who were disobedient?
It was to disobedient ones, ones who would sin like the sin I'm warning you not to do.
So we see that m they were unable to enter
So let me draw out the conclusion from this logic: their later lack of confidence in what God had said, on a specific day, even after they had experienced such rich spiritual experiences and privileges, still caused them to miss God's intended end for them, the rest that he had promised--
because of unbelief.
because of their disbelief in GOD'S WORDS.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands,
Now since the opportunity is still open for us to enter the rest that they didn't enter.
let us fear
we therefore need to be afraid, taking it very seriously right now
lest any of you should seem n to have failed to reach it.
so that none of us miss out on such an opportunity.
For good news came to us
Because we have received good news of a good promise, worthy to be believed
just as to them,
Just like they did
but the message they heard did not benefit them,
But they surprisingly missed out on the opportunity to have the blessing associated with what they heard
because o they were not united by faith with those who listened. 1
because the message did not join together in inner matrimony with the faith of their heart.
For we who have believed enter that rest,
For on the other hand we, the ones who who have believed are continuously entering that rest right now.
as he has said,
that is, just like it is quoted once again
p “As I swore in my wrath,
"Just like I swore when incensed to anger in times past, I made this decision,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
"They shall not enter the rest of promise which I have for them, represented by the good land that I have prepared for them."
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Now he said this, not primarily referring to the promised land, but to a state in which he himself actually exists. He said they would not enter HIS personal rest, even though His works were finished and He ceased activity on the 7th day.
For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way:
Now let me explain these two concepts: It is said of the Sabbath rest,
q “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
"And God ceased from his activity and rested on the 7th day from his works."
And again in this passage he said,
And lets compare that to this passage where it says,
r “They shall not enter my rest.”
"They shall not join me in the resting state that I am currently in."
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it,
Now let's draw some inferences from all this. Since God is still truly offering His own personal rest to some today, now, in this time,
and those who formerly received the good news s failed to enter
and also since the ones who didn't enter the promised land actually failed to join God in his rest.
because of disobedience,
because of their refusal to obey God's command to go into the promised land,
again he appoints a certain day, “Today,”
Therefore designates another day, calling it "Today" (which could be any day as long as it is Today!)
saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
as quoted by David so many days after the original day of disobedience
t “Today,
if you hear his voice,
if it is indeed true that you are hearing God speak to you (it is always possible)
do not harden your hearts.”
then the most important response does not have to do with understanding what he is saying, but not hardening your heart to it."
For if Joshua had given them rest,
Now this is the last piece, in order to expel all doubt that there is still a rest for the people of God available on the day that you read this passage and believe it. You might be thinking, "well the 1st generation didn't enter, but the 2nd did, and therefore that was the fulfillment of the promise of rest." But if that were true, if Joshua had really given the people the full rest,
God 1 would not have spoken of another day
then God would not have said that there is another day for people to enter rest
later on.
in the future.
So then , there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
So, putting all these pieces together, and coming back to our starting point in v.1, there truly is still an opportunity to enter the state of Sabbath rest that God Himself dwells in, that the people of Israel were offered,
for whoever has entered God’s rest has also u rested from his works
because all who join God in his own personal rest are also ceasing from works (I take this in the sense of works-based righteousness, or works-based self-evaluation)
as God did from his.
just like God has rested from his works on the seventh day.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest,
Seeing that this is all true, let us wrestle and push and run and fight, not toward accomplishment of works, but toward an assurance that we are entering and do enter daily that rest,
so v that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
so that we do not fall by failing to obey God and allow God and watch His wonders.
For w the word of God is living and x active,
Now let me explain what has been happening to you. The word of God is alive and it is acting all the time,
y sharper than any z two-edged sword,
and it cuts down deep into the heart, like a professionally designed surgical tool
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,
piercing your outer flesh, and dividing between the various parts of your inner man, showing the one from the other in way that you cannot do yourself,
of joints and of marrow,
just like a surgical tool that can distinguish between the connection points of bones, and the marrow inside the bones.
and a discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The point is that the word is alive and active in order to exercise discernment on your desires, thoughts, intentions, and will, showing your heart for what it is.
And b no creature is hidden from his sight,
Now combine that knowledge with this, nothing is hidden from God's sight, not the deepest intentions of the heart
but all are c naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
but every person, down to their core, is open and exposed (even if we believe ourselves to be hidden and secret) to the one who to whom we have to give our final word.
Since then we have d a great high priest e who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God,
But now, since we have a great mediator, who stands between us, to give account on our behalf, Jesus, who proved his priesthood by passing the great divide, as a priest who enters the Holy Place, who is also, in the core of his being the only begotten Son of God,
f let us hold fast our confession.
let us keep confessing the truths that we hold so dear! This is how we enter that rest , we keep believing in him, and in what he has taught us, no matter what!
For we do not have a high priest g who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
Because a Mediator isn't one who has no ability to understand what you are going through when you are weak,
but one who in every respect has been d tempted as we are,
but is one who knows very intimately the kind of temptation that we are in, having endured it himself,
h yet without sin.
and yet never having given into it (which makes Him all the more understanding of the burden of it).
i Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
Now, because he is this kind of priest, then let us draw near to him with confidence. This is how we strive to enter rest, by staying near, by abiding. What is he using his authority to do after all? With all the authority of a King, he has commanded grace upon you,
that we may receive mercy
So go, so you can receive the pity of God upon all your weaknesses and blindspots,
and find grace to help in time of need.
and find God gracious never ending giving of Himself for helping whenever you have need, and more and more as you realize how much you need Him.
just as the Israelites were in Moses only if they kept believing.
This is a different them than the "them" first spoken of at the beginning of the passage, becuase at the beginning it was about the dead ones in the wilderness who didn't get to enter rest (promised land), but here it is talking about the alive ones who didn't rebel who did get enter with Joshua into the promised land, and yet he's saying here that even they didn't enter rest.
Don't harden your heart
don't be hardened by sin
Because we have a status with Christ, if we stay confident
When it is said, they didn't stay confident
belief=confidence, thus the connection with 19. Thus - rest=confidence
while εν τω λεγεσθαι it's one of those preposition plus infinitive combos. It's almost like he's saying, 14a and b are true "as long at still really says what it says in 15b-16c."
I really believe this is a manner. How to strive, how to fear, how to take care that you don't have a deceitfully wicked heart.
Take care not to be unbelieving (because we have entered Christ already only if we keep believing)
Is this a restatement? I don't feel like the first part is, or perhaps it is but it is an explanation of what he has just been doing with the word, or seeing the word do through his message. But the manner really comes from the second part. He has been giving these commands throughout - "take care" "exhort one another" "fear" "strive to enter rest." Here it seems like he unpacks it with very practical action. Two actions - "hold fast our confession." and "draw near to the throne of grace." These seem to be the ways that we are to obey the more conceptual and spiritual command to "enter rest."
The stative aspect of this verb is significant. It's looking at things the consequences, or results, of an action. So we have and continue to have come to a relationship with Christ. (But this is a bit different than entering rest, which seems to be presented as future). And the explanation given below doesn't cover future, but past action. The point of the Numbers 13 story and the Q&A below is to give explanation of why our past spiritual experiences or priveleged positions don't give any garuntee to our entering of rest. It is our current faith, (today) that we need to focus on. That is the point of the first section, but I think in 4:1 it makes a new point, "since a promise remains, let us fear." Now he's causing us not to look back, but forward.
Compare with 14a. This is a new point with a new section, and a new ground. The idea here is not what we have become (Christ's/Moses'), nor what we might suffer (hardening, missing the rest), but what lies before us (today) and what we have the opportunity to enter into (rest). So the whole argument is, "don't be hardened, but obey and enter rest). Thus Neg-pos from 3:12-4:11.
The question on the Hebrew believer's mind must have been something like, "Do I need to focus on current faith, if I have come to partake of Christ?"
This "therefore" applies to 7a.
The Holy Spirit says, Today don't harden your heart to God like they did and didn't enter God's rest.
Be concerned for yourselves so that you sin doesn't harden you.
Because you are Christ's only if you hold to your original faith.
Let us take this seriously, so that you don't fail to enter rest.
Because faithlessness took the benefit from them, but our faith enters GOD'S OWN rest.
That's why, in Psalm 95, he appoints another day in which people can enter rest.
Therefore there remains a seventh day rest from work for God's people.
Therefore strive to enter that rest.
Let me explain what's happening. God's word is for operation of the soul, and God sees all.
But now let's enter rest by keeping our confession and draw near for his gracious help.
The two grounds in 6a and 6b both refer to the main points of 2 and 3-4. Thus 2-4 is definitely a ground of 7a.
This is the main premise of the argument argued for from v.2-9. Is there still a rest for us? The answer is v.2-9.
There is no time of need like right now Lord. I have not been at rest, I have acted faithlessly. Since last year I began to act in faith, and it has lead me here. I am going to continue to act in faith. We have made the break, we have kept the fellowship. For some reason the working relationship was not working.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.