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Scripture reading – Hebrews 3; Hebrews 4
We continue our journey through the Epistle to the Hebrews, and find many of the great doctrines of our faith recorded in chapters 3 and 4. We noticed in Hebrews 1 the preeminence of Christ (1:1-3), His superiority over the angels (1:4-6), and His divine nature (1:7-14). In Hebrews 2, we considered God’s call for men to hear and heed the truths of God’s Word (2:1-5). Hebrews 2 also declares the majesty of Christ, whose death and resurrection made possible our salvation and sanctification (2:6-13).
Finally, Christ descended from heaven, and became “flesh and blood… that through [His] death He [Christ] might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (2:14). Though never less than God, Christ “took on him the seed of Abraham,” and became man (2:16). Through His death, and resurrection, believers are delivered from the “fear of death [and] their lifetime subject to bondage” (being slaves to sin; 2:15a). Jesus Christ became “a merciful and faithful high priest” (2:17), Who is compassionate and merciful, because He was also tempted and tested (2:18), yet without sin.
The Superiority of Christ Compared to Moses (3:1-6)
Understanding Christ’s sinless character, the author declared Christ to be the superior “Apostle and High Priest” (3:1). Now, the Hebrew readers of the 1st century would have wondered, superior to whom? The answer–superior to Moses, the great law giver, in every way (3:2-6).
Moses was esteemed for his faithfulness to the LORD (Numbers 12:7-8); however, even he was not without fault or sin. Jesus Christ, however, was faithful in everything (John 8:29; 17:4-5). While Moses was honored by His brethren, Christ was more glorious as the Divine Apostle and High Priest (3:3). Likening the universe to a house, Christ was identified as the Builder\Creator of the house, while Moses was a resident of that which He built (3:3b-4). Though Moses was “faithful in all his house, as servant;” Christ was more, for He is “a Son over His own house” (the congregation of God’s people, 3:5-6).
Longing for Rest, But Finding None (3:7-19)
Notice “rest” becomes the subject of the balance of chapter 3, and is the primary theme of chapter 4. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (3:7), the writer of Hebrews warned men of the danger of hardening their hearts (refusing to believe God’s revelation, and rejecting Christ). Those who reject the LORD, were warned they would not find rest for their souls (3:7-12).
A point of explanation: Some might suppose “rest” is a cessation of physical activity, but that “rest” is not the subject of this passage. For instance: A man’s body might be at rest, while his heart is ensnared by racing thoughts, emotions, and sorrows. Sinners long for rest, but find none apart from God. They seek to quiet the restlessness of their souls with psychology, and psychotherapy. They turn to recreation, amusements, drugs, alcohol, and gross immorality to dull their restless spirit. Tragically, their hearts are hardened “through the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13), and they find no rest. No wonder the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers, “exhort one another daily” (3:13a).
Hebrews 4 – An Invitation and Promise of Rest
Briefly, “rest” is the primary theme of chapter 4 (vss. 1, 3-5, 8-11). Notice the rest promised to those who feared(revered) the Lord (4:1), were people of faith (having heard and believed the Gospel, 4:2-10), and fought(“laboured…to enter into that rest,” 4:11).
Closing thoughts – I hesitate to conclude today’s devotional, but with your blessing, I will take liberty to draw your attention to Hebrews 4:11.
An English proverb states, “Good things come to those who wait.” While that adage might be a useful theory for some, it does not apply in the spiritual realm of a man’s soul. Men tend to go to extremes in pursuing rest. Some have the mistaken notion that rest is inactivity, even passivity. Others work themselves into a frenzy, and call it ministry. Let’s close and consider what we have learned: Three things are required to find the rest God promises His children: We are to fear God (4:1), have faith in Him and His promises (4:2-10), and fight (labor) that we might enter into His rest (4:11).
The life of the believer requires diligence, and is often exhausting. No wonder Paul exhorted Timothy, “2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2a).
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