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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

April 18, 2012

Hebrews 4:10-16

I.     Verse 10. The “rest” into which we enter is God’s rest, God’s Sabbath rest, such as we find in Genesis 2:2, the rest God entered after He had finished His work of creation. It is this rest into which the ancient Israelites failed to enter, for “My rest” is God’s rest, God’s Sabbath rest. This is the rest some failed to enter, but which remains available to us today, a rest received by faith (4:3-6). We need to believe God and enter this rest, rather than to refuse to believe and fail to enter, as did the ancient Israelites. This “rest” must be more than merely entering Canaan because Joshua did lead the second generation of Israelites into the Promised Land, and yet many years later the psalmist spoke of a rest that was still available, a greater rest. And that rest was God’s “Sabbath rest,” a rest still available, a rest of ceasing from futile works in an effort to earn God’s favor. The one who has entered God’s rest has set aside striving in the flesh, and has trusted in the work God has finished in Christ.

II.    The good news of being in Christ, is that we have entered the rest of God which allows us to trust God with every aspect of our lives. We don’t have to worry, but rest and trust in God. God is in control and it is his work that sustains us. There is no need to fear, but all that is needed is to trust. Because of Christ’s work, we have only to rest in God. We have a rest that has been granted to us because of the work done by Christ on the cross. Our "work" is to believe in Jesus Christ (John 6:28-29). Second, good works are the anticipated result of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (and that faith is a gift of God, not the result of our works). Faith is not the result of our works; works is the result of the faith God gives us: (Ephesians 2:8-10). We are to cease from our labors in the power of the flesh, for they will never please God. Instead, we are to “work out our salvation” in the power which He provides. (Ephesians 3:16), (Philippians 2:12-13), (Philippians 4:13), (Colossians 1:9-12), and (Hebrews 13:9).

III.     In verse 11-13, the author challenged his readers to “make every effort to enter that rest”. We cease from all efforts in the flesh, but we actively strive to do God’s will in the power of the Spirit. Thus, “resting from our (fleshly) works” is not a contradiction to “striving to enter God’s rest” by completing the work He has given us to do. Verse 12 begins with the word that connects verses 12 and 13 to the exhortation of verse 11. There are very good reasons why God’s people should “make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.” If an entire generation of Israelites failed to enter “that rest,” then there must be very real danger here. We may read of the failure of the Israelites to enter their rest and take the warning too lightly. We need to listen to Paul’s words of warning, based upon the failure of that generation (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). The issue was then and is now is failure to believe the Word of God. The word of God came to the ancient Israelites in the wilderness, but they failed to trust the word of God and disobeyed God. The word has come in the flesh as the Son, and if we don’t believe the son we have failed to believe the word of God (John1). The Hebrew writer has already shown that God spoke his word in the past through angels and prophets (Hebrews 1:1), but in the last days he spoke through the Son, the living word. The Hebrew writer declares that the word of God is living, and this living word knows all and sees all. Our Lord Jesus became the living Word. He had life in Himself, and as the Creator, He was the source of all life. His Word is alive. It is not something dead, which we have to energize; it is powerful and active (Romans 1:16) and (1 Peter 1:23). Jesus is also the Light of the World, and thus at His incarnation, He exposed the darkness. The Word of God exposes our sin so that we know we are in desperate need of help (4:12-13). And then this same Word that exposes our sin urges us to draw near to Jesus as our Great High Priest, who offers us mercy and grace in our time of need (4:14-16).

IV.    Verses 14-15. The beauty of God is that God has shown us how to experience his rest. We can experience this rest by placing our faith in the Word of God, Jesus the Christ, the Living Word. Our faith in the Word also allows us to enter the rest of God, and the work that Christ does allows us to continually rest in God, because Jesus is constantly working on our behalf as our High Priest. Our high priest is great; that is, He has the power and the authority to get things done. We draw near to One who desires to help, who understands our weakness and sympathizes with us (4:15). He can sympathize, not because he wrestled with sin and lost, but because He experienced temptation and prevailed. The Son, however, was tested to the ultimate degree, far beyond what we could endure, and He did endure without failing. This is why we can hold fast to our confession and draw near to our High Priest – because He alone can keep us from falling.

V.    Verse 16. “Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help” (Hebrews 4:16). Why the emphasis here on approaching our High Priest confidently or boldly? I think there are two reasons. The first has already been disclosed in verses 14 and 15. We can approach Him confidently because He has the power and the authority to help us. We are confident in His ability to come to our aid. He is our “great” High Priest, the Son of God, who has passed through the heavens and reigns supreme. He is able to help. But there is another reason why men are reluctant to ask for help. We may be hesitant to ask for help because we may fear that God will rub our noses in our weakness and failure. We’ve all experienced this when dealing with men. We make the mistake of asking the wrong person for help and then they make us pay by berating and belittling us. When we approach the “throne of grace,” we are assured of receiving grace whenever we need help.


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