It is possible for a person to be saved and destined for heaven and yet lead a miserable, defeated life here below. I believe that this exact description is why Hebrews 3-4 is written for us today. The Bible is clear that there are two distinct possibilities of Christian experience: defeat or victory. Consider a couple of passages that relate this in the Pauline epistles:
1 Corinthians 15:57-58
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
The book of Hebrews addresses that there is a maturity that should be attained in the believer’s life and this must be pursued. Consider later in the book of Hebrews 5:12. Christ spoke of this to the disciples when He was preparing to die on the cross and then ascend to heaven (John 15:11;16:24).
Rest is something that seems to be lacking today. With all the technological advantages, we seem to have put more into our schedule. We run from work, to children’s events, to school events, to extra vacation events, to shopping events and on and on the events seem to go. Over the last few years, we have tried to look at that with our church calendar in mind. We have shortened different events and then moved some events to combine and create some aspect of rest in the schedule. The concept of rest is something that this world searches for and longs for, but can truly only be found in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember this is the point of the book of Hebrews. There is so much turmoil, anxiety and discord, but Christ offers a better solution. Let’s consider this aspect of rest this evening.
This word rest is found 11 times in chapter 3 and 4 so obviously it is something that God wants us to think and understand. We need to come into God’s rest for our lives as a believer.
An Explanation of the Rests
Past Present Future
God’s Sabbath Rest
Submission Rest, 4:11 Heaven, 4:9
Israel’s Canaan Rest
Salvation Rest, 4:1-6, 10
God’s past rest and future promised rest are not dependent on anything that man can do or is to do. They rest on Christ’s finished work and Christ’s work which He is doing now – according to John 14. The second rest is a rest of service and the peace of victory; it is a present possibility and depends upon our labor and our faithfulness. This rest can be lost – “lest any of you should seem to come short of it.”
An exhortation to Enter into Rest
Let us Take Heed
Hebrews 3:12 (Listening) - This is a quote from Psalms 95:5-12
In this passage, the author indicates that there is a heart issue. This issue of the heart if not resolved will keep you from experiencing the rest that God wants for you here on this earth.
You see a progression of your heart in this passage.
How to gain a Hardened heart:
- Erring heart of Ignoring
- Evil heart of Unbelieving
- How does this happen?
- Instead of praising, they were pouting.
- Instead of worshiping the one true God, they worshiped other gods.
- Instead of looking ahead to the promised land, they looked back to Egypt.
- Instead of being thankful for God’s provision, protection and power, they provoked and grieved God.
Let us Fear
Hebrews 4:1 (Looking)
John Gill on this passage: “Let us therefore fear,.... Not with a fear of wrath and damnation; nor with a fear of diffidence and distrust of the power, grace, and goodness of God; but with a cautious fear, a godly jealousy, a careful circumspection, and watchfulness.”
Albert Barnes: “The kind of “fear” which is recommended here is what leads to caution and care. A man who is in danger of losing his life or health should be watchful; a seaman that is in danger of running on a lee-shore should be on his guard. So we who have the offer of heaven, and who yet are in danger of losing it, should take all possible precautions lest we fail of it.”
The practical side of this: Hebrews 12
- Look outwardly, Hebrews 12:1
- Look upwardly, Hebrews 12:2-4
- Look inwardly, Hebrews 12:5-15
Let us Labor (Laboring)
- Put in the work that needs to be done in order to gain the rest.
- Spy out the Land
- Conquer the Land
- Put God first
- Listen to God’s Voice
Unbelief is a besetting sin. It is interesting that in chapter 3, we see a tie to faith.
Both reference a title deed; something that you can lay your hands on. It is proof of ownership. The word has the idea of something that under girds.
It is one thing to trust God for salvation and quite another to surrender your will and life for daily guidance and service. The O.T. speaks of this often.
Psalm 16:9; Psalm 37:7
Rest in the Lord - Margin, “Be silent to the Lord.” The Hebrew word means to be mute, silent, still: Job_29:21; Lev_10:3; Lam_3:28. Hence, to be silent to anyone; that is, to listen to him in silence; and the idea in the phrase here, ““be silent to Jehovah,”” is that of waiting in silent patience or confidence for his interposition; or, in other words, of leaving the whole matter with him without being anxious as to the result.
This rest is available for the believer in this life also, but it is attained by exercising the muscle of faith. Faith is something that must be developed in this life. How does this tie in? Hebrews 3:19.
Unbelief is opposite of Faith. We must become a people of faith that can rest in the Lord’s way of operating.
Rest in the Lord and see Him do the work that is necessary.
It may not be on the mountain’s height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me;
But if by a still, small voice He calls
To paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
O'er mountain or plain or sea;
I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord,
I’ll be what You want me to be.
There’s surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth’s harvest fields so wide,
Where I may labor thru life’s short day
For Jesus the Crucified;
So, trusting my all unto Thy care--
I know Thou lovest me
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be. [Refrain]