Title: Find Rest for Your Soul
Text: Hebrews 3:14 -4:16
Date: October 1-2, 2016
The Book of Hebrews, one of the most important books of the Bible and it's written to Hebrews or Jews but, in particular, Jewish believers in Jesus Christ and many believed they're in the city of Jerusalem, the birthplace of Christianity. But, it's now a church in trouble. They are struggling because they're being drawn back into Judaism, back into the ways of the Old Testament, into the laws of Moses.
And so, the writer here, he writes them for several very important things. First of all, he wants to show them Jesus, to refresh their heart and their mind, to understand who Jesus is. Now, you see Jesus in the Book of Hebrews like in no other book of the Bible. He showed them that He is, the supremacy of Christ over angels. They have this big view of angels, you know. The supremacy of Christ over Moses. Oh, He is the fulfillment of the laws of Moses in the Old Testament. He is higher than them because He is the fulfillment of them. And in fact, he said, "God formerly spoke through the prophets in many portions and in many ways but today," this is really key, "today He speaks through His Son. Heir of all things, Creator of the world, Who holds all things together by the power of His hand and might." This is a revelation of Jesus Christ and it's an amazing thing.
Secondly, he's going to write to warn them on the dangers of unbelief. Now, we're going to see that in these verses that we are going to look at today. Finally, not only does he warn them about the dangers of unbelief. He then draws them to faith. He strengthens their faith. You see some of the chapters of faith in this book are like no other place. I mean, this is just an encouragement to have a greater, stronger faith and you really see that in these verses that we are going to look at today because in Chapter 3 and 4, he reminds them of one of Israel's great failures.
Now, why is he going to remind them of that? Because we can learn a great lesson from their failure. It was a failure of faith. They tested God in the wilderness, remember? They spent 400 years in Egypt held in bondage and slavery. God set them free miraculously. They spent 40 years in the wilderness and the desert and it was in that time, that period where they tested God, they hardened their hearts by this lack of faith and it was a turning point in the history of Israel. Such was their failure. Because of that lack of faith, because they hardened their hearts and they would not take God when God spoke, when God moved upon them, that entire generation, this is key now, that entire generation died in the wilderness. Only two of them, Joshua and Caleb, entered into the Promised Land. Not only that, they did not enter into His rest.
Now, the meaning and significance of God's rest is extremely important, it's a major theme. Many do not understand the significance of the idea of God's rest. It goes all the way back and starts, all the way back, in Genesis. God created six days and rested on the seventh day and thus, gave Israel the idea of the Sabbath, of the day of rest. But it's not a day to sleep in or to get extra hours of sleep or to restore or to... even if you have revitalized relationships to the Lord. It's so much more than that. There's so much deeper. It is a shadow of something far greater than that. Many do not understand that. It's a theme that runs from Genesis, frankly, to Revelation. It's so critical for us to understand because it contains the promise of eternal life. The idea of rest is the idea of eternal life. But not just that. It has everything to do with the victorious lives that God intends for us to live right here and right now.
All right. Let us read it. Chapter 3, we begin in verse 14. “We have become partakers of Christ.” By the way, just a reminder, we're going to cover all the other verses on Wednesday, our Wednesday Study. It's so important. So, he tells us “we have become partakers of Christ if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. While it is said, today if you hear His voice.” Now notice that phrase. It is a very key phrase to understanding the Book of Hebrews, right there, that phrase. Today is the key word. Today. Today. Just like He said to them. “Today, if you hear His voice.” He's saying it to us. “Today, if you hear His voice.” How do you hear His voice? God speaks through His Son. That is what he is saying to us. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, like they did when they provoked Me.” For who provoked Him when they had heard. Indeed, was it not those who came out of Egypt led by Moses. And with whom was He angry those 40 years? Was it not those who sinned whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they should not enter into His rest? Was it not those who were disobedient?
I. Soften Your Heart when He Speaks
And so, we see that they were not able to enter into that rest because of unbelief. How important is faith? It's everything to God. It's everything here and that's an important reason for us to grasp these verses. See, let's look at those. I want to look at the other ones later but those right there. God is now speaking to us. He speaks to us through His Son. Don't harden your heart like they did. When He speaks, the idea, soften your heart when He speaks.
Long ago, God spoke through the prophets in many portions and in many ways. These days, He speaks. He sends forth His only begotten Son with the message of His heart. Listen. See, when Israel was held captive there in Egypt God heard their cries. He sent Moses to confront Pharaoh to release the people of Israel from slavery but Pharaoh's response, very interesting, classic response. This is Exodus Chapter 5:2, Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey and let Israel go? I don't know the Lord. And besides that, I will not let Israel go.” I don't know the Lord, why should I listen to His voice?
Israel did know the Lord. We do know the Lord. Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Lord." If you have heard the words of Jesus you have heard the words of the Father. We do know the Lord. He reveals Himself to Israel through the prophets in and it says in many portion and in many ways. It delivered Israel through the miracle of those plagues that He brought into against Egypt. Then He miraculously delivered them through the Red Sea.
He did a miracle for them in the desert every single day. Every day, there was a miracle. You say "Really? What was it?" How do you feed 2 million plus people in the desert? Miracle. Manna would fall like dew and they would go out every morning and they would harvest, pick up what they need and they would prepare, they would cook and eat it, all kinds of recipes, no doubt, came out. You can make “bamanna” bread, for example. All kinds of things you can eat out of this. And it was good. I mean, it was good. It tasted good. The Scripture tells us it tasted like coriander seed with honey. In other words, it tasted like Krispy Kreme donuts. But, in contrast to Krispy Kreme donuts, they were good for you. It's healthy, nutritious, tasty and it was a miracle every single day.
But what did they do in response? They grumbled against it. They grumbled. Why did we ever leave Egypt? Oh, we remember the fish that we used to eat for free in Egypt. Oh, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlics... oh the good old days when we were slaves in Egypt. There's a problem here. We want more. We were tired of this manna. We're tired of this manna. We're tired of miracles every day, apparently. We want meat. We want something real to eat. Because, do you really? Really?
You can have quail. Oh, you can have quail. Numbers 11:19-20. God responded, "But you shall eat not 1 day, nor 2 days, nor 5 days, nor 10 days, nor 20 days, but a whole month until it comes out of your nostrils." How do you have quail coming out of your nostrils? By throwing it up. You're going to have so much of it, it will become loathsome to you, He says, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you. And you have walked before Him saying, "Why did we ever leave Egypt?"
A. Take care not to have an unbelieving heart
See, instead of learning from what happened, they hardened their hearts and this is the lesson that the writer of Hebrews wants us to take hold of. This is what he says in this chapter. Take care not to have an unbelieving heart. How important is faith? It's everything here. God is speaking His heart through His Son. When you hear His voice, take care not to have an unbelieving heart. What is that famous verse? Revelations 3:20. We've seen it many times. "Behold", Jesus said, "I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with me.” It’s a picture of Him knocking. He pursues relationship, He knocks on the door. He calls out and you open the door which is to say you willingly receive. God sent His Son and He knocks on the door. He calls out your name and you willingly receive.
See, that's the point. The point is it's not just anyone who's speaking to you. God is speaking through His Son. See, it's one thing if a solicitor is at the door. That's a whole different thing. If you want to ignore that, ignore that. We're fine with that. But when the God of the universe sends His only begotten Son it's a whole another thing altogether. He demands a response. See, when Jesus was in the midst of the storm in the Sea of Galilee and it threatened to fill the boat, Jesus stood up and He spoke to the wind and to the waves. "Peace", He said. He spoke a word. “Peace, be still.” And the wind and the waves obeyed His voice. So that the disciples said, "What manner of man is this?" What manner of man is this? The wind and the waves obeyed His voice. Hey, if the wind and the waves obeyed His voice, should we not obey His voice?
Jesus gave a parable about a master who was giving a dinner and invited many. Now, I want us to look at this parable because it is a parable that reveals the heart of God to us very, very well. I'll just read it if you like. It's Luke 14 beginning in verse 16. Jesus said. "A certain man was giving a big dinner and he invited many. Now, at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who have been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it. Please consider me excused.’ And then another one said to him, ‘I have bought yoke of oxen and I'm going to try them out. Please consider me excused.’ And then another one said, ‘I have married a wife and for that reason I cannot come.’” What that means? I have no idea. But it's interesting.
Then the slave came back and reported this to the master. And then the head of the household became angry. Why? Why is it his response? Because he expected that when he sent out that invitation that the invitation would be accepted. He expected it. This is the parable of God's heart. And so he said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame." And the slave said, "What you have commanded has been done and still there is room." And the master said to the slave, "Then go out into the highways and the hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner for they did not receive the invitation." They did not accept it. In other words, excuses are unacceptable to God.
Now, there is a difference between a reason and an excuse. A reason is reasonable. For example, if someone says, "Hey, would you mind coming and helping me move? I'm moving and I need you to help me." And you say to him, "I would love to help you move but I cannot move but I have herniated disc and I'm flat on my back." Assuming that's true, that is a reasonable reason. It's not an excuse. Excuses, on the other hand, are completely unacceptable.
Let me give you a great verse. Romans Chapter 1. I mentioned it before, Verses 20 to 21. But notice this, "Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and His divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse. For, even though they knew Him." They knew God. “They did not honor Him as God or give thanks” which is to say God expects that. The person knows that there was a God. He looks at the creation and he stands out there and he looks and he beholds all these things. See, these things cannot accidentally come about. There must be a Creator behind all these things. Therefore, there is that response that says, "There is a God." Then you honor Him as God. That's the point. See, excuses do not work with God. It's important for us to understand that.
By the way, interesting little side note, apparently, excuses are not limited to humans. Did you know that? Maybe you remember hearing about Coco, the gorilla? Coco, the gorilla, was famous because she was able to master more than a thousand words of sign language, of American Sign Language. And one day, they came into her enclosure and the steel sink had been ripped from its moorings. And so they confronted Coco, the gorilla. What happened to the steel sink that was there moored to the floor there? Coco, the gorilla, using sign language pointed to her pet kitten. “The cat did it.” Apparently, excuses are not unique to people but they do not work with God.
B. Do not follow their example of disobedience
See, when God sends forth His Son, this is the point, when God speaks, when God sends forth His Son, He expects a response. He expects a response. That's why He says in these verses, "Do not follow the example of disobedience." Do not follow their example. See, one of the reasons why it is so important to study the Old Testament is because we can learn with God's dealings with Israel. See, it says, “these things were written for our instruction.” Look, I'll prove it to you. 1 Corinthians Chapter 10:5-11. He writes, "Nevertheless, with most of them, God was not well-pleased for they were laid low in the wilderness." He's speaking of Israel there. “Now, these things happened to them as an example and they were written for our instruction.” Us, “upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” What happened there? What was their disobedience? What was their great failure? They tested God in the wilderness. How did they put God to the test? By insisting that God move at their command.
It happened at the waters of Meribah. They were thirsty. We understand that. It's a desert. they're thirsty. But instead of relying on the provision of the miraculous hand of God, God has revealed Himself so marvelously, miraculously in so many ways but instead of relying upon that they grumbled against the Lord. And they said, "Is the Lord among us or not?" Which is to say what? “Prove it. Prove it. If God is God and if God is with us then prove it.” And this is how they grumbled. They wanted God to move at their command.
Let me give you an example. Jesus, as He was beginning His ministry, He spent 40 days fasting and praying, we know the story. And when He had finished, as He came to the end of it, He became hungry. And the devil came to Him, tempting Him. At one point, he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple. And the devil said to Him, "Now, since you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from there, for it is written ‘He will give command, He will command His angels concerning you to guard you always.’" Interesting that the devil quoted Scripture. Jesus responded, this is Luke 4:12. Jesus answered the devil and He said to him, "It is also written. You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test."
See, the enemy was asking Jesus to put Himself to a perilous situation so that God will be forced into delivering Him. That God might move at his command. That God will be subservient to his insistence. He is putting God to the test. People tempt God, they test God when they insist for God respond to their command in order to God that He's God. Prove it. If you're God, then prove it. And I'll tell you how to prove it. If you're God, then prove it this way. And you're testing God.
Is God able to heal? Do you believe that God is able to heal? Yes, God is able to heal. Okay, fine. Then take a step up the pinnacle and stop taking your insulin. But in so doing, have we not asked God to move at our command? Is not God sovereign over all things? Should we insist that God move at our command? Because it should not be like that. They have unbelieving hearts. Do not follow their example. They always go astray. They do not know My ways.
II. By Faith Enter His Rest
Then we get to Chapter 4. I want us to start in verse 19 and then read. He says in verse 19 of chapter 3, "So we see it that they were not able to enter into His rest because of their unbelief. Therefore, let us fear less while a promise remains of entering His rest. Any one of you should seem to have come short of it for indeed, we have had good news preached to us just like they did also." We have had good news preached to us. God spoke to us through His Son. The Gospel was brought to us. They have good news preached to them. But the word they heard did not profit them because it was not united by faith in those who heard it.
How important is faith? It's everything here. It's everything. In our relationship to the Lord it's everything here. For in verse 3, "We who have believed enter into that rest." That's what He said. “As I swore in My wrath, they will not enter My rest.” Although His works were finished in the foundation of the world, then what did He mean? He goes on to explain it. Very deep understanding. He has thus, said somewhere concerning the seventh day. God rested on the seventh day from all His works. And then again in this passage, but they will not enter My rest. In other words, there still remains for some to enter into it. For those who formerly have good news preached to them failed to enter into that rest because of disobedience. In other words, there must be something more. So again, He fixes a certain day, today. You see this, He uses it a lot. What does that mean? He said to them, "Today, if you hear His voice." He says to us. Today. Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your heart. Today, He says it.
Verse 8. Hey, if Joshua had given them rest, in other words, when he came into the Promised Land, then He would not have spoken another day after that. Must be something more. There still remains, therefore, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. There is something deeper. There still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who had entered His rest has himself also rested from his works as God rested from His. “Let us therefore, be diligent to enter into that rest. Lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.”
Then look at verse 16. “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” All right, these are really, really good verses. How important is faith? It's everything. He says by faith enter His rest. Now, the significance of rest has been around since the earliest days of creation. God rested on the seventh day and so He gave Israel a command that they must rest, the Sabbath day rest.
But this is so misunderstood. It's not just a day to get actual sleep or even a day to restore your relationship to the Lord. It is so much more than that. But many do not realize that it has a deep significant meaning. Sabbath rest is a picture of something far greater. It is a shadow of a much deeper reality, just like the Old Testament is a picture of something far greater.
Can I give you a great verse? Really makes it clear. Colossians 2:16-17. “No one is to act as your judge in regard to a Sabbath day. Because it is a mere shadow of what is to come. The substance belongs to Christ.”
What's the difference of the shadow of a thing and the thing itself? It's amazingly large. Would you rather set up a tent in the shadow of a house or would you rather live in the house? I don't know about you but I'd rather live in the house because the substance of the thing is far greater than the shadow of the things. Far, far, far greater. Sabbath day is just a shadow. All of the other things in the Old Testament. They're just a shadow. That's why he says, he makes his point to understand the depth, the richness of what he means.
A. Be diligent to enter that rest
And then he says, "Now, you be diligent", interesting phrase, "be diligent to enter into that rest." Just like He would say to Israel. They must be diligent to trust, to have faith, to believe.
Let me give you a great verse. Remember last week, in chapter 1, beginning verses. He's describing Jesus. Right from the very beginning he describes Jesus. And then he said, "When He had made purification for sin He sat down at the right hand of majesty." After He made purification for sin, which is to say what? The suffering. The scourging. The beating. The mocking. Nailed to the cross. All that He endured, all that He suffered. All of the work of all of that, He accomplished. He finished it. He made purification for our sins and then He sat down at the right hand of the throne of majesty. It's done. It's finished. He did it all. See, when Jesus was on the cross right before He took His last breath He called out to tell us that. "It's finished", He said. It's done. It's completed. And He breathed His last.
At one point a crowd came to Jesus. This is John 6:28-29. The crowd came to Him and they said to Jesus, listen to this. "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?" What a great question. What shall we do that we may work the works of God? Jesus responded, "This is the work of God that you believe." Believe. How important is faith? What shall we do that we should work the works of God? This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He has sent. God sent forth His Son with the message of His heart. Believe. Believe. I stand at the door. Believe. I call out your name. Believe. Open the door. Believe. It's everything here.
Your relationship to God is not based on the works that you do, your righteousness of self. It's based on whether you trust in His work. You rest in His work. You rest in what He has done for you. You enter into his rest. He made purification for sin and He sat done. He rested. Enter into that rest. That's the key. He sacrificed. He suffered. Enter in. It's completed. It's finished. He sat down. Will you enter in? Will you believe? Will you have this for yourself? Will you take it upon you? Will you believe? Faith is everything.
B. Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace
That's why He says, verse 16, we'll close with this verse. He said, "Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace and help in time of need." What a great verse. Draw near to the throne of grace with confidence. See, when you enter into that rest, not only are you resting, believing, trusting in God's work for your salvation but you are resting in the relationship that He bought for you and everything that comes with that relationship. You draw near with confidence that you may find help in time of need.
Reminds us of the words of Jesus, Matthew 11:28-29. I tell you, many hears these words and do not understand the depth of what He is saying. “Come on to me all who are weary and heavily laden and I will give you rest.” This theme runs through the Bible, I say. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Let me give you another Scripture, commonly misunderstood and commonly misapplied. It's commonly used from those who would tell you that you must work to get God's approval. It goes like this. Philippians 2:12-13. “Work out your salvation with fear and troubling,” they speak to you with boldness. But somehow they missed the next verse. “For it is God who is at work in you both to will and the work for His good pleasure.” Do you believe that God is at work? If God is at work in you then He is at work for you. Rest in that relationship. He has given you a promise of rest.
Is there anxiety in your life? Then enter into His rest. Is there turmoil in your soul? Then enter into His rest. Are you anxious? Unsettled. Enter into. Have belief, have faith. Rest by trust in Him. See, it's difficult for people to grasp the idea of entering, drawing near to the throne of grace with confidence. Very hard for people to grasp that.
Let me give you an illustration. Imagine that Jesus manifested Himself right here, right now. I mean, Jesus Himself, manifested Himself right here. What would your response be? Oftentimes when I ask that question many people say I would fall on my face. You wouldn't believe how fast I would get on my face. The King of kings and Lord of lords had manifested Himself. I would fall down prostrate before Him. That shows a good heart. That's good. But Jesus tells us something interesting. The words here. Draw near to the throne of grace with confidence. Whole different concept. Whole different idea.
Let me give you another way to see it. We all have this understanding. Someday we're going to stand before the great judgment throne of God. Now, if I could say that with a big echo machine I would say it. Not that I'm mocking, I am not mocking. This is a very serious, holy and righteous understanding. But I say it that way to create the grandness of it. Someday we will stand before the judgment throne of God. But here's what He's telling us. On the great day, you stand before the great judge of all the Earth. You can say, "Hi Father. Hi, daddy. I love you." And He would say, "Hi son. I love you too." He's telling us there's a different relationship. Enter in. Rest in this. It's faith. Draw near with confidence.
David understood. David. You want to talk about a man who understood faith and had confidence in the Lord and it translated into his living, would be David. This is Psalm 71:1-5. “In you, oh Lord, I have taken refuge. Let me never be ashamed. For you are my whole Lord God. You are my confidence from my youth.”
David and Goliath. I suggest to you that one on one, David never had a change against Goliath. I suggest to you, one on one, David never had a change against Goliath. You say, "Why, I thought it was one on one. Was there someone else there?" Well, actually, yes. There was. God was there. David believed that God was there. The help in time of need. That's what made David different than every other soldier standing there. That's what made David different than King Saul standing there. That's what made different from anyone else standing there.
But He's making the same statement to you and me. Will you believe? 1 Samuel 17:45-46. David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with sword and spear and javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts. The God of the armies of Israel whom you have just taunted. This day, the Lord will deliver you into my hands that all the Earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
Do you believe that this God, the same Lord, is your Lord? That you can enter and have a rest in this. Believe this, that God is for you. His favor rests upon you that you can approach the throne of grace with confidence and find help in time of need. God is for you. Will you enter in? Will you rest in that relationship and stop all this striving and all the inner turmoil and believe and thus, be victorious?