TruthInvestigate

“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hebrews chapter four

Heb 4:1  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Heb 4:2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Heb 4:3  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Heb 4:4  For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

Heb 4:5  And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

Heb 4:6  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

Heb 4:7  Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Heb 4:8  For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Heb 4:9  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

Heb 4:10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Heb 4:11  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Heb 4:13  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Heb 4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Heb 4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Heb 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
 
The book of Hebrews many times comes on with hard gentleness. Its uses of rebuke and correction and instruction are allowed by these Christians to whom the letter was written because they were already familiar with those tools of truth. Paul desired to anchor all the Gentile churches to the Hebrew Christians because their history grounded them in essential truths, such as submission to the Law of God, fear of God, sin and propitiation and repentance―truths that formed the foundation for the gospel. Dr. Benjamin George Wilkinson writes:
 
Light is thrown on the actual beliefs of the early Christians by studying the fundamental instructions concerning the organization of individual churches as given by the apostle Paul. The great apostle to the Gentiles made it distinctly clear that the churches which he founded in his missionary labors were modeled after the Christian churches in Judea. Thus he says,
 
“For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews.” (1 Thessalonians 2: 14.)
 
Paul did not pattern the plan of the local church after the heathen temple or after the Gentile models he might have found in his travels. The pattern given him was of God. What was that pattern? It was the first Christian church at Jerusalem and its duplicates in Judea.
 
It would be difficult to imagine that the apostle Paul, laboring in regions all the way from Babylon to the western borders of Asia Minor, would organize the churches upon any other model. His congregations also were but repetitions of the original Christian communions in the province of Judea, particularly of the churches in Jerusalem. Truth Triumphant, p. 38.
 
Paul was proud that he was a son of Israel, because he knew that fifteen hundred years of sacred teaching on each recurring Sabbath had enriched the Hebrews with a mentality in things divine which enabled them to grasp readily such truths as God, sin, morality, and the need of a Redeemer. Truth Triumphant, p. 21.
 
Thus, the writer of Hebrews (WoH) harks back to the failures of Israel to help the Jewish Christians make a sure connection between the apostasies of ancient Israel and their temptation to depart from the gospel. The encouragement from the WoH didn’t come to these afflicted Jewish Christians in the form of cajoling and petting their discouraged self-pity, but in the strength and power of the Spirit of Christ.
 
The message to them was perfectly suited to gain their faith and acceptance. No differently treated were these Hebrew Christians than was John as he faced his death sentence for standing for the truth. “Jesus answered and said unto [John’s disciples], Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” (Matt. 11:4-6).
 
The disciples bore the message, and it was enough.….
     The Saviour’s words, “Blessed is he, whosoever shall find none occasion of stumbling in Me,” were a gentle reproof to John. It was not lost upon him. Understanding more clearly now the nature of Christ’s mission, he yielded himself to God for life or for death, as should best serve the interests of the cause he loved. Desire of Ages, p. 218.
 
Having established the humbling reproof (which they will be reminded of again and again) the WoH brings in a reminder of what he had given them when he had passed through preaching the first time. They accepted the Spirit of God and the rest and peace of God, and now were thinking to leave it all under the extreme circumstances of vehement opposition by two violently gestapo-like religious and political regimes. But, until they were humbled by the truth, the WoH dared not touch on the glory of the gospel, the precious pearl of great price. “Before the seed of the gospel could find lodgment, the soil of the heart must be broken up. Before they would seek healing from Jesus, they must be awakened to their danger from the wounds of sin.” Desire of Ages, p. 103.
 
God never gives us grace without truth or mercy without justice. And equally important to know is that He never gives us justice without mercy and truth without grace. Truth needs grace to make obedience to the truth possible; and grace needs truth to keep grace from falling into the hands of the adversary, the lawless son of perdition, who knows how destructive lawlessness is to genuine faith and love, and quickly moves to warp the effect of grace into self-indulgence. In all of holy scripture, both Old and New Testaments, we see a consistent co-mingling of both truth and grace. This distinguishes the Bible from every other holy book. It also is what gives the Bible so much power to transform the corrupted nature and life.
 
Now, the WoH can introduce the blessing of rest, “His rest”, the rest that dwelled in Christ, the Prince of peace, and the rest He wants to give us. “His rest” is His faith, the “faith of Jesus” (Rom. 3:22; Gal. 2:16,20), “fixed”  on His Father (Ps. 112:7),  “The glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” (Jn. 17:5). The abiding that Jesus did, which propelled Him to lay down the eternal throne next to His beloved Father, that rest of soul, when conceptualized and comprehended in the sinner, can be appropriated, sanctifying the sinner. Loving and yearning for what Christ had, the sinner may obtain by request. And Jesus is happy to share His rest and peace with all who have had enough of Satan’s enslavement and oppression. He readily breathes on them His Spirit of life and they are made whole. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Tim. 1:7).
 
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them (ancient Israel): but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest.” (Heb. 4:1-3).
 
This message was twofold: obey, as, anciently, their fathers did not; and obey, as their modern people were not. These facts of history and current stinging persecutions were undeniable to the readers of the epistle to the Hebrews. They could obey, and enter into rest with God. So many multitudes in Israel had desired this, yet had never obtained it.
 
“For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest.” (Heb. 4:4,5).
 
“Hadn’t our Creator set the example of rest? Isn’t that all that the gospel is presenting? Why then the Jews’ hatred of the gospel? It’s in their scriptures. Yet, they have not entered into the rest that the Sabbath stands for. If they would accept the gospel, the promise yet offered to them by the Lord is, They shall enter into My rest.’ Until then, Satan will control them. But, you, Hebrew Christians, did enter into it. Don’t give it up and turn to the drudgery of this world and to the god of this world who keeps your fathers in darkness.”
 
“Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Heb. 4:6,7).
 
“After so long a time”, that is, 500 years after the Lord through Moses offered the nation rest, the true rest remained illusive. The offer was still calling out to them, Today, if you will hear His voice, don’t let your heart be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Idolatry and false worship had siphoned off their love for truth and self-denial. Faith could not survive under the soul’s administration of self-love, self-indulgence, temptation to sin, and forgetfulness of Jehovah. Idolatry doesn’t harden the heart in all respects; it only hardens the heart toward the holy God. Unholy worship and human traditions remain the heart’s thrill and rush and lust. The heart is far from hardened to Satan and his kingdom. It is intoxicated, “in a state of strange, unnatural excitement”. Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 56. But, toward God and humble submission to the Ten Commandments, service to God and man finds no relish from the heart seduced by lawless religion and by absolution through the mummery and sleight of man that requires no repentance and renunciation of sin.
 
“For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (Heb. 4:8,9).
 
Jesus is the Hellenized name for Joshua. The two names mean the same, “Jehovah saves.” Joshua had brought the children of Israel into the land of promise which the Lord God promised would be their rest.
 
“For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety…” (Deut. 12:9,10).
 
But, David, after so long a time, spoke of a yet unobtained rest. The people hadn’t entered into rest, even by David’s time. The “another day” mentioned by the WoH in Hebrews 4:8 does not refer to another day of worship or any day of worship, as this chapter of Hebrews is not addressing which day is the Sabbath. Rather, the “another day” refers to David’s day; it says that Israel was still hardening their hearts, which the WoH quoted from Psalm 95 when David said, “To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
 
Then, the WoH projects Israel’s endemic problem forward to his day; he assumes that nothing changed with the nation. Except for a very small remnant, they had always lived apart from God, and forfeited the peace and rest that comes with receiving His Spirit; and now, except for that remnant, the Hebrew believers, they still had that problem. There still remained an unobtained rest for Israel, the people of God―the life and peace that comes from the soul’s submission to the love of God. It is as if they had never entered the Promised land, which God desired to represent to them the entrance into salvation. God wants to give us rest, His rest. His rest comes by our ceasing from our own resources to be good.
 
“For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Heb. 4:10,11).
 
The rest comes from ceasing from self, from producing fruits of our own will-power and then glorying in our own works of righteousness. The writer uses the Sabbath commandment, mentioned in verse 4, to articulate the method for obtaining the rest, that is, to labor for it. Just as we work 6 days in order to rest the 7th and enjoy time with God, so must we labor in order to enter into faith; we must fight for faith, we must fight the good fight of faith (2Tim. 4:7). Salvation doesn’t just happen by accident. God doesn’t redeem us without our consent and our effort to get to Him. We must flee “for refuge” and “lay hold upon the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:18). Much activity is required of us. But, the exertion is in the way of forcing ourselves to be available to the Spirit of God through acquainting ourselves with Him. “Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” (Job 22:21).
 
Jesus said it this way, “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (Jn. 17:3).
 
Paul saw that knowing God was our highest goal and most important pastime with eternal ramifications. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him” (Phil. 3:8-10).
 
All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us. Desire of Ages, p. 668.
 
Know Jesus, and know victory over sin and likeness to God; No Jesus, and no victory over sin and likeness to God. If we neglect the effort to know God, we will “fall after the same example of unbelief” as did ancient Israel. Faith comes by the word of God. Unbelief and rebellion can’t remain for a second in the presence of the Word of God. It so pierces through the heart hardened in sin; it is sharper than a two-edged sword and alters the whole nature of the soul that receives it. “Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.” (Hos. 6:5).
 
To avoid the Bible is to miss infinite life now, and then eternity with Jesus in the future. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Heb. 12:5-8).
 
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13).
 
This was Isaiah’s cry before the searching eyes of God, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isa. 6:5). We need an intercessor; and we find that intercessor through the medium He left with us—the written word of God, which, by His truth and grace, slays sin by the breath of His mouth. So, let’s go to the Bible and sit at Jesus’ feet, and learn from Him and about Him. Let’s accept all of its promises of grace and discern His every mercy to the Bible characters that we may appropriate His mercy to us by faith.
 
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16).

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