Thus far, we’ve worked on finding our voice, seeing Jesus, and making sure we do both of these today. The writer of Hebrews continues to encourage Jewish Christians, who’ve been tempted to return to the religion of their fathers. That’s why the author stays the course of building his case of how Jesus is better than the angels, better than Moses, and now – in chapter 4 – how Jesus is better than Aaron, the high priest.
I’ll repeat this same message from last week because you’ll need it again this week: Jesus is better. He’s better than whatever sin you’re wrestling with. He’s better than that addiction you’ve convinced yourself you’ll never break. He’s better than your self-medicated approach to numbing the pain of life. He’s better than that relationship, that job title, and that chocolate chip cookie. Whatever you’re up against is worth the fight because Jesus is better.
1Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
- There’s that “therefore” word again, and we need to go back and jaunt our memory of what it’s there for. We ended last week on the idea of unbelief and being unable to enter His rest if we don’t choose to trust in the Truth of who God is – His superiority, atoning work, and faithfulness. I’m thankful you’ve made the decision to trust in Him and live a life worthy of the calling. Invite others alongside you!
- The author is talking to Jewish Christians and reminding them that they can still experience the promise of the Lord’s rest. This rest refers to leaving all the sacrificial laws and regulations because Jesus fulfilled the law and it states He sat down (rested) in Hebrews 10:12. These believers could go to Jerusalem and literally see the sacrifices taking place at the temple. However, they were called to live by faith and not by sight, just like we are. Don’t go looking for something when the Lord asks for trusting. Jesus is better.
And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world.4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
- It tells us in verse 3 that “his works have been finished since the creation of the world.” This is interesting since Jesus didn’t come to this earth until about 2,000 years ago. The reason it is written like this is because God is not bound by time. Friends, when He looks at you, He sees a finished work, just as when He created the world and saw a finished worked. Let that one marinade.
- I appreciate how God models the life we are called to lead. He did that through His Son, Jesus, while He was on the earth for 33 years; and, He did that in the very beginning with the work of creation. God practiced rest. I recently got back from NYC – the city that never sleeps. I enjoyed it, and there’s certainly a hyperactivity in the city compared to other major cities in the U.S. and Europe. People weren’t rude (although, they love their horns), and they aren’t slamming into you on Broadway (intentionally), but there is a hustle. While you may live in NYC, you weren’t meant to never sleep. Resting doesn’t mean you’re great at naps (I am a professional napper, btw). It means you know how to rest in Christ Jesus despite the chaos around you. You can be amid the busiest city or wrangling the wildest children (or adults) and be completely anchored. That is true rest and is an indescribable assurance.
6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
- Today. Today. Today. We talked about this word last week. Today is urgent. Did you realize that even before God created the universe and rested that He named your today? The day that you would say, “Yes” to follow Him was your "today." Keep your “today” going. With each new day, approach it in urgency and with (another) boisterous, “YES!”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
- The physical rest of the Promised Land wasn’t the ultimate gain. What was physical in the Old Testament is spiritual in the New Testament. That’s why God spoke about another day for New Testament believers – the day when Jesus provided a perpetual Sabbath rest for His people. Not just a once-a-week day of rest, but an ongoing, sustained peace that only He could accomplish and maintain. It’s a shame that sometimes I try to do the work of Christ. It’d be like walking into the Tabernacle, seeing the veil torn, and then deciding to go find a bull, kill it, and sprinkle its blood on the Mercy Seat. I can almost see Jesus walking up to me – with scars on His hands and feet – and saying, “Tiffany, why are you busily working? Can’t you see the Sacrifice is finished? Look at my hands. My feet. I am no longer behind the veil, I Am beside you. Rest, my daughter. Sit down at my feet – the feet that crushed the head of Satan – and simply rest.” We worship at Your holy feet, Jesus. Thank you that it is finished.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
- When I think about the word of God, I think about the Bible – a thick, leather-bound book with pages of words, scribblings, and highlights. What I often fail to remember is that while that book is a physical object, it is a place where God meets me. The words are a rendezvous for God and me and the Holy Spirit works powerfully through those words. It’s in those moments that God diagnoses the condition of my heart, surgically removes what is cancerous to my life, and graciously heals me so I look more like Him. The Bible is not for education, it is for transformation.
- It says in verse 13 that “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.” Two points here for us: (1) we will be laid bare, just like in the beginning as Adam and Eve. They were naked, yet covered in the glory of God. Aren’t you thankful that while you will be fully exposed before Him, He will clothe you in that permanent robe of righteousness (Zechariah 3:4)? (2) We will all give an account (be held accountable) for the work we were assigned. I was just chatting with my leadership team this week about accountability. Accountability is a godly action; it’s an act of love. The biggest disservice we can offer is not telling someone the truth in love. Truth sets us free if we’re willing to receive it, and discipline is an act of love (Hebrews 12:6). You will be held accountable for the ministry God entrusted to you – be a godly steward of the gift!
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
- We talked about Jesus being our High Priest in chapter 2 and 3. Now, the writer is hitting on it again because it’s such a critical element to our faith. Jesus can fully empathize with your human weakness and nature because He was fully human. He was also fully God. He knows and feels what we go through and that’s what makes Jesus different than any other prophet or religious figure from history. Jesus added humanity to His deity and chose to live among us so He could redeem us from death. There are no adequate words for this expression of love. Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence! Not confidence within ourselves, but the confidence in knowing Christ’s work was enough. He’s ready to help you, run to His throne. Amen.