Sunday, September 4, 2011
Hebrews Chapter 4
vs. 1-11- GOD'S REST
- Here, the author is talking about God's place of rest. We think of this place as heaven.
- "God's promise of entering His rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it."
- Sometimes we lose sight of the long term. or the big picture. I think that's kind of what was going on here. I think there were those who were getting tired of waiting on God to move. I mean after all, He works on our time schedule right? SOOOO wrong...
- I think there were people who were starting to fall away or grow lax in their faith because they lost sight of what was at the end of the journey. Just like the people of Israel kept losing sight of the promised land and complaining about not having all the luxuries of life that they had while enslaved in Egypt.
- God hasn't changed the ending to the story... it's still the same... so we need to hold fast and stay focused so that we can still enter God's place of rest at the end of our lives. Whether or not the end of our lives mean that it's the end of the world as we know it...
- (I'm going to skip around in the verses in this section and try to put things in a chronological order.)
- When God first made the earth, on the 7th day, He rested. Because of this, we know that His place of rest is already ready. It has been completed. However, the people who first heard the gospel (Adam and Eve) turned away in their sin. So God didn't allow them to enter into His place of rest. If you remember, He kicked them out of the garden and refused them reentry. “They will never enter my place of rest.”
- Genesis 2:2
- Psalm 95:11
- “So God set another time for entering His rest, and that time is today.” Now I don't think it literally means today... I think it means that at any time we can enter His rest. It quotes part of Psalm 95 which says “Today when you hear His voice, don't harden your hearts.”
- When God speaks, don't turn away. I know you've probably heard the saying or phrase to “Live like today is your last day on earth.” Any day could be your day to enter into God's rest. So TODAY when you hear His voice, or feel His leading... don't turn away. Because today... could be THE day.
- Then we move on to the time of Moses and Joshua. “Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come.” The Promised land, for at least a little while, was indeed a place of rest. God stopped all their enemies. No enemy could stand against the Israelites, and after their 40 years of wandering in the desert, they did indeed finally get rest. But it wasn't the final rest. And that rest didn't last for forever. It was a fleeting thing. It passed as a season. (Some of the people in the church with Jewish backgrounds may have been insisting at this point that they should all go back and claim the promised land, or that God's place of rest was an earthly one.)
- Once again, the children of Israel got comfortable. They grew lax. They started to go after things that were not of God. They started tracking down the pleasures of the world and chasing after the idols of the land.
- So God ended their time of rest, and set another time for their entering His place of rest.
- The news of this rest has been announced to everyone... but there are those who haven't listened. “They didn't share in the faith of those who listened to God.” Only those who believe can enter into His rest... This is not an earthly rest. The children of Israel gained a temporary earthly rest when they entered into Canaan. We on the other hand, since Christ has broken through the veil, we will gain an everlasting, heavenly rest.
- “There is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God's rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.”
- Isaiah 11;12; 28:12-13
- Revelation 14:6-13
- John 3:10-21; 6:26-40
- Matthew 7:13-29
vs. 12-13- OMNIPOTENT, OMNIPRESENT, OMNISCIENT
- There were a lot of times in Israel's history that either individuals or groups of people decided to try to trick God. They would try to say “oh no God... I never did that... I have remained faithful only to You!” Meanwhile hiding their sins in their tents... or their hearts as the case may be. (Ananias and Saphira, Achan, even Rachel tried to trick her father by hiding the idols (that would become such a problem later) under where she was sitting.)
- But God sees all and knows all. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the One to Whom we are accountable.”
- Psalm 139 say this:
“1 Oh Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.
3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from Your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans
10 even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hid me, and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
18 I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, You are still with me!
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in my that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
- God knows us better than we know ourselves. He understands us better than anybody else could.
- Our sin has no place to hide. Our brokenness is fully exposed.
- And yet... He still loves us. Even knowing us, understanding us, seeing all that we are in depth and in full... He still loves us and wants us. How awesome is that!?
- Jeremiah 16:14-21
- Luke 16:15