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Thu, Aug 25, 2005

24 - Entering Future Rest [a]

Hebrews 2:5-4:16 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:1 hr 0 mins 18 secs

Hebrews Lesson 24  August 25, 2005


NKJ Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.


We're in Hebrews 2:5 starting a new section of Hebrews.


NKJ Hebrews 2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.


I think one of the most exciting things that we run across in the Christian life as we grow and study the Word is when things start coming together and we start putting a lot of pieces together in the Word. As I have pointed out so many times in the past, one of the problems we run into when we study the Word the way we do where we are not content with the big overview but stressing analysis of the text by in depth study line-upon-line verse-upon-verse is that we often lose the forest through the trees. At the same time we lose perspective and fail to understand how everything relates to one another. We go through a study of Hebrews or Ephesians or Genesis and when we are done we have learned a bunch of stuff but we don't understand the book as a whole.  So we will take a step back as we go through the different sections of a book to look at an overview of those sections of the book so that we can start putting the big pieces together. It also has value for pastors who listen and prep school teachers. They can go in and listen to those we identify with A-level headings that are summary lessons. That's where we are this evening.


We're in Hebrews 2:5 and will go through 4:16 so we will cover three chapters tonight. This is the second section in the study of Hebrews. I want to remind you that Hebrews has the form of a five-point sermon. Each major section begins with a teaching or instructional section and then it transitions into an exhortation or challenge. In the midst of the exhortation or challenge there is embedded a warning to believers. These are all believers. They are not unbelievers. There is no threat of loss of salvation. This isn't a threat that if you weren't really saved, you would have these problems. This is a recognition that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ can fail and fail miserably. In fact as Paul points out in I Corinthians 3, believers can end up going through the Judgment Seat of Christ and lose all of their rewards and enter heaven yet as through fire as Paul says. 


That is the idea in the book of Hebrews. It is a serious warning to believers that there is a future destiny. God has a plan and purpose today for each one of us and we are to live today in the light of eternity. If we fail to do that then there will be a loss of privilege, a loss of position, and a loss of responsibility in the Millennial Kingdom. Each point as we go through our study of Hebrews builds on the previous points and develops the implications of Christ's present session in heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father and the significance of that present session in terms of His high priestly ministry in relationship to Church Age believers. So when we get into this next section starting in verse 5, the thrust of this section is to develop an understanding of Christ's qualification on earth during the incarnation as He went through sanctification. As He was sanctified, it prepared Him for His present high priestly ministry as He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. All of this is directed toward preparing believers today for their future role to reign with Him in the Millennium Kingdom. 


We come to the second section. We had a prologue in vs. 1:1-4.


The first point began in verse 1:5 and extended to 1:14. The basic thrust of that was to talk about Jesus in His humanity. In His humanity He trusted in the Lord and grew to maturity. As a result of what He accomplished in the First Advent and in the period of the incarnation, He was elevated over the angels at His ascension. That is where we find ourselves in 1:4. In His ascension there is an emphasis on the character in His humanity. I pointed out that in His deity He was already superior to the angels. It is in His humanity that He goes through the process of sanctification, grows to spiritual maturity, and goes to the cross. At the ascension He is elevated or promoted so that He is in authority over the angels in His humanity, grows to spiritual maturity, goes to the cross and at the ascension is elevated or promoted over the angels so that He is in authority over the angels in His humanity. 


The first major point that the writer develops in verses 5-14 of the first chapter develops this whole point. He uses 8 Old Testament quotes to demonstrate that the Old Testament predicted the superiority of the Messiah to the angels. That superiority establishes His right to come back to the earth to rule in His coming kingdom. When we talk about kingdom we have to make sure that you understand that the word "kingdom" refers to His future Messianic rule. It is also called the Millennial Kingdom from the Latin word mille meaning one thousand. Sometimes in theology books you'll see if you are studying the early church it will refer to this as a chiliasm from the Greek word for one thousand. It's the idea that there is a literal 1,000-year kingdom on the earth that is going to be ruled by Jesus Christ. He will take the throne of David in Jerusalem. There is going to be this literal perfect kingdom. We call it the millennium. We talk about the pre-millennial return of Christ meaning that He will return before that 1,000-year reign.  He returns to the earth at the Second Coming and establishes that rule and reign on the earth. He will not rule by Himself.  He will rule with an association of joint heirs as they are indicated in Romans 8.  They are called companions in Hebrews 1 and in Hebrews 3.


NKJ Hebrews 1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions."


It talks about Him being anointed more than His companions. That is the word metachoi. Then in our study of Revelation 2-3 we have seen that each of those seven letters to the seven churches ended with a challenge to believers that those who overcome will receive certain additional rewards. So metachoi and companions in Hebrews are the same group as overcomers in Revelation 2-3. These are the believers who receive the rewards of gold, silver and precious stones. They are symbols for the divine good produced in this life that is rewardable at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is what prepares us.  So in the first chapter we see this emphasis on Jesus Christ. He is elevated above the angels. This gives Him the authority to come back and to rule and reign on planet earth during the thousand-year rule of Christ


Now we come to the next section. This is actually the second point in this message. There was the introduction. Think of the whole book as a sermon. You have an introduction in the first four verses. 


Then in verses 5 through 14 you have the first point with the emphasis on the superiority of Christ. As a result of understanding the superiority of Christ the author then makes an application.  That application is that there was a reward or recompense for obedience or disobedience for having heard the Word of God. As a result of that if there was recompense in the Old Testament, how much more recompense will there be in this age because we have a Savior who has come who is superior to the angels and we have complete revelation? God spoke in times past in a multiplicity of ways to the prophets in the Old Testament but today He has spoken through the Lord Jesus Christ. The warning is that if the Word spoken through angels met with just recompense, how much more should we pay attention to the message of salvation today that is spoken by the Lord? If we treat the Word lightly or contemptuously, then we will suffer tremendous discipline and loss of future rewards. So there is the application. That will be unpacked even more in the next section. 


So we come to the second point in the sermon, that is if we enter our future rest to reign as companions of our Savior. That's what is developed in Hebrews 2:5-4:13. We are encouraged and challenged to enter our future rest to reign as companions of our Savior.  Each word of that has a lot of development in order to fully understand and appreciate what's being said.  You as believers have a future destiny that is called in this passage "the rest." It is the millennial rest.  That is tantamount and it is promised to only those who are overcomer or metachoi believers - not to those who fail in this life. It doesn't mean that they won't enter the Millennial Kingdom.  They won't enter it with all the blessings and privileges and responsibilities that the metachoi, the companions, will have. 


This is the teaching section in verses 2:5-3:6.The basic summary of this is that it talks about the reigning Son, Jesus Christ, who is now elevated to the right hand of the Father. When He comes back to reign He is referred to as the ruling or reigning Son. In this chapter it describes Him as the captain of our salvation. The reigning Son had to be matured or completed as a true man that He could prepare a company who would share His destiny and rule as His companions in the coming kingdom. That is the main idea in 2:5-3:6. The Son had to become a human being and go through the process of spiritual growth and maturity Himself so that He in turn would be able to prepare a company of believers that group of metachoi who would share His destiny, His heirship and rule as His companions in the coming kingdom. That's the main idea of 2:5-3:6.


What we see here in this section is a development of a crucial concept in the doctrine of the Christian's spiritual life – how it is developed, what its purposes are, and what the future destiny is.  This is developed in relationship to the maturation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The key doctrine that we will focus on especially in verses 10-16 is the doctrine of sanctification.


Sanctification is often a term that is not understood so well today. There are three types of sanctification that we talk about. 


  1. Positional sanctification that occurs at the instant of salvation. At the moment you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, you were entered into the union with Him and you are fully, positionally set apart. It's positional, not experiential. 
  2. Experiential or progressive sanctification is the process of spiritual advance.
  3. When we're absent from the body and face-to-face with the Lord at the time of our physical death or rapture, we no longer have an old sin nature and are glorified. That's referred to as total or final sanctification


The thing we need to think about and reflect upon is that if the perfect sinless Lord Jesus Christ (Remember that He is born without an old sin nature. He committed no personal sins. There is no sin in His life) had to go through a process of sanctification then that tells us that sanctification isn't something that primarily has to do with sin. Think about that a minute. Most of the time we think about the Christian life in terms of the warfare metaphors that we have in the Scripture.  This is a struggle, a fight. We have three enemies – the world, the flesh and the devil. Our biggest struggle is with our own flesh, the old sin nature. 


So we focus on sanctification as somehow putting to death the deeds of the old sin nature that Paul talks about in Romans 6. Too often when we think of sanctification that's our main thrust. It has to do with dealing with our old sin nature. 


But there were two people in human history that didn't have a sin nature and still had to be sanctified. Who are those two people? First of all, it was Adam and Eve (We will include them as one) and then the Lord Jesus Christ still had to be sanctified. Adam had to be sanctified. Jesus Christ had to be sanctified. Before there was any sin in Adam's life, he still had to learn about God. He had to grow in an understanding of God's person, His attributes, His grace and His love.  He had to learn all about God's creation. As human beings we have finite knowledge. We will never have omniscience so we will spend our whole life learning about God and learning how to obey Him. Adam started off having to learn how to obey God. That is the essence of sanctification. We see this emphasized in the Old Testament and the New Testament.


The Lord was asked what the greatest commandment was.


NKJ Deuteronomy 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

That is the idea – to learn to love the Lord.  How do you know if you love God? Deuteronomy makes it clear in the Old Testament. 


NKJ Deuteronomy 5:10 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.


Jesus Christ reiterates this same principle in the New Testament.


NKJ John 14:15 " If you love Me, keep My commandments.


We see it reemphasized in I John. 


NKJ 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.


So how do we know if we love God? Because you learn His word, make it a priority, and keep His commandments. You can't learn to keep His commands unless you know them. You can't know His commandments unless you study the Word. 


That's why we put the study of God's Word in such an elevated position of attention. You have to know the Word of God in order to apply it consistently in every area of life and every area of our thinking so that we can learn to think like God thinks about His creation. That's the process of sanctification.  It's more difficult for us than it was for Adam. It is more difficult for us in areas than it was for the Lord Jesus Christ because neither Adam nor the Lord Jesus Christ is doing it with the problem of sin. That just makes it a little more difficult. Nevertheless they still had to be sanctified. And our Lord had to be sanctified. So we will spend a lot of time developing this and thinking about how this impacts us in terms of our own spiritual growth and our own understanding. 


Now before the author gets to verse 10 where he talks about the sanctification or the spiritual growth process of the Lord Jesus Christ, he goes back and starts in verse 5 with the basic principle that he developed in chapter 1. He goes back to the fact that Jesus Christ was elevated over the angels. God has subordinated the angels and all creation under the authority of the glorified Son of Man. That is the main idea of verses 5-9.


NKJ Hebrews 2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.


That tells us our focus. It's the world to come. I pointed out last time when we went though 2:3 that the word soteria for salvation isn't talking about justification salvation or avoiding eternal condemnation. It's talking about the completion of the process in preparation for the future rule and reign of Jesus Christ. The reason we know that is because we go back to verse 14.


NKJ Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?


That is a future orientation. Salvation is viewed as what relates to the future rule and reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. 


NKJ Hebrews 2:5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.


The main idea here is subjection. He talks about subjection in verse 5 and 8.


NKJ Hebrews 2:8 You have put all things in subjection under his feet." For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.


The idea here is the authority that the Lord Jesus Christ has. To develop that, he has a lengthy quotation from Psalm 8:4-6 from the LXX version of the Old Testament. It emphasizes that the Son of Man had to be made as a man lower than the angels in order that He could eventually be crowned with glory and honor. The path to glory for the Lord Jesus Christ the second person of the trinity lay in the direction of being reduced to the level of a creature, becoming a creature, entering into full true humanity, and then going through the process of sanctification. 


So verses 2:6-7 quote from Psalm 8. They emphasize the fact that He was made a little lower than the angels that He might eventually be elevated over the angels. What this is a reference to is Genesis 1:26-28. Man was created to rule over creation as God's representative, but he failed.  And he fell. Jesus Christ comes in the incarnation and fulfills everything that Adam was intended to be. Because He fulfills Adam's responsibility He is then elevated in His humanity over the angels. That is the basic idea of verses 5-9. 


Then we come to the next section in verses 10-18. The Son had to go through the same sanctification process as all men. I want you to notice the logical flow of his argument. He had to become lower than the angels that He could be crowned with glory and honor. The reason He can be crowned with glory and honor is because He goes through the same process of testing and suffering that you and I go through and He passes all of the tests 100%. That qualifies Him to go to the cross. Because of what He does on the cross He is then elevated above the angels. 


Now let's look at the development. Verses10-11 give us the main idea in this section.


NKJ Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.


"Whom" is God the Father. "Sons" is us. Captain is the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Now I hate that word perfect. It never means flawless in the Scripture. It is from the basic word group of teleioo. In the Greek it has to do with completion or maturity. So what it's talking about is that He had to be made mature through suffering. You thought that just you went through it.  But the point that under girds this is that Jesus Christ has gone through every category of testing and suffering that you and I go through. He passed those tests. Because of that He can sit as a peer at the right hand of God the Father as our high priest as our advocate and as source of strength and aid to us. That is the whole idea in this section. Because He went through this, the same thing that you and I are going through, He has experienced it. He is at the right hand of God the Father. He can function as our high priest. He is our source of strength and power. He is the one we can go to in prayer for help in time of need. He is the one that is prepared. It is not some angel. It is not some other kind of creature. It is human being at the right hand of God the Father who went through every category of testing. No matter what you go through – when you want to cave into self-pity, when you want to get angry, when you want to give up – Jesus Christ went through this same thing. We are to follow Him in that example. That is the main idea here. 


Hebrews 2:11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,


At the point of His ascension He is given a responsibility for our sanctification. It's not just the Holy Spirit. God the Father delegates that responsibility to the Lord Jesus Christ. That means that we are all going through the same identical process. He went through the same thing that you are going through. 


He is proud to call us brethren - that is those who successfully go through the process and because there is this kinship between Him and us. We become joint heirs of Him. Then there are two quotes from the Old Testament to substantiate this and relate to this. The first comes from Ps 22:22. 


NKJ Psalm 22:22 I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.


This is also related to overcomers in Psalm 3:5 when Jesus Christ confesses the overcomers before God and before the angels.


NKJ Hebrews 2:13 And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me."


He quotes from Isaiah 8:17-18. It is based on the LXX text. If you look in your English it is a little different.


NKJ Isaiah 8:17 And I will wait on the LORD, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him.


That is the basic mechanic for spiritual growth – to trust in Him and to rely on Him exclusively to help us handle whatever problems there may be.


NKJ Isaiah 8:18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the LORD of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion.


Jesus is speaking. We are the children that God has given Him. He is the one who is our high priest and savior who is preparing us to rule and reign with Him as joint heirs and companions.


NKJ Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,


Hebrews 2:14 and following express the idea of necessity of the incarnation that He might be the same as us – the same flesh and blood. He is true humanity. This is not an abstract doctrine that you have read about or heard about in relation to the hypostatic union. Jesus Christ is undiminished deity and true humanity united together in one person forever. The writer of Hebrews shows us how important that is. It's not just some abstract theological principle. He had to partake of flesh and blood and share in the same humanity so that through His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross He could defeat the devil. That is our primary enemy in sanctification.  Jesus Christ on the cross not only pays the penalty for our sin, but He positionally defeats our greatest enemy in the spiritual life so that He could be the pioneer the spiritual life. 


NKJ Hebrews 2:15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.


The result is given in verse 16. That's the process of spiritual growth and sanctification.


Then for example in verse 16 that He is our assistant. He helps us through the whole process.


NKJ Hebrews 2:16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.


Once again we have that angelic theme brought in. He is superior to the angels, but He is different. He is true humanity. He was in the carnation created fully human. He is at the right hand of God the Father. That is the key idea that we have learned again and again in the session.  There is a human being at the right hand of God the Father in the highest position of authority in the universe (other than God the Father) who is at the helm running everything. That means that He is in charge of your life and your destiny and is there to give us aid in the midst of our struggles in the spiritual life.


This is not a reference to the physical descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

but to the spiritual seed of Abraham - those who follow him in faith and justification. 


Then in verses 17 and 18 we have a conclusion. The conclusion is that Jesus Christ had to be made true humanity so that He could propitiate or satisfy (Here we pull in the doctrine of propitiation and all of the imagery from the Old Testament tabernacle) the Father' righteousness and justice in relationship to our sins. 


NKJ Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.


The doctrine of the hypostatic union isn't some abstract thing. It is related to the fact that Jesus Christ is ready to come to our aid every time we have a problem. This verse is the first verse to introduce us to the concept of His high priestly ministry. 


This verse is the end of this section. Everything from verse 5 has been leading to this conclusion.

NKJ Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.


NKJ Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.


NKJ Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


You have quoted this verse all of your life. You have heard it many times. Now you know it is the conclusion of one of the greatest arguments ever presented in the Scripture for the necessity of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He went through all of this so that He could now serve as our high priest and be the one who is our ever-present help in time of trouble.


NKJ Hebrews 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.


That is us. So you see that this isn't some abstract theological development, but the writer is showing us that all of these different elements related to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ have tremendous application in how we think about suffering and testing and difficulty in this life.


Hebrews 2:18 is the direct background to the that final conclusion in verse 15 – that we do not have a high priest that can't sympathize with our weakness but was tested in all points as we are. 


Then we come to the conclusion of the section. 


NKJ Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,


The conclusion from this line of reasoning is that we are called holy brethren in chapter 3:1.


We'll have to study what heavenly calling means and all of its implications. 


The word there to consider is the aorist active imperative of katanoeo. It means to study diligently, to contemplate on, or to meditate on. We are to think about how Jesus Christ went through sanctification. From the time Jesus Christ was born until He went to the cross, what did He go through? What was His process of spiritual growth? How did He relate to God the Holy Spirit? How did the Holy Spirit empower Him? That is the foundation here because Jesus Christ's spiritual life is the precedence for our spiritual life. He did it in the power of the Holy Spirit in His humanity in order to demonstrate to us that we can do it. It's not impossible. He goes through His life as a man. He does not surmount the testing and the temptation and the hostility and the rejection in His life in the power of His deity. But He goes through it in the power of the Holy Spirit in His humanity in order to demonstrate to us that we can do it. He provides the same tools, the same skills, the same promises and the same principles to us in our Christian life. He is indeed the pioneer. That's where we will go in Hebrews 12. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. There is that same word. All of this drives to chapter 12.


You can't really understand Hebrews 12 fully until you comprehend how it is a conclusion from a point-by-point logical argument in the first 11 chapters. So we come to this conclusion. He emphasizes that we are to study and think about and meditate upon the Lord Jesus Christ. He then goes on to demonstrate that Jesus Christ's faithfulness is compared to Moses' faithfulness. But, it is greater. Moses was faithful in his house. But Christ as the Son is faithful over the house. So it emphasizes the superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ to Moses. He is a faithful Son. We in turn will demonstrate our place in His house if we hold onto and keep holding onto our confession of faith. 


NKJ Hebrews 3:6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.


What house is this? The house is the idea of the temple. What do you do in a temple?  In the Old Testament you had a priesthood that functioned in the temple. In the New Testament we are the priesthood. That fits the concept. Jesus Christ is the high priest. We are the priesthood. If we don't learn the Word and grow to spiritual maturity then we are not functioning in our priesthood. The principle in this section is that (maybe you will and maybe you won't) as Christians you can fail to function as a believer. As a result of that you will fail to grow. As a result you will lose rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ and forfeit your future role as someone to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 6 lays the foundation to transition into the warning.


Hope always focuses on the future. It is our confident expectation of where we're headed. The warning here is that we need to hold fast otherwise we give up.


Then there is a warning. The warning goes back to the Old Testament. As we go through this section there are 6 major quotes from the Old Testament. In Hebrews 3:7-11 we have the beginning of our warning. The first warning is a quote from Psalm 95:7-11. These verses are an indictment of the Exodus generation for their rebellion at Meribah and Massah and at various other places during the 40 years in the wilderness. So he begins with a warning that comes right out of the Old Testament. Don't be like the Jews in the Old Testament who failed. 


What does that remind you of?  It ought to remind you of what we read in the warning section of 2:1-4. 


NKJ Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,


Hebrews 2:2 opens this discussion by showing that in the Old Testament there was a revelation of the Word of God. Why? Remember I said that it went back to 1:1.


NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,


When He spoke in times past it was through angels. If the Word was treated lightly, there was a just recompense. Now there is a further illustration of that with the recitation of Psalm 95:7-11 that they disobeyed in all these different points and forfeited their rest. The Exodus generation didn't get to go into the land. Because of their disobedience and their unbelief they forfeited the reward that God had promised them. The same thing can happen to us. That is going to be the application. If they treated the Word of the Lord lightly and disobeyed it and suffered those consequences, what do you think will happen to us?


Interestingly enough Psalm 95 is in a group of psalms (Psalm 93 – 100) that are called enthronement psalms. The enthronement psalms all focus on the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom on the earth. So once again the author is drawing from a context in the Old Testament that relates to the future millennial Messianic reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Verses 7-11 focus on the past failure of the Exodus generation.


He starts with a quote from Psalm 95:7.


NKJ Psalm 95:7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice:


What did we hear in Hebrews 1? God spoke. What produces speech? A voice. He is carrying this same theme of listening to God and obeying God through to the next point. Not only that but he drives the point home because Psalm 95:7 is quoted again in verse 15 and again in 4:7. 


What do you think he is driving home? You had better pay attention to what God says in His word. Three times He quotes the same verse. How dense can we be? Go study the Exodus generation and we can find out that even when there were miracles and signs and wonders and all this tremendous deliverance of the Lord. These are people that even heard the voice of God from Mt. Sinai, but they treat it casually and lightly. If they would have had a digital recorder they could have recorded the voice of God, saved it to their hard drive and play it back over and over again. They treated it casually and lightly. So we have this tremendous warning. 


Then in verse 12 he drives the point home. 


NKJ Hebrews 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;


He is not talking about salvation – failing to believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins.  He is talking about you and me after salvation that we stop trusting God in the process of our spiritual growth and our spiritual advance.  So Hebrews 3:12-14 connects the warning to our spiritual life. 


It says in verse 13.


NKJ Hebrews 3:13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.


What is part of the solution? Part of the solution is the responsibility of the body of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are in the body of a local church encouraging one another.  Let's stop a minute and think about this. He moves from the warning – beware. But what is the solution? To encourage other believers daily. What do you have to do to encourage other believers?  You have to know them. This isn't talking about going up to someone you don't know and giving them a promise and moving on in some sort of hit and run exhortation. This is talking about having relationships with other believers where there is depth in those relationships so that we know what each other is going through so we can significantly encourage one another from the Word of God. When we see our friends and family members who are going through spiritual tests and spiritual struggles in their lives, we can remind them of promises and encourage them with doctrine. There is a role for the body of Christ to encourage one another in the midst of testing so that we don't fall apart and fall into unbelief. We are to exhort one another daily – not now and then. That is why a church needs to do things so they know each other. It's a responsibility of the local body of believers to know each other and pray for each other. They are not a bunch of autonomous individuals who bounce all over Houston and bounce in here for an hour and then bounce out without ever knowing each other. The New Testament does not envision a local church apart from a body of believers that know each other and are concerned about each other and praying for one another and encouraging one another, admonishing one another, and teaching one another. In other words there are relationships within the body of Christ. It is not a bunch of isolated people. They need to develop friendships. They need to be welcoming others. We get a lot of visitors. Every time we have Bible class there are two or three new people here. Have you met them? Have you gone over to greet them? That is part of being in the body of Christ. It is not just showing up and keeping your head down and reading your Bible.You need to get to know one another. That is part of what it means to be in the body of Christ.


NKJ Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,


There is our word metachoi. This is a third class condition. Maybe we will and maybe we won't.  The idea is that we have become companions of Jesus Christ if we persevere. It is the doctrine of Biblical perseverance. The believer needs to stick with it in the Christian life up to the point of death, growing to spiritual maturity. The result of that is a positive reward at the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. And we will have become trained for our future ruling and reigning responsibilities with the Lord in the Millennial Kingdom.


NKJ Hebrews 3:15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."


He spoke in the past. He has spoken through His Son.


NKJ Hebrews 3:16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?


There is a conclusion here.  "Who" is the Exodus generation. 


What did they hear? That God spoke in times past through the prophets. They heard the message that came at Mt. Sinai. It has to do with the voice of God and the message of God and the revelation of God. 


If all those folks rebelled and failed, don't think too highly of yourself. You can fall just as easily.  I can fall just as easily.


NKJ Hebrews 3:17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?


What a tremendous image! They just dropped like flies. Think about it. You had 700,000 to 800,000 Jewish males and they all had to die. Do the math on how many funerals that was per day. They spent a lot of time burying people as they went. That is why it took them 40 years to go about a hundred miles. They had a mass of funerals every other day. 


NKJ Hebrews 3:18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?


That's the promise. That is where we get into the doctrine of rest. When we get into the doctrine of rest we will have to understand how the idea of rest is used in the Scriptures. It is used in three basic ways. 


  1. It is used to refer the 7th day of rest in the creation week when God ceased from His creative work. You see if you don't have 6 literal days of creation followed by a 7th literal day of rest it impacts and screws up and impacts your whole interpretation of Hebrews 3 and 4. You have to believe in a literal 6 day 24 hour day creation week otherwise it reverberates in many different doctrines. So it refers to the 7th day rest of God when He ceased from His creative work.  It is used that way in 4:4 and 4:10.
  2. It refers to the rest of Israel in taking the Promised Land.  When they took the land they would rest from their battles. It is used that way in 3:11, 3:18-19. The Exodus generation would not enter into their rest in the Promised Land because they did not obey Him.
  3. It refers to the promised future millennial rest. 


You have to distinguish that as you read through here. This is a key to understanding future focus in Hebrews. The two past rests – the rest of God at the end of the creation week and the rest of Israel in the conquest - foreshadow that future millennial rest in the kingdom. 


NKJ Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.


Then we come to the conclusion in chapter 4. In chapter 4 we are reminded that the rest for us, that is our future position in the Millennial Kingdom, is greater than the rest that God had for the conquest generation. In this section he argues that the rest that was spoken of there was never fulfilled in the past. Therefore he will conclude in verse 9 that there is a future rest for us. Those who enter that rest experience the rewards for their work. 


We don't like the concept of works because we think it muddies up the water for salvation. Salvation is not by works. But we are saved for good works. Ephesians 2:10. As Paul says in Philippians 2 we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. That is working out our justification in terms of spiritual growth


So the theme of chapter 4 is entering that future rest. That is the experienced in the Millennial Kingdom for our rewards for our present labor. We labor today in spiritual growth so that we can rest on our rewards in the Millennial Kingdom.


NKJ Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.


It draws a conclusion. Pay attention and be warned lest you fall short of it. It is a warning that it is possible for us to truly fail and miss out on that rest. 


NKJ Hebrews 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.


What is this talking about? Once again it is the concept of voice. God is speaking to us.  It is carrying the theme through. God has spoken. We need to pay attention. The Word that they heard did not profit them. They saw all of this. They got the Mosaic Law. They got the revelation.  They saw the miracles. But it did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith in those that heard. There was no trust in God. 


NKJ Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,' " although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.


It is the idea of a future present. Those who mature enter that rest.


NKJ Hebrews 4:4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works";


Have we run across the word spoken once or twice?  Do you think he is making a point? You had better listen to the Word of God. Study the revelation of God! This isn't something that you do a couple of times a week. This is supposed to be our life. You won't even have a clue to what the Christian life is all about until you make the study of the Word of God your life. This is the heartbeat of your soul. Everything else becomes secondary when you finally wake up to the point that this is for eternity. Everything else is passing away. But this is for eternity.


There is work followed by rest. That is the pattern that is set up and that he develops for us. 


NKJ Hebrews 4:9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.


NKJ Hebrews 4:10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.


What is the point? The point is that now is the time for work. Now is the time for advancing in the spiritual life. We are to grow in the spiritual life and study the Word and advance in testing the same way that the Lord did so that we can enter our rest. That is our rewards in the Millennial Kingdom. 


Now we drive home to the major application and conclusion in verses 11-16.


NKJ Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.


 This is the verb spoudazo.  It means to pay attention, to study.  It is the same word used in II Timothy.


NKJ 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


This is the fourth time in this section that we are challenged to be diligent to enter the rest. The believer's entrance into rest depends on completing the mission. The mission is to grow to spiritual maturity. Why should we be diligent?


NKJ Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


The verse begins with the word "for".  It is an explanation. Be diligent to enter that rest because the Word is alive and powerful. That's the idea here. How many times have you heard this verse?  You've heard it so many times that you forget what it means. Be diligent because the Word of God is alive and powerful.


Who is the Word of God? We have the written Word of God, but also the Living Word of God. 


Discerner. What's that? It is judgment and evaluation. No creature is hidden from His sight.  Whose sight? The Lord's sight. Where did He come from? That is what the Word of God is referring to - Jesus Christ as the Logos, not simply the written Word of God. That of course is the mind of Christ.


NKJ Hebrews 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.


The whole thrust of Ephesians 4:12 is that there is a day of accountability and exposure, a day of reward for our obedience or loss of reward because of failure to advance in the spiritual life. It sounds serious. It is a heavy note. It is a dire note. There are serious consequences for failure to advance to spiritual maturity. 


What are we going to do?


NKJ Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.



Why?  We don't have a high priest that cannot sympathize with our weaknesses. 


NKJ Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.


Don't get overwhelmed with the reality of judgment. Look at what God has given you. You have a high priest that went through it. He is the pioneer of our faith. He has gone through every testing that we have gone through. He can sympathize with us. He was tested in every category as we are.


NKJ Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


We have the Lord Jesus Christ who is our high priest and is ready to come to our aid as we go through the struggles and the suffering to advance to spiritual maturity. We are not out there on our own. There is not some oppressive judgment. He is waiting and ready and willing to help us.  He is the one who is the chief power in our spiritual life right now. The Holy Spirit is in us. I am not taking that out of the picture. The focus here is on the role of the Lord Jesus Christ in our sanctification because He is sanctified in the same way we are sanctified. Therefore we have a high priest that we can go to find mercy and grace to help in time of need. That is where the whole section is leading. I don't want you to lose the forest through the trees. It is a tremendous section focusing on our entrance into that future rest in the kingdom so that we can become companions, overcomers with our Lord Jesus Christ. But it depends on our volition today. 


How are we going to spend our time? What are our priorities? What role does the Word of God have in our life? If we are going to study the Word and make it a priority not only to learn it and apply it on a day-to-day basis, then we will advance in spiritual growth to be prepared to rule and reign with Him. There are dire consequences if we fail, if we treat the Word lightly. We will forfeit the rewards and our future position with the Lord Jesus Christ. But the great confidence that we have is that we have Him to aid us. He is our high priest. He is the one who has gone through it already. He understands and He has provided the solution to every problem and every difficulty.