Hebrews Week Four – Another Warning and Rest
Can you believe we are beginning Chapter Four? This is one of my most favorite chapters in Hebrews. I just love learning about God’s rest. It is something for which we all long, but so often never obtain. This week we will learn exactly how we can receive and live in the fullness of God’s rest.
A few important items before we dig in to our study:
1) We will NOT meet here next week for a new lesson. We are taking the week after Thanksgiving off so that we can ENJOY our time with family and friends. When we gather back together on Monday, December 5th , we will study Hebrews Chapter Five. Feel free to use your time off to REST. Or if you want to dig deeper and you have not yet read Leviticus, you may want to use this time to read it as it will give you a bit of insight into what we will discuss in the next several chapters. Or if you want to learn more about the Old Testament high priests in particular, you might want to take the time to read Exodus Chapters 28 and 39.
2) Some of you have asked how to make comments on the web site. Visit the web site at www.wendyblight.com. Once there, scroll to the end of the post on whichyou would like to leave a comment. You will find the word “comments” with a number before it. Click on that. It will take you directly to the comments for that post. You can read the comments or scroll to the end to leave your own comment. You may also reply to the comments of others by clicking on the “reply” box in someone else’s comment. To comment on another post, you will need to get out of the comments section of the post and find that post. I hope this helps those of you who asked about this.
3) This week our video will NOT be a You Tube video. Instead, it is Vimeo recording of my Chapter Four lesson that I taught here in Charlotte. It is about 30 minutes long.
Praying that no matter your physical or emotional circumstances, each of you will experience in very real ways the Grace and Love of our Gracious God and enjoy a most wonderful and joy-filled Thanksgiving.
Below please find the link for Chapter Four’s teaching.
This Week’s Memory Verse: Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:11.
This Week’s Prayer:
My sweet Jesus, my Great High Priest, thank You for leaving Your heavenly throne, for invading this sin-infested place called earth, and for living amidst and among your people. Thank You for loving me so much that You would endure persecution, unimaginable pain and suffering, and die a criminal’s death so that I could be forgiven of my sin. Father, fill my heart with sincere gratitude and appreciation more than ever before for what you did for me that day on Calvary. Let me live a life that expresses my appreciation each and every day. Father, through the power of Your Holy Spirit help me live in a continual state of Sabbath Rest. Give me Your peace so that even in the midst of my most difficult and stressful days, I can rest in Your presence in me. And, Father, enable me to not only endure my trials and temptations but also overcome them victoriously in Your Name. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus, and for the gift of a Great High Priest who experienced all I experience and even more. Help me to draw on the grace and mercy that is freely available to me through His death and resurrection. I ask all this in Jesus Name. Amen.
Assignment: Read Hebrews Chapter Four
To understand this lesson better, we need to understand the biblical concept of rest. The English word “rest” and the Greek word katapausis, from which it translates, means “rest, repose.” The idea is to cease from work of any kind, exerting no action on your own.”
1. Strong’s Concordance says of rest, “God’s rest is entered when the believer is confidently assured within and outwardly lives peaceable in the assurance of God’s daily provision.”
- What does it mean to be “confidently assured within?”
- What does it look like to “outwardly live peaceable in the assurance of God’s daily provision?”
2. The writer of Hebrews refers to several different rests found in the Old Testament. In Hebrews 4:4, he refers first to God’s Sabbath rest. On the seventh day, God finished His creation work, and Scripture tells us He “rested from all His work.” The author also refers to a second rest, Israels’ rest in Canaan, in Hebrews 3:11.
- Read Exodus 33:14. What does it say?
What do these two rests have to do with you and me? Sweet friend, be encouraged because the author is about to tell his audience and us that we have the opportunity for that same rest and, really, an even better rest. The Canaan rest for Israel in the Promised Land is a picture of the spiritual rest we find in Christ when we give our lives to Him.
- Read Matthew 11:28. What does it say?
- Read Matthew 11:29-30. What do these verses say?
At salvation, we receive peace with God. When we take the next step and submit our lives to Christ, we receive the peace of God. Believing in Jesus allows us to enter into God’s rest. The promise of Old Testament rest still stands. But sometimes we too, like the Israelites, find ourselves unable to live in the fullness of that rest.
- Examine your life. What keeps you from experiencing God’s rest?
3. Read Hebrews 4:2-5. Moses generation heard the truth. They received God’s Word from Moses. But they failed to believe it.
- How many times do you find the words “rest” or “rested?”
- Why was truth of no value to the Israelites according to verse 2?
- What needs to happen when God’s Word is given for it to do its work?
- Read Romans 10:17. How does faith come?
4. The good news from God’s Word is that the failure of the Israelites to enter into God’s rest did not negate our ability to receive God’s rest.
- Read Joshua 21:43-45. Describe the rest Joshua’s generation experienced.
- Read Hebrews 4:8-10. What does the writer of Hebrews say about this rest?
The author of Hebrews makes the point in this passage of Scripture that although Joshua led the nation of Israel into the land of their promised rest, it was not the true and final rest. It was partial and temporary. If Joshua had had provided the final rest, there would not have been the continuing inviation of rest in Psalm 95:7-8. The rest that eluded the O.T. (Old Testament) Jews is available to us, and it comes not through Moses, Joshua, David, or the author of Hebrews.
- From whom does our rest come?
5. Read Hebrews 4:10-11. In summary, the author of Hebrews has talked about two kinds of O.T. rest (God’s Sabbath rest and Joshua’s Canaan rest). Scholars believe Hebrews 4:10 speaks of a third and final rest. But interestingly, Hebrews 4:11 says we must “make every effort” to enter into that rest. The King James translation says, “let us labour” to enter into that rest. The word “labour” derives from the Greek word spoudazo which means “to make effort, earnest.” It signifies “to hasten to do a thing, to exert oneself, to give diligence.” It seems the author is saying we must work to rest. Work to rest?
At first, this seems to not make sense. But then I thought about when I take a vacation. I spend days preparing, cleaning, catching up on mail, completing last minute tasks, picking up dry cleaning, arranging for dog care, mail and trash pick-up. Honestly, by the time the day of departure arrives, I am exhausted. But when I get to my destination, I am truly able to rest because everything has been taken care of. I can relax and enjoy my time away and my family. But I had to plan to rest. Can you identify?
The same goes for us spiritually. We must plan for our rest. We must be purposeful and diligent. How do we do that? Move to the next question and you will discover the author’s answer.
6. Read Hebrews 4:12 and write it below.
- List the descriptive words for the Word of God in this verse.
- Read Proverbs 1:8-9 and Ephesians 6:17. What do these passages add?
7. I want to be absolutely certain we do not confuse this “judging” work of God with condemnation.
- Read Romans 8:1. What does it say?
God’s Holy Spirit uses His Word to prick our hearts and convict our spirits of a change that needs to be made. But He will never condemn us and cause us shame. That is the work of the evil one. And, friends, it is SO important we pray for the Lord to help us discern the difference.
- Read Psalm 139:1-12. What words do you find here that confirm what the author of Hebrews says in 4:13?
- As you meditate on the words God uses in Hebrews 4:12 to describe His Word (living, active, sharp, judges, penetrate), which word most describes God’s activity in your life right now? Which of the words, if any, causes you fear or discomfort as you think of God working that way in your life?
God’s Word speaks to our hearts. He uses it to change us from the inside out…to refine us…to make us more like Him. He uses it not to condemn but to heal, not to destroy but to restore, not to bring shame but hope. He uses it to set us free! And it is in that freedom that we find rest, His perfect peace and rest.
8. Read Hebrews 4:14-16. In the last few verses of Chapter 4, the author returns again to reminding his audience of who Jesus is. His message turns from being negative and full of warnings, to positive and encouraging. This begins the first of many chapters where we will learn about Jesus as the Great High Priest.
- Read Hebrews 4:14.
What I am about to write may be review for some of you, but it is crucial to to the concepts in this passage. Before Jesus, Jewish law allowed one priest each year, the high priest who served the tabernacle, the privilege of coming into the presence of God on behalf of the people. The Law forbid the people themselves from entering into the presence of God. Within the tabernacle, there were two rooms and a heavy veil separated one room from the other. The room behind the veil, called the Holy of Holies, contained the Ark of the Covenant. God Himself resided within this holy room. Only the high priest had authority to enter behind the veil into the presence of God. And this only happened once a year when the high priest offered a perfect lamb, a blood sacrifice, to cover his sins and the sins of the Israelite people.
Then Jesus came. Because of God’s grace and His great love for His people, He sent Jesus to live on this earth…to take human form…to live among us. He sent Him to be the ultimate sacrificial Lamb. The coming of Christ eliminated the need for the high priest’s annual blood sacrifice. Jesus shed His blood once and for all to remove the barrier sin had erected and to allow all people direct access to God anytime, anywhere.
The author wanted his audience to understand that Jesus is the Great High Priest…greater because He accomplished the forgiveness of sins through His one-time sacrifice, His death and resurrection. Though His death, he opened the way for everyone who believed in Jesus to enter into the fullness of God’s presence.
- How does the way the author of Hebrews identifies Jesus distinguishes him from the O. T. high priests?
- Why is it significant that Jesus asc ended into heaven (see John 17:1-5, Hebrews 9:11-12)?
9. Read Hebrews 4:15.
- Why is Jesus able to sympathize with our weaknesses?
- List a few examples from Scripture where Jesus faced testing and temptation.
10. Can you imagine how this sounded to the unbelieving Jews in his audience? They knew God as Jehovah. He was holy, righteous, perfect, and all-powerful. How could their Jehovah God experience weakness, testing, trials, and temptation? How could their Jehovah God sympathize with them? They had no personal relationship with Him. The law forbid them from ever being in His presence. In their experience, only the chosen, most faithful and favored of God’s Old Testament people experienced intimacy and relationship with God. Yet, the writer of Hebrews was telling them that Jehovah God desired a personal relationship with them and identified with them in every area of their lives. His teaching was revolutionary.
Friend, when you face a trial or temptation, when you feel weak and trapped, unable to stand strong, remember Jesus. He is your personal Savior. He suffered and died for you. He battled Satan in the wilderness and won. He fought for you then, and he fights for you now.
- How did He win that battle? (Matthew 4:1-11)
- Is there something in your life you are battling? What is God speaking to you through His Word about how you can overcome and win your battle?
11. Rewrite Hebrews 4:14-16 using “I” and “me” in place of “we.” Read it aloud. Spend some time praising God for what He has done for you.
- According to Hebrews 4:16, because of all that Jesus has been through and all that He has done for us, how can we approach our Father in Heaven?
- Read Luke 22:31-34, 40. What insight does Jesus give us in these words about temptation and sin? What is the answer?
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. What does Paul teach us about temptation in this verse?
12. “Come boldly!” He says. Will you end our lesson this week doing just that? Will you spend some time before we meet again at the foot of the cross…just you and God. Whatever your need is this week, big or small, bring it to Him. Sit quietly. Listen.
- What do you hear? Will you please share it with us by leaving a comment?
May God richly bless your time with Him in the Word these next two weeks. Please know that as I sit before the throne and thank the Lord for my blessings this Thanksgiving, I will thank Him for each one of you!!
Love in Him,