This evening we’re going to continue in our series through the epistle to the Hebrews, so let me invite you to take up your worship guides or your copies of Scripture and turn with me to Hebrews chapter 3, and we’re going to read from verse 1 all the way through to chapter 4, verse 13. It’s an extensive piece of Scripture. It’s filled with rich doctrine, and so we’re really going to be looking at it from a bird’s eye view, drawing out some nuggets that you can hook things on and hopefully that will give you a bit of a lay of the land as you continue to work through the epistle of Hebrews at large.
Now I’m not going to ask for a show of hands, but I wonder how many of us have set out on a healthy eating plan at some point in our life. I think that’s the politically correct way of saying what I think you know, what I am intending! I think it’s in the beginning it’s easy, when you set out on this eating plan, except when you visit your friends who are unaware of what is transpiring and taking place in your life and they sit before you this filet mignon with a creamy sauce over it and for dessert is crème brulee or maybe your favorite dessert. And then it becomes a little bit tougher to actually adhere to that which you started out with.
It’s the same way with an exercise regime. Isn’t it? It’s easy to begin, but it becomes increasingly tough when the body is screaming more and more because the muscles are aching. It’s saying, “Take a break! Please take a break!”
Perhaps even a little bit more seriously, it’s easy to begin in marriage where you’re young, you’re in love, you’re healthy, both of you are thinking and wondering to yourself, “What problem could possibly come our way that could interfere with what we are experiencing right now?” And of course it doesn’t take too long until the challenges and the stresses and the pressures of life in a fallen world begin to press in. And for us as Christians, God, in His mercy and grace, He uses that pressing in of the pressures and the stresses in order to sanctify us individually and of course in our union as well.
And the same is true of the Christian life. Trusting in Christ is wonderful and it’s glorious and it’s easy when He comes to you and He woos you by His mercy and His grace and His love and He demonstrates the love of the Father that has been demonstrated through the love of Jesus Christ on Calvary. It’s glorious, it’s wonderful, and it’s easy. But it’s not always easy to endure in the Christian life. The Christian life is warfare. It’s warfare against the powers of darkness, indwelling sin, and of course the attractions of the world around us. And sometimes there are people that fall and are casualties, and we’ll pick up on that in a little while as we work through our text this evening.
Now for those of you who were here three weeks ago when we started the series in the book of Hebrews, you’ll remember that David Felker spoke about the fact that there were three warning signs embedded in the warning passages in Hebrews. That of drifting, dulling, and the hardening. Drifting, dulling, and hardening. It’s to neglect the grace of the Lord’s Day and the regular time with Jesus as you have intimate communion and fellowship with Him in His Word. It’s the yielding to sin without it stinging your conscience because you become so accustomed to that which you are enjoying. It’s when the world’s muck is a cling on and it starts to wear you down and eventually take you off of the narrow way.
And for some – and I’m sure that as I mention this you can probably think of some friends and some family – for some they appear to start off so well, but at some point or another they lose sight of their first love. For some, they are wounded by fellow Christians, but instead of that being the instrument that God uses to get us to go into the love of Christ and to seek strength and mercy and grace in our Father, they allow the anger towards their fellow believer or toward another person to become bitterness and maybe even a hatred that may actually divide and separate us from the love of God at that point. Eventually it could lead to falling away, and we’ll pick up on that in a little while.
And I think that’s why Ed’s statement from last week is actually very important as we work through chapter 3 and 4 this evening too. Ed’s statement from last week was, “Don’t lose the plot line.” That is absolutely relevant to chapter 2, which is what he was working on last week. It’s relevant to chapter 3 and chapter 4. It’s relevant to the whole of Hebrews, to the New Testament, to the whole of Scripture. It’s absolutely critical to remember, “Don’t lose the plot line,” with regards to the redemptive plan of God in Jesus Christ from eternity to eternity, especially when we’re facing those struggles and difficulties in life as they come our way.
My friends, as we come to read from chapter 3 verse 1, we need to remember that these Hebrew Christians that the author is writing this letter to, they had begun well; they had begun well in the Christian walk. In fact, their testimony is one of great suffering and great persecution for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of them had lost almost everything that this world had to offer. They had been stripped of their belongings, even their dwelling, and many of them had been ostracized by their families because of their allegiance to Christ. And yet, the reason that he’s writing this letter is because he has heard that there are insinuations that there is a danger of them drifting back to Judaism. They’re going back to where they came from. They had begun to neglect so great a salvation in Jesus Christ. And so the author reminds them while on pilgrimage, through this wilderness, he’s imploring them, “Consider Jesus Christ and rest in Jesus Christ alone. Consider Him and rest.” So that’s where we’re going to be looking a little bit as we go through these verses together.
So let’s take God’s Word and let’s read from chapter 3 and from verse 1. This is the Word of God:
“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses – as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’’
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
‘As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’’
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.’ And again in this passage he said,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
This is God’s Word. Let’s bow our heads in prayer, shall we?
Our gracious Father, thank You for this passage of Scripture inspired by Your Spirit. And we pray that You would, by Your Spirit, come now, prepare our hearts, illumine the text, and Lord, that You would drive these truths deep, deep within us, and cause us to assess our lives and our communion with You as the living God. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.
Now before we get into our passage, I think it’s worth a brief recap of the journey that we’ve taken up until this point in the two chapters before this. You’ll remember in chapter 1 the author immediately, becoming aware of the situation of the people in the group that he’s writing to, he immediately draws their attention to Christ’s supremacy over everything with special emphasis on Christ’s superiority to the angels.
Then in chapter 2 verses 1 through 4, we have the first of the warning passages, and appropriately, it has to do with “Don’t drift by neglecting your salvation.” Neglecting of salvation is the beginning of the drift along the path that leads away from the narrow way. So it’s appropriate that he starts with that as the first warning. But immediately after the warning he redirects their focus to the founder of the believer’s salvation. And if you go and read from chapter 2 verse 5, right there to the end, it’s a beautiful passage that sets forth the majesty and the glory of the Gospel in Jesus Christ. And it’s really worth reading and reading and reading it slowly to digest all that is within those verses.
So that as we come to chapter 3, our text for this evening, in the first six verses we notice how the writer, he continues to extol the excellencies of Jesus. But here – and remember he’s writing to Jewish Christians – here, he shows how Jesus is greater than Moses. And that leads him into the second of the warning passages from chapter 3 verse 7 right the way through chapter 4 verse 13. And in it, he’s historically recapitulating the events of the people of God as they travel through the wilderness. And ultimately he ends the passage in those closing verses by encouraging and exhorting them to place their trust and to rest in Jesus Christ alone.
And so that’s more or less where we’re going to be journeying or traveling through as we work through these verses this evening. He’s taking them on a parabola journey, so to speak. He starts at the high point – “Consider Jesus. Man, there’s no one like Him!” And he takes them down on into the valley where there’s a warning because of what he has heard and what he has seen. And then he takes them up on the other side and he reminds them that in light of considering Jesus, you must understand that the only place you will find rest is in Jesus Christ.
Never Cease Considering Jesus
And so firstly, I want us to consider through this wilderness, through this wilderness, never cease considering Jesus. Never cease considering Jesus. We see it in verses 1 through 6 of chapter 3. He begins verse 1 by saying, “Therefore.” In other words, “In light of everything that I’ve already said.” And then he begins with two statements that are statements of identity in some sense. He says, “holy brothers,” and “you who share in a heavenly calling.” There’s a sense in which the author is identifying himself with them; that they’re part of the same body, same community, same family. And so he says to them, “You are holy in the sight of God. That’s part of your identity. And remember that you have not been called because you called yourself into this family, but in actual fact, it’s a heavenly calling. God called you to be part of this family.” So in light of those two aspects of identity and reminding them, he then says, “Consider Jesus. Consider Jesus.”
Have you taken time to consider Jesus Christ – the Savior, the Lord, the King? Now that phrase, “consider,” it carries the implication of time and effort that is taken to think about Him. It’s not just simply glancing over the fact that He’s the Savior, that He is the Son of God. But it’s taking time to observe and study the Scriptures with regards to what it gives us in terms of the details regarding His person – that He is divine, that He is human, that there is a union between the divine and the human that is very difficult for us as human beings to comprehend. But He never ceases to be fully God. And even in His thirty-three odd years of life here on earth, He was fully God and at the same time He was wholly and completely a human being. Do you take time to observe and to consider His person?
Do you take time to observe and to study His work? That He left His place in glory, took on human flesh; that He grew in stature and grew in wisdom and grew in His understanding of the world around? He spent endless hours studying the Scriptures in order to grasp the very text and to memorize the very text that He inspired. And what about His work when He was set apart for the years of ministry? Do you take time to study and observe and to think through all that His obedience and the implications that it has for our lives today?
What about that final week where He’s with His disciples leading up to, and what He knows is going to be the inevitable death on the cross? What about His time in Gethsemane where He is pouring out His heart so to speak before the Father and in a few short moments, Judas, one of the twelve, comes in and betrays Him with a kiss? And then on the cross, even in that moment of His dying, the compassionate mercy that is displayed as He unites His mother with a disciple – it’s extraordinary. What about taking time to observe and to study His human interactions with the three in the inner core, the other twelve disciples and the other seventy-two disciples that are mentioned in the gospels? What about His interactions with the Pharisees and the Saduccees and the other religious leaders or with the crowds where He shows them compassion and He feeds them and in the same breath, when they start to push the limits of their understanding, He actually says, “Go away.” What about His relationship with the Father? Do we take time to observe and to study that?
It’s not something that happens automatically. You can spend your entire life in the Scriptures and continue to grow in your understanding of the facets of who Jesus Christ is. And that’s why here the author is saying, “Consider Jesus. Consider Him. Because the time and the effort that is put in, it yields rich, and in this case, eternal rewards as well.”
Now isn’t it true that for many Christians when they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ there’s a desire to voraciously read all that they can out of Scripture. This One that has captured their heart, they want to know more and more and more about Him. And so they read voraciously. They join a church and a community and they’re talking to other Christians. They want to discuss Jesus Christ. They want to know other people’s experience and understanding of the Scriptures. And so there’s growth in terms of their love for God and love for His people. And yet for many, I think it’s safe to say that often the thrill can so easily become mundane and dry and boring because we get so accustomed to it. And so the author of Hebrews here I think is saying, “How did you get to that point? How did you get to that point?” Part of your reason for lack of spiritual life and vitality and your consideration of going back to Judaism in their case, your drifting and your dulling and your hardness of heart is that you have ceased to plumb the depths of His majesty and His beauty and His glory and His supremacy. You’ve brought Him down to your level and you’ve ceased to understand that He alone is the Creator. He is God Most High and we are mere creatures.
Brothers and sisters, let me ask you the question – “Have you stopped considering Jesus Christ? Have you become stale in your love for Him? Or are you still kindling that and allowing the Spirit of God through the Word to fan the flames?” And if so, if you have stopped considering Jesus, my question to you is, “Why have you done that? Why have you done that?” And so I want us to look at the text, these first six verses, and I want you to notice how the author highlights three particular areas that he wants us to consider.
The first one is this – that Jesus is the apostle of our confession. Verse 1, this is the only place in Scripture where the term “apostle” is applied to Jesus Christ. Now you remember that an apostle is someone who is sent under authority. And of course the gospel of John reminds us that Jesus’ is sent by the Father – in fact, He came to reveal the Father and only to do the will of the Father. Jesus only did and He only said what the Father ordained. Have you taken time to consider what that means? And so Jesus is the apostle of our confession, he says.
Secondly, he says Jesus is the High Priest of our confession. And he’s picking up on a term that has already been introduced to us in chapter 2 verse 17. And he’s saying, “Have you taken time where you read that to actually consider what that means, what the implications are?” Now it’s interesting because the apostle of our faith, the apostle of our confession is the one who brings God down to us, who reveals God to us. But the High Priest of our faith, the High Priest of our confession is the One who brings us up to God through His torn flesh and through His poured out blood. Have you taken time to just consider that? That in His blood being poured out on the mercy seat, that the wrath of God was appeased and you now have peace and rest with God.
So consider Jesus as the apostle of our confession, the high priest of our confession, and then notice in verses 2 through 6, Jesus is greater than Moses. Now we need to remember, and I’ve mentioned this already, that to the Jew there is no greater leader than Moses in their understanding. He was the one who was specifically preserved and appointed to the task by God. You remember that it was God who preserved his life in the bullrushes, that it was God who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush before sending him to go back to Egypt to deliver the people of God from Egyptian bondage where they had been there for 400 years. And the instrument that He used to bring them out of bondage was the ten plagues, basically bringing Egypt to the end of themselves so that they would be released. And as they’re coming out of Egypt, where do they come to? They come to the Red Sea with the Egyptians behind them. And again, God uses the instrument of Moses’ staff to part the Red Sea so that the people of God can walk through before the waters close in over the Egyptians. And then in the wilderness, Moses was the one who struck the rock so that they would have water to drink. He’s the one who went up the mountain to commune with God and to receive the Law, the Ten Commandments. God also told him how to build the tabernacle and what materials to use, and so the list goes on and on and on. There was no greater leader in the mind of the Jew than Moses.
But Moses was not perfect; he was not a perfect man, so don’t correlate that at all. All you need to do is read Exodus right the way through to Deuteronomy and you realize there’s plenty of times where Moses failed. And yet, in the midst of him not being a perfect man, verses 2 and 5 does imply that he was faithful in all God’s house. He was a faithful individual. And a faithful person is someone who lives the whole of their life – thought, speech and actions – with a Godward focus. Not perfect, not sinless, but just desiring to serve and give glory to God. When they’ve fallen short, it’s coming back to the throne of grace asking God to strengthen and to forgive. Moses did fail.
And at the same time as Moses was the great leader in the old covenant, he was also the one who was pointing forward to the One who would never fail and who would never sin and who was perfectly faithful and obedient in all things, and that of course is Jesus, here. And so that’s why the author in verses 3 and 4, he goes into great detail to differentiate Moses and Jesus. He says to us and he tells us in verse 3 and 4 that both were faithful leaders but Moses was a leader within the house that God is building, whereas Jesus, whose life recapitulates the events of Moses’ life, is the one who served over the house. It’s the picture of the house but it’s also the picture of the body. It’s the Head and the body, isn’t it? The one is serving in the house and the other one is over the house. The other one has authority. You see, it’s a difference in category; it’s a difference in class that is being highlighted here. One is a creature, serving as a servant; the other is the Creator, the Redeemer, the Son of God who serves over the house. The one prayed for manna and he was instrumental in striking the rock that they may have water. The other one is the manna who was struck in order that the waters of life may flow and bring refreshment. There’s an absolute distinguishment in terms of the difference between these two.
And you see, the author, he’s imploring his readers, “Please understand and maintain that distinction because when you understand the distinction, why would you consider going back to Moses, to Judaism?” Now in our 21st century in Jackson, in Mississippi, we’re probably not going to turn back to follow Moses, but there is the temptation to place greater emphasis on adherence to the law, doctrine, theological knowledge – all good and vital in and of themselves, but if that becomes our primary focus, we’ve taken our eyes off of the One that those are meant to cause us to worship and adore and to praise and give adoration to. And in some sense, that’s exactly what they would have done in terms of going back to Moses. It’s to place our focus on that which is secondary rather than that which is the absolute. It was John Owen the Puritan who said this. He said, “Keep your heart in continual awe of the majesty of God.” “Keep your heart in continual awe of the majesty of God.” And so in every season, consider Jesus. Consider Jesus.
Be Vigilant and Persevere in Faith
That brings me to the second point that I want to just kind of work through. And for those of you, at this point in the sermon, you always know that my first point is always the longest so you can relax! So secondly, I want us just to consider what we see in verses 7 through 19 of the text, and that is, through this wilderness we are called to be vigilant and we’re called to persevere in faith. Be vigilant and persevere in faith. I mentioned that chapter 3 verse 7 through to chapter 4 verse 13 is the second of the warning passages in Hebrews. It’s the longest of the warning passages as well. And irrespective of how long you’ve been a Christian, when you read passages like this, these verses ought to stop us in our tracks and cause us to assess our lives and cause us to assess our communion with the living God. There’s no other way that we can just bypass and fly through these verses. And at the same time, if you are continuing to grow in your faith and you’re loving the Lord Jesus Christ, there’s a sense in which these verses are designed to cause us to rejoice in the grace and the mercy and the love of God towards us as He continues to preserve us and allow us to continue to grow day by day towards our heavenly home and move towards it.
Now one of the questions that the warning passages force us to consider is, “Can a true believer fall away from the faith? Can a true believer fall away from the faith?” And the brief answer is, “No, never. No, never.” Saving faith is a gift from God. He doesn’t give the gift in order to retract it at some point at later time. Saving faith begins with God and He promises to bring it to its completion at His appointed time. All God’s elect in Jesus Christ will persevere. That’s a promise from God. But there’s still a responsibility from our side. However, in light of saying all of that – this is the “but” – there is such a thing as false faith. There is such a thing as false faith. Those who profess faith, who have the language, who have the behavior, who have grown up in the Church and perhaps it’s become a cultural Christianity and they’ve imbibed and assumed that they are right with God, when in actual fact they’ve never been regenerated, they’ve never truly loved the things that God has asked us to love with heart, soul, mind and strength. And the sad thing is, that without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, people may be in the Church, the visible Church, but at some point when the pressure becomes too much and things are weighing down on Christianity because it’s no longer the popular thing to do in the culture, people sometimes fall away. And it simply demonstrates that their faith was not genuine.
Now when I say that, that’s not to say that we count them as outcasts, that we don’t pray for them and we don’t meet with them to continue to share the good news of the Gospel. We ought to be praying that God would take the Gospel they’ve heard and that He would bring that home to bear much fruit. I love what Thomas Goodwin, another Puritan – he says this – “Remember that Judas heard all Jesus’ sermons.” Now when I first heard that and when I reread it even now, it still strikes because I think that as human beings we can assume too many things. The heart of and the purpose for the warning passages is to cause our attention to be alerted. It’s to get us to sit up and think and to assess our love for Christ.
Now in the verses that are before us, in order to drive home the reality of how people drift into hardheartedness and to demonstrate the subtle and the deceptive ways in which sin can captivate and creep up on people, the author uses the Old Testament people of God as the analogy and he quotes extensively from Psalm 95. That’s what we have in verses 7 through 11 of the passage that’s before us. And Psalm 95 is actually drawing on quotations from Exodus 17 and Numbers 14 where the people of God are grumbling about the food that they’re having to eat and the water that they do not have a sufficient amount of. And they’re grumbling about the people that are in the Promised Land that are just too big. “There’s no way we can beat them! We cannot conquer them!” And there comes a point where, because of their unbelief, God vows that none of them will enter the promised rest except for Joshua and Caleb.
And I think that there’s a spiritual blueprint that is mapped out for us here and there’s a pattern that is given. And that is simply that unbelief, verses 12 and 19, unbelief leads to disobedience. In verses 16 through 18 it speaks very clearly of disobedience, and that in turn leads to the hardening of a heart. Unbelief, disobedience, hardening of heart. Drifting, dulling, hardening. It was unbelief that caused Israel to lose sight of God’s promises to enter the Promised Land, a land of rest, the place that was called and was known for as “flowing with milk and honey.” You know it always intrigues me when you read the passage of how they were moaning in the desert in the wilderness of how they wanted to go back to Egypt to eat the cucumbers. Did they forget for a moment that they were in bondage, that there was a land flowing with milk and honey that awaited them? Yes, they had manna every day, but the Lord was using that to sustain them, but they wanted cucumbers. There must have been great cucumbers back in Egypt! And it was this unbelief that ultimately led to disobedience. They did not do that which built their trust in God. They did not encourage one another to persevere and press on, but they relied on what they saw, on what they felt, and what they tasted, instead of resting in, instead of waiting upon God to fulfill His promises in His appointed time.
There’s a lesson in that for us as well. We can be too reliant on our senses at times and we can take our eyes and our ears and our focus off of what God has promised in His Word that is real meat and real food for the journey. And it’s this unbelief and this disobedience that brought about the hardening of the heart. Friends, it is always an incremental moving away from the love of God and the things of God that leads us down to a place where we may fall away if we are not truly in union with Jesus. So assess our lives. Assess your life and pray the Lord would keep your heart tender toward Him. And so as a believer, consider Jesus, examine your hearts, and seek to maintain a tender conscience in all things.
Jesus Alone is Your Rest
Which brings us to the third point which is very brief and that’s just to say this. So it’s through the wilderness, never cease considering Jesus. Through the wilderness, be vigilant and persevere in your faith. And then thirdly, in this wilderness, Jesus alone is your rest – chapter 4 verses 1 through 13. Corrie ten Boom – many of you will have heard of her and probably read her story – she once said this. She said, “If you look at the world you’ll be distressed.” I think that’s true in our generation just as it was in hers. Just look around. “If you look at the world you’ll be distressed. If you look within you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ you’ll be at rest.” I think there’s a glorious truth and I think that’s part of the central tenet of these thirteen verses in chapter 4 where he’s imploring his readers and he wants them to grasp this truth.
Now we don’t have really enough time to go into the details in verses 1 through 13, but I do want to draw out three senses of the word “rest” that are used in these verses. Firstly, “rest” denotes salvation. We see that in verses 1 through 3. It denotes salvation where believers have been delivered from bondage and they’re now at rest with their Lord. There’s no longer this inner tumult and restlessness but there’s a peace and there’s a rest with Christ.
Secondly, the second sense of the word is that rest is also from our work. We see that in verse 4 where God rested on the seventh day. And so it’s six days of work, one day of rest. And it’s those two senses that actually – our rest in salvation and our rest from work – that come together, that actually become a very important reason to take the Sabbath Day very seriously. It is to rest, but not to rest to do nothing. It’s to rest in order to consider Jesus Christ. It’s to rejoice and to exalt and to adore the One who has actually brought us from darkness into life. It’s to be gathered with the saints and to sing His praises as one body. That’s rest.
And then there’s a third sense of the word “rest” and that refers to our future rest, that this is not the end, that there is a day when God will make all things new and one day we won’t just believe in Jesus by faith; we will see Jesus in the new heavens and the new earth.
You see, the writer wants the readers to be continually mindful that they’re in the wilderness. Yes, there are going to be dangers and there’s going to be pitfalls all around us. All you need to do is go and read John Bunyans, The Pilgrim’s Progress, to pick up on some of the analogies that he uses with those pitfalls and dangers. But he warns them in this text, and at the same time he’s warning them he’s encouraging them to press on. He doesn’t want them to repeat history, so to speak, with their forefathers and to miss out on God’s promised rest. And so consider Jesus, believe, and rest in Jesus.
How Do We Enter This Rest?
Just very quickly – “How do we enter this rest? How do we enter this rest?” Well it’s to rest upon Jesus Christ. It’s to believe in Him as the eternal Son of God who has laid down His life on Calvary, that through His atoning work and blood that was shed, we have the forgiveness of sins, by God’s grace. But notice in verses 11 through 13 that this rest, we are to strive to enter it. That comes back to the beginning where there’s time and effort to be given to considering Jesus, to think about this great salvation. Strive to enter it, in verse 11, by reading and submitting ourselves to God’s Word in verse 12. That, in itself, is what is going to refresh and renew our souls so that we may, in verse 13, strive after complete surrender to the living God; that there would be less of me and more of Him through me.
Much more could be said, obviously, but that’s all we have for this evening. Let me conclude with this. Friends, in this wilderness, let us individually and corporately – that’s what we’re being encouraged and exhorted to in this passage – may we look back to consider Jesus, the wonder of who He is as the eternal Son of God enfleshed, and His work and all that He has given to us in the text. May we look back, but may we also look ahead to the glorious rest that awaits us and then see how, as we look back and as we look ahead, how that actually meets us in the present where we are exhorted to consider Jesus and to rest in Jesus, each new day until we breathe our last here and we see Him in the glories of the new kingdom.
May God bless His Word to each and every one of us this evening. Let’s go to the Lord in prayer. And part of the prayer that I have is a poem that I found about two weeks ago and I’d like to use this as part of what we reflect upon as we come to the Lord in prayer. Let’s pray.
The writer of this poem writes as follows:
“Am I a stone and not a sheep that I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross to number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss, and yet not weep? Yet give not o’er but seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock. Greater than Moses, turn and look once more, and smite the rock.”
Father, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You that it is rich and it ministers to each and every one of us in unique ways. Father, take these truths, plant them deep within us, and bring forth the fruit of the Gospel that would be a display of Your grace in the communities and in society in which we move. And we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.
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