Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Hebrews 4:3-5-4:12
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Hebrews 4:3-5
Verses 3-5: What sort of rest did the Exodus generation forfeit when they refused to believe God’s promises? Was it simply the rest of entering the promised land, or did they lose something far greater? This is the question which is being answered here. And the author’s answer is that what they forfeited was more than being allowed to enter their national homeland, ultimately it was God’s invitation to rest from their religious “works” just as He has rested from the work of creation since the seventh day (Ge 2:1-3). On the seventh day “…God rested… from all His works” (He 4:4), and as far as creation is concerned, He has continued to rest ever since, though at a future date He will create a “new heaven and earth” (Rev 21:1, 2). So by completely desisting from all such labor He models the spiritual rest He desires to give His people: a state of being completely free of work.

Monday: Hebrews 4:6-8
Verse 6: Though the Exodus generation didn’t gain that rest, God continues to invite every generation to enter. As long as it can still be called “today” a person may enter that rest. Verse 7: Through such passages as Psalm 95:7-11, the Holy Spirit continues to invite everyone for whom it is “today,” warning us not to harden our hearts, but to enter God’s rest by faith. Verse 8: The proof that the “rest” being offered must be something more than Israel’s national homeland is demonstrated by the fact that four centuries after Joshua led the nation into that land, the Holy Spirit spoke this warning about failing to enter God’s rest.

Tuesday: Hebrews 4:9, 10
Verses 9, 10: The “Sabbath rest” to which God invites us is the righteousness of faith. This hope of righteousness, which is a gift given by God to men and women of faith, is the real basis for salvation in the Old or New Testaments. The author makes this principle clear when he says, “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (v 10). So in order to be saved, people in any generation must cease putting their trust for their salvation in the performance of religious rituals, including those prescribed in the Law of Moses. Nor should they ever consider their own level of personal holiness to be adequate. Each person must rest completely in God’s mercy and atonement for their sin. For Old Testament saints the ultimate sacrifice for their atonement remained a mystery revealed in the shadowy types of their sacrifices (Lk 24:44, 45; Col 2:16, 17; He 8:5; 10:1). They longed to know more but Jesus was not revealed until the proper time ordained by God (He 11: 39, 40; 1Pe 1:10-12, Eph 1:9, 10). For New Testament saints we now know the name and circumstances concerning God’s great act of atonement. So when we “rest from our works,” we understand why with far greater clarity. But in either case, a person must abandon all hope in his or her own works and rest by faith in God’s gift of righteousness.

Wednesday: Hebrews 4:11
Verse 11: To conclude this passage about God’s rest, the author exhorts us saying, “…let us be diligent to (eagerly, speedily, energetically) enter into that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience (as they did).” His intent and theology could not be more clear. He is warning Christians not to do what the Exodus generation did, because if we do, we too will be disqualified from reaching the goal of resting with God in heaven. We need to eagerly, speedily and energetically lay hold of Christ, and continue to lay hold of Him by faith for the duration of our lives.

Thursday: Hebrews 4:12
Verse 12: The observation made here about the power of the word of God can be applied to any and every form of His word, whether written, preached, prophesied, sung, dramatized or spoken by the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. However, taken in context the “word” to which he is referring is the “good news preached to us” (v 2), which for these Hebrew Christians was unquestionably the gospel of Jesus Christ (Heb 6:5). And the reason he is explaining its power so vividly is to establish in his readers’ minds that no one who has heard and understood the gospel should think for a moment that they will not be held accountable for their response to it. The gospel, as are all true words from God, is accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is so mixed with Spirit-power it impacts the human heart like a living, energetic force, exposing its deepest motivations and attitudes. As if it were a sharp sword, it cuts open the heart revealing all that is hidden inside.

Friday: Hebrews 4:12
Verse 12 (continued): The word of God opens up the human heart exposing the spiritual attitudes hidden there as if it had been cut open with a sharp sword. Specifically what type of sword or knife is not said, but the author must have in mind either a weapon, or possibly the knife a priest would use to prepare a sacrifice (e.g. Lev 1:2-9). In the case of a priest, the knife would be used to open up an animal, remove certain organs, separate joints which held bone to bone, and it might even cut bones in half revealing the inner marrow hidden there. In a non-violent, but just as intrusive way, God’s word brings to light our hidden thoughts and discerns the origin of each. Some will be found to arise from the mortal, animal-like parts of us (soul), and others arise from the part of us which has been made in the image of God (spirit). Our spirit is that which distinguishes us as a person with the capacity of rational thought, moral choice and affection for that which is godly or evil. So it is by discernment that the word separates the “soul and spirit.”

Saturday: Hebrews 4:12
Verse 12 (continued): When God’s word comes to us it penetrates our defenses exploring how we really feel about Him. One of two responses begins almost immediately: either the person acts to stop what is perceived to be an offensive message from continuing, or they choose to listen to what’s being said with the intention of submitting to it as they are able. People sin for different reasons. Some are trapped by ignorance, addiction, demonic deception, etc., yet their innermost will wants to please God. When His word reaches these it brings with it hope for freedom and the promise of a new relationship with God. These gladly receive the word and repent. Others, regardless of what they may say publicly about their desire to be free from sin or their denials that they are sinning at all, at the level of their innermost will, love their sin and have no intention of letting God take it away. So without God’s word it is very difficult to discern a person’s true attitude toward Him. But when it arrives, in the wink of an eye, like a slashing sword, deep hidden attitudes are exposed. One person quickly welcomes the “light,” another just as quickly puts up defenses against it (Jn 3:19-21).

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