Rest is a gift from God. The Hebrew writer uses the word “rest” in several ways in Chapters 3 & 4. He talks about the Promised Land as a place of rest, the Sabbath as a day of rest, but throughout he talks about the rest that God desires to give.
A. Thank you to Jim, Herch and Jamie for speaking for me last Sunday while I was on vacation. So proud of this church family and each of those who are willing to step up help preach, teach adults and kids, host or lead small groups, we are a congregation blessed with good, spiritually minded people. God is doing great things among us.
B. We are back to our study of the book of Hebrews. The reading today is the summery of what the writer began in Heb. 3:7 and has written about all the way through Heb. 4:13. It is a calling to remember. The Hebrew writer does this through his sermon. He takes you back to some story in the OT and challenges you from that story how to live today. In fact, the word “today” is the word he camps on in this section along with the word “rest.”
C. I want to take you back to story the writer talks about in chapter 3. It is story recorded for us in Ex. 17. The Hebrew people have come out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and are traveling this long route to Mt. Sinai. Along the way they had little water to drink, complaining to Moses God turned “bitter” water into “sweet” water. Soon after that they ran out of food and complain about how great it was in Egypt, so God gave them manna and quail. Again, the people could not find water and complained to Moses, and this time, Moses asked a question, “Why do you test the Lord.” You see, the problem is unbelief. The people don’t believe that God will meet their needs. But the people continue to complain and he called the place “Massah and Meribah.” Those words carry the idea of “testing and quarreling.”
D. How many times in our life have we found ourselves with an unbelieving heart where we want to test God and quarrel with him about what is unfair? It is this story that is recorded in Ps. 95 and quoted in our text in Hebrews 3 and 4. The Hebrew writer want us to remember that day and decided how we are going to live “today.”
A. If you have your Bible the writer draws us to the word “today” four times in the longer text. After the writer quotes from Ps. 95 he gives us this teaching (Heb. 3:12-15).
B. There are many people who believe in “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can put off till the day after that.” Procrastination is the M.O. of many people in society, but spiritual laziness and spiritual apathy can have a great cost.
C. James tells us “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:7). That’s the truth, but here’s the question, “How do you resist the devil and how do you draw near to God?” You see, unless we are proactive in our adding to our faith all the virtues that Peter teaches, we will find it easy to slip into unbelief and miss out on “today.”
D. This is not an easy teaching. God is asking you to step up your connection with the Christians in this local family. The word “exhort” is that of encouraging or helping. It means to beg, plead, to call out a person’s name for encouragement. That is calling what needs to be happening “today.”
A. Keep digging into this text (READ Heb. 4:1-5)
B. Rest is a gift from God. The Hebrew writer uses the word “rest” in several ways in chapter 4. He talks about the promised land as a place of rest, the Sabbath as a day of rest founded in the creation story, but throughout he talks about the rest that God desires to give.
C. Stop and think for a moment about this question, “What rest is it that God wants to give to you?” In verse 11 of our text we are told “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest.” We see that all of that first generation who came out of Egypt failed to enter into a rest promised by God. A rest, that from creation, had meaning and value.
D. We see the writer do three things with the word “rest.” First, he talks about a Sabbath rest that God gave on the seventh day of creation.
E. The first clue for us is that rest is a gift from God and has an eternal promise to it. Therefore, he made the day holy for the Jews and commanded them to keep the Sabbath, to keep a day of rest. You are not a slave that works 24/7, God wants you to slow down and bask in His glory, to spend time with him in the stillness of your heart, in the collective worship we have, in quiet meditation. Rest.
F. Second, the Promised Land, was seen as rest. Look with me at Heb. 4:8. There was a problem when Joshua took them into land, they did not possess all of it. In fact, because of that failure, they would suffer battles from people for generations. They never fully had rest in the Promised Land, but yet, there is another rest. (READ Heb. 4:9-10).
G. The third and meaningful idea of rest then is that we as Christians, unlike the Jews of old, have a rest that comes by Jesus to us. We cannot keep the law perfectly. We fail, we cannot fix our failure and therefore our works only drive us harder and farther from Jesus. Through Jesus we have grace. Not a liberty to sin, but grace that covers our failure from works. We rest in the grace of Jesus, just as God rested from his works in creation.
A. That great rest that comes through Jesus is not about us doing nothing spiritually, or letting sin continue to reign in our life. Look at what the he says (Heb. 4:11-13).
B. Don’t let unbelief, a lack of faith in God, a testing and complain to God, keep you from the rest God offers. Instead, God challenges you to grow and see yourself through the power of scripture. Yes, I am challenged by God to keep on keeping on, to strive for holiness, to be aware that my sin is not hidden and I must give an account of my life to God.
C. Do I worry about that? The Hebrew writer wants me to understand that my great high priest, Jesus, has my sin atoned for. But that is next week’s lesson. For today we are called to remember that unbelief keeps me from God’s rest. Enter into it God’s rest with confidence. If we can help you in your walk with the Lord, come as we stand and sing.