For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his
11Let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 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. 13 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.
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:11-16
To get the total context of this devotional read Hebrews 3:1-5:10. This text is too long for me to copy here.
The greater context of this passage is dealing with the proposition that Jesus is greater than Moses, and whereas Moses and Joshua were not able to bring God’s people into God’s rest, Jesus does just that. This context deals a lot with the twin sisters of disobedience and unbelief; they always go around together.
The book of Hebrews is written to Jews who have trusted Jesus as their Messiah. If you read it as a Gentile and don’t take into consideration that the original audience was Jewish followers of Jesus, you will never get it. You will probably misunderstand the message and get a false picture of what it is teaching.
The great lesson of the struggles of the Jewish people going from slavery in Egypt to living in the land of the Canaanites by God’s grace is one of faith and unbelief. God taught Moses his ways and continually showed his acts to the children of Israel, but most of them didn’t get it. They continually disobeyed God because they didn’t believe God.
After Joshua led them in battle after battle in taking over the land of promise, you would expect, and rightly so, that they would eventually find a place of rest after they had eliminated all their enemies. Here is a critical word:
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Two major points here:
- There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God (us)
- Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his works
Our life of faith is not a life of works to please God. The faith life is a life of rest, a life depending on the finished work of Christ, not on our superior spiritual performance and perfection. God rested after he finished his work of creation and when we enter into God’s Sabbath rest in Christ we also rest from our works by relying entirely on the finished and complete work of Christ.
There is some kind of “work” referred to as a striving to enter that rest. We need to work at not working so we don’t fall by the same sort of disobedience as the unbelieving Israelites. Due to persecution, these Jewish believers were tempted to back off on this Jesus thing and just be normal Jews. While the culture around them still saw Jews as “different,” at least they didn’t get picked on as severely as the Jewish Christians did. These poor folks not only had the stigma of being Jewish in a pagan world, but they were also outcasts from the Jewish community because of their acceptance of Christ as the promised Messiah. Now they had nobody on their side except the Gentile Christians which was a tiny minority of the population, Not a great consolation prize.
So, they were tempted to fall into disobedience through unbelief of the gospel. The whole book of Hebrews is an apologetic for understanding the superiority of Jesus over everything else one might value.
Thus the statement, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” The confession is the confession of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Why hold fast? “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” There was at least one time when he was tempted to turn back, but instead, he prayed, not my will but yours be done. He knows the temptation to run scared. “Feel me?” as the slang expression goes. Yes, Jesus does feel your temptation, He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.
Now for the bomb!
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
A throne is where royalty rules its kingdom. This is a throne on which Jesus, the true Son of David, sits. That throne is grace. Whoa! Jesus rules his kingdom by grace.
We are exhorted to come to this throne that dispenses grace and expect two things, mercy, which speaks of the forgiveness we all need for our many sins and failures, and grace which is God’s gift of enablement to live the life we are called to live.
So, when you are being beaten up by life and are tempted to give up, head for the grace dispensing throne of King Jesus. Get the forgiveness you need. And find the power of his enabling grace to get back into the fray and in the midst of the battle, rest, rest in God’s Sabbath rest. Jesus paid it all and provides it all. Be at rest during your time of need.