Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Rest for the People of God

“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”  Hebrews 4:9

 

What is this sabbath rest spoken of in Hebrews chapter 3 and 4? 

 

For one thing, we know from Hebrews 3:1 and 4:9  that it concerns Christians. Our walk is likened to Israel‘s journey from Egypt through the wilderness and into Canaan.

 

We know it is a place of rest from our own works, efforts and struggles.  4:10

 

We know that only unbelief keeps us out of that land.  4:11

 

 

 

The Exodus from Egypt

 

Israel‘s 400 years of slavery in Egypt is an illustration of our condition before we were saved. We were slaves of Satan and knew nothing of true freedom. We were, as Hebrews 2:15 describes, “all our lifetime in bondage” to religion and self-effort; trying, but failing  to gain merit with God.

 

Then in the fullness of time God gave them Moses to lead them out of Egypt and  slavery.  That took place at the first Passover described in Exodus 12.   You remember that each family had to slay a lamb and smear the blood on the doorpost of their house so that the death angel would pass over them as he went through Egypt that night killing all the first born of the land.  The death angel passed over the homes covered by the blood. 

 

What a picture of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was slain for our sins!  How important it is that we trust in that shed blood for our salvation!  Those covered by the blood of Christ will never experience God’s condemnation.  Are you covered by that blood?  Are you trusting the blood sacrifice of Christ on Calvary as your only merit for salvation from sin and judgment?

 

Next day, after the angel of death had struck Egypt, while Israel had been  spared; they began their journey from Egypt under the leadership of Moses.  You remember the miracle of crossing the Red Sea on dry ground and then later the Egyptian army being drowned in the Red Sea as they pursued after Israel.

 

The rest of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy describe Israel‘s journey through the wilderness on their way to Canaan.  Those books speak, not only of their journey, but also of the laws, the Tabernacle and the sacrificial  system that God gave them for dealing with their sins and living their lives so as to please Him.

 

Their destination, the land of Canaan, does not speak primarily of Heaven, as many of our Christian songs teach; but of a life of victory we can experience as we live in a sin-cursed world.  Yes, Canaan is a picture of the life that every Christian ought to be living here on earth right now.   This life in Canaan, though filled with battles with Satan our enemy, is described as a life of REST.  

 

REST is  the key word in Hebrews 3 and 4.

 

As Israel journeyed through the wilderness they eventually came to Kadesh-barnea in the northern desert just south of the border of Canaan.  Number 13-14 tells the  story of how Israel sent twelve spies into Canaan to spy out the land so that they would be prepared to enter.  Ten of those spies brought back a negative report of unbelief. “It was too dangerous.  There were too many enemies.  It was impossible.”  Only two spies,  Caleb and Joshua, brought back a positive report. ” Yes, there were enemies, but with God’s help, they could enter the land and be victorious!”

 

Israel listened to the majority report and gave up right then. They moaned and groaned and said it was impossible to enter.  God became angry with them and sentenced all the Israelites twenty years old and older to continue to wander in the wilderness until they were dead.  

 

Forty years later when all were dead, God called Joshua to lead the new generation, including eighty-five year old Caleb, to enter Canaan and begin conquering the enemy.  That story is told in the book of Joshua.  Basically, they were told to rest in the Lord, obey Him and watch Him conquer the enemies and enable them to possess the land.  This is told in the first nine verses of the first chapter of Joshua.

 

What dangers do we face as Christians?

 

Through the sin of failing to trust God, we risk the danger of never entering the land of Canaan, the victorious Christian life.  We risk the danger of just existing all our days, walking as living zombies with no purpose, no joy and no victories over sin. That’s the warning in Hebrews 3:7-11.  Though saved, we depart from the living God and live our lives as though He were dead. 

 

I’m afraid that Israel wandering in the wilderness for forty years is a picture of many Christians who go through the motions of Christianity, but with no reality of walking with the Living Lord and experiencing His purpose, joy and victory in their lives.

 

Hebrews 3:13 instructs us to be aware of those defeated Christians and exhort them daily, lest their hearts become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  Be aware that if we entertain and coddle even just a little sin in our lives, our hearts will gradually become calloused and hardened to where we don’t care.

 

We Christians who rejoice in our eternal security in Christ need to be especially cautious that we do not use that truth as an excuse to become careless about sin.  If you’ve not read it, I encourage you to read my article on eternal security in our SALVATION series.

 

How do we partake of Christ?

 

Note the exhortation in Hebrews 3:14  “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfastly to the end.”  How do we partake of Christ each day?  We partake of Him as we read and take heed to His Word daily.  His Word is the daily food that sustains us.  Find a church that is faithful to the Bible where you are faithfully fed. Use this web site to help feed your soul as you test by  the plumb line of the infallible, living  Word of God what I or anyone else writes or says.

 

What must we fear?

 

Hebrews 4:1 warns us to fear something. What is it that we are to fear? Certainly not our eternal security in Christ.  A Christian need not ever fear losing his salvation. Read Romans 8:28-39 for a powerful  statement on why this should never be our fear.  Our standing in Jesus’ righteousness can never change.

 

Certainly we ought not be concerned whether we are pleasing God through the Sabbath observance or through any other ceremonial law for Israel under the Old Covenant.  That is not even an issue.  If you have come to Jesus as your Saviour and are trusting Him, the observance of ceremonial laws and sabbaths should have no place in our lives.  Those are all shadows of Christ.  We have Christ Himself.  The only value of studying those shadows is that we can learn  more about Jesus.

 

If you’ve trusted Christ for your salvation and for your life, you have nothing to fear as far as your standing is concerned.  I John 4:18 says that “perfect love casts out fear.”

 

What is it then that Hebrews 4:1 is telling us to fear?  The fear should be that of falling short of entering into Christ’s rest.  We should fear displeasing our Heavenly Father.

 

Do you remember when you as a little child were warned by your parents to stay out of the street so you would not be hit by a car?   As a little child, did you live each day in mortal fear of being hit by a car or being punished by your parents.  Of course not!  While you played in your yard or in the park with your parents or an older brother or sister,  you didn’t even think of the dangers of the street; however, if your ball rolled out into the street, you were fearful of venturing out into the street.  Even if a car didn’t hit you, you did not want to risk getting punished for disobeying your parents. Hopefully, your friends exhorted you to stay out of the street.   So in our walk with God  Christian friends and pastors exhort us to avoid seeing how close we can play with fire without being burned.  They exhort us to come to church when we are beginning to get discouraged and slack off.  See Hebrews 3:13  and  10:24.

 

How do we labor to enter this land of rest?  

 

Hebrews 4:11 asks that question.

 

For one thing, we get into the Word of God.   4:12  It exposes the thoughts and intents of our heart like nothing else can. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to bring us to conviction of sin.

 

As we struggle with our infirmities and sins, remember that Jesus our great High Priest walked this earth as a man experiencing all the temptations we face yet without sin. He invites us to come boldly before His throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help us discover His victory when we are tempted.  4:14-16

 

Have you come to know Christ; not only as your Saviour, but as your Victory and Rest? I’m not teaching present perfection. I John 1:8-10 teaches that we will not be sinlessly perfect until we arrive in Heaven in our glorified bodies at the Rapture of the Church.

 

However, even though we are not perfect yet, we can learn to enjoy consistent victory over sin as we come to Jesus, our Sabbath Rest.  Jesus invites us in Matthew 11:28-30 to come to Him, learn of Him and yoke with Him in service. We will discover the wonderful rest that comes in fellowship and service with Him.

 

My prayer for you, dear reader, is that your eyes will be opened to grasp this wonderful, life-changing truth of discovering The Lord Jesus Christ; not only as your Saviour, but as your Lord, as your Life,  as your Victory over sin and as your Sabbath.

 

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March 5, 2009 - Posted by | Rest

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