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99. Hebrews 3-4: “A Better Hope”

Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 2/17/2019

and

South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ –Men’s Evening Chapel on 2/21/2019

(edited January 2022)

 

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1

Faith and Hope are all tied up in a big knot, according to the Word of God. We are going to attempt to locate some of that hope in our study tonight, with God’s help:

 

BOOK OF HEBREWS CHAPTER 3-

Verses 1-2:Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.”

 

The Book of Hebrews was a message from the Apostle Paul to Jewish believers in his day. It was in the form of a “open” letter that contained many references to Jewish history and the Old Covenant.

 

Verses 3-4:For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.”

 

God had granted Moses a Covenant based on laws, a government, and a People to teach and to lead. Ancient Israel was God’s Kingdom on the Earth at that time in history.

 

Verse 5:And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;”

 

But the Mosaic system was not everlasting. From the vantage point of history, a little child in Sunday School could tell you that, today. The Old Covenant system of worship eventually collapsed. If you doubt that, read the Books of I and II Kings in the Bible. Now, I’m not trying to disparage Moses or Ancient Israel. In fact, the Old Covenant had much to commend it but, the truth is, it came a horrible end. Still, by God’s Grace, it served a purpose. For one thing, it led directly to the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, and a New Covenant between God and believers. Sometimes, even when things go wrong, they can still Glorify God. Look at what Paul says next:

 

Verse 6:But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

 

Hope in Christ, today, should be a great source of confidence and rejoicing today! To explain why it isn’t, Paul refers us back to the old days in Ancient Israel:

 

Verses 7-11:Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,  Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)”

 

Now, I am no better than they were, friend. I’m nobody to condemn Ancient Israel or to condemn any unbelievers today. But I do need to pay attention and to learn from what others have gone through and, yes, to learn from their mistakes.

 

Verse 12: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”

 

The Church is no better today than Ancient Israel was back then. But because of Jesus, we have far less excuse to doubt God and to disobey Him today. That doesn’t mean that we won’t still do it. Paul knows all about this. Listen to him:

 

Verses 13-16:But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.”

 

In the time of Moses they had to choose how to walk before the Lord: in faith and hope, or in doubt and fear. You and I still face that same choice today.

 

Verses 17-19:But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

 

Many have expressed distain for the God of the Old Testament. They blame God for the failures. After all, they say, how could a loving God hang a thick curtain right in the heart of the Tabernacle and even use capital punishment sometimes to insure a separation between God and His People? Well, to learn some more, let’s press ahead into Hebrews chapter 4. Paul will continue there to zero in on how to find rest and peace in the Lord. If you’ll allow it, here we go:

 

BOOK OF HEBREWS CHAPTER 4-

Verses 1-2:Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”

 

You see, fearing the Lord was sort of a design feature in the Mosaic system of worship. The whole system was about working for rewards from God, but it also became about working to avoid punishments. The Book of Job is an example of how tragedies that Satan actually caused were misinterpreted as punishments from God. That same thing is often found in the Psalms and in other places in the Old Testament. On many occasions, Ancient Israel showed way more than a healthy reverence for the Lord’s power. They were actually had terrified of Him.

 

Let me say this, if you are terrified of Christ today, those feelings are NOT from God! They are not based in reality, either, according to the Scriptures. Jesus comes to you and to me today in LOVE. He is offering us FORGIVENESS for all our sins through faith, not faith in our own righteousness or good behavior, but faith in the merits of HIS righteousness.

 

Because of His Love for NEW Testament believers, we need not feel like we have to walk on egg shells around God all the time. The only legitimate fear that I should have today is this: will I accept Christ’s offer, trust Him, and return His Love? Does that sound too easy? Well, it is in this way. Faith, itself, is a gift from God. You can’t believe without God’s help. Only through His mercy can anyone believe in Him today.

 

Back in Hebrews chapter 2, Paul quotes King David in Psalm 22 as telling us that the coming Messiah will want to claim each of us as a part of His Family! Hey, what legitimate reason could I ever give today for rejecting the LOVE of the Son of God for me? He hasn’t dealt with me according to my sins, has He? He hasn’t meted out to me what I rightly deserve. And why is that? Because I’m religious? Because I preach sometimes? Because I “decided” one day in my own strength to just grit my teeth and start believing the Gospel? No, He knows I’m too weak to ever make that stick. He saved me because He loves me. And He loves you, too! And only He can supply the faith we need to love Him back!

 

Verses 3-7:For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.  For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

 

Part of the law in Ancient Israel was to have a Sabbath Day of rest, every week, every Saturday. But today, every second we live is supposed to be a time of RESTING in CHRIST for the believer! An ever-present and everlasting rest and peace with God. But some just will not enter into that rest. I struggle with it. Sometimes it’s easier to convince people to work and stay busy than it is to get them to stop and rest. Many approach their version of Christianity this way. They don’t want to just be loved by God and to rest in Him. Like Ancient Israel, they want to earn it for themselves. To work at religion until they feel that God owes them a life of blessings and prosperity.  Let’s go on:

 

Verses 8-9:For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”

 

Preachers usually agree that the “Jesus” mentioned here is not our Jesus. It refers to Joshua, called Jeshua, from the Old Covenant. He was the successor to Moses and he led the People of God who had come out of Egypt with Moses on into Land of Canaan. And under Joshua’s leadership they were victorious. From the City of Jericho and on through the Promised Land they went. They conquered and subdued their enemies. They settled in new land and, for a good while, they rested and prospered there. But that was not a permanent rest. It was only a picture of the eternal rest that Christ is offering to you and to me today.

 

Verse 10:For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”

 

As I’ve said, sometimes, I still try to “earn” or work for rewards from God. And one way I know I’m falling into this is that it turns my worship very dry and joyless. And when it happens, I know my only hope is to just stop, to stop and rest in the Lord. Sometimes, as Paul seems to say next, resting can be hard work:

 

Verse 11:Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

 

 

The Church today needs to be working at maintaining a close relationship with Christ. Our good works are a reflection of our connection with Him, but they are NOT the connection.

 

But you can’t work, even on a relationship, without the right tools. Paul closes chapter 4 by sharing some of the tools we absolutely need to keep our Family Relationship with God strong. Here they are:

 

PAULS HEAVENLY RELATIONSHIP TOOLBOX

FOR NEW TESTAMENT BELIEVERS

Verses in Hebrews chapter 4

Tool, or topic

Verse 12:For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

 

 

THE WORD OF GOD

Verse 13:Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

 

 

THE POWER OF GOD

Verses 14-15: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

 

 

 

 

 

THE SON OF GOD

 

 

 

 

In Jesus, God has FULLY, stepped out now from behind that Tabernacle curtain of separation. And it cost Him dearly to do so. It cost Him EVERYTHING! Look objectively for a just a moment at what actually happened when the Son of God opened His arms of Love to humanity. Calvary is what happened! The Old Testament believers were terrified of God’s presence, but in the end, there in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was God Who feared. And rightfully so. For the real monster in our relationship, all along, was not God. It was you and me.

 

Are you glad that Jesus came? Would you still prefer to save yourself through laws and religion? To everyone who receives the gift of faith in the Son of God He brings rest, and peace, and true HOPE. Let’s rejoice in that hope, and allow Paul to have the final say:

 

Verse 16:  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

 

Let’s pray.

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