Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Hebrews: The Superiority Of Christ To Errant Religions
Part IV: Holding Fast Our Confidence In Christ, Hebrews 3:6b-4:16
B. The Motivation To Trust And Obey Christ In Our Era
(Hebrews 4:1-10)
  1. Introduction
    1. Living by faith in God and His Word is not to be seen by us as an optional exercise: as we learned in our last lesson, failing to trust Him and His Word leads not only to a loss of blessing, but to severe discipline!
    2. Yet, trusting and obeying God and His Word is also greatly to be desired, for the reward opened to us as a result of such obedience is a life of "rest" from endless struggles for fulfillment as Hebrews 4:1-10 shows:
  2. The Motivation To Trust And Obey Christ In Our Era, Hebrews 4:1-10.
    1. Referring back to the Hebrews 3:6b-19 warning to avoid the example of the generation of Israel in the wilderness that failed to trust and obey the Lord, the author of Hebrews called his readers to fear missing out on God's "rest" that God promises is available to us as it was to that generation, Hebrews 4:1.
    2. The author noted that God's good news of blessing had been proclaimed to that generation, the good news of finding the "rest" of possessing the Promised Land, but, since they did not believe that message so as to obey God in the wilderness, He swore in His wrath that they would miss the Canaan "rest", Hebrews 4:2.
    3. The author of Hebrews was aware that his readers did not have a divine promise of attaining an earthly land inheritance "rest" like the people of ancient Israel, so he noted how each generation of believers in God have had a "rest" from Him available to them in their situation, a rest by faith, Hebrews 4:3-10:
      1. The author noted that we who believe God and His Word in our era enter God's "rest," Hebrews 4:3a.
      2. Now, ancient Israel in the wilderness had a "rest" available to them, the rest of possessing the Promised land that they failed to gain due to unbelief (Hebrews 4:3b), but God's "rest" in a much deeper focus had been available to mankind since the beginning of the world, Hebrews 4:3c.
      3. To explain, the author of Hebrews noted that back in Genesis 2:1-3 on the seventh day after the six days of creation, God had rested from all of His creative works, establishing a pattern for His people down through history to have a similar "rest" from their own works, Hebrews 4:4-5.
      4. Since the generation of Israel in the wilderness failed to enter that "rest" that was based upon God's deeper "rest" initiated back at creation, He directed the psalmist at Psalm 95:7 to call his generation of Hebrews who had already lived in the Promised Land to heed God's Word, not to harden their hearts, lest they miss God's blessing of "rest" for their particular era, Hebrews 4:6-7.
      5. The author of Hebrews has a strong argument for this: if Joshua had given his generation God's "rest", God would not have spoken later of another "rest" to the Psalm 95:7 generation in the land, Heb. 4:8:
        1. The King James Version claims "Jesus" had not given the people rest in Hebrews 4:8, but the name "Jesus" in the Greek New Testament is the Greek equivalent for the Old Testament word, "Joshua."
        2. Since "Joshua" fits the context of Israel's failure to gain rest in the wilderness wanderings, we believe the author of Hebrews meant "Joshua" and not "Jesus" at Hebrews 4:8. (cf. NIV, ESV)
        3. Thus, Hebrews 4:8 argues that if Joshua had given his generation the deep "rest" of God in leading Israel into the Promised Land, Psalm 95:7 would not have called a later generation to such a "rest"!
      6. Accordingly, there is a deep spiritual "rest" available to the people of God in the Church era as well, one that has existed for the people of God in every generation down through history, Hebrews 4:9.
      7. That deep spiritual "rest", based on the symbolic precedent of God's own "rest" from His works back in Genesis 2:1-3, is a "rest" where the believer ceases trying to gain blessing by his own ways and means, and instead rests from self-help works to trust and obey the Lord like God ceased from His own creative works on the seventh day, Hebrews 4:10!
Lesson: May WE in OUR generation of the dispensation of the CHURCH come to CEASE attempting to do our OWN works for blessing, and rather TRUST and OBEY GOD and His WORD for "REST".

Application: As there is severe discipline in missing it and great blessing and rest in gaining it, may we CEASE our OWN efforts for blessing and TRUST and OBEY GOD and His WORD for DEEP REST!