Hebrews Lesson 34 November 17, 2005
NKJ Isaiah 40:7 The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.
I thought we would have a little humor tonight because this is one of those lessons that's a real brain burner.
A little girl was talking in class to her teacher about whales. The teacher said that it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human being. Though it is a large mammal it has a very small throat. But the little girl said that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. (That's not what the Bible says. The Bible says it was a big fish.) Irritated the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human. It is physically impossible. The little girl said, "Well when I get to heaven I am going to ask Jonah".
The teacher said, "Well, what if Jonah went to hell?"
The little girl quickly responded, "Then you ask him."
When I was in seminary one of the few things one of my homiletics professors said that was pretty accurate and I like to quote every now and then is that when there is a mist in the pulpit, there is a fog in the pew. Well, when there is a fog in the pulpit it gets real cloudy out there. It might be one of those cloudy nights. We are going to get into a subject that is difficult. I have been working my way through this for two or three weeks trying to figure out the best way to deal with this because there are some things here that we are going to learn that are a little bit different perhaps from the way that you learned them in the past. That is one of the great things about studying Scripture. In each generation (It is not that we change doctrine.) we study more and come to a greater appreciation and understanding of a lot of things in the Word. Sometimes concepts or applications from certain passages that we have understood in the past may not be as accurate as we thought.
I remember some years ago now that it was probably 10 to 12 years ago I was sitting in Bible class and Pastor Thieme was teaching on I Corinthians 13:13 for the fourth or fifth night in a row. I had my Greek text out and I was following along. He was talking about faith and hope as confident expectation. I kept looking at that verse and I noticed the Greek text. We all know the verse and have read it many times. I kept looking at it in the Greek.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I noticed that the "now" in verse 13 was a different word for "now" than was used 2 verses earlier in verse 11.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
I scratched my head. I wasn't paying attention to the lesson. My brain was running down a rapid trail. I know you do that too. That is the beauty of how the Holy Spirit teaches us. I may say one thing now and you are gone for the rest of the time. You are thinking in terms of doctrine. That's ok. I understand. I went home and did some study and research on the two different words for now. When I got done I went in and talked to Pastor Thieme and I said that it occurred to me that if you recognize the temporal distinction between the two words for now, it changes our whole understanding of the verse. The face to face is not talking about face to face with God, but it's talking about face to face with the mirror of God's word.
He looked at me and said, "You know I have always taught that it was face to face with God but I never liked it. I always had a problem with it." That was pretty much the standard interpretation. He said, "I think you have pretty much solved that conundrum."
That by way of introduction is a way of saying that I am sifting our understanding of a key concept in chapter 2 and 3 (specifically 3:11f) that is a key idea that has entered into the vocabulary that we have all use. It is a true concept but it doesn't really come out of this passage. It is the concept of rest. The phrase we use frequently is the faith rest drill. What is the rest that we are talking about in Hebrews 3? Is this the rest that relates to trusting God and relaxing in His provision? Now that is a true concept. But is that what the rest in Hebrew 3 and 4 is talking about? So I've been digging around and scratching around in different studies coming up with some interesting conclusions.
Before we get into that we have to do a little review. When we looked at this section beginning in verse 7 we have our exhortation or warning section that grows out of the didactic section that covered 2:5 down to 3:6. What is being taught in that section related to sanctification leads the writer of Hebrews to say, "Therefore in light of role that Jesus Christ plays in the hypostatic union in His humanity in setting the precedent for the spiritual life there is a serious warning for us." In his conclusion in the last paragraph of the didactic section, he compares Jesus to Moses. Out of that he's going to say basically that if disobedience to Moses produced such a horrendous consequence for the Jews and jeopardized their rest, how much more will disobedience to Jesus who is greater than Moses jeopardize our rest if we fail to trust Christ just as the Exodus generation failed to trust Christ?
Let me say that again. He has compared Jesus and Moses. He says that Jesus is superior to Moses. The Exodus generation disobeyed Moses. As a result they jeopardized their inheritance, the rest, the entry into the Promised Land. None of them entered the land, not even Moses. The only ones that entered were Caleb and Joshua because they were willing to trust God fully and completely. Everybody else was prohibited from entering into the Promised Land. What he is saying is that if the consequences for that generation of believers were so severe because they disobeyed Moses and Jesus is superior to Moses, what do you think the consequences would be in our spiritual lives if we disobey Jesus and don't trust fully in Him? These are going to be serious consequences that are going to be much broader than not being able into enter the Promised Land. So that's the overall view.
So last time so that we would have a perspective and overview and understanding of Israel's rebellion, I went through a number of events to show that this generation, the Exodus generation, had this history of disbelieving God. They saw all of these miracles. They saw that when Pharaoh pursued them that God parted the Red Sea in Exodus 14.
When they went into the wilderness and they arrived at Meribah where there were bitter waters that Moses put a tree into the water and it turned sweet. From there they went to 12 Palms at Elim. They didn't have food and God provided them with manna. Then they went on to Rephidim where there was no water. They complained again. God told Moses told to hit the rock. He did and fresh water came forth. Then when he was up getting the law on Mt. Sinai getting the law, the people complain again. They wanted Aaron to build a golden calf so he builds a golden calf.
Then in Numbers 11 they complain and God sends discipline again in some sort of brush fire. They were complaining about just eating manna and He sent them quail. They gorged on the quail. Many of them got sick and many died. Then there is the rebellion of Aaron and Miriam against Moses and then the failure at Kadesh Barnea. Again and again and again there is this failure to believe. This generation had the potential to enter the Promised Land. They had the potential to experience the full orb of God's blessing. What He promised was rest. That term rest has tremendous significance and meaning. It's not a simple word. We think of it that way. But this word is an extremely complex word. So they failed completely to experience the potential blessing that God had promised them which is categorized under this term rest. Nevertheless, last time I pointed out that they were believers. Again and again and again they believe in God. It's the same words that are used in the Greek New Testament to express the conditions for salvation. They believe God. They trust God. But because of their disbelief they didn't lose their salvation, their destiny in heaven; but they did lose their inheritance. It was taken away from them. They did not enter the land. That entry into the land is defined in Psalm 95:11.
NKJ Psalm 95:11 So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' "
That's they key phrase. "My rest" is the key phrase for being able to understand and properly interpret everything down to the end of chapter 4. So this is a term that we have to spend a little time on. It is not a simple term.
I ran across this quote in an article that I was reading on the subject. Walter Kaiser wrote this. It was about 30 years ago. He was a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Now he is the president of Gordon Conwell Seminary. He is pre-trib. He is a dispensationalist. He wrote.
In 1933 Gerhard Von Rad (He is a liberal Old Testament professor. He is a big name in Old Testament studies. These guys may not be on the same page that we are on, but they do some good work in some areas.) made an apt observation.
"Among the many benefits of redemption offered to man by the Holy Scripture that of rest has been almost overlooked in Biblical theology."
Here is this world renowned professor who says this whole concept of rest has not been adequately and fully developed and explored in the history of Biblical study.
Kaiser goes on to say 40 years later in 1973.
"Fourty years later has not substantially changed the situation. In fact brief (they barely talk about it) and conflicting (nobody agrees) delivered in commentaries on Hebrews 3 and 4 only a few major articles and journals and fewer graduate theses have been devoted to the concept of God's rest in the last century."
That means that everybody is skipping over it because it's so complex. It is such a pregnant concept. That imagery means that it is loaded with nuance and meaning. It ties together 5 or 6 major doctrines. Now I believe that if you don't have a dispensational framework you're not going to be able to put things together to understand all of the nuances and implications and significance of the term for rest. This is what Kaiser points out. He concludes.
"Most Biblical theologies of the Old Testament, the New Testament, Biblical encyclopedias, theological workbooks, and systematic theologies are ominously silent on the topic. The question is why."
The reason I introduce this is because I want you to get an understanding of the fact that this is what seminary students or professors call a problem passage. It is difficult concept to understand because the way the word is used throughout the Old Testament. You can't just come into Hebrews and say, "Rest. That just means trusting in God." There is a whole lot of meaning behind this term that comes out of the Old Testament. So if we are going to understand what the writer of Hebrews is saying to us, we have to have a little perspective from the Old Testament.
So I think the first thing we ought to do is understand some of the key words that are used in this study. The first word I want to focus on is the Greek word that we find that translates two or three of the different Hebrew words. That is an interesting concept. Usually it is the other way around. Usually in Hebrew you have one word that then is translated by two or three different Greek words. The Greek is a more precise language. But what we have in this case it is just the opposite. You have three different Hebrew words that are all translated by the same Greek word. So how are we supposed to understand this?
The Greek word is katapausis. It is the act of resting or ceasing from labor. Now we know that God doesn't need to rest. He doesn't tire out. God is omnipotent. He never exhausts His energy. It is the idea of cessation from labor when it's applied to God as opposed to resting because He is tired. It is also called a place of rest, a place of dwelling or fixed abode. In some passages the concept of rest has to do with the tabernacle. This is God's resting place in the Holy of Holies. What does that tell you? It tells you that it has some nuance or idea about worship and serving God. So that's part of it. It brings in all kinds of different mixes. It is used in Acts 7:49. You have the same word used that you have here in Hebrews 3 and 4 but it will translate a different word out of Isaiah 66:1.
The other word that is used is the Greek word nuah. It means to rest, settle down, to be stable. It refers to a resting place or a place of rest. The noun form is used in a lot of verses we are going to look at. Can anybody think of a name that relates to nuah? Noah! Man would find rest, salvation in Noah. It picks up this nuance of salvation. It has the idea of absence of movement, being settled in a permanent place. It is used to describe the rest that comes after a complete victory in a military conquest. It is used to refer to the rest of salvation.
The last word is sabat. Where do we get that? It is related to Sabbath. Sabbath means seven. Sabat doesn't have a double "b" so everybody argues whether they are related. It means to cease, to desist, rest, to put an end to labor or work, to cease from doing something. That's the word that is used in Genesis 2:2 when God rests from the work of the 6 days of creation. Now all of these words are translated by the same Greek word kautapausis. It indicates to me at least that all of these concepts of rest even though the Hebrew uses different words to emphasize different dimensions of it, it's all the same rest.
I am giving things away. You know what they always say, "Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them." That is where we are going to go with this. These are all related to the same rest. It has different dimensions, but it is all the same rest. So we will talk about that.
We need to go to the next story about children. This is heavy stuff.
A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently she asked, "What are you drawing?"
The little girl said, "I am drawing God."
The teacher said, "Well, no one knows what God looks like."
The little girl said, "Wait a minute. When I am finished, they'll know."
Back to our heavy subject. We have to have our mental chewing gum or vacation every now and then.
The key words all focus on cessation from labor. They indicate something to do with salvation. They indicate something to do with rest after military conflict. They indicate a ceasing or desisting from labor or work. That idea will come up when we get to the next chapter. Now let's look at a couple of other verses.
Psalm 95:11 is the verse that's quoted in Hebrews 3:11.
NKJ Psalm 95:11 So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' "
The Exodus generation refused to trust God. Because of their continuous disbelief that culminated in that act of disbelief at Kadesh Barnea, God in His justice condemned their continuous disobedience. He refused to let them enter "My rest". What does "My rest" refer to there? It refers to entering into the Promised Land. So the first meaning that we are going to see from the concept of "My rest" is that this relates to that historical fulfillment of entering the Promised Land. The word is used again in Isaiah 66: 1.
NKJ Isaiah 66:1 Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?
My house. What do you think that refers to? The temple. Worship. Once again we are back to the idea of presence of God in worship.
Here we have this term that pervades the Old Testament where God talks about His rest. One is talking about a historical fulfillment in Canaan. One has to do with worship. In Isaiah 66, it clearly has a future context and future orientation. So what in the world are we looking at here? Let's break it down and try to go through several points to understand the concept.
- The rest that is at the heart of chapter 3 and chapter 4 is God's rest. Understanding God's rest is therefore the hermeneutical key to understanding the whole chapter.
- There are 3 rests in the Old Testament. Now I have boiled this down to three rests. Actually in the study of different views there have been as many as 9 different rests identified in this chapter. That would just drive you nuts. Nine different rests every time in every other verse. That doesn't make sense. We can break it down and make it very simple. The first rest that is clear from this passage is from is God's cessation from His creation activity. What we will call this the Sabbath rest. God ceases from His creation activity. That's a key element.
NKJ Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
On the 7th day God ended His work. That's the idea. What is going on here? God has created perfect environment. He has created man. He has placed man in the garden. Man is now in the garden. God is in a place of rest. He is not creating any more so that man can enjoy the all sufficient abundant blessings that God has provided for them in that garden. So Adam and the woman are placed in the garden to enjoy what? God's rest. This is the first time we have this concept mentioned. What happens? They blow it. They disobey God. She eats from the fruit. She entices him. The rest is shattered as a place where there is no battle, no warfare. We enter the fall and there hasn't been any peace since.
Recovery of rest is related to what concept? Salvation. So rest has this salvation idea that's always hanging around in the background of the use of the word.
The next use that we have is the rest that refers to the Promised Land. When Israel enters into the Promised Land they will have rest. They will enter into "My rest." That is how it is used in Psalm 95:11. That's the immediate context of our Old Testament quote from Psalm 95. That is how it is used in Hebrews 3 and 4 - this rest that they entered into. Now what do you think of when you think of entering the land? Where did they get the land? God promised Abraham the land. Oh boy! We are back in the Abrahamic Covenant again. God promised them the land. The promise of the land is related to another key word we have often studied. That is the concept of inheritance. Another word for inheritance in the Old Testament is possession. This is their promised possession. So now we have the Abrahamic Covenant. We have promise and we have a possession. This is their inheritance. What happens to the Exodus generation is because of unbelief. They forfeit their inheritance but not their salvation. They don't possess the land. They don't enter the land. They don't enjoy its blessing. They are still saved with a eternal destiny in heaven, but they miss out on the promise of inheritance. So we see right away that when we talk about rest not only does it bring in ideas related to salvation, it brings in ideas related to the Abrahamic Covenant, the promise, inheritance and blessing. Boy this can get complicated. This is a loaded term. This idea of the Promised Land rest relates to Israel entering into the land. But there is more to it than that.
There is a third way the word is used. That is related to kingdom rest. Because you see, what happened? Abraham is promised the land. Did Abraham ever own anything in the land? No, just a grave site where Sarah and Abraham are buried. He never owns anything. He never possesses it. Hebrews 11 Then the subsequent generation, the Exodus generation, they never enter into the land. When the conquest generation under Joshua goes in, they fail to fully execute God's plan and as a result they never conquer the entire land that God has promised them. It is never fulfilled. We have promise, but no fulfillment. It is future. Not only does the concept of rest have something to do with salvation, it also has to do with a historic situation of entering the Promised Land. But it also has this future dimension way down the road that relates to the coming kingdom and the coming of the Messiah. These are the three ideas. So now we have to ask ourselves which of these is the main idea in Hebrews. How do these three ideas relate to each other? Just to make sure we are on our toes the writer of Hebrews slips another word in there for us.
- Another word for rest is referenced in Hebrews 4:9.
NKJ Hebrews 4:9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
That means that this rest can't be the Canaan rest because it remains for the people of God. They didn't get it. Whatever they did with the Promised Land and entering the Promised Land doesn't fulfill the promise because there remains today a promise which indicates future fulfillment. There is a promise for the people of God. But the word there is sabbatismos. Guess where that comes from. Sabat. So these words are then used interchangeably.
- However the writer of Hebrews interconnects these ideas. He pulls them altogether. He is weaving together the ideas of God's rest with the Sabbath with the promised rest of the Promised Land plus the kingdom. All of these ideas relate to one another. Have you got that so far? Is anybody confused? Maybe it's not as fuzzy as I thought. Now we will develop this a little more. The rest that we are talking about is foreshadowed in the promise of Abraham related to the land and to the inheritance as I have pointed out already. So Abraham is given a promise. Think about it this way. Here is Abraham. Approximately 2,000 BC he is given the promise. Then we have Moses in the Exodus of 1446. Then we have Joshua going into the land in 1406. Then way down the line in 1011 David becomes the king. Probably about 1000 or 990 BC we have the giving of the Davidic covenant.
- This rest is thus foreshadowed in the promise of Abraham. It's related to the land and inheritance but is further developed in the seed promise to David. Now you see you have three elements in the Abrahamic Covenant there – land, seed and blessing. The blessing comes when you are in the land. The land is the foundation. But to get there you have to go through the seed. That is going to be salvation. So it is developed in the seed promise to David.
NKJ 2 Samuel 7:1 Now it came to pass when the king was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around,
II Samuel is the giving of the Davidic Covenant.
That is nuah in the hithpael which indicates an absence of adversity in relation to military conflict. There is peace in the land.
NKJ 2 Samuel 7:11 "since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house.
Here is your time line. In Numbers 14 God says, "You will not enter My rest." Now way down the line, 400 years later, He says to David that he has rest from his enemies. Okay, so we think that this is fulfillment. But there are other passages that come into the mix.
- But there are two other passages that we have to take into account when we are trying to understand rest. One in Deuteronomy 12:9. In Deuteronomy 12:9 Moses is speaking to the Israelites just before they go into the land. He is on the plains of Moab. Moses is getting ready to die, but they are going into the land. He speaks to them.
NKJ Deuteronomy 12:9 "for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you.
The rests is across the River Jordan when they conquer the land. So in Deuteronomy 12:9-10 they don't have it yet.
NKJ Deuteronomy 12:10 "But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety,
Notice how inheritance is tied to rest here. In this verse you connect land, inheritance, and rest. You don't have it yet. But in Joshua 21:44 after the conquest we read.
NKJ Joshua 21:44 The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
It is the context of warfare. In the Old Testament the warfare is physical and it is with the enemies of Israel. In the Church Age the warfare is more spiritual. It is against thoughts. We are tearing down strongholds. It is defined in terms of war against the three enemies of the Christian life - the world, the flesh and the devil. We are still involved in this. There is no rest in the spiritual life. The point that I am making is that you start off with this promise of rest. They are going to enter rest. God tells Joshua that he has rest. Then again he tells David that he as rest. Not only that he comes along after David and says that Solomon is a man of rest. Solomon is considered a man of rest. Asa is also called a man of rest. King Jehoshaphat is called a man of rest. Solomon is also called a man of rest. I Chronicles 22:9, II Chronicles 14:5-6, 20:30. God gives each of them rest. When did they get rest? It is all of these partial rests that you get as you go through the Old Testament. A couple of more points and we will pull it together. This rest clearly has a future dimension to it that is clear from the Old Testament.
NKJ Isaiah 14:3 It shall come to pass in the day the LORD gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve,
This is talking about in the Millennial Kingdom, in the Messianic Kingdom. All of these other rests are merely tastes and foreshadowings of that future kingdom rest. God has a rest at the cessation of creation. Thing get all messed up when Adam sins. There is going to be the promise of rest to the Exodus generation if (potential) they would enter the land and do what God says. But they screw it up so it never happens. Then there are partial rests from enemies through the time of Joshua, through the time of David, Solomon, Asa, and Jehoshaphat. But it is not full rest. There is still a promise of rest to God's people. That takes the idea of God's sabbatical rest and connects it to the historical rest of the land which was never complete and points it ultimately through Psalm 95 to a future kingdom rest. Psalm 95:11 is part of a series of psalms from Psalm 93 to Psalm 100 that are, the term I like to use is enthronement psalms. These are all psalms that focus on praising God for the enthronement of Messiah. They are future oriented. They look forward to the coming of the kingdom - that the Messiah is going to be established on His throne.
There are a lot of different terms used for these psalms. I am going to read some of them to you because there is a theme in the terminology. Some call them apocalyptic psalms. Others call them millennial anthems, psalms of the millennium, millennial psalms, Second Advent psalms, royal psalms. They all have that idea of focusing on when the Messiah comes to rule as the Son of David which provides a king over the nation in the land.
I developed a little chart that ties it all together. At the beginning you have Sabbath Rest. God ceases from His labor. It is perfect environment. It's paradise on earth. Adam and the woman are enjoying all of God's perfect blessings. Then there is the fall and everything crashes. As you go through the Old Testament you get these series of partial rests from the enemies. But it is not complete until you have the Second Coming of Christ when He establishes the kingdom rest. All of these terms are part of one big picture. They just look at different dimensions of it. Everything is focused on the future restoration of that which was lost in the fall.
So the future kingdom is a time when God is once again ruling on the earth. It is perfection environment. The only people who have old sin natures are those who are born during the time of the kingdom. It is not as perfect an environment as you had in the Garden of Eden. It is sort of perfection once removed. What this tells us is the orientation of rest in Hebrews 3 and 4 is future. It is not talking about rest in the sense of trusting and relaxing in God's provision today. It is talking about the fact that there is a promise of a future rest - that kingdom rest that inheritance possession that God has promised each one of us as believers.
The warning here is don't screw-up like the Exodus generation did and disobey Moses and invalidate the whole thing and lose your inheritance. But be obedient, steadfast, obeying the Lord Jesus Christ and then you will enter that rest that is realized those future blessings, privileges,, and promises that God has made for those that hang in there in the Christian life. It is not talking about a loss of salvation. It talks about fully realizing all the future benefits of your salvation.
NKJ Hebrews 3:12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
That's the warning. Don't be like the Exodus generation because that is what happened. Within them there is this evil heart of unbelief. Now what does that mean? The word for evil is defined as a heart of unbelief. An evil heart is descried by an adjectival genitive of unbelief. What makes the heart evil is unbelief.
You see the same thing happens to Saul in I Samuel. In I Samuel Saul is told to go into battle against the Amalekites. He is supposed to completely wipe out every man, woman, and nursing child. This is strong stuff. He is supposed to wipe them out completely. From the old people to the nursing babes he is to slaughter every single one of them. But not just all of them. He is to kill their cattle. He is supposed to kill their sheep. He is supposed to kill all of their livestock. Nothing that breathes is to be left alive. But Saul doesn't trust God. He doesn't believe him. He goes out. He has an unbelieving heart. When Samuel shows up and asks about the bleating and the mooing that he hears, Saul uses religion to justify their actions whatever they are. He says that he decided to save the best for God. Samuel tells him that God is more pleased with obedience than sacrifice.
Rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft. It is the same thing. Why does he say that? What was Satan's original sin? It was rebellion, disobedience to God. Whenever you and I are disobedient and function in disbelief, we don't think of it this way but according I Samuel 15 this is witchcraft. It is following in the same pattern as Satan. This is why it is defined as evil. Unbelief is evil, the failure to trust God. This is not for salvation because Saul was saved. He had a new heart back in I Samuel 10 when Samuel came back from the grave in that one time only event. The witch of Endor calls him forth and gives him his final warning and confrontation to Saul. He says, "You are going to die today, but you and your sons will be with me tomorrow." They are not going to be with Samuel in torments. They will be with Samuel in paradise. That indicates that Saul was a believer. He was just a disobedient, rebellious believer. God finally had to take him out under the sin unto death. This is the concept of unbelief. You have different categories of unbelief. You have unbelief at salvation, at gospel hearing. You have unbelief as you grow as a believer. This could happen to anyone. The result is that you depart form the living God.
The word there for depart is the Greek word depart is the Greek word aphistemi that means to withdraw, to remove yourself, to forsake, to desert or to cease from something. Ceasing is also the connotation of rest. In unbelief we depart, remove ourselves from God. So the solution then is given in verse 13.
NKJ Hebrews 3:13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
The word there for exhort is the imperative of parakaleo which means to come alongside, to encourage one another. That is part of the function of the body of Christ from believer to believer. You have this whole series of commands in the Scripture, reciprocal mandates to love one another, to serve one another, and to pray for one another. One of these is to exhort one another daily. Now that doesn't mean that you see some Christian that you don't know and you go up to them and preach to them. That is not what the word exhort means. The word exhort has to do with knowledgeable application. It means you know the person. You understand whatever it is that may be the problem, adversity, difficulty in their life that is a test for them. It is an opportunity that they may use to depart from the Lord. It indicates it is someone you have a relationship with. It is not just any believer. We all have circles of intimacy. You have five or six people that we are fairly close to. Then you have another circle of intimacy that is acquaintances. There may be 10 or 15 or 20. We don't know them well. We work with them. We go to church with them. We say hello to them but we don't know what is going on in their life. You don't just butt into their life and tell them what to do because you either don't know them well enough to understand what they are going through or to be able to give them Biblical advice. But within that close circle of intimate friends we do and we encourage one another. They have opened up their lives to us so that we what the dynamics are in their life. They are our friends. They are our close friends. So we are to encourage one another daily - not just every now and then. This implies a consistent relationship with someone.
What does that mean? Go back to verse 7. There is a sense of immediacy – a priority here. Don't let time go by. There is a sense of urgency. We don't know the Lord could come back tomorrow. We don't put things off until next week. Who knows what will happen next week. So we are to exhort each other daily.
Sin is so deceitful. It is pleasurable. Every time I say that I remember an argument I got into when I was in high school. I had gone off to a Christian camp and had a counselor. One night we had evening devotions. Our subject for the evening was "Is Sin Fun?"
I said, "Yes, it's a lot of fun."
He said, " No, it's not."
I said, "Yes, it's a lot of fun."
That's why it's deceitful. It's a lot of fun. So we argued for awhile. About three years later he left his wife and had an affair with somebody. He dropped out of seminary to do all of that. I always wanted to go back to him and say, "Is sin fun?" I saw him the other day. I didn't ask him that.
Sin is fun. It is deceitful. That is how we get distracted from our spiritual life. It is because there is immediacy to the pleasure of sin. Sometimes don't you just love it when you get angry with somebody? Or, you just let it go? It feels so good. There is deceitfulness there. There are many other sins. Just to yield to that sinful pressure is pleasurable. That is the deceitfulness of it. It hinders, it frustrates and it stifles our spiritual growth. If we stay in that state of carnality (which is what happened to the Exodus generation) it shuts down or jeopardizes our future inheritance.
NKJ Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
In verse 14 we become partakers of Christ. He takes us back to the position of who we are. We have become partakers of Christ. Remember who you are as a believer. You have been identified with Christ is death, burial and resurrection. You have been completely transformed, regenerated and justified. You have entered into the family of God. You have been adopted into the family of God. You have been given 40 things that God did for you at the instant of salvation. These are your realities. This is who you are now as a royal priest in the family of God.
It is a perfect tense verb emphasizing the present reality of a past action.
What does he means by that? What he means is that if you don't hold fast you will jeopardize the reward, not that you will lose salvation. The Jews were promised the land through Abraham. The Abrahamic Covenant and their position in the Abrahamic Covenant were not invalidated by their disbelief. Their realization of the blessings of their position was invalidated by their disbelief. That is what this if clause is getting at. If you don't live that life of belief and trust God and continue to grow, then what happens is you still have your positional reality but you are going to forfeit the experiential blessing in time and eternity because you failed to hold fast to the end – that is to continue to grow.
NKJ Hebrews 3:15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
Three times from verse 7-15 in 8 verses we have today, today, today. Don't put off until tomorrow the spiritual issues you have to deal with today. We always think that we'll get our spiritual lives together next year. Maybe you think you just don't have time to read your Bible today. It is today! Don't harden your hearts as in the rebellion. There is this sense of urgency and immediacy.
That takes us up to verse 16 where he starts to make the application back to the Exodus generation and builds the case for their failure to enter the land because of unbelief. We will come back and pick up in verse 16 next time.