Christ is Superior to Joshua.
This chapter explains where we can find lasting rest and fulfillment. The word "Rest" is mentioned about 13 times in this chapter. In the Old Testament God has promised rest for His people Israel. God rested from his work on the seventh day. It is pictured in the Sabbath God instituted for Israel. When Adam sinned, this rest was broken. So the second Adam came to restore the broken fellowship with God. Through the atoning sacrifice of Christ God established the possibility of spiritual rest for the whole world. By creation God established physical rest. By redemption God established spiritual rest. The author testified that those who have believed in Christ have entered into salvation rest in Christ (Matthew 11: 28). But Christians experience sanctification rest when they live in obedience to Christ. There is a promise of eternal rest in the New Jerusalem for believers. Ultimately it was fulfilled in the person of Christ. This rest is the joy and satisfaction one finds in the completed work of Jesus Christ. The children of Israel were set free from Egypt through the blood of the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12). They were saved from judgment but came short of God’s rest because of unbelief. They did not enter the rest God Promised. Have you found rest in the finished work of Christ?
Do not fail to enter His Rest. Hebrews 4:1-11.
In chapter 4, the author exhorts the readers to consider the experience of Israel. He warns that they fall short of God's best for their lives. God is not satisfied with saving us from the judgment of sin. He wants us to enjoy the abundance of life He promised (John 10:10). When we trust Christ, we receive eternal life which is the very life of God (John 6:63). The good news was preached to both the children of Israel and us. But it did not profit them because of unbelief (Hebrews 4:2). Joshua did not give them rest. David wrote that this rest is still available (Psalms 95:8). We can find this rest not in a place but in the person of Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28). This rest speaks of our blessed fellowship with God. We enter into this rest when we trust Christ. It is the positional rest we find in Christ. When we believe in Christ we experience peace with God (Romans 5:1). We positionally enter into spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). We also experience progressive rest when we live in obedience to Christ and follow him (Matthew 11:28-30). This enables us to experience the peace of God in our daily life. One day we will enter into eternal rest in heaven (Revelation 14:13). Now this promise is available to all who believe in Christ. Believers should be careful not to miss out God's best for their lives. Many people hear the Gospel, but are not profited because of unbelief. So today if you hear the Gospel, do not harden your heart (Hebrews 4:7). Warning signs are always placed for safety. Israel failed to enter into their rest because of their unbelief. Likewise Christians can miss out the spiritual blessings because of unbelief. It is the perfect and eternal rest because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. This is a warning passage and should not be taken casually. This passage does not teach that believers can lose their salvation. The writer exhorts believers to be diligent to enter into the rest Christ has promised (Hebrews 4:11).
God’s Word is sharper than a two-edged sword. Hebrews 4:12-13.
The writer explains the importance of the Word of God. The Word of God is powerful, active and sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. God uses His Word to reveal unbelief and disobedience of our hearts. The living Word searches our hearts and shows us the thoughts and intentions that are displeasing to God. It has the power to transform our lives and root out our unbelief. Only the Word of God has the power to convict us of our sins. God knows the secrets of our hearts and His word reveals them (Psalms 139:7-12; Hebrews 4:12). Nothing is hidden from God. This is the God to whom we are to give account (4:13). The Word of God endures forever. It cuts deep in order to root out unbelief in the heart. Faith is the implanting of God's Word in a receptive heart. Continuing in the faith gives confidence in Christian life. The glory of the Bible is its message. The Bible reveals the person of Christ and His great salvation. Do you know Christ? The Bible is God's greatest gift that reveals Christ.
Christ is our Great High Priest. Hebrews 4:14-16.
The author exhorts the readers to consider Christ as their Great High Priest. This is the central emphasis of this epistle. He has passed through the heavens into the very presence of God (Hebrews 4:14). Christ’s priesthood is superior to Aaron’s priesthood. In his name Christ is superior. Only Jesus is addressed as the great high priest in the scripture. He is the Son of God. Christ is divine and human to be our mediator before holy God. Aaron ministers only in the earthly tabernacle but Christ is our mediator in the heavenly tabernacle. Only Christ was seated at the right hand of God. Though Satan is the prince of air, he could not stop Christ when he passed through the air. Jesus was sinless and had no need to offer sacrifice for his sin. But Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for us to save us. Every year the Old Testament high priest passed through the veil into the most Holy Place to make atonement for the sins of Israel (Leviticus 16). After sprinkling the atoning blood on the mercy seat, he had to leave that place immediately. Aaron had to offer sacrifice for his sin. Christ is our high priest after the order of Melchizedek forever. Christ is fully qualified to sympathize with our weakness because he was tempted as we are yet without sin. He invites us to draw near the throne of grace confidently to receive mercy and grace in times of need. Mercy is available for failures and grace to enable us to serve him. His throne is the throne of grace and grace cannot be veiled. How great our high priest and hw privileged we are to draw near God through him!
The Old Testament sacrifices teach that forgiveness of sin is costly and without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. But Jesus Christ made one sacrifice and entered heaven once for all (9:28). His sacrifice on the cross was the fulfillment of all Old Testament sacrifices. When Christ died, the veil of the temple was rented from top to bottom. Now we have access to Holy God. Christ is the High Priest and believers are the priests (1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews 4:14). Christ is human and divine. He entered heaven in His humanity and divinity. In His humanity, Christ was tempted in all areas of life, yet He did not sin. He knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ committed no sin (1 Peter 2:22). There was no sin in Him (1 John 3:5). Christ understands our infirmities. Therefore the author exhorts us to come boldly to the throne of grace in times of our needs. Christ is able to sympathize with us because He suffered and tempted like us yet without sin. His throne is not a throne of judgment but the throne of grace. Christ has become for us "the throne of grace". There we can find grace and mercy in times of need. We are in need of His mercy because we all stumble in many things (James 3: 2). We also need grace to face temptations and trials in life (2 Corinthians 12:9). We are invited to approach this merciful High Priest to find grace to help in time of need. What a great consolation and encouragement that we have a Great High Priest, who can understand our struggles and is willing to help us in our needs. Do you know this great Savior and gracious High Priest?