Several years ago, there was a group of college students who would meet in our home. We always met in the evening (and our meetings would sometimes last until early morning). But during one meeting, someone asked me a question. Now I don’t remember the actual question, but I do remember that to find the answer, we turned to the 6th chapter of Hebrews.
I read the particular verse I needed to answer the question, but in my mind, they might not understand the context. So, I suggested we back up a little and read the beginning of the chapter . . . but that wasn’t clear enough, so I backed up some more. Very quickly we had backed up to Hebrews 1:1 and studied the entire letter to the Hebrew church!
Oh, I loved those days. That was back when everyone loved Jesus and were hungry for His Word (We were also much younger and had no families yet). As I explained, we would start our meetings at about 8:00 or 9:00, and go until 1:00 or 2L00 in the morning on a weekday. Wow! What dedication! What passion we had! But as you can imagine, some of the students would doze off, while other were just waking up (and some others would fall asleep). However, we did make it through the entire letter!
Well, it happened to me again. I had turned to the sixteenth verse in the fourth chapter, But that wasn’t clear enough for me, so I backed up a little, and once again read the fourth chapter of Hebrews:
God’s promise that we may enter his place of rest still stands. We are afraid that some of you think you won’t enter his place of rest. We have heard the same Good News that your ancestors heard. But the message didn’t help those who heard it in the past because they didn’t believe (Hebrews 4:1-2)
Oh man, that is good! The author is saying that we can rest from all of our attempts of approaching Yahweh on our own. We can stop all of our striving and struggling. Oh sure, some of you don’t feel you are worthy of this, that somehow it just isn’t for you. Oh, my brothers and sisters, it is! It is available to you. I have seen the greatest fulfillment of these promises in my life, but also in my family, in the life of some of my dear friends. It is available to you this morning.
What? You doubt me? Well, what reason did the writer give for people not receiving this rest? “The message didn’t help those who heard it it . . .” Why? “Because they didn’t believe.” Folks, we need to pause and say, “Father, I do believe . . . but help my unbelief. Holy Spirit, come and make this alive in my life.”
Tell you what. Send me a note and tell me how the Holy Spirit worked this out in your life. What? Yes, I know He will, just believe.
We who believe are entering that place of rest. As God said, ‘So I angrily took a solemn oath that they would never enter my place of rest.’ God said this even though he had finished his work when he created the world. Somewhere in Scripture God has said this about the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.”
God also said in the same passage, “They will never enter my place of rest.” (Hebrews 4:3-5)
What did he say? “We who believe are entering that place of rest . . .” Are we? Yes. As I just said, you don’t rest, because you are still trying to work it out on your own. Quit that! Take a deep breath . . . let it go. Now say, “Father, I do believe.”
Whoa . . . wait a minute. He just said that we are entering that place of rest, but then says, “So I angrily took a solemn oath they would never enter my rest . . .” What’s up with that?
Well, it relates to something the Psalmist wrote:
Because he is our Elohim
and we are the people in his care,
the flock that he leads.
If only you would listen to him today!
8 “Do not be stubborn like my people were at Meribah,
like the time at Massah in the desert.
Your ancestors challenged me and tested me there,
although they had seen what I had done.
For 40 years I was disgusted with those people.
So I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts continue to stray.
They have not learned my ways.’
That is why I angrily took this solemn oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest!’” (Psalm 95:7-11)
What in the world is that all about? What happened at Meribah? That is where they were having some difficulties in the desert after Yahweh had miraculously delivered them from Egypt. They began to whine and cry and stomping their feet, “Hey, if this God is so good, how come we are having it so rough? Did he ‘set us free‘ so we could die out here in the wilderness?”
Oh, we so love to arrogantly [and self-righteously] criticize those Hebrews, but we do the same things. Do you remember that time when the Lord led you to pack up and move? What happened? That’s right; times were tough. You couldn’t find the friends you expected; you didn’t get the money you thought you would get, it was more difficult than you expected . . . Yeah, I know.
Ooh, ooh! How about that time when you were praying for that job, and when it finally came . . . it wasn’t as easy or “flashy” or spectacular as you expected, it ended up being downright hard work? How did you respond? Uh-huh. That’s what I am talking about.
Those Hebrews did the same thing, and the Lord got ticked off and said, “Okay fine. That’s how you feel after all the things I have done? You don’t know how good it is. Because of your whining and crying, you will never find rest.”
Oh my! Hey friend . . . can I suggest you do what Moses did? That’s right; he cried out to Yahweh. Can I suggest that you quit your complaining and do the same thing?
However, some people enter that place of rest. Those who heard the Good News in the past did not enter God’s place of rest because they did not obey God. So God set another day. That day is today. Many years after your ancestors failed to enter that place of rest God spoke about it through David in the passage already quoted: “If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn.” If Joshua had given the people rest, God would not have spoken about another day. Therefore, a time of rest and worship exists for God’s people. Those who entered his place of rest also rested from their work as God did from his (Hebrews 4:6-10)
Oh man, that is the Good News! Maybe “those who heard the Good news in the past did not enter Yahweh’s place of rest,” but we can! That’s right. The next verse says, “We must make every effort [that means determination and dedication] to enter that place of rest. Then [after we enter that place of rest] no one will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey.”
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.