Psalms 95 forms the background for Hebrews 4.1-7. It is combined with Genesis 2.
We have seen in earlier passages how the author used Psalm 95 and Numbers 13-14 to inform his message.
Genesis says, “On the sixth day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done” (Genesis 2.2).
Rudy Ross explains in today’s video how God rested or ceased from creating on the seventh day. He did not eliminate the work of sustaining the universe but rested from creating.
When Hebrews speaks of our entrance into the “rest” of God, it describes a life’s goal that we don’t want to miss.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it (Hebrews 4.1).
Here is a level of caution that we need to take seriously. Heaven or God’s “rest” is available to all, but the failure to enter it is a true possibility.
We don’t want to come short of the goal of God’s rest/heaven.
How can we miss the goal?
With Psalm 95 and Numbers 13-14 in view, we learn that unbelief is the culprit.
For indeed the good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them because they were not united by faith with those who listened (Hebrews 4.2).
The wilderness generation of Numbers 13-14 did not believe Joshua and Caleb. They followed the 10 spies to their peril.
Ideas from social media, books, and friends influence how we think about life. When our eternal “rest” is at stake, we do well to follow the faithful and resist the faithless.
For we who have believed are entering that rest, just as God has said,
“As in my anger I swore,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ”
though his works were finished since the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4.3)
It is faith that opens the door to God’s rest. Faith goes beyond mental assent and includes faithful obedience.
Unbelief that fails to enter God’s rest is characterized by self-sufficiency, rebellion, and a refusal to surrender to God’s leadership.
Verses 3b-5 quote from Psalm 95 and the unbelief and rebellion of the wilderness generation.
The author concludes his argument with an appeal to faith and obedience.
Since therefore it remains open for some to enter it and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience
Again he sets a certain day—“today”—saying through David much later, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4.6-7)
If you were to ask God, “What should be my life’s goal,” what do you think he would say?
One thing we know is that God intends his people to enter his rest.
The promise of living forever in God’s rest still remains open to people of faith.
The last thing we want to do is imitate the wilderness generation’s disobedience.
Today is a day of opportunity that is open to those who are willing to trust and follow Jesus.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
I am indebted to Gareth Lee Cockerill’s excellent commentary on Hebrews for information about the Letter to the Hebrews.
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