Thursday

12 October 2017

Hebrews 4:1-11

“Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest” (v. 11)

Psalm: Psalm 102:1-11


Background

Today's passage continues a line of encouraging argument based on the passage from Psalm 95 which we first met yesterday. The focus is now on the phrase "They shall not enter my rest" (vv. 3, 5). Our author has made the point (Hebrews 3:16-19) that disobedience was the reason why those who wandered in the wilderness never entered God's rest.

However, the promise of entering God's rest still stands, and so where people have seen God's activity in Christ and started on this new exodus to God's promise they must not fall into the old trap of disobedience and falling away.

But what are we to understand by the concept of God's rest? We're brought back to the first chapters of Genesis and the belief that the all-creating God rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:3). This Sabbath rest, which led to Jewish observance of the Sabbath week by week, was first and foremost a blessing and a generous gift, intended for joy, fellowship and release from daily drudgery. Thus the thought of entering into God's rest is really about sharing joy and fellowship in God's presence - heaven itself.

Although Psalm 95, with its promise of the possibility of entering God's rest, harks back to the time of the Exodus under Moses, the promise has not yet been fulfilled and therefore still stands. Now, however, there is a fresh urgency because Jesus has come. Thus in searching out the meaning of the psalm, our author stresses the word "today" (v. 7). Scripture is being fulfilled afresh and all are called to obey.


To Ponder

  • Many Christians have enjoyed the thought of the Sabbath being a foretaste of heaven. Thus, for example, Isaac Watts could write 'Sweet is the day of sacred rest'  and then go on to anticipate heaven (Singing the Faith 90). Does this ring true for you? If it doesn't, are you missing something important?
  • What encourages you to keep going as a Christian?

Bible notes author

The Revd Donald Ker

Donald Ker is a supernumerary minister in the Methodist Church in Ireland. As well as serving as a circuit minister in Bray Co Wicklow and as Superintendent Minister at Belfast Central Mission, he has been General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland and its President in 2009/2010.