Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 48
Hebrews 4:1-11 – Part 2
Back to Hebrews, chapter 4 and verse 4. In the last lesson we didn’t quite finished with that verse, where it says he spake in a certain place, speaking of Genesis chapter 2 where we were in the last program.
“For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest (and that’s the word we’re really looking at. God rested) the seventh day from all his works. 5. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.”
Now this whole idea of rest then is laying on us the simple fact that if something is complete and there is nothing more that man can do, God himself has said “It’s very good,” then what are we to do? Rest. Now if you’re resting, and I’ll just use a simple childlike illustration. If you buy a ticket from Tulsa to New York and you go and take your seat and the plane no more than takes off and makes its curve and probably heading back toward the east, immediately, as soon as you’re able, you jump up out of your seat, you run forward and you may even be able to get as far as the pilot’s cabin, you say “Are you really going the right direction?”
Now we’d say that’s ridiculous. That pilot knows where he’s going. But listen, not half as ridiculous as when we doubt God. But you see this is exactly what people do. They make a profession of salvation, they may go through a prescribed ritual, and there’s no peace, there’s no assurance of salvation. So what do they do? They’re constantly running here, running there, trying to find the answers to their dilemma. I mean, we have it happen all the time. And then all of a sudden, they enter into this saving Grace of God where they suddenly realize they can do nothing but believe it and then what can they do? Rest. Just like the airline passenger that can sit back in his seat, relax, start reading something and forget all about the responsibilities of where that pilot is going. Because they have total faith in the plane and the system.
Well, that’s what we have to do with our salvation. God has said it’s finished and we don’t have to sweat and work and try to do this and do that. We just rest in it. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t work. I’m talking about the salvation experience. And see that’s why Canaan became such a beautiful picture of the whole scenario. Rest was rejected because of unbelief but on the other hand a picture of what rest really can be for the believer. Oh, we can just revel in the fact that we don’t have to work, work, work, work for salvation, as that’s all been done. It’s finished.
But just stop and think a minute of all the things that even Christendom lays upon their adherence. Oh you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to fulfill this obligation; you’ve got to fulfill that obligation. And listen, God will have nothing of it because He finished it, and He cannot let man put his filthy fingers on it. It’s a done deal. And so, come back to the text again, and read verse 5 again.
“…If they shall enter into my rest.”
And how is it to be entered? By faith and faith alone, plus nothing, because it’s finished. I don’t know how else to put it, I guess I could just go through various other places. Come back to Hebrews chapter 1 verse 3. And this again is just more ammunition to show that when Jesus said it’s finished, He meant what He said. Alright, we were speaking of the Son back in verse 2. Now verse 3.
“Who being the brightness of his glory, (He was God from the beginning, from eternity past. He was God in the flesh. He, as God took the sins of the world upon Himself. So being the brightness of His glory) and the express image of his person, and upholding all things (that is everything in this universe is held together) by the word of his power, when he had by himself (alone, without any help from anyone. When He had by Himself) purged (or taken away) our sins, (what did He do? What does it say?) sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
And I said in the last half hour; what does that imply? It’s finished. He rested, and there was nothing more to do. He had done everything that God demanded. Now listen, I tell people, without compunction, I don’t care how great our faith, I don’t care how great an understanding a person can have of this Book, there is no way that you and I as mortals will ever comprehend more than just an infinitesimal amount of what was accomplished on that cross. I’ll never comprehend it. And when Paul in Ephesians speaks on the unsearchable riches of Christ, was he playing with words? No way. It is unsearchable. There is no way that I can understand all that God poured out first from the wrath side on God the Son who became the epitome of sin itself. I cannot begin to comprehend that. And on the other hand, He poured out what? Mercy. It was a two-barreled attack. He poured out His wrath because of the sin aspect. He poured out His mercy because of the love aspect. How can mortal man comprehend that? I can’t. I’m going to keep trying to get more and more and more. That’s the whole idea. But we could live to be a thousand years and we would never comprehend it all. And so what do we do? Take it by faith. God, you did it, you said it, it’s complete, it’s finished. I’m resting. I’m not going to come running up there to the pilots cabin and ask are you going the right direction. I’m not going to come running in every time and say, “God, but are you sure?”
But see, the reason Paul is making this so explicit to these Hebrews was that this was their dilemma. They still had not entered into Paul’s saving Gospel. They were still holding to Judaism, and they were still holding to their works religion. And that’s why you’ve got all these terms of conditions in this letter that scares people half to death. Listen, never do these verses that list conditions deal with the believer. That unless he does this, and unless he does that, he’s going to be back out there lost. No, that’s not what it’s talking about. It’s talking to these people who were on the fence. Unless you make a break with that religious system in your past and step into that finished work of the cross, you’re in danger, and this is what we have to let people know. Listen, you cannot drag one foot in legalism. You cannot leave one foot in religion of whatever sort it is and have the other foot in the Grace of God and be accepted. It won’t work. Because what does it say? “Well God you didn’t really finish it.” And God won’t have it. No little puny mortal man is going to tell God that he didn’t quite finish the job.
And so, here is the purpose of this letter. It’s to bring these people out of that position of being on the fence. That’s exactly what he meant when he said in Hebrews chapter 6 and I’ve had so many letters and I guess other Bible teachers have had the same thing. They’ll write and they’ll write and they’ll write, but doesn’t it say, “it’s impossible if we’ve been once enlightened and we fall out that there is no more sacrifice for sin.” Hey that doesn’t mean if you’ve been saved and you’re lost again. No way. All these verses in Hebrews are dealing with the same scenario. Steeped in religion and can’t make the break into Grace. But listen, God’s doing it. He’s breaking the shackles of more and more people who are coming out of that kind of a background into the Grace of God. Alright, let’s come back to chapter 4, and let’s come on down to verse 6.
“Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:”
Now you’re going to get sick and tired of me referring to it, but I can’t help it. What are we talking about? Those to whom it was first preached? Well, we’re talking about Israel at Kadesh. They were the first prime example of God giving such a glorious offer that all they had to do was take it by faith, but rejected it. And that’s what it means, unto whom it was first preached. It doesn’t mean that anybody before that never had an opportunity of salvation, but this is the first prime example of God offering something that was so perfect, so complete. Not an Israelite would have been killed by a Canaanite. Not a single Israelite would have gone to bed hungry. Not a single Israelite would have gone to bed cold and out in the elements. God had had those Canaanites working 400 years like bees getting everything ready. 400 years he told Abraham the Canaanites would be given every opportunity to come out of their wickedness. But instead of coming out it, what did they do? They went deeper and deeper and deeper until they were so morally filthy, God said it’s time to move them out and let Israel have all the fruits of their labor. And so it just became a primary example of God’s offering them a rest existence without having to fight and work. They could have had it. But why did they miss it? Unbelief.!
Look at the world around you. Look at our beloved America. We have Bibles in every home, in every hospital room, in every motel room, everywhere. How many people ever look at them? Almost nobody. Iris and I make it a practice – every motel room, we go and look and find that Bible. Has it been used? No. It’s just a skip in the day that the Gideons put it in there. Look at the multitudes around us, even here in the Bible belt. How many of them, I’m not judging, I don’t’ know, but I’ve got a pretty good idea. How many of our run of the mill people going up and down the highways of life ever, for 30 seconds, think about eternity? Not many. Precious few. Why? Because we’re no better than Israel. We’re a nation tonight of total unbelief. That’s our problem.
I’ve said on our program before, our problem isn’t Democrats or Republicans, the economy, our defense posture, the drug business, teenage pregnancy. Now those are all the result of our problem, but what’s our problem? Unbelief. America no longer believes this Book. America scoffs at everything this Book says anymore. And consequently, America is headed for the same kind of a downfall that other empires have experienced, that other nations have experienced. Because there comes a time when God says, “I’ve had it!” and so, here’s the text. Why did they not enter in? Because of their unbelief! Now verse 7.
“Again, he limiteth a certain day saying in David,…”
Now if you think I repeat, I don’t hold a candle to this Book, because it’s always repeating and repeating and repeating. I think I made mention once before, I read a book by a theologian back in England in about the middle 1800’s if I’m not mistaken. That book is very thick, small print, and it only covers Romans 6 and 7. Now how are you going to write a book that thick with small print as a commentary on two chapters in Romans? Repeat and repeat and repeat, over and over and over again. He makes the same statements but of course he had his purposes, but the Bible does the same thing, as it just does not let this thing rest.
“…To day, (which for the Gentile world is now been going almost 2000 years. That’s today. Alright read on. Today) if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Now a few programs back we made reference to Felix as Paul dealt with that political leader. But what did Felix do? Hardened his own heart. God didn’t harden it. He hardened it with his constant refusal until finally it gets to the place that that hardened heart never does respond. Now I also said God never gives up, of course not. But nevertheless, the warning here is, do not harden your hearts. Alright now then verse 8.
“For if Jesus…”
I know your King James says Jesus in this verse, but I think most of your newer translations and your commentaries and my margin will call it Joshua, who had taken Moses’ place of leadership. And Joshua is going to lead them into the land of rest as Moses could have done at Kadesh. Joshua now is going to bring the Nation of Israel in from the East of Jordan. And as Joshua leads the nation into Canaan, what’s the scenario? War. They’re going to have to fight every inch of the way. Now God’s going to give them the victory, but they’re going to lose a lot of blood in the process. And so I do not like to use Joshua’s taking the children of Israel across Jordan into the Land of Canaan as a picture except when we enter into our Christian life in this world of sin under the curse. Is it a life of ease and rest like Canaan would have been? No. It’s a warfare. And so there is an analogy that yes, we’ve entered into that complete rest because of the work that’s finished. But on the other hand, we can look at Joshua’s occupying, that in this life, hey, there’s no easy row to hoe.
You know, I’ve so often used the illustration on this program. The Christian life today is like paddling a canoe in a river with a pretty good current. Now I don’t think I could make a canoe go upstream. I suppose a good professional could, but I don’t think I could, but even if I could paddle that canoe up against stream, which is a good picture of the Christian life, what happens the minute I take the paddle out of the water? Down stream we go. So what is the Christian life? It’s a constant battle. It’s a constant working to maintain our Christian experience. So you’ve got these two aspects. You’ve got the land of Canaan pictured as a place of total rest, a finished work, and Christ sat down because it was finished. But on the other hand, we have to look at Joshua because that’s the real world. We’re not living in a world where we can just sit down and not worry about anything. But positionally, in our salvation experience, yes, we’re in the land of Canaan at rest. But experientially, maybe I can put it that way. Positionally, we’re in the place of rest, experientially, we’re in a constant battle. Alright let’s go on with verse 8 repeating.
“For if Joshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.”
In other words, Joshua couldn’t make the same kind of promises that Moses and Aaron could because the Canaanites were still there. The first thing they had to do was fight. They had no easy road. My goodness, you go back and read the Book of Joshua and go on into the Book of Judges – I thank God that I wasn’t living in those days. It’s death and mayhem all the way through those Books of the historicals in the Bible. There wasn’t any rest associated with that. And so Joshua, as he took the people in under a mode of warfare, all he could promise was that which was coming. He couldn’t offer them rest because after all, he had to lead them in by warfare.
You all know the account back there after they crossed Jordan. What was the first thing they had to do? They had to face Jericho and you all know the battle of Jericho. Even though God did that one without lifting a sword, yet that was just the beginning of having to gain the land of Canaan, city by city, tribe by tribe, and they never did get to the place where they had total rest, and so that’s what the verse meant. Had Joshua taken them in under the same circumstances that Moses could have, he wouldn’t have had to speak of a future day when their battles were won and so forth. But Joshua couldn’t.
And so all of these things become just a great lesson for us that what Israel rejected by unbelief, they paid their dues when they went in later and had to work by the sweat of their brow, by the blood of their sons, and then never enjoy a full occupation of the land of Canaan without the presence of the Canaanite people. Alright, then lets go on into verse 9. I’ve got to wind this up rather quickly now.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”
See, that’s the difference. For the unbeliever there is no rest, as it’s a constant turmoil. Even for these Hebrews, what can I call them? They’ve got one foot in Judaism; they’ve got one foot in Paul’s message of Grace, and neither one is profiting them anything. They’re not in any rest. And so this is the constant plea of the apostle. “Make the break. Come out from that legalism and come into the rest that only God’s Grace can offer.” Now then verse 11 may be a verse that throws a curve at a few people. They say, “Well, see, that shows you’ve got to work for your salvation.” Absolutely not!
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall (not out of salvation, but never having attained it) after the same example of (what?) unbelief.” Unbelief. It isn’t a matter of having been in and fallen out. They never came in. Now let’s look at what Peter says about this. I think it’s chapter 1.
I Peter 1:10
“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied (spoke forth) of the grace that should (what?) come unto you:” At a future day. And so the prophets knew that there was a time coming when even Israel could come in without all the demands of the law.
Well the other one I was looking for where Peter says that “we were to work to make our calling and election sure.” I’m not seeing the verse that I wanted. But what did he mean when he said that? Well it didn’t mean that you did physical work for somehow appeasing a Holy God. But it means that you get down into the Book. Make work of searching the Scripture and don’t just sit in some easy pew and let somebody feed you pablum. The Scripture says labor to enter into that rest. Not by doing something for salvation but make work of studying the Scripture. Because in them the Scripture says you have what? “Eternal life.” And this is the whole idea. But, you see, people just don’t want to get into the Book. And here’s where it’s at and once you get into it you can’t hardly close it. I mean it just consumes you. And so never lose sight of the fact that their whole example of not cashing in on the glory of the Promised Land was unbelief.
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