The faith-refresher continues!
Last week we read Hebrews 1 & 2 with the takeaway that because Jesus is the better sacrifice and the perfect founder of our faith, we should not forget what we’ve heard or the faith to which we are called. This week, in chapters 3 and 4, we see the author extend this thought using Old Testament history as a warning for this generation of believers to persevere in the faith and not turn from it, so that they may “enter God’s rest.”
Read Hebrews 3 & 4 now and let’s unpack this together.
Jesus: High Priest and Apostle
There’s a lot we’ve been told about Jesus so far in Hebrews: He’s the heir of all things, the one through whom God made the world (1:2); the radiance of God’s glory and representation of the person of God, the one who sustains the world by his power and sits at God’s right hand (1:3). He’s better than the angels because he is one with God (1:4), better than Moses and all other prophets (3:3). He’s the pioneer of our salvation (2:10), destroyer of the devil (2:14), and our merciful high priest (2:17).
Verse 3:1 names Jesus as our apostle and high priest. It’s important to note what the “high priest” was in Jewish temples, as this title will come up again and again as we dive deeper into what really makes Jesus the better sacrifice. This person was responsible for representing God to the people and making sacrifices on behalf of their sin to God. An apostle, on the other hand, is one who declares his message of salvation from sin, a messenger sent to share the Gospel. Jesus is the greatest of both: He is the exact representation of God and the sufficient sacrifice once for all, sent by the father to proclaim his message, and sending his church to share it with the world (Matthew 28:19-20). Not only that, but he’s able to sympathize with us in our weakness, being made fully human though remaining fully divine (4:15).
The author describes why Jesus was better than even Moses (3:2-6), and subsequently gives reason for the Hebrews not to harden their hearts to the Word (3:7-19). Using the rebellion of “those Moses led out of Egypt” as a sort of cautionary tale, he implores this community to encourage one another in their new faith as Christians. Verses 12-14 serve as a good reminder to us today as well:
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:12-14
He’s essentially saying, “Don’t let anyone around you make the same mistakes your ancestors made in the past! Encourage each other daily as you share in this new faith in Jesus.” Remember what you’ve been told.
God’s Rest and the Living Word
The “rest” of which the author speaks refers to an eternal resting in God, one that begins “today” and awaits consummation when we enter heaven (4:1-11). This rest is compared to God’s rest on the 7th day after creation, the Sabbath rest. In Christ, we enter this kind of rest that begins today and goes on forever in heaven. This means that if we’ve heard the good news and responded in faith, we are called to persevere in that faith in hopes of entering this God-rest, both today and for eternity. It’s a call to respond daily in faith (so long as it is called “Today”, v. 7). Which often means we need a daily reminder…
Many times does the Bible refer to God’s “Word.” This word is used in contexts seemingly different from each other, yet inherently the same…The Word can refer to the literal words of the Bible, to God’s commands, or to Jesus himself. The biblical history of Jewish ancestry and the message of their newfound faith in Christ are both discovered in Scripture, God’s Word, which the author personifies as living and active, much like God himself…much like Jesus, the Word made flesh (4:12-13, John 1:14).
Imagine that…When we engage with the Word, we engage directly with God himself.
So why aren’t we doing it daily? Imagine, if you viewed opening your Bible as an invitation to a conversation with God himself, how would that change how you approach the Word?
Beyond just discussing what some of these texts are saying, I always want us to ask ourselves “So what? What does this actually mean for us?” Here’s four practical takeaways from Hebrews 3 & 4:
- Fix your thoughts on Jesus, our apostle and high priest (3:1). Remember who He is: the perfect representation of God, the ultimate sacrifice, and the greatest messenger of the faith sent by God.
- Stay true to the faith and do not turn away; encourage one another in the faith daily (3:12-14).
- Through faith in Christ we enter God’s rest, beginning today and consummating in eternity (4:1-11). We’re called to refresh this faith daily.
- One of the best ways to do that is to engage daily with God by engaging in the Word (4:12-13). Let it serve as a reminder of our story as well as the message to which we continually respond in faith.
For God’s glory,
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