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Hebrews chapter 4






FYI, These devotionals that we have been using have been from Bro Joe several years ago.  Lots of things going on up here, but I wanted to update you on why things have not been as consistent. 

With my eye surgery two weeks, I am still struggling to read and be able to write.  Josh has been carrying things in a variety of areas, and he is worn out.  I enjoy writing these, but some days and weeks are just busier than normal.   --- Jeremy

As this chapter opens and flows through the beginning of verse 11, the concept of rest is obviously important to what is being taught here.  But as you are reading through these verses it can get a little confusing.

One of the reasons it is confusing is the majority of us are not a Jewish audience.  And not one of us happens to be a first-century Jewish audience.  So, we don’t have a lot of the experience, knowledge, or history that the original audience of this letter would have had.  That’s not our fault.  It is just a truth.

So, as we are working through these first eleven verses and trying to discern what God wants us to know, it is important that we consider the fact that there are three different kinds or rest alluded to in this chapter.  There is a historical rest which refers to what the nation of Israel was supposed to have when they entered the Promised Land.  There is a present rest which is what all believers should be experiencing.  As Christ-followers we no longer are at enmity with God.  So we should be experiencing rest from that conflict and in our new relationship with Him.  The third kind or rest is future rest which is what Christ-followers will ultimately experience in heaven. 

So when we get to verse 6 and encounter the notion of people not being able to enter rest because of their disobedience, we have to ask which rest is being spoken of.  Since it mentions those who “formerly” heard the Gospel, we must assume this is a reference to those in the wilderness.  Verse 8 supports this. 

The point I’m trying to make here (and I am afraid I am not doing a very good job of it) is this.  This chapter is not teaching that we can lose our salvation or the promise of eternal rest.  Our disobedience or lack of faith on this earth can and does have consequences.  But once we are part of the great, forever family of God, we are always a part of that family. 

And thankfully verse 7 allows for additional opportunities for more people to become a part of the forever family of God.  For those who have heard and rejected in the past, “today” is still available as a time to hear and believe.

In verse 12, we encounter a great truth about the nature of God’s Word.  It has the power to separate us into our most minute and intimate parts.  This explains why no one can be hidden from God but instead, all are exposed to His omniscient sight.  And all will give an account to Him as the Omnipotent Judge.

The chapter ends with the truth that Jesus is our Great High Priest.  Because He was tempted in every way that we are, He is able to help us with our every temptation.  Because He cares for us, we can confidently come to Him and receive mercy and grace.  Mercy is not receiving what we deserve.  Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve.  By the way, we desperately need both.

Indeed, verse 16 says we can boldly approach the throne.  This would have been a mind-boggling thing to those who had grown up Jewish.  In the Jewish religion, the only one who could approach the physical place of God’s presence (the Holy of Holies in the Temple) was the high priest.  And he could only enter that most holy of places one time a year on Yom Kippur to make intercession for the Jewish people.

But Jesus has torn open the veil and has opened up a direct path to God.  As Christ-followers we can continuously access God.  And the whole time, Jesus, our Great High Priest, is making continuous intercession for each of us.


Posted by Joe Ligon with

Hebrews 3





As I have said in the previous two devotionals on this book, the overarching theme of Hebrews is Jesus is better.  The chapter before us today takes on the fact that Jesus is better than Moses.  That doesn’t mean Moses is bad.  It simply means Jesus is better.

From our perspective that probably doesn’t elicit much of a response from us.  We undoubtedly know that Moses was an important figure not only in the Old Testament but also throughout history.  We would also undoubtedly know that as important as he was, he didn’t measure up to Jesus’ standards.

First century Jewish believers would have known that as well. At least, they would have kind of known that.  From their Jewish heritage, Moses was perhaps one of the two most important men in the Jewish religion.  The other one would have had to have been Abraham.  So, this assertion that Jesus is better than Moses would have been startling to many.

As the chapter opens the writer refers to His Jewish audience as holy brothers.  This tells us that this chapter is written with believers in mind.  They (we) are told to consider, to think about Jesus.  And then Jesus is referred to as an apostle.  He is not an apostle in terms of men like Paul or Peter or John were apostles.  The word apostle simply means “one sent”.  The apostolic ministry was the concept of one being sent with a particular message.  In that context Jesus was obviously “One sent”.  “God sent His Son” to us.  And Jesus came to us with the message of the Gospel. 

He is also our High Priest.  In the Old Testament, Moses was the prophet.  His brother, Aaron, was the High Priest.  Both of those offices and subsequent responsibilities were fulfilled by Jesus. 

In verses 3-6 we read about a house.  This probably should not be taken literally.  Moses was responsible for the household of faith (the Jewish people) in the Pentateuch.  That was a most important responsibility.  But Jesus, who is better, was the One who created that house or household of faith. 

In verses 7-11, the writer quotes Psalm 95:7-11.  This Psalm captures the sad truth that the Jewish people had a really hard time staying faithful.  They had a tendency to wander away from God.  And wandering away from God almost always results in a hardening of the heart of the wanderer.  As hearts are hardened, the wandering tends to increase to the point that the wanderer loses sight of how God says we are supposed to live.  The result, in verse 11, is “not entering My rest”.  That doesn’t mean they ceased to be God’s chosen people.  It simply means the privilege of entering into the Promised Land was taken away as punishment for their continued disobedience.

In verse 12, we are warned not to follow that same path.  The concept of “turning away” or “falling away” does not refer to rejection but to rebellion.  This is not a rejection of who God is but a rebellion to who God is.  It is the result of the pattern we just saw in the above Psalm.

Part of the solution to this problem is consistent encouragement from others to stay close to God.  The Christian life cannot be lived in isolation or solitude.  It can only be lived in community.  It is in the context of Biblical community that we find the encouragement and the exhortation to stay true to the One who saved us.

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