Sabbath, February 16, 2008

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

1. What warning was given to the Hebrew Christians concerning the rest of God?
Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

“The Lord would have His people trust in Him and abide in His love, but that does not mean that we shall have no fear or misgivings. Some seem to think that if a man has a wholesome fear of the judgments of God, it is a proof that he is destitute of faith; but this is not so.

“A proper fear of God, in believing His threatenings, works the peaceable fruits of righteousness, by causing the trembling soul to flee to Jesus. Many ought to have this spirit today, and turn to the Lord with humble contrition, for the Lord has not given so many terrible threatenings, pronounced so severe judgments in His Word, simply to have them recorded, but He means what He says. One says, ‘Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law,’ Paul says, ‘Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade en.’” – Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 1100.

2. Why did the gospel preached to ancient Israel not benefit them?
Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

“Gospel. Literally, ‘good news’. The statement may be rendered, ‘we have been gospelized, just as they also.’ In OT times the gospel was ‘preached’ through type and ceremony, in sacrifice and ritual, but it was the same gospel as that more recently proclaimed by Christ.

“The word preached. Literally, ‘the word of hearing,’ or ‘the heard word.’

“Not profit them. Unless ‘the word preached’ meets with faith on the part of the hearer, it cannot benefit him. The effectiveness of Christ’s personal message, when here on earth, was likewise limited by the receptiveness of His hearers. Of Nazareth it is said that ‘he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief’ (Matt. 13:58). The outworking of this principle is clearly illustrated in the parable of the Sower.” – Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 418.

3. How did Christ’s teaching profit His hearers?
Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 13:22, 23 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

4. How do the believers respond to the call to enter into spiritual rest?
Hebrews 4:3 (first part) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest…

“We which have believed. That is, we Christians, meaning particularly converted Jews in the apostolic church.
“Do enter. Or, ‘are entering.’ The invitation is still valid; furthermore, some are accepting the invitation and entering into God’s ‘rest,’ by faith.

“Rest. Literally, ‘the rest,’ meaning the very same ‘rest’ to which reference has already been made in chs. 3:11, 18; 4:1. The ‘rest’ into which Christians, including converted Jews, enter is the very same spiritual ‘rest’ into which God had invited ancient Israel to enter–the ‘rest’ of soul that comes with full surrender to Christ and with the integration of the life into the eternal purpose of God (cf. Isa. 30:15; Jer. 6:16; Matt. 11:29).

“As he said. The writer has just affirmed that, one by one, Christian believers are entering into the very same spiritual ‘rest’ into which God formerly purposed that ancient Israel should enter, but from which they, as a nation, were now barred. Beginning at this point and continuing on through v. 8 he sets forth the evidence on which he bases his conclusion, a conclusion shocking to unconverted Jews and perhaps an enigma to many, if not most,converted Jews. In v. 9 he concludes this line of reasoning by reaffirming the validity of his major premise, namely, that admission to God’s ‘rest’ is now through the Christian faith as it formerly was through Judaism.” – Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 418.

5. Why did the ancient Israel not enter into their promised spiritual rest?
Hebrews 4:3 (second part) … although the works were finished from the foundation of the world

“1. God had sworn that literal Israel should not enter into His ‘rest.’
“2. Nevertheless, God’s ‘works’–here His purpose for mankind–were ‘finished

[‘finalized’] from the foundation of the world.’ In the beginning God had determined that men should enter into His ‘rest.’ Thus, God’s oath barring ancient Israel from the promised ‘rest’ might appear, on the surface, to be in conflict with His original purpose. Does the oath mean that God has rescinded His original design? Or does He pursue an objective until He secures it?
“3. To prove that God achieves His purposes, the writer points (v. 4) to the ‘works’ of creation. God set out to create this world; He completed His ‘works’ of creation; His rest on the seventh day testifies to a completed creation. Note the words ‘finished’ and ‘ended’ in Gen. 2:1-3 and the emphasis on completion.
“4. In Heb. 4:5 God’s oath that ancient Israel should not enter into His ‘rest’ is repeated and placed in juxtaposition with the thought of v. 4, that God accomplishes what He sets out to do, as illustrated by the completed work of creation.
“5. A completed creation, as testified to by God’s rest on the seventh day of creation week, is evidence of the immutability of God’s purposes. This is Paul’s major premise. His minor premise is the fact that God had purposed that His chosen people should enter into His ‘rest,’ but that ‘they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.’ This brings him to the conclusion that ‘it remaineth that some must enter therein’ (v. 6).
“6. As further evidence for the validity of his conclusion, the writer points again, in v. 7, to the words of Ps. 95, to the effect that the failure of earlier generations had neither altered God’s original purpose nor withdrawn the original invitation. Compare the repeated invitations to the great banquet (see Luke 14:16-24).
“7. In v. 8 he draws the further conclusion from the observation in v. 7 that God’s mention of ‘another day’ in the time of David is evidence that although Joshua had indeed given Israel ‘rest’ in the literal land of Canaan, he had definitely not led them into the spiritual ‘rest’ God intended them to enjoy.
“8. From the entire line of argument set forth in vs. 3-8 the writer concludes
it to be certain that ‘there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God’ (v. 9).” – Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, pp. 418, 419.

6. Where do we find the original description of God’s rest?
Hebrews 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

7. What was the serious reason why ancient Israel could not enter into God’s rest?
Psalm 95:9, 10 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways.
Psalm 78:18, 19 And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?

8. What decision did God make because of their unbelief?
Hebrews 4:5 And in this place again, if they shall enter into my rest.
Psalm 95:11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

“The Lord works in cooperation with the will and action of the human agent. It is the privilege and duty of every man to take God at His word, to believe in Jesus as his personal Saviour, and to respond eagerly, immediately, to the gracious propositions which He makes. He is to study to believe and obey the divine instruction in the Scriptures. He is to base his faith not on feeling but upon the evidence and the Word of God (MS 3, 1895).” – Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 928.