“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. 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. 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: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 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. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:1–10, KJV)
I suppose the very first thing I should do is explain why I’m having huge gaps between installments on this series. Literally, we’ve got 9 chapters left to handle, and now that the setting and major themes are explained, it’ll be easy to fly through these.
But now I’m putting a lot of work into my other projects, and sometimes a quick rant can be banged out quicker than an intensive study, which I need for my own purpose. Really, if I was going to do this right, we’d be jumping back and forth between Romans and Hebrews – which are thematically very similar (something that seems to escape a LOT of people who continually call Paul “The Writer” when they’re quoting from Hebrews, but call him “Paul” when from Romans… come on, folks, same guy!).
So, in order to try to free up some time to take care of a thesis that’s been hanging out there for 3 years uncompleted, so I can finish up the Master’s and take on the Doctorate (!) and get that done, I’m writing a series of shorter articles.
There’s a number of themes of the Gospel it would do well to identify. For instance, Matthew is really a unique Gospel, in that it is portraying constant comparisons between Israel in the Exodus from Egypt to the promised land Eretz Israel… and Jesus Christ. Where Israel fails, time and again, Jesus Christ succeeds. If you read it that way, you gain understanding of a lot of passages. Can you understand Matthew without it? Well, uh… yeah. I mean, when you read that Jesus Christ feeds thousands with scraps, you can readily understand that without comparing it to “Speak to the rock” or the Israelites complaining about free food falling from the sky. Jesus Christ took the little bit, and it was, as the Lord promised Israel, enough. More than enough.
So, sure, it adds a little bit to recognize that. Paul in Hebrews is beginning to reference not only that, but is drawing allusions to the Temple/Tabernacle as Christ, the High Priest as Christ, the passover offering itself as Christ being addressed in the Gospels already. And Melchezidek as Christ also.
So now, there’s a new simile – that of Christians being part of Israel. The caution is the same – “they recieved not with faith.”
“Let us fear…” why? Good question. THey recieved not with faith. Meaning they are paying for it up until this very minute. And long after God wipes away our tears, and we no longer remember what happened to those who rejected Christ – they will still be in agony. But they will be forever aware that not only are they in eternity suffering, but that God, and everyone else, has forgotten them. They are alone, while we enter into the Eternity, something not really explained or sohwn us. All we see is New Jerusalem.
Hypothetical question: Can you lose your salvation? We’ve already identified the premise that the hypothetical questions of Hebrews all end in “no”. Kind of like 1 Corinthians. Hm. I still don’t know why everyone shies away from the conclusion that Paul was used to write Hebrews.
So, the fear here is telling the Jews who are considering returning to christianity, “look, our ancestors died, because they didn’t recieve with faith. If you return to Judaism, you never were saved. And since you’ve already heard the Gospel, and tasted of the Christian life as if you wer saved, it’s going to be nearly impossible to bring you to repentence – and actually get you saved.”
Hebrews 4:10 likens the Sabbath to salvation, using the word “rest” as a synonym for “Salvation”. There remains a future rest.
Does that mean there’s a future salvation? No, but I can tell you – most days, my feet hurt, because I’m standing at my job for long periods of time. And then my left knee hurts.
I will at some point get my glorified, indestructible body that will never die. Knee and foot paiin will go away.
I will no longer get sick. Food will not make me queasy if I eat something that doesn’t agree with me.
That’s the rest. That period, the eternity that we will enter into is the rest that God speaks of here.
You get saved here and now, in an instant, forever. Forever.
But if you leave Christianity, it’s a strong, strong hint that “um… you’re not saved.”
You are not saved by persevering. You persevere because you’re saved.