Hebrews 3:7-19 – Entering the Confidence of God’s Rest by Faith
[Exposition of Psalm 95:7-11 (Hebrews 3:7 – 4:14)]
(Mike Bass and Chantal Abbuhl)
Psalm 95 is a classic Call to Worship and concerns Israel’s priestly duties. They were to enter God’s Rest (The Sabbath), but because they failed to listen to the Vision they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They did not “set the mind toward superabundantly setting the mind toward” the Vision. Now, Israel was obsessed with the Vision, but didn’t HEAR it, and they were blindly “drifting by the harbor” of God’s worldview.
“Rest” is our face-to-face relationship with God, restored to us through Christ. When we are in Rest, we cannot see anything other than God and His worldview. Not our own agendas or goals, not our own expectations, and not anyone else’s, either.
I think we have a hard time understanding what “Rest” is because we don’t fully understand God…
God said “I AM”. It’s almost as if there’s a blank space after “AM”… I AM DOING THIS THING, or I AM HERE WITH YOU, or even, I AM GOD.
“AM” is related to the word “be”. Both are verbs… words that annotate action or motion. God is “I AM”, and when we are in His Rest, we can “be” whoever it is He’s called us to be. But we have to know and trust that God is doing something in order for us to Rest. We don’t have to know what exactly what “it” is that God’s doing, that’s where the trust comes in. And this is when the faithfulness of Christ is activated in us. Just as Christ is the mediator of our face-to-face relationship with God, it is the faith of Christ that binds God’s “I AM” to our “be”-ing – God Himself makes us a part of Himself, and He does this on His own, with no help from us.
Do we know this? I mean REALLY know. Are we confident and positive in the fact of who God is in our lives? Confidence means we know, without a shadow of a doubt, and nothing can shake that. If we aren’t sure of this, if we’re not confident in what that looks like in our life, we will be at the mercy of our (unreliable and inconsistent) emotional responses to this information, as well as the influences of the world around us…which may be contrary to what God is doing.
Confidence is knowing, not “feeling”.
Their religion was their obsession; a “diseased (poneros), faithless (apistia) heart (kardia)” – speaks of one’s character; broken-minded, an inward condition – that “draws away from [abandons] (aphistemi) the living God.” This condition not only alienates one from God, and causes the alienation of others from God, but also alienates one from others; the opposite of God’s Vision of “community.”
If we don’t have confidence in God, if we don’t know all that entails God’s statement “I AM”, then we cannot “be”, because we will always be striving: to reach some imaginary and false goal that tells us we’re good enough to relate to God; or we’ll always feel like we have to do something in order for God to love us; or that we should feel a certain way about something. This is some messed up thinking!
Just like the Israelites-when they turned away from their face-to-face relationship with God, the religion that formed out of that turning away literally broke their minds. It is impossible to enter God’s Rest with a broken mind.
I see people all the time who break down into tears during worship services – they completely fall apart- but then can’t be bothered to learn anything about God outside of that setting, let alone what it’s like to walk face-to-face with Him every day! These people are the ones I see doing one of two things: they either reject any talk of God outside of church, or they buy into the religion of Christianity hook, line and sinker, without thinking for themselves. Both of these are telling, in that they’re incredibly self-centered. It’s this self-centeredness that breaks our minds. (Self-centeredness is religion!)
Our broken minds are fertile ground for the sin of our religion. If we don’t know God or God’s worldview, then we’ll either buy into someone else’s religious worldview, or start to push our own worldview – one that’s probably developed out of our striving, or our unchecked feelings, or in some cases, our ego. This is when we start to see people becoming control freaks, rather that operate out of the freedom we have in faith. When someone starts dictating and demanding how they think things should be, or how something should look, or how someone should act, or what everyone else should be doing, or even what someone’s response to a situation should be, these are all indications of a person who is not at Rest.
Faith “calls near [to make part of ones-self] (parakaleo)” one another every day, as long as it’s [still] “called (kaleo)” today, so that none of you become fooled by the “deception (apate) of offense (hamartia)” – referring to the broken-mindedness that “missing the mark” causes. According to this exposition of Psalm 95, religion is “the missing of the mark.”
– “generated sharers (ginomai metochos)” of Christ (Rom. 8:17, 29), but only if we “hold down [possess] (katecho) the placing under (hupostasis) we had in the first (arche) until the appointed goal (telos).” We have been made alive with Christ in Resurrection Life, if we stay under His death and not return again to that for which He died, until the purpose for which He died is complete (Rom. 6:1-7; Gal. 2:20-21; 5:24; 6:14; Phil. 3:9-11; Col. 2:11-12, 20; 2Cor. 4:10). “God’s Rest” is the “appointed goal.”
Confidence comes from knowing that we can’t “be” without believing and trusting that God is doing something, and knowing that God is doing what He’s doing which then frees us from our constant urge to “do” something, even if the urge is to find out what God is doing.
Confidence also comes from knowing that God is working in not only our lives, but the lives of those around us as well. We may not be able to relate in any way to the way He works in someone else’s life. But instead of forcing our religious presumptions, assumptions, and expectations onto someone else (who may not understand them at all), we might just want to get back to the face-to-face with God, because He’s the only one who can tell us what’s going on!
God was “grieved [heavily anguished with weight] (prosochthizo)” for forty years, with the ones who “missed the mark [and did not reach the goal] (hamartano),” whose “carcasses lopped off (kolon pipto) in the lonesome waste [wilderness] (eremos)” – this speaks of dismembered and thrown away. God had made them a part of Himself (God’s Rest), but they became diseased, so He amputated. This is a shadowing of the unfaithfulness in God’s worldview in humanity.
God swore that they would never enter His rest because they “willfully and perversely doubtful (apeitheo).” This speaks to a doubting to what one knows to be true. It is a lack of trust in the God who promised – believing one’s own religious worldview rather than God’s worldview of Faith (Rest).
When we are confident in our faith – (at”Rest”) – some things will change:
– We will no longer constantly wonder about our relationship with God, or more than likely, second-guess our salvation.
-We will no longer feel the need to qualify ourselves to others – because there is no emotional turmoil within us that tells us that something we’ve done has made us worthy or unworthy.
– We will no longer feel the need to control every situation, or every person; we no longer try to dictate the nature of someone else’s relationship with Christ, or people’s roles within the community.
– We will begin to see that when we are at “Rest”, meeting people where they are becomes so much easier. We will realize it’s not now, nor has it ever been, our job to “fix” people. We are to rest in Christ – trusting in Him to know what needs fixing, and to know the proper healing. We can just “be” with them, even if it is only so they are not alone. (We are to “be” with them while God says “I AM healing them.)
They did not have the “power (dunamai)” to enter “through (dia) faithlessness (apistia).” Faith is the only means of power for entering The Sabbath.
We cannot be in community without Rest.