A Verse by Verse Look at the Book of Hebrews

Hebrews 4

The Believer's Rest

Hebrews 4 offers true Sabbath rest for the people of God through faith in Christ. This rest for God's people is what was promised throughout the entire Old Testament. True Sabbath rest does not come from adhering to the law or taking a break from work one day of the week. The believer’s rest comes to fulfillment in our lives by fellowshipping with Christ.

The Promise of Entering His Rest (Hebrews 4:1-2)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 4

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (Hebrews 4:1-2)

Did you know that faith is the only way to enter into the rest that God offers. This rest is still available today but it remains that some will enter and some will not. The deciding factor is faith. When we choose to believe and solely trust in Jesus then we enter into the rest that God promised His people.

It Takes Faith to Enter Into Rest (Hebrews 4:3-6)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 4

“Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience” (Hebrews 4:3-6)

It takes faith to enter into God’s rest. Faith placed in the finished work of Christ and not in our works. God’s rest is more than setting aside one day a week to cease from labor, it is placing our entire trust and confidence in Christ to save us. God’s special relationship with Israel was not fulfilled because of their disobedience, so it stands to reason that this rest through relationship is still available for all who believe. If unbelief keeps you out, then faith brings you in.

When God created the world the Bible says that He rested on the seventh day. This was not because he was tired and couldn’t create anything else; it was because it was finished. There was nothing left to create. He didn’t have to produce more fruit trees to feed Adam and Eve. He created everything with seeds and the ability to reproduce. Everything was planned out and created to sustain mankind. God rested on the seventh day because everything was finished and complete.

In fact, Adam and Eve were created dwelling in the rest of God. There was no labor involved. Sure they had jobs to do, naming the animals and overseeing the garden, but God’s rest has nothing to do with taking a break from work and activities. It has everything to do with trusting God as our source. They walked and talked with God enjoying His fellowship and trusting in Him for everything.

God created mankind to dwell in this rest right from the start, this was always His plan. God never desired for mankind to go through all we have because of sin. He created us to live in a constant state of Sabbath Rest. He created us to love us. Sin is what ruined this plan.

However, the fall of mankind did not catch God off guard; He had made provision long before there was a problem. 1 Peter tells us, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1Peter 1:18-21). Christ was chosen, foreordained and destined for the cross from the beginning of time before the world existed because God knew that sin would separate us and remove us from the resting place in which He created us to dwell. Sin is what separated us, but sin is no longer an issue through Christ’s sacrifice, so there remains the promise of entering into God’s rest through faith in Jesus.

Just as God rested because everything was finished and He created everything with seeds and the ability to reproduce, we can rest in the finished work of the cross. We too have been born again with the living and lasting Word which regenerates our spirit. Peter goes on to say, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (I Peter 1:23). Jesus restores us to where mankind was before the fall. He has erased the guilt and shame that sin heaps on us. He has restored the relationship with the Father that we were created for. By trusting in Jesus as our source we too can enter into the rest that God desires for us. The rest in which He created Adam and Eve. Jesus is the Sabbath rest for the people of God.

The Jews missed out on this promise because they chose not to trust in God after they heard the good news of their deliverance. He wanted to take them into immediate possession of the land He promised to Abraham. Instead unbelief kept them out (Hebrews 3:19). So it stands to reason that if unbelief keeps you out of this promise, faith brings you in. Faith placed in Christ and what He did to restore this relationship. Only you can keep yourself out of this rest. But entering in allows you to cease striving and working out your own salvation. Instead it allows you to dwell in relationship knowing that God has provided everything for you with a wonderful promise to sustain you every day of your life.

Tomorrow we will look at Hebrews 4:7-8; The Promise of Rest is Available Today.

The Promise of Rest is Available Today (Hebrews 4:7-8)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 4

“Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day” (Hebrews 4:7-8)

An important truth to understand when reading the Bible, is that in the New Testament we see the literal and spiritual fulfillment of the events that happened in the Old Testament. This example from Israel’s past in their pursuit into Canaan is something we must pay close attention to because this was a foreshadow of entering into the true promised land of God.

True Sabbath Rest through Christ (Hebrews 4:9-10)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 4

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:9-10)

I remember as a teenager the pastor of the church we attended spoke one Sunday about resting on Sunday. The point of his message was to set aside one day a week to rest and focus on God. He cited the example from the Old Testament about keeping the Sabbath. After the service several people came up to me asking me if I still planned to work on Sundays commenting that I shouldn’t because the Bible said to keep the Sabbath holy. I worked a part time job at a local restaurant and worked when I was scheduled, which included Sunday evenings. Although the pastor meant well, he missed the point of Sabbath rest, it is not one day a week set aside to rest from our labors; the Sabbath Rest is Jesus.

Making an Effort to Enter the Rest (Hebrews 4:11)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 4

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11)

It takes effort to enter into God’s rest, it takes faith. Resting in God’s grace comes moment by moment, resisting the urge to trust in ourselves. This is a process in which the foundation hinges on God’s character. Unless we lay a good foundation understanding who God is and His will concerning us we will never be able to build and surround ourselves in the rest that God desires for us to experience in Him.

The Word of God is Alive and Full of Power (Hebrews 4:12)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 4

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

Part 1 of 3

Growing up I worked at a summer camp. Each year the camp had a themed Bible verse that was presented to the kids and taught on in the chapel services. The second year I worked, Hebrews 4:12 was the verse. Since then, this verse has stuck with me, making a profound impact on my life because it placed an importance on the Word of God. Thinking of it often, I understood early that the scriptures were there to help and guide me through life. In fact they became life to me because the word that God speaks is alive and full of power, which makes it effective and life changing.

It is no coincidence that this verse is found in the middle of instruction on entering into God’s rest through Jesus. Hebrews 4:11 gives warning to make every effort of entering into rest; not following in Israel’s example of disobedience and unbelief. To do this we must learn who God is and understand His nature and will concerning us. This is accomplished through scripture. The Word of God has an active part in remaining in rest.

The true Sabbath Rest is found in Jesus; we enter by trusting in Him and the finished work of the cross. But to remain and stay in this place takes effort, not because we must do something to remain saved, but because we have a tendency to take back control and strive in the midst of circumstances. Instead we must rely solely on Him; not trusting in ourselves when situations come against us. The more we let the truth of scripture speak into our lives, the more we will trust God when things beyond our control happen because we know His promises. He reminds us of the things he has said in His Word, bringing both encouragement and confidence.

Tomorrow we will look at Part 2; The Difference Between the Soul and the Spirit.

The Difference Between the Soul and The Spirit (Hebrews 4:12)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 4

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

Part 2 of 3

The Word is powerful because it is able to discern the difference between the soul and spirit. These two words are so similar that most understand them to be the same thing. Even our language uses them interchangeably, but the Biblical definition is vastly different. I Thessalonians 5:23 shows us that mankind is made up of three parts, a spirit, a soul and a body. Understanding this truth is a key to unlocking and understanding many scriptures.

Our spirit is our life force. It is the part of us that was born again when we put our faith in Jesus. The default sin nature was taken out and we were give a new spirit that is identical to Jesus (Romans 6:6-7; I John 4:17). The believer’s spirit is the part that has been sanctified, sealed and redeemed (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:15-17) . The spirit you have now is the same spirit you will have for all eternity, it is perfect (Romans 8; Hebrews 10:10; 10:14).

The soul can be described as your personality, your thoughts, your attitudes and what makes you unique. Perhaps this is why we use words like spirit and soul interchangeably because we cannot see either one, yet we understand that we possess something that makes up who we are as a person.

The body is the container for the spirit and the soul. It is the physical structure of a human. It is our flesh and blood. It is who we are when people look at us. This is the third part to mankind, without any one of these things, we cannot sustain life.

The spirit and the soul appear to be so similar that we group them together. But Hebrews 4:12 says the Word is capable of showing us the difference between the spirit and the soul. It is like a sharp sword that is able to penetrate and divide the two. The Amplified Bible puts it this way, “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 AMP).

This is an important concept because we look at certain scriptures and wonder who they are talking about. We read passages showing us that we are identical to Jesus in this world, God considers us pure, righteous and holy and we don’t believe it because we look to the realm of our soul and assume that God has made a mistake. We quote passages saying we are raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 2:6) but continue to struggle with hardship in our homes. This is because we haven’t understood the differences between the spirit and the soul and this plays out in how we interpret and understand the Bible.

The born again spirit we received the moment we were saved is identical with Jesus (Romans 8, Hebrews 10:10, 14). This is how God sees us, He looks at our spirit. This is why He sees us a righteous, because the sin nature is gone. Consequently this is how the devil sees us also. He looks at us dressed in our full armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) and cannot tell the difference between us and Jesus (Isaiah 59:15-18). This is why he trembles when we are around. The spirit is truly who we are because of what Jesus did.

However, we look at ourselves through the eyes of our soul. We see where we struggle, we know the thoughts we have, we know how we mess up. So there is a huge disconnect when we read the Bible because we don’t understand who we are in the spirit and how God looks at us. Then we get frustrated thinking we need be holy and righteous when in fact we already are.

This is why this passage of scripture is so powerful because it shows us the Word of God is able to discern between the two. Knowing the difference between the spirit and the soul brings enlightenment to the scriptures because we are able to discern what part of our makeup is being talked about in passages. Paul wrote, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:23). Our spirit is already blameless, but our soul, the thoughts, attitudes and intent of the heart, needs to be renewed and reminded of who we are in the spirit so we will experience them in the physical realm as well.

Tomorrow we will look at Part 3; The Word Exposes Our Thoughts and Attitudes.

The Word Exposes Our Thoughts and Attitudes (Hebrews 4:12)

Written by Juli Camarin on . Posted in Hebrews 4

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

Part 3 of 3

How we think is dependent on many things, how we were raised, the values and world views we were taught, not to mention the circumstances of our lives. All of these things shape our attitudes and perceptions whether good or bad. No matter where we come from the Word is able to expose all these things so the truth of scripture can be rewritten on our hearts.

Paul said in Romans 12:2 that transformation comes by the renewal of the mind. The transformation he is talking about is metamorphosis, illustrated by a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. It is a complete change. The same illustration holds true for us. When we let the truth of scripture rewrite the thoughts and attitudes we possess then our soul realm is transformed displaying the amazing things that are contained in our born again spirits. Everything God said we are through Christ is exactly what will show up in our lives through this renewal.