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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 4

Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the BibleBox on Selected Books

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In Hebrews three the author set forth the sin of the Jews and the punishment for their actions. Here in Hebrews four he begins to show the benefits and privileges that come to believers in Christ through the gospel.

The Holy Spirit wanted us to understand the promise of a "rest" that remains. There is a real danger of coming short of God's rest and of losing it. The reason that Jews of old did not enter into God's rest was because of a lack of faith. Unbelief will also keep us out of God's promised rest.

One of the main points of this section was that a rest of a spiritual nature remains for the people of God. This rest is much more desirable than the land of Canaan was for the Jews. God used both the Jews of the Old Testament times and His own rest to picture the rest awaiting the faithful Christian. This rest that God has prepared is attainable through faithful service to God.

Our boldness in coming before God should exist because of Jesus, our Great High Priest. In all of our spiritual weakness and struggles we can come to Him for help.

Verses 1-4

Great privileges under Christ -- Heb_4:1-4 : The writer of Hebrews says that the example of the Jews dying in the wilderness because of unbelief should motivate us to faithfulness to God. Unbelief or unfaithfulness will cause the same end to come our way concerning our rest.

The great privilege of knowing Christ and His gospel is ours. Let us fear lest we come short of the heavenly rest promised in the gospel. The kind of fear which is here spoken of leads to caution, care and faithfulness.

We have been blessed with the promise of God's rest and of knowing how to enter that rest. God will demand a strict account of how we how dealt with His will if we are to enter His rest. How sobering the truth, "but God's word did not profit some because it was not mixed with faith (obedience) in them that heard it ."

Man missing the promised rest because of unbelief in no way reflects on God faithfulness and the certainty of the promise. God finished His work, and then rested from it on the Sabbath Day. He will cause all who believe (obey) to finish their work and to enter into their heavenly rest. There is a promised spiritual rest in heaven that you may enter!

Verses 5-8

Great blessings for the believers -- Heb_4:5-8 : Here the Hebrew writer continues to quote from and apply Psa_95:1-11 . In Heb_4:5 he refers to Psa_95:11 , "Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest." The quoting of this Psalm seems to have two purposes: (1) To show that even in this Psalm God promised a rest that many would miss, and (2) To show that a heavenly rest remains for the faithful child of God.

The Spirit used two Old Testament rests to picture a third rest yet to come. God's rest on the Sabbath Day and the rest that some Jews entered into in Canaan, thought most missed because of unbelief, is a picture a our rest when the preaching of the gospel is mixed with faith on our part. The true spiritual rest was not Canaan, but there remains a rest to be enjoyed by the people of God. God’s people have a full assurance of enjoying this rest conditioned upon their faithfulness. This heavenly rest is far different, better and more glorious than the rest Joshua led Israel to in Canaan.

Verses 9-13

Great motivation for serving God -- Heb_4:9-13 : We must take heed to live our lives by the word of God, or doctrine of Jesus Christ. The gospel will quickly find you out if you are guilty of disobedience to it. All insincerity, unbelief, and hypocrisy, will be detected by God because, "the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." ( Heb_4:12 ) There will be no escape from the penetrating, powerful word of God.

Man possesses spirit, soul, and body. ( 1Th_5:23 ) Man has a physical body, a life much like the animals have, and an immortal soul that leaves the body when earthly life ends. United these three constitute one man. The word of God is able to separate all of these. When our life is measured by that same word of God it will be determined as to whether we can enter into God's rest.

The word of God is able to lay bear the secrets of the heart. "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." ( Heb_4:13 )

Verses 14-16

Great help from our High Priest -- Heb_4:14-16 : In Heb_2:17 the idea had been introduced that Jesus Christ is our merciful and faithful High Priest. "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."

What kind of High Priest is Jesus? The Jewish High Priest passed once a year into the Most Holy Place. Jesus passed into the heavens. They had names, many of which have been long forgotten. His name will never be forgotten. His name is Jesus --Savior. The Jewish High Priests were descendants of Aaron. Jesus is the Son of God. The Jewish High Priests were sinners. Jesus Never sinned. ( Heb_4:15 ) Isaiah wrote, "And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." ( Isa_53:9 )

Even as great as Jesus is He is very kind, tender and concerned about us. He can "be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." He understands what it is to be tempted. He understands our weaknesses. We have a faithful High Priest who is qualified to sympathize with us in our afflictions, and to whom we may look for help in trials and temptations. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." ( Heb_4:16 )

With our focus on Jesus let us labour to enter His rest. Through the preaching of the gospel of Christ may we be drawn to His perfect life and to His powerful teachings? Let us love Jesus enough to surrender our lives to Him and His will. He promised "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." ( Mat_11:28-30 )

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Hebrews 4". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/hebrews-4.html. 2014.
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