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Hebrews 3:16 – 4:10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 1, 2018


We don’t know for sure who wrote the book of Hebrews, but we do have a pretty good idea of who it was written to.

Hebrews was written to Jewish believers.

The author expects the readers to be well acquainted with Levitical worship and sacrifice.
He will constantly quote the Old Testament in a way that expects that the reader understands what he’s talking about.

We also know that these believers were encountering very strong persecution.

Times were so bad that some were beginning to wonder if they shouldn’t quit following Jesus.

We will see three elements woven throughout this letter to the Hebrews.

1.  Both Testaments

Even though the Old Testament has become “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13), the entire book of Hebrews is built upon the clear foundation of the Old Testament.
(Hebrews 8:13 NKJV) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
You aren’t going to understand Hebrews, or even the New Testament correctly unless you learn the Old Testament.

2. Jesus is superior

He’s superior to angels.
He’s superior to Moses and the Torah.
He’s superior to the Levitical priests and their sacrifices.

3. Don’t quit

The ultimate goal of the book is to encourage those who are struggling with difficult times, and help them to endure.
There’s much to find strength from and not quit.

3:16-19 Wilderness Failure

The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for four hundred years when God raised up Moses and brought the plagues to force the Egyptians to let the people go.

Video:  Exodus: Gods and Kings - Plagues

After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  It’s this “wilderness” time that the author of Hebrews has been talking about.

It’s during those 40 years in the wilderness that the people continually complained and rebelled.

The generation of adults who had been delivered from Egypt would not see the Promised Land.

The people would finally come into the Promised Land, the “land of rest”, under the leadership of Moses’ protégé, Joshua.

Last week, the author took a look at Psalm 95, where David gives a warning to be careful lest we develop hard hearts like the people in the wilderness.

(Psalm 95:7b–11 NKJV) —7 …Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. 10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”

We talked last week that David is actually referring to an episode of Israel in those wilderness days.
It was at a place known as Massah and Meribah, when the people complained about the lack of water.

:16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?

:16 who, having heard, rebelled?

rebelledparapikraino (“alongside” + “to embitter”) – to provoke, exasperate; to rouse to indignation

When the people came out of Egypt, they camped at Mount Sinai.

It’s there they heard God’s voice (Ex. 19:17-19)
(Exodus 19:17–19 NKJV) —17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.
Moses would later describe that moment:
(Deuteronomy 4:36 NKJV) Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire.

These people, who will be the ones who DON’T make it into the Promised Land, had actually heard God speak, audibly.

From time to time I’ll hear someone say, “If God did a miracle, or if I heard God’s voice, then I’d believe”.
Oh really?  These people heard and they didn’t believe.

having heardakouo – to hear

Aorist participle

who came out ofexerchomai – to go or come forth of

Aorist participle

:17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?

sinnedhamartano – to be without a share in; to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong; to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin

corpses kolon – a member of a body, particularly the more external and prominent members esp. the feet; a dead body, corpse, inasmuch as the members of a corpse are loose and fall apart

:17 with whom was He angry forty years?

was He angry prosochthizo – be angry with, to be wroth or displeased with; to loathe; to spew out; to be disgusted with

During those forty years of wandering in the wilderness, God was “angry” with them … and for a reason…

:17 whose corpses fell in the wilderness?

Note this phrase.  We’ll see it again in a minute in the Old Testament.

:18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?

swearomnuo – to swear; to affirm, promise, threaten, with an oath

:18 they would not enter His rest

It was in Psalm 95:11 that God declared they would not “enter His rest”.

This word for “rest” is the main thread through today’s study (9x).

restkatapausis – a putting to rest; a resting place

This word, as well as it’s verb form katapauo will be used quite a few times throughout our study.  It’s the main thread.

:18 but to those who did not obey?

did not obeyapeitheo (“not” + “persuade”) – not to allow one’s self to be persuaded; to refuse or withhold belief; to refuse belief and obedience; not to comply with

It was those who were “unpersuaded”, who refused to believe, that didn’t go into the Promised Land.
The Old King James here reads:
(Hebrews 3:18 AV) And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?



After the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, they camped for awhile at Mount Sinai where they received God’s laws, built the Tabernacle, and were organized as a fighting force.
Then Moses sent twelve spies (Num. 13) into the Promised Land to bring back a report of what was up ahead.
The spies were gone for forty days, and when they returned, there were two distinct reports given.
Joshua and Caleb reported that the land was a wonderful place to live in, overflowing with milk and honey, and God would help them conquer the land.
The other ten could talk about nothing but the problems they would face – that there were giants in the land – and that the Israelites would never be able to conquer the land.
When the people heard these two reports, they latched on to the “bad” report.  They started complaining and said that they would NOT go into this Promised Land.
God was not very happy with their reply.  He was “angry”.

(Numbers 14:11 NKJV) Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?

They weren’t “persuaded”.

In the end, this was God’s verdict for these people who continually rejected Him:

(Numbers 14:32–35 NKJV) —32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection. 35 I the Lord have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.’ ”

Notice the use of “carcasses” or “corpses” in vs. 33.

Notice God’s swearing an oath in vs. 35.

I think it’s a shame that most translations put the focus on “obedience” when the word is really about believing.
Are you persuaded?
Persuasion does affect actions.
If you’re persuaded, your actions should show it.
What if I told you that you were ill with a terminal illness, and that you only had weeks left to live?
What if I showed you the results of all the tests that showed this were true? Some people will still refuse to be persuaded.
What if I told you that there was a cure for your illness and it was 100% effective?

Would you be interested in the cure?

Sin is the illness.  Sin is killing you, and Jesus is the only answer.

Jesus died in your place. He offers the only remedy to sin – forgiveness, if you will just trust Him.

What if I told you that your favorite breakfast food was killing you?  What if I showed you scientific data proving that your brand of muffin was filled with a slow acting poison, and the more you eat, the deadlier it gets?
Would you be willing to switch to a different brand of muffin?  Or would you choose to keep eating that poisonous food?
There is something that’s killing you.
The sins we are tempted with are indeed a poison, and they’re not making us healthier.
Are you persuaded?  Are you willing to stop eating the poison? 
Would you be willing to ask for help?

The ones who didn’t enter God’s Promise Land were “unpersuaded”.

:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

unbeliefapistia – unfaithfulness, faithless; want of faith, unbelief; weakness of faith

:19 they could not enter in because of unbelief

they could dunamai – to be able, have power; to be capable

They didn’t have the power to enter because of their unbelief.


The Power of Trust

If they had just trusted God, they would have had the power to enter the Promised Land.
Yet an entire generation didn’t attempt to enter the Promised Land because they didn’t believe God was bigger than their giants.

Are you concerned about the giants you’re facing?

Is God big enough to take on your giants?

Available Power
Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan.  He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off.  As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running.  He used this ingenious procedure for two years. Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station.  When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood.  Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, “Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.”  He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life. For two years needless trouble had become routine.  The power was there all the time.  Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting the power to work.
What if the “loose connection” that’s keeping you from getting your life started is the simple fact that you don’t trust God?
J.B.Phillips paraphrases Ephesians 1:19-20,

“How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.”

4:1-10 Promised Rest

:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.

fearphobeo – to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to fear, be afraid; to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm; to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience

Aorist passive subjunctive

remainskataleipo – to leave behind; to depart from, leave; to be left; of those who sail past a place without stopping

a promiseepaggelia – announcement; promise; the act of promising, a promise given or to be given; a promised good or blessing

you seemdokeo – to be of opinion, think, suppose; to seem, to be accounted, reputed

Present active subjunctive

to have come shorthustereo – behind; to come late or too tardily; to be left behind in the race and so fail to reach the goal, to fall short of the end; metaph. fail to become a partaker, fall back from; to fail, be wanting

Perfect active infinitive

:1 a promise remains of entering His rest

restkatapausis (“down” + “to cease”) – a putting to rest; calming of the winds; a resting place

metaph. the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended
Present active participle
The word is a present tense – speaking of continuous action.
In other words, at this time there is still a chance to “enter His rest”


Trust and Rest

The writer uses the word “rest” with several different ideas in mind:
It’s descriptive of Israel’s “Promised Land”.
It’s descriptive of our ultimate rest in “heaven”.

In our passage, the Promised Land becomes a metaphor for heaven.

This is the main focus of our passage.

The Bible also uses the word “rest” in a different way.
It can describe the “inner peace” available to the Christian.

Jesus said,

(Matthew 11:28–30 NKJV) —28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus invites us to learn what His “rest” is.

I think one of the ways we experience this is trusting Him in prayer.

(Philippians 4:6–7 NLT) —6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Just praying isn’t enough.  It’s prayer with thanksgiving – thanking God because you actually trust Him to help you – that’s what brings the peace, the rest.

Video:  OneTimeBlind – Trust Fall

There’s so much more that can happen in our lives when we simply learn to trust Him.

:1 let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short

The writer is concerned that some of his readers might not make it into God’s rest, God’s salvation.

:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

gospel was preachedeuaggelizo – to bring good news, to announce glad tidings

did not profit opheleo – to assist, to be useful or advantageous, to profit

wordlogos – word

they heardakoe – the sense of hearing; the thing heard; of preaching the gospel

being mixed withsugkerannumi – to mix together, commingle; to unite; caused the several parts to combine into an organic structure, which is the body; to unite one thing to another

:2 the gospel was preached to us as well as to them

The word “gospel” means “good news”.

The Israelites had the “good news” preached to them when Joshua and Caleb told them that God could help them despite the giants.

(Numbers 14:7b–8 NKJV) —7 …“The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’
In other words, God would make sure they would be able to conquer it if they would trust Him and move forward.

The gospel I preach to you today is the good news that:

God has taken care of your sins through the work of Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, and if you will believe it, it has the power to change your life.
(John 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

:2 the word … did not profit them, not being mixed with faith

The benefit of hearing good news doesn’t come by just hearing it, it comes when you believe it.


Believing Benefits

The value of Bible Study is not in learning lots of “stuff”.
The value comes when you believe it.

When I talk about finding God’s peace in prayer – it’s not going to do you a bit of good until you come to the point where you believe it and do it (pray).

The value of the gospel doesn’t come from me telling you about it.
Salvation comes when you start believing it.

:3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

I have swornomnuo – to swear; to affirm, promise, threaten, with an oath; in swearing to call a person or thing as witness, to invoke, swear by

wrathorge – anger, the natural disposition, temper, character; movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but esp. anger; anger, wrath, indignation; anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself

foundationkatabole – a throwing or laying down; a founding (laying down a foundation)

were finishedginomai – to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being; to become, i.e. to come to pass, happen; to be made, finished; to become, be made

:3 we who have believed do enter that rest

The writer has been making the contrast that the Israelites in the wilderness did NOT enter that rest because of their unbelief.

Yet those of us who DO believe will enter into this “rest”.

:3 the works were finished from the foundation of the world

Work and rest are opposites.

If you’re working, you’re not resting.

If you’re resting, you’re not working.

The concept of “God’s rest” stretches all the way back to the days of creation, the “foundation of the world”.

The writer gets this idea from…

:4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”;

seventhhebdomos – seventh

restedkatapauo – to make quiet, to cause to be at rest, to grant rest; to lead to a quiet abode; to still, restrain, to cause (one striving to do something) to desist; to rest, take rest

:4 God rested on the seventh day

The author has found our word “rest” all the way back in Genesis, back at the time of creation, the “foundation of the world” (Gen. 2:2)

(Genesis 2:2 NKJV) And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

:5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”

:5 They shall not enter My rest

Again quoting from Psalm 95:11.

The author has circled the word “rested” in Genesis 2:2, then circled the word “rest” from Psalm 95:11, and connected the two.

This “rest” that the Israelites didn’t enter dates back to the time of creation.  Heaven has been available since the beginning.

In both texts in the Septuagint, the word for rest is various forms of katapauo.
restkatapausis – a putting to rest; a resting place

:6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience,

(they were “unpersuaded”)

:7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.”

sinceepei – when, since; of time: after; of cause: since, seeing that, because

it remainsapoleipo – to leave, to leave behind; to desert or forsake

disobedienceapeitheia – obstinacy, obstinate opposition to the divine will

Again, this word means “unpersuaded”

he designateshorizo – to define; to mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing) 1b to determine, appoint; that which has been determined, acc. to appointment, decree; to ordain, determine, appoint

Todaysemeron – this (very) day); what has happened today

:7 Today, if you will hear His voice

The writer is again making a point quoting Psalm 95:7.

:6 therefore it remains that some must enter it

Here’s the point the writer trying to make.

There still remains a “rest” that can be entered into.
If we set up a timeline:
God established the principle of rest at creation (Gen. 2:2) when He “rested”.
The story that Psalm 95 is referring to is back in the days of Moses and Joshua, 1400 BC.

Moses didn’t enter the Promised Land, but Joshua did bring the nation in.

David then writes Psalm 95, referring to the days of Moses, and encourages people not to harden their hearts because there’s a “rest” to be entered into.

David’s “today” was 400 years after Moses, saying that “rest” is still available, so don’t harden your heart.

So that means that “rest” is still available.

:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.

:8 if Joshua had given them rest

given them restkatapauo – to make quiet, to cause to be at rest, to grant rest

JoshuaIesous – “Yahweh is salvation”

The Old King James has “Jesus” here, but we know from the context that it’s talking about Moses’ protégé Joshua, not Jesus the Son of God.

Joshua took over after Moses and brought Israel into the Promised Land around 1400BC, but if Joshua had brought the people this true “rest”, then David wouldn’t have written (in Ps. 95) that there still remained a “rest” 400 years later.

One concept of this “rest” was “rest from their enemies”.
Even though Joshua conquered the majority of the land, there were still some areas that went unconquered, and their enemies rose up from time to time.

:9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.

remainsapoleipo – to leave, to leave behind; to desert or forsake

:9 a rest for the people of God

For the entire passage today, the author has used a single word for “rest” (katapauo, 9x)

The author now switches and uses a new word for the first time.

a restsabbatismos – a keeping of Sabbath

The word “Sabbath” means literally “seventh” and comes from the seventh day when God “rested”.

We might translate this, “There remains therefore a “sabbathing” for the people of God”. (or, “sabbatical”)

The writer has brought us back to Genesis 2:2, the first “Sabbath”, when God rested.

The Jews were commanded to “remember the Sabbath” by not working (Ex. 20:8-11) because God “rested” on the seventh day.
We might think of how the Jews interpreted this to mean they couldn’t prepare food, light a fire, or carry something.
Our writer is tying the rest of heaven (salvation) with a ceasing from “works”
We rest from works because He rested from works.
(Exodus 20:8–11 NKJV) —8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

There was great controversy between Jesus and the Pharisees over their interpretations of the “Sabbath”.

The Pharisees got upset at Jesus for healing people on the Sabbath because that was considered “work”,

:10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

:10 has himself also ceased from his works

restkatapausis – a putting to rest; calming of the winds; a resting place; metaph. the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended

ceasedkatapauo – to make quiet, to cause to be at rest, to grant rest; to lead to a quiet abode; to still, restrain, to cause (one striving to do something) to desist; to rest, take rest

The words for “rest” and “ceased” are two forms of that same word for “rest” – katapauo.

We could translate this, “For he who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works as God did from His.”


Salvation Rest

The one who has truly entered into God’s salvation rest will have learned to “rest” from work, just as God has rested.
We no longer need to earn our salvation by our good works because we have trusted in Christ’s finished work on the cross.
A true faith in Christ will produce a change in your life that results in you living a life of good works, but our works follow salvation, they don’t produce it.
Maybe you’ve got this notion that if you’re going to be saved, you need to do certain things first.
Maybe you think you need to quit smoking.
Maybe you think you need to stop drinking.
Maybe you think you need to clean up your language.

None of those things are enough to save you.  Our works simply show that He’s really changed you.

Back in the 1800s there was a famous acrobat known as “The Great Blondin”.
In particular, he became famous for his tightrope walking across Niagara Falls, which he did numerous times.

He performed a back somersault on the line.

He lowered a rope to a boat below,  raised up a bottle, and took a drink.

He crossed once blindfolded, pushing a wheelbarrow.

He crossed once on a bicycle.

His most daring crossing involved carrying a man on his back.

My friends, getting to heaven is quite a bit more difficult than crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

Frankly, you’re not able to get there on your own.

But there’s someone who’s quite good at it, and all you need to do is get up on His shoulders.

And rest.

You just need to trust Him.


Dave Dunagan Appreciation

It was almost 25 years ago that Dave Dunagan and I started a partnership.  We started a church.  Today is Dave’s last Sunday as official “worship leader” and I wanted to just take a few minutes to say “thanks” to an amazing friend.


Gifts – card w/gift cards; crystal flame award, Thank you picture

Passing the baton