Hebrews 4:1-13

16 Jul 2023

Hebrews 4:1-13

Passage Hebrews 4:1-13

Speaker Ali Creasey


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Our reading this morning is from Hebrews, chapter four, verses one to 13. You will find the words on the screen and also on the sheet.

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 that heard it did not combine it with faith. 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 7th day in these words, and on the 7th day God rested from all his work. And again in the passage above he says, they shall never ever enter my rest. It still remains that some of us will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in because of their disobedience. 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 have not spoken later about another day. There remains then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For anyone who enters gods rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword.

It penetrates even the dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Gods sight. Nothing in all creation is hidden from gods sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

This is the word of the Lord health warning. If you see tears, do not worry. Hopefully the voice will remain static. And if not, if I end up in a blubbery mess, it's all written down and Ben will take over. He didn't realise that, but it may well happen yet.

So looking at that passage, I wonder if you're going, what, what is this on about? It does kind of have that feel to it. But in summary, really this passage is a reflection of the author's reflection on what has gone before. So I thought that to start, I would give you a little quiz again this morning. This is for everybody.

We can do it in numerous ways. And really all I'm going to do is I'm going to cheque on your knowledge of the story of God's people and within a specific timeframe, but that will become clear as we go along. So there are only four questions. Dead easy. And some of them, well, most of them are multi choice apart from one.

And so for the multi choice answers, if there are two answers, answer a is the pulpit side, answer b is the lectern side. Now, you can participate in this in a few ways. You can either come to the front and run between a and b. That is one option. But I know most of you will not go that way.

So I would suggest that you point and then I'll get. Nobody else will see, and I'll get an overview of kind of where we are. Does that sound okay? All right, great. Okay, so this is question one.

So within the story of the people of Israel, there are two really major significant events. One is the Exodus and one is the exile. So can you tell me of this summary? Which is which? So the.

Which one it is? Sorry. So this is the summary. The people leave Egypt to travel to the promised land. Is it the Exodus?

Is that the exile?

Oh, I've got people pointing to the pulpit. Yes. Great. Well done. It is the Exodus.

Right now, this is a bit more difficult question. Can you put. So based on the account in Exodus, can you put those events in order?

So first of all, I'll see if any of you think you can do it. And then if not, we'll work out together as a group who would like to have a go.

Okay, is there anybody willing to give it a go?

Events being set up here.

Mail is. Does that mean you're going?

Okay, so we're not taking those who are being volunteered. I need a volunteer to risk it for themselves.

Oh, you've all gone shy. Does that go on, Andy? Okay, so we're gonna go pass over. Okay. Correct.

Ben, can you go back? Can you go back? Right, okay, so Passover. Yes, Passover. And then the next one is pillar and cloud of fire, which came up.

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yes. What's the next one?

Yes. And then we're gonna go. Water from the rock Rom.

So if you could take us, Ben, if you can take us through to three. Yeah. Who's going to pick up from the crossing of the Red Sea?

Oh, the problem is now you all wondering what else is coming next. So go back, Ben, go back. So we've got the Passover, the pillar, the Passover, the pillar of cloud and fire. The crossing of the Red Sea. What comes next?


Yes. No, but brilliant. So we've got manor and quails. What's next?

Who was that? Who was.

Yes, Celia, water. What comes next?

Who was that? The ten Commandments, which means golden calf is last. There you go with the verses as well. Well done, guys. That was impressive.

Okay, so we have the Passover to start off with, which is when the angel passes over, all the firstborn die. And suddenly Pharaoh goes, yes, you can go. Then as they leave Egypt, God takes them and leads them by day as the pillar of cloud and by night as a pillar of fire. So God leads the people out, they get to the Red Sea, and then all of a sudden, Pharaoh goes, do you know what? I've just lost all my slaves.

That was a bad decision. Let's go get them back. So he sends them off. The people of Israel panic, and God says, no, that's fine. We'll just part the sea.

You go through. And they do. And then the Egypt army. Slightly terrible ending for them, but never mind. But then they're in the wilderness and suddenly they go, oh, I'm hungry.

There's got nothing to eat. Why can't I have some meat to eat? And God says, I'll tell you what, I'll give you bread and I'll give you meat in the version of quails. So he does. And then they get somewhere and they go, do you know what?

It's really thirsty. And there's no water. Why has God brought us here to this place? Surely we would have been better off in Egypt if we had stayed. And God says, moses, take your stick, bash that rock, and I'll give you water.

And they gave him water. By this time, they were at Mount Sinai. And Moses goes up the hill and God gives Moses those ten commandments which come down. Now, actually, Moses is up the mountain quite a lot. And whilst Moses is up the mountain talking to God, the people are going, oh, do you know what really is this going on?

Surely we need a God. And so they persuade Aaron and Miriam, who were kind of leaders with Moses, to take all the gold, melt it down and create a golden calf. So there you go. And eventually, as we know. Oh, that's the next question.

Hang on a sec. So question three, because actually, in psalm 95, it says this today. Listen to what he says. Do not be stubborn. As your ancestors were at Meribah, as they were at that day in Massa in the desert.

Now, which of the three stories is the psalmist talking about? Is it manor and quails? Is it water from the rock? Or is it the golden calf? Which one is he talking about, Colleen?

Oh, hang on. You can do your pointy thing for this. If you think it's manna, the pulpit, if you think it's the water from the rock, the font. And if you think it's. See, the golden calf, the.

The lectern. So point now.

Actually, actually, there's a few of you. It's water from the rock. It's the water from the rock is the story that the psalmist is talking about. And so this is your last question.

There are two accounts in the scriptures of what happened at Meribar. There's the Exodus 17, one to seven, and there's numbers 20, 213. In the numbers account, what are the consequences of Moses actions? There? Is it a, they go straight to the promised land.

And I really wanted to answer, do not pass go and do not collect 200 pounds, but he goes straight to promised land. Or b, actually, God does not allow Moses to lead the people into the promised land. What is it? Yeah, yeah, yeah. By the looks of it, you've got it.

Exactly that. So our reading from Hebrews this morning is reflecting on that story of the water from the rock. And it reminds them that despite that, the people seeing God care and look after them, they quite often grumbled and complained against God and that that had consequences for Moses and the Israelites who left Egypt because they did not get to enter into the promised land that was left for Joshua and for the next generation of God's people. And we're going to find out a bit more about that in just a few moments. But for the moment, we're going to stand and sing in Christ alone.

So, living, loving God, take these words and breathe them deep into our hearts. Use them to illuminate the things in our lives that you want to change. Amen. So please do be seated.

Where are you going?

Where are you going? This is the question that the writer of Hebrews is asking his readers. Why? Because the writer knows all, all too well that when left to its own devices, humanity has both the capacity and the tendency to go off in its own direction. And as illustrated in psalm 95, which we explored just before the song, that might mean missing out on God's promise of rest for his people.

The argument that the writer builds continues on from the passage that Ben spoke about last week. Week. But unlike last week, where the focus was on hearing God's voice, this week, the writer has switched focus on to entering into God's rest. Hebrews suggests. One commentator states that reflecting on psalm 95, quoted in the previous chapter provides the clue to the meaning of the christian life, and that is to enter into God's rest.

In the passage, the writer talks of rest from three different perspectives. Firstly, in verse four, there is a reflection back to the beginning, to Genesis two, one, three, where after the work of creation itself, God rests. And then secondly, in verse five and verse through to verse eight, rest is considered in the here and now, the rest that some have failed to enter. And it's argued that the use of Joshua in these verses is considered significant. For it was not Moses but Joshua that finally led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the promised land.

But this was not into ultimate rest, that this comes from another Joshua or Jesus, which is the greek version of Joshua. And so in the conclusion found in verses ten to eleven, the writer says that there is a future rest for God's people, for those who choose to accept, except today. And this is the rest that the writer is pointing their listeners to and urging them to reach so that others around them will also reach that rest. Wright Tom Wright points out that the writer is worried that the hearers will miss out on the future rest promised to them because they may fall into imitating those in the wilderness who refused to align themselves with those that did believe. He stressed in verse three and six that belief is what matters.

So to be sure that you really do believe. And he goes on to say, all of us face the challenge to trust God rather than to trust the way we feel or the things we see in front of us. All of us need to keep before our eyes the promise of God's eventual and eternal rest. What a huge challenge, especially as I have found when life is not quite going the way that you thought that it would go.

And then as a complete another aside, actually one of the verses that fascinate me in this is verse ten because it poses a bit of a challenge to my understanding around the theology of work, because here it seems to suggest that in the final rest there will be no need to work, just as God himself no longer works.

That doesn't quite fit with what I've been thinking in terms of God creating work, and that as human beings we are created to work, work that doesn't quite fit with my thoughts, that actually work would be around at the end. So, surprisingly or not surprisingly, I now have a bit of work to do, a bit more studying and a bit more praying in order to come to an opinion on this. But anyway, back to the passage. The last two verses are a reminder that God's word is very much alive and has the ability to challenge and change us. And the passage ends in the uncomfortable place that the readers, or us as well, are very much known by God.

There is nothing that he does not know or see, and they will need to give an account of themselves to the Lord.


But let's not be put off by those or scared by those. Because again, Wright states that actually, whilst those words are a warning, actually they can be an encouragement too. For if we open ourselves up to the message of scripture and allow the faithful preaching of Jesus and his achievement to enter our consciousness and so down into our imagination and heart, then the admittedly uncomfortable work of God's word will be happening on a regular basis, showing us where we really are and what is going on inside.

Philippians one six says this, that being confident of this, that he will continue the good work until the day of its completion. We are all God's people in progress, and it's our willingness to allow God to change us that will speed up or slow down that point of becoming who we are in Christ.

So let's return to the question I started with. Where are you going? There is always the risk that we will look to ad lib our endings to make it up as we go along. So the challenge, or if we spin it in a slightly different way, the opportunity here is to continually remember where we are heading and to trust God to get us to the ending rather than doing it for ourselves.

That challenge, that opportunity is summarised in the song we're about to hear. It's by Wren collective and it's called I choose to worship and I'm going to play it now, or Ben will play it now. And I'm going to encourage you to just listen and reflect on the words and allow God to speak to you in and through this. Amen.

Pain in the oring I lay it down here in the conflict when doubts around though my soul is unravelling I choose you now.