Tags: commentary on Exodus, Exodus 29, Exodus 30, Hebrews 9, Mercy Seat, New Covenant, Old Covenant, Old Covenant vs. New Covenant, Sunday School lessons on Exodus, the Tabernacle
The consecration ceremony for the Levitical priests lasted seven days.
And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them.
And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.
The burning of the incense represents prayer, and many Christians have adopted the discipline of dedicated prayer times in the morning and the evening, although we can, and should, certainly pray throughout the day, as we are no longer separated from God by priests or a veil or the external requirement of burning incense. As New Testament Christians we meet with God in prayer – open communication – in Christ our High Priest Who has torn the veil and brought us into the Most Holy Place.
Hebrews Chapter 9 reveals to us that the Tabernacle furnishings and practices were meant to be temporary, and were earthly symbols of the Heavenly reality. Christ accomplished the fulfillment of the temporary types by being a “better:”
-Most Holy Place
-Promise (Under the Old Covenant God visited His people here on earth, but under the New Covenant He also brings us to Himself in Heaven.)
-Destination (No longer merely Canaan, but a place of true spiritual rest where we will experience the peace and joy and fulfillment of what we were really meant to be.)
Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
The consecration of the New Covenant is Christ’s Own blood on the real mercy seat, where He applied His shed blood once for all on the Law of God – on the Justice of God – fulfilling it, satisfying it. Is it any wonder that cherubim are pictured staring with awe over the mercy seat atop the Ark of the Covenant?
What grace and mercy to simply be set free from Egypt and left to wander! But no, even better! To be sent with directions to a fertile land of their own! But no, even better still! To be made like angels, the servants of a kind master! But no, better yet still! We are to be ever in the arms and gracious love of God Almighty Himself – His blood-bought children!
Stop thinking of yourself as lucky or proud or deserving or an object of pity or obscurity. Let’s think of ourselves as those who know the true God, and who know why He made us and for what He made us.
Tags: 1 Peter 3, a happy marriage, Biblical marriage, Christian marriage, marriage, marriage counseling, Romans 12, secret virtues
My wife (then my fiance’) and I went to a special event prior to our wedding. It was sort of a marriage-training thing, and it was not especially edifying. There were probably around 25 other engaged couples there. We had to stay in a high school gym for about a day and half, with the men sleeping (or trying to sleep) on a hard classroom floor at night. I don’t recall where the women slept, but it was somewhere on the other end of the building. Nor do I remember all that much about the various activities and talks, with two exceptions. One of them occurred on the second day, when the couple leading the event gave us a very embarrassing lecture on how to practice “natural” birth control (birth control without the use of contraceptives). I’m blushing just thinking about it now, but my wife and I still laugh at the fact that the lecturers had been married 15 years and had 11 kids. They seemed suitably abashed when they admitted this, and sort of whispered at the end of the talk that their method might not be the best, and that we might want to look into some other techniques if we were dead set on keeping our family relatively small.
The other thing about it that still tickles us 24 years later is the memory of an exercise that we had to do on the first day. The couples broke up into groups of eight or so and sat in a circle. Our assignment was to go around the circle and state, one at a time, out loud to the whole group, what exactly it was that we liked most about our spouses-to-be. We could tell that several of the people in our group were nervous about talking in front of the whole group, and, when put on the spot, were struggling with coming up with something to say that would be appropriately sweet without being inappropriately intimate. The first fellow admitted that he liked his wife’s looks, and that became standard in all the following answers. Next to me was a young man in a checkered western shirt and John Deere ball cap. He appeared to be perspiring and a little shaky. The young man who had gone just before him had managed to say that one of the things he liked best about his finace’ was that she was “witty.” My nervous friend seized upon this, stared hard at his girlfriend, and, being prompted by the host to tell us what he liked best about his beloved, blurted out in a Southwest Louisiana drawl, “Her looks and her wits!” To this day, I still get a kick out of smiling slyly at my wife, and telling her, “I sure do like your ‘looks and your wits.'” It’s our secret little joke (at least until now).
That was over 23 years ago, and my wife and I have a marriage that is truly blessed by God. From my perspective it gets better each and every day, and I love my wife dearly. If you asked me what I love about my wife, the list would be long, and some of the items on that list would be predictable, I’m sure. I certainly do love her “looks” and her “wits.” She is beautiful, intelligent, modest, virtuous, sophisticated, pleasant, kind, giving, and loving. The people in her life who have known her for a week or more would read this list, and say “duh.” You can tell those things about her without being married to her, and without sharing a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, supper table, and automobile with her, the way I do. She is truly a gift from God, and in a lifetime of getting gifts from God that I do not in any way deserve, aside from the salvation purchased for me by Christ Himself, she is the number one example of God’s grace toward me.
What I wanted to do in this post, however, instead of listing the wonderful attributes of my wife that anyone can see, is list a few things about her to which I alone might be privy. These are things which I would put in a secret dossier’ about my wife. That may sound a little creepy, but I believe that the Bible instructs husbands to make a lifelong detailed study of their wives, and that is what I have tried to do. So without further ado, here are a few of the not-so-obvious-to-others things that I love about my wife:
She is an adventurous eater.
My wife grew up in a household where the standard fare was things like Wonder Bread sandwiches with Miracle Whip, roast beef and rice, and mashed potatoes with corn and ground meat mixed together and piled on top. Any seasonings stronger than salt and pepper were pretty much verboten. When we got married, though, we both realized we had a passion for eating. Our proximity to the city of New Orleans and the existence of the Food Network channel on TV taught us that there was a world of delicacies out there that we hadn’t tried. As the saying goes, my wife will “try anything once” when it comes to exotic foods. She has become knowledgeable, too! Going to a five-star restaurant with her is like being on one of those Food Network shows. More often than not, she knows how dishes are prepared, their history, and the secret ingredients. I’m one of those people who will keep eating until they kick me out, but, for me, the only thing better than eating delicious food, is eating it with my wife. Some of the best conversations in our entire marriage have taken place over tables covered with sweetbreads, ceviche, carpaccio, escabeche, and buffalo-seasoned blackened frog legs at five star restaurants. Not many people know this, but my wife is the world’s finest dining companion!
She is brilliant at mimicry.
Some comedians are well-known for doing impressions of famous people. There is an element of illusion to this, however. In order to make their impressions funny, they don’t attempt to sound exactly like the person they’re imitating. For example, Dana Carvey did a hilarious impression of George Bush, clipping his words in an exaggerated manner and repeating certain key phrases or “talking points” over and over. However, it’s a little-known fact that President Bush did not actually go around saying “nah go dut” (“not gonna do it“) all the time. Or you may have seen different comedians imitating John Wayne by drawling “pilgrim” in every sentence, despite the fact that Wayne only called someone “pilgrim” a handful of times in his whole career. The point is, my wife doesn’t do “impressions” in that sense. What she has the uncanny ability to do is sound exactly like all our friends and family members. Sometimes what she says is funny, but it’s not disrespectful or mocking at all (okay, maybe once or twice with some distant, distant relatives or acquaintances, but those are rare exceptions). It is both entertaining and unnerving to me when she makes me think that the person we were just discussing has suddenly shown up in the room! That’s how good she is. So, if you know my wife, or if you ever meet her, rest assured that, a little while after you leave the room, she is entertaining me by talking just like you.
She is honest.
My wife tells the truth – even when it is to her extreme disadvantage to the tell the truth. I won’t say much about this one, because it is not totally one of the little-known facts about her – I’m sure she has a reputation for honesty – but, for her, telling the truth is not even something she thinks about. Most of us are tempted at times to at least “shade the truth” or “tell a fib” to escape an awkward or embarrassing predicament, but not her. Honesty is not her “best policy.” It’s just who she is.
She’s a better driver than me (and probably than you, too).
There, I said it. You can have my “man card” if you want, but there is no denying it. My wife is not only safer, but more competent behind the wheel than anyone I know (except my mother). I would like to use the excuse that my eyesight is not what it used to be, but the truth is, even before that, my wife was a better driver than me. She’s adept at avoiding accidents, even when another driver seems dead set on causing one. She doesn’t “drive angry” or with any type of emotional lack of control, for that matter. She has a knack for avoiding bad traffic areas, makes good time, and (usually) flies under police radar. The old joke is that men hate to ask for directions, but, with my wife at the wheel, it’s really not a problem I face. She can read a map, listen to the GPS, spot landmarks, all at the same time, never even swerving in her lane, and can find her way into and around the biggest cities and podunk back roads alike. Praise the Lord for my beloved mini-van pilot!
She is mechanically-minded.
If by some miracle I had managed to keep my man card after admitting that my wife is a better driver than me, I would most likely have to go ahead and forfeit it now. Whether it’s constructing a swing set, repairing my lawnmower, or putting together a baby bed, she is the one giving the orders, and I’m the one doing the unloading and the hoisting and the holding in place and the mindless screwdrivering. She, unlike me, can read and actually follow a set of instructions, so we are a good example of the wife-helper who is “meet” for the husband. I’m just not good at non-abstract concepts, I guess, and I’m not at all mechanically inclined, but she can look at pile of parts and bolts and see what it will be when it’s finished. By a similar token, when I pack my bags for a trip, I just throw them in the car and sit on the trunk lid, hoping it will close. She, however, looks at the whole family’s luggage spread out on the driveway, begins naming items to be placed inside one at a time, and pretty soon everything is neatly and compactly fitted like a high-score game of Tetris. Amazing!
She seldom cries.
I hate to admit this. I don’t handle it well when someone cries. Perhaps I could blame my childhood. In the culture in which I grew up (especially around my dad), crying was considered a weakness to be despised. Rather than shifting the blame, however, I should probably just own it as my own character defect – actually, more to the point, my own sinfulness. Crying is supposed evoke sympathy, but, for me, when I see someone crying, more often than not, it really makes me irrationally angry. Early on in our marriage my wife (being a sensitive and caring person) was prone to crying. Needless to say, I did not always handle it the way I should have. Add to that the fact that I have four daughters, who, like most girls, are no strangers to weeping, and you are probably thinking that, at least in this area, I am a colossal failure at being a good husband and father. And you would be right. Over the years I have asked the Holy Spirit to give me more compassion and empathy, recognizing that the Lord commands me to weep with those who weep, and He has helped me. I do not respond to the tears of my wife the way I used to, and I am extremely grateful to God for changing me in that way – I certainly did not figure it out on my own. However, I need to also point out that He used my wife to play a significant role in this. I don’t know how she managed it, and I will probably never know what it cost her, but the fact is, my wife has forced herself to cry less and less over the years, even when the tears would have been well-warranted. Out of a recognition of my weakness and failure and sinfulness and inability to control myself, she changed herself – for me. She would probably tell you that she has far fewer reasons to cry now than she did early on in our marriage (and this is true), but it does not change the simple fact that she can, more often than not, keep herself from crying when we disagree, when circumstances are overwhelming, and, yes, even when I’m being a complete jerk.
So, there you have it. Seven (formerly) secret things that I absolutely adore about my wife. I have to think her reward in Heaven will be great for responding in Christ-like love to all she has had to endure being married to me, but, even in this life, I would like her to know that I do notice and appreciate more and more of her wonderful virtues each and every day, and I will never stop noticing.
Tags: Bible lessons on teaching, Bible teachers, Christian teachers, devotions for teachers, how to teach, Sunday School teachers, teaching the Bible, tips for teachers
The time between the last post and this one has probably been one of the longest time periods I’ve gone without adding a new post to The Deep End since the Lord allowed me to start it. So, instead of working on something new, and with today being the first day of a new school year for the kids who have been entrusted into my care by the Lord, I thought I would organize one of my already-existing categories.
When you assume the hazardous position of calling yourself a “Bible teacher,” and when the Lord begins to bless you with opportunities to do it in church or at various church-related functions, you will find that there are a limitless number of Biblical subjects from which to teach. I have even found myself called upon at times to “teach the teachers,” or to at least delve into God’s Word to see what He has to say about the subject. Below are the posts in the category called “Biblical Teaching:”
1. S.E.R.V.E. the Lord in Children’s Ministry
2. Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children (Exodus 20:7-8) *
3. Explaining the Meaning of Biblical “Authority” to Children
4. Tips for Teachers
5. The Early Bird Gets to Wait
6. Key Words for Bible Teachers: Truth and Type
7. Key Words for Bible Teachers: Treasure
8. Things new and Old (Matthew 13:51-52)
9. How Tall Was Jesus?
10. Three Things to Bring to Sunday School (Matthew 10:27)
11. Christian Teachers Warned and Watched
12. Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 1)
13. Where Is Jesus in the Bible? (lesson 2)
14. Teaching / Temptation (John 14:26-27; Job 36:21-25)
* most-viewed post in category
Tags: Deus Absonditus, Deus Revelatus, Deuteronomy 29, Genesis 50, God's decretive will, God's hidden will, God's revealed will, sovereignty of God, will of God
The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
The Deus absconditus, meaning the hidden or obscure or secret will of God, would include the decretive will of God. The Bible is a huge book, and it reveals more about God than we could fathom in this lifetime, but, in addition to that, there is an eternity of information about God that we cannot know.
The Deus absconditus is contrasted with the Deus revelatus, meaning God’s revealed will. Certainly, what God has revealed is trustworthy and true, even when it appears to be in conflict with what is really happening. God is not harassed into mutability by human actions, nor can His ultimate plans be thwarted or frustrated by human actions, although from the finite view it may sometimes appear that way. One Biblical example of this is Moses’s intercession with God when he came down from Mt. Sinai to see the people worshiping the golden calf. It appears that Moses “changed God’s mind,” but from the perspective of God’s hidden and decretive will, everything that happened was subject to God’s own sovereign control. The parade example of this is the unfolding and culmination of the life of Joseph.
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
A lifetime of ups and downs caused by the sins of others was used to weave a beautiful tapestry of redemption and salvation.
Tags: Biblical jealousy, Biblical justice, Cozbi, creepers, creepy, Numbers 25, Phinehas, Psalm 106, vigilantism, Zimri
And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
In a previous lesson I discussed the reason for all this weeping. The Israelite men had been seduced by Moabite and Midianite women on the plain of Moab, and had “joined themselves” unto Baal, a false pagan god, the worship of which involved fornication in order to induce supposed fertility in the crops. God was very angry about this blatant violation of His laws against idolatry, and He commanded Moses to execute the leaders, and to hang their bodies up in broad daylight.
Psalm 106 offers a commentary on this:
They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead. Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.
So the people were weeping not only because of the deaths of their fathers, grandfathers, and older brothers, but because of a deadly outbreak of disease. However, before you get the idea that everyone was repentant and crying the right kind of tears, you will note the first part of Numbers 25:6: “And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman…” Apparently, some of the men weren’t through partying with these pagan women. Perhaps they were too clueless to realize that God was angry (not likely), or perhaps they were just so intoxicated with sin that they didn’t care.
Who was this man who brought his consort into the place of weeping and repentance right in the sight of Israel and all the congregation? Later on in the narrative the Bible tells us his name, Zimri, and that he was the son of a prince of one of the chief households in the tribe of Simeon. His name meant “my music” or “my song” – as in “they’re playing our song.”
What about the woman? Her name was Cozbi – which meant “a doctor of the house of Huxtable who likes jello pudding pops.”
Sorry, just kidding. Cozbi was a Midanite woman, and, in fact, the daughter of one of the princes or leading families of the Midianites. Her name, instead of meaning “my song,” actually meant “my lie,” possibly because her father had sired her with someone other than his wife, and either her mother of the other woman had been forced to admit the “lie,” and gave her the name as an apology or at least a reminder.
So there they were – Zimri and Cozbi – gallivanting into the camp at the most inappropriate time. It’s tough to analogize the impropriety and impudence of such an act – maybe we could describe it as the rough equivalent of a murderer bringing a date to his victim’s funeral. And that’s not all. They went right into Zimri’s tent, a very brazen sin and a big slap right in the faces of Moses, the leaders who were weeping before the Tabernacle, and, of course, Jehovah Himself.
In the previous lesson in this series I said that there are two different types of weeping. Weeping before God with a contrite heart is good and honorable. Selfish weeping is the kind of weeping that someone who remains at enmity with God would do. Now I will show that there is also a type of creeping with the enemy that is useless at best, and harmful at worst. Zimri was not a very effective creeper if he thought he could sneak into the Israelite camp with this Midianite woman, but, at the same time, he wasn’t suicidal. He must have deceived himself into thinking that he could creep around with sin and get away with it.
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
Zimri lusted exceedingly, and when sinful lust takes over a man’s heart, there are times when God will give that man the desires of his heart. But those desires will produce leanness in his soul. They will produce a hunger for more sin and a reckless disregard for the consequences. They will bring about the loss of all good sense.
You and I have a great capacity and opportunity to creep around with sin. However, be warned: We may creep around with the enemies of God, but we will never creep past the sight of God. We may creep around with the world, our flesh, Satan, sinful practices, materialism, covetous, laziness, and many more, but God sees all. We will no more evade His notice than did Zimri as he crept into his own tent to enjoy the pleasures of sin while the judgment of the God he was offending rained down all around him.
And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
Phinehas’s name meant “mouth of brass.” He was not “silver-tongued.” He was plainspoken. His words were not not fancy, but they carried weight. Eleazar was the grandson of Moses’s brother, Aaron, the high priest. Phinehas picked up a spear. It was the weapon of a soldier, not a priest, and it was a no-nonsense weapon – a weapon normally used for throwing or thrusting – and he took it up with a deadly purpose.
And he went after the man of Israel into the tent…
We don’t know precisely how Phinehas did this. Did he stride forcefully and ostentatiously? Or did, he, too, creep? Did he encounter people who inquired what he was doing as he followed Zimri and Cozbi from a distance, brushing them aside gruffly as he pursued? Or did he hang back stealthily, sneaking along like a spy following another spy through the alleys of Cold War Berlin? We just don’t know. However, I will say that there are times, when we go to confront sin in the midst of a Christian fellowship or in the lives or our friends or acquaintances, when we should use tact and discretion. There are other times when we are authorized to be blunt and direct – or maybe I should say “sharp” and direct.
And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly…
I am in no way condoning murder or even vigilantism. This was an instance of Old Testament justice under the Law of God. It is not prescriptive behavior for New Testament Christianity. If we are to imitate anything from this incident, it must be only the the principles, not the practice. However, in this particular instance:
… So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
Whether or not Phinehas crept up on the couple before putting a stop to their sin, two things are certain:
1. It was effective. It stopped the plague.
2. It did not displease God. In fact, it pleased the Lord very much.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
Phinehas’s act seems so extreme, so violent, so primitive and brutal that you almost expect to find some qualifier to it somewhere in the Word of God – something at least a little cautionary or disapproving of it. But I could not find a single smudge on the character of Phinehas because of this action
Even Psalm 106, which gives the commentary on it centuries later, says this:
Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed. And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.
If anything, the Holy Spirit has the psalmist make him sound like even more of a hero! Next time, we will look for clues as to what was going on in Phinehas’s mind and heart as he performed this act.
Tags: 1 John 5, Cinco de Mayo Bible lessons, Cinco de Mayo devotions, Jesus Christ, MMA, overcomer, The Son of God, the world, UFC
In fighting sports, the winner is typically declared in one of two ways: (1) the fight comes to an end and the official judges who watched the fight decide who won; or (2) one of combatants “finishes” the fight by knocking out his opponent, making him give up, or injuring him to the extent that he can not keep fighting. Fighters who win fights by the latter means are called “finishers.” As the fight announcers like to say, they “don’t let it go to the judges.”
There is a fight going on between Jesus Christ’s church and the “world” – meaning, the system of this world, which is influenced, and sometimes organized, by Satan, and which opposes the Kingdom of God. In a battle between God and anybody or anything else, it should be obvious Who the winner will be, but, while the battle is still raging, human beings need to choose on whose side they will fight.
The “world” is not joke. It’s a fierce warrior, and we can be very fixated on what we can see with our eyes, what we can touch with our hands, and what makes sense to us in our immediate circumstances. Therefore, we tend to rely on things like our family, friends, finances, health, career, contacts, and intellect. These things may look like they are able to overcome the world, but the fact is, they are not “finishers.” There is really only one Person who is worthy of our faith if we are to truly overcome the world, even when our energy, resources, and wits are flagging.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
I John 5:5
Tags: childish, childishness, commentary on Matthew, Matthew 11, Matthew 12, rejection of Christ, rejection of Jesus, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, whosoever
The second big transitional phrase in Matthew comes at the beginning of Chapter 11:
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
The transition is from a section dealing with the King training His workers/warriors to a section dealing with the types of battles they faced.
Jesus explained that the religious leaders had been introduced, both by John the Baptist and by Jesus Christ Himself, to their true King.
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
These leaders, having heard the principles of His Kingdom, did not worship Him. Instead, they rebelled against Him. Worship involves surrender and humility. The rebellious leaders chose to be childish, and childishness involves pride and self-worth, along with a desire to show that “I can do it on my own.” This is the attitude that almost kept me from coming to Christ.
In Matthew Chapter 12 we see that the religious leaders began to take on the methods of Satan. Instead of just killing Jesus, they began to attempt to subtly undermine the principles of His Kingdom.
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
However, when their tactics did not work, they did in fact try to kill Him. This was what they had done in the past to God’s anointed prophets, kings, and priests. What they did not realize was that Jesus was…
Greater than the previous priests:
But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
Greater than the previous prophets:
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Greater than the previous kings:
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
It is not enough to clean out our spiritual house. The house must be filled with something.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Tags: Biblical chastisement, Biblical judgment, commentary on Hebrews, Hebrews 3, Hebrews 5, John 19, Sunday School lessons on Hebrews, the work of Christ, Word of God
Lord, as we study and discuss your Word, help us to draw near to You. Help us to see truth, and help us to resolve to do right. Lead us, Father, away from temptation, and deliver us from evil. In the Name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.
Hebrews Chapter 4 reveals second of the five admonitions (encouragements mixed with warnings). The first one was: Don’t let doctrine slip away from you – don’t drift. The second one is: Don’t be suspicious of God’s promises. In other words, don’t doubt or disbelieve His Word.
We show or prove our belief by submitting – by showing our fear – not fear of God’s wrath, but fear of chastening. It’s like when an obedient dog rolls over on command. It’s part ritual, but there’s also a real desire to please, and to avoid displeasing his master.
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
The “therefore” in that verse reflects back to the previous chapter:
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
If there were some who could not enter in to their rest because of unbelief, doesn’t it stand to reason that we don’t want to copy their mistake? Suspicion concerning God’s promises will lead to unbelief, and will keep a believer from entering in to his rest. I’m not talking about our Heavenly rest; I’m talking about a confident realization of our peace with God that allows us to draw near to Him.
The opposite of letting slip is holding fast (holding tight). Drawing near to God requires total attention – fixation. We’re not going to draw near to God by accidentally backing into Him, or bumping into Him. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like that expression, “Let go and let God.” It sounds good. It’s cute phonetically. It even has an okay-ish application to it, in the sense that holding onto fears and worries and bitterness that I can’t control would not be good, so I need to “give them to God.” Also, holding onto sin is certainly not good; I need to call on the Lord to “deliver” me from sin. But I must not “let go” of my focus on God – of my zealous desire to please Him. This does not mean that I’m supposed to worry that I can never please Him, or that He will kick me out of His family if I fail. It means that, if I’m not sincerely trying, my knowledge of His righteousness and my fear of Him reminds me that He will chasten me in love.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
“Laboring to rest” sounds contradictory, but the Holy Spirit resolves the tension by showing us how to do it:
For 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.
The Bible is alive, and it is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). It judges our hearts as we submit to its judgment. Forced judgment is not for the children of God; it’s for the enemies of God. God’s righteous wrath is not for those who are drawing near with a pure heart; it is for those who are far away and who are attacking Him from the outskirts, or who are running away from Him because they despise Him.
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
The reason it is possible for us to be free – no, more than just free – even welcomed and beckoned – and to come let the Word of God judge our hearts, is because Christ is superior to Moses and the other prophets in that He finished His work.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
Christ did not die with His work unfinished. He died to pay the sin debt once for all. That’s why many true Christians have such a problem with people trying to add something to salvation: it minimizes or denigrates the work and victory of Christ on the Cross.