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Sunday, April 10, 2016, the year of our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


“When we move out of divine rest in any area of life, we take our heart (soul) with us.  Worry, and fretting is sin.  Are you overly concerned about someone or something?  The peace of God cannot rule an anxious spirit.  He wants an undivided heart in pure worship, free from the spirit of fear.


3:7-11:  ”Come then” says the Holy Ghost.  Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.  And so I was grieved with that generation, and said, they do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I swear in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest.”


This is the second warning in the Letter to the Hebrews.  He first warned his readers against drifting from the truth of the gospel message.  Now he is warning them against refusing to trust the Lord when the going gets rough.


To make his warning convincing, he draws a parallel between the history of the Israelites in the wilderness and the Christians of this world.  Moses was faithful to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but the Israelites steadily lost confidence in God’s promises.


Divine things can “slip” (Heb. 2:1) or “flow by, carelessly pass (miss).”  They can slowly drift away like a boat that has slipped its mooring.  Backsliding is gradual, almost numbing.  Men allow the Rhema, the living Word, to rush by them.  Without His direction, they inevitably stray into the meaningless spectrum of building their own houses. 


3: 12-13:  “Take heed, brethren, less there are any of you with an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the Living God.  Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; less any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.


The great sin of ancient Israel was she turned from following the true God to worship idols made of wood and stone which could neither hear nor speak.  Yet Israel had heard the true God speak and on numerous occasions had seen His great power.  Through fear, doubt and unbelief they refused to enter the Promised Land.  There is a parallel to observe between the 40 years wandering by the Israelites and the approximate 40 year interval between Jesus’ ministry and the destruction of Jerusalem.


3:14-15: “We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end; While it is said, Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”


Perseverance is indeed the proof of faith.  The Christian’s life is a walk of faith.  The Cross is our starting point.  Along the journey are rich rewards.  We become heirs as deliverers, mediators and reconcilers. 


“Right now in many hidden places around the world an immeasurable company is being trained in the school of the Spirit.  The nature of Christ is being woven into the fabric of their beings.”


3:16-18: Paraphrased:  “Now just who was it that heard God’s voice in the desert and turned right around and provoked Him?  Was it not all those whom Moses led out of Egypt?  And with whom was God angry during those forty years?  Was it not those who preferred their own way over His way, even though they knew what He expected of them, whose corpses He left scattered in the wilderness?  And when He vowed in his anger---“they shall never enter into my rest”---to whom was He referring?  Very clearly it was those who refused to believe His promises.”


3:19:  So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief.”


“When the soul rids itself completely of what is hostile and contrary to the divine will, it then rests transformed in God through love.”


4: 1-2: “Let us therefore fear, less, a promise being left us of entering into His rest any of you should seem to come short of it.  For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”


 The writer is bringing us face to face with the truth that believers can be guilty of unbelief.  Unbelief kept the Israelites out of the Promised Land (a type of God’s rest); it can also keep Christians from inheriting the Lord’s promised rest (The Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven).


Inasmuch as our writer says that the promise of God’s rest still holds good.  It obviously was neither fulfilled nor exhausted by those Israelites who finally enter the land.  Four Hundred years later David was still offering that rest to people who are already in the land.  Beyond that, our writer says the promise is still open.


The hard truth is that few of us come close to trusting God for all He has blessed us with through obedience to His Will, Word, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who secured God’s promises for us.


Gal. 3:16: “Now to Abraham and to his seed were the promises made.  He said not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to your seed, which is Christ.”


All of the curses of the Old Covenant were wiped clean at the Cross of Jesus Christ.  We are partakers of the New Covenant with the blessings of Abraham; but we are not under the curse.


Gal. 3:13: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree; That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith….no man disannuls, or adds thereto.”


This does not mean one of the curses of the law, but all of them for those who will receive Jesus Christ and by faith, through His Blood and Holy Spirit, in the New Covenant, we are no longer under a curse.


In Tuesday Morning Bible Study, Neh. 9 & 10, Ezra and Nehemiah with 120 elders of Israel initiated a covenant with God.  They confessed their sins, the sins of the nation and then did a strange thing.  They put Israel under a curse.  These elders sealed this covenant.


Neh. 10:29: “They cling to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses, the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His judgments and His statutes.”


Jesus sealed the New Covenant with His Blood.  On the day of Pentecost 120 were in one accord when the Holy Spirit sealed the New Covenant with fire.


Gal. 3: 10:  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident, for the just shall live by faith, but the man that does them shall live in them.”


  We know that faith is the opposite of fear.  Faith will fear God.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psa. 111:10).  This is a reverential fear of the Lord.  It is a fear based on respect.  Our faith believes He is Lord of all.  Our faith believes that we walk in his love, blessing and mercy.


Hebrews 4:3-5: “For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.  For He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day of this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all His work.  And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest.”


The writer is quoting Psalm 95:11 and compares it with Genesis 2:2.  Being in the land was not the fulfillment of our spiritual blessedness of God’s rest.  God’s rest is spiritual rather than physical.  The Genesis account says that God began His rest after He had finished His physical work, the six days of creation.  On the 7th day God began a rest that hasn’t ended or been interrupted.  He invited His creation to enter that rest with Him.  He is continually offering that rest and eager to share His rest with all who will enter it by faith and obedience through love for Him. 


Remember the story in John 5; Jesus healed the man by the pool of Bethesda.  The Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was healing on the Sabbath.  Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”


The workings of God’s creativity, healing, deliverance, and redeeming power, etc. through which He created and is sustaining all things in six days is working.  This great redemptive power has been released through His Holy Spirit.  Our God is in total rest in the finished work of His Kingdom.


We can have the faith to be saved.  We must also have the faith to enter His rest which is only found in the realm of His spiritual Kingdom.  This rest can only be received through the Holy Spirit.   This rest will produce the fruit in our lives of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  We will no longer labor, fret, worry, be afraid of our circumstances, or the world system.  That does not mean that we will stop performing our physical duties of working to earn a living for our family, keep up our homes, and take care of our physical bodies and of those who are dependent on us.  If you are like me, work whether physical or mental refreshes me.  I enjoy working with my hands and with my mind.


 However, I am at peace with creation, my fellow-man, and more importantly with the Lord.


Out of the issues of the heart, the mouth speaks.  The heart is the mind, will and emotions, our soul.  If we have a healthy soul, then we will have no issues.


When we have set our heart to please Christ, then He is the one who will let us know if there is something He desires for us to do or not do.  We have a lot of leeway within our “free-will”.  He will bless our choices because He is the One who gave us the gift of a “free-will”.  If our choices take us out side His Will, He will let us know.  It is called, “conviction”.


Hebrews 4:6-8: “Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, He limits a certain day, saying by David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day.”


“Thus the promise of God’s rest is still open and we know some are going to enter it.  The fact that those who first received the invitation refused to believe it and wouldn’t act on it, didn’t lead God to cancel His promise.  We are certain of that,  for we find God setting another day which He calls “today”.


 The invitation is still open until He has all those who want to trust Him and work with Him in the power of His creation and redemption through His Holy Spirit.


The warning here that He excluded the entire Exodus-generation teaches us that He will not hesitate to exclude His own people.  He deals severely with those who trifle with His Glory.


There are people who do not fear trifling with God’ authority or with the Lord Himself.


The Lord takes away promised rewards from those who disbelieve and disobey His promises.  He gives them to those who will believe Him and act upon His Word.   Jesus taught this same truth to His disciples. (Luke 19:26)  I tell you that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.”


That should put a healthy, reverential fear of God in all of us.


Under Joshua, the next generation went in and possessed the land.  The Lord delivered all their enemies into their hands and they were given rest “from all their enemies round about” (Josh. 23:1).  Therefore, the rest of which David is prophesied in Psalm 95 and preached in Hebrews 3 and 4 is obviously spiritual rather than temporal.   However, the spiritual will give us the rest in the temporal.


4:9-11: “There remains a rest to the people of God.  He that enters into His rest, he has ceased from his own works, as God did from His.  Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, less any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”


This Peace and joy is the song of the redeemed as we join with the song of creation in perfect harmony with our Creator.  It is the Song of the Lord and of all creation standing before His throne.  It is the Song of that great cloud of witnesses who join their song with us in worship of the One who has filled us with Himself that we may become one with His Body and the Godhead.  That we may enter into His rest with Him.


Hebrews 4:12:  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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 complete outworking of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection will be the full redemption of our spirit, soul and body (1 Thess. 5:23).  How big is the Father’s plan of restoration?  The parameter of unshakeable peace is the whole earth.  All creation and every area of our lives will be impacted and leavened by His Spirit.  Heaven and earth will yield up a Kingdom that cannot be moved (Heb. 12: 25-29).  What does the Creator want from His creation?  The purity of unshakeable peace is the whole heart given to the Lord in pure worship.  We yearn for more than a “touch” from God.  We are called to be bone of His bone, flesh of His…flesh “holy flesh” (Eph. 5: 30-32).


Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low.  All that remains is a permanent Kingdom of never-failing peace (Mt. 7: 24-27).


Jesus is again sending apostles and prophets to create havoc among the complacent (Lk. 11:49).  Doctor Luke, describing apostolic ministry in the early church of Acts, provides great insight into this current spiritual upheaval.


Acts 17:6: KJV “…These who have turned the world upside down are come here also.” 


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries, Inc.


Scripture from K.J.V. and N.A.S. Bibliography – C. S. Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews; F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary; Unshakeable Peace by: Kelly Varner.  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those from whom I gleaned. – see Bible Study notes on; Nehemiah 9 and 10; Hebrews Chapters 3 and 4.  By: Pastor Carolyn Sissom  

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