HEBREWS – Chapter 4

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

By: Pastor Carolyn Sissom

March 5, 2024; November 1, 2011


Chapter 4 continues the same warning against the possibility of failing to enter God’s rest which was begun in 3:6b.


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 last word in chapter 3 was “unbelief.”  The writer is bringing us face to face with the truth that believers can be guilty of unbelief.  Unbelief kept the Israelis 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).


Luke 9; 1-2:  (Jesus) called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases.  He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.


Without dispute, I have the power and authority to preach the kingdom of God.  I can’t help it.  I am going to stand and decree that the power and authority over demons, diseases, and healing the sick are just as powerful as the authority to preach.   


Inasmuch as our writer says that the promise of God’s rest still holds.  It obviously was neither fulfilled nor exhausted by those Israelis 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 have even come close to apprehending all Christ’s blessings which he secured through obedience to God’s Will and Word resulting in His death and resurrection.


The writer exhorts us to “fear”.  We know that fear is the opposite of faith.  Faith will fear God.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psa. 111:10).  Paul walked in this same reverential fear of the Lord. 2 Cor. 5: 9-11: We have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.   For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad.  Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest to God; and I hope also we are made manifest in your consciences.


1 John 2:28: Now little children, abide in Him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.


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.   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 is working.  Because 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.  We no longer need to control anyone or anything.  That does not mean that we will stop performing and taking responsibility for our physical duties of working to earn a living for our family, keep up our homes, 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.


I have no unresolved “issues” and I have no quarrel with anyone.  That does not mean that there are not people who may have “aught” against me.  Usually those who have “aught” against me want something from me or want me to do something they want.  It is called “presumption.”  In the realm of the Lord’s rest, we will not receive “pressure,” “false judgment” or “false expectations” from the carnality of man.  I cannot be pushed, but I can be persuaded by sound counsel.   It is very liberating.  As Paul wrote in 2 Cor. We have as our ambition whether at home or absent to be pleasing to Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…


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,”  However, many when confronted with God’s will throw up a wall of defense to protect their will.  The cost will be, “you will not enter His rest.”


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 writer continues to preach from the 95th Psalm.  The invitation is still open until God 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.


The Lord takes away promised rewards from those who disbelieve and disobey His promises.  He gives them to those who will believe them and act upon them.  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 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).  Then the rest of which David is prophesying in Psalm 95 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.


Purdy Comm. P. 631: “This rest is peace in the assurance of an access to God unhindered by rites that cannot touch the conscience and is made possible only by Christ’s ‘purification for sins’ that pollute and prevent our reaching the final goal of worship.”  


This worship 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.


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.


Jesus says, “My words are Spirit and they are life.”   In the last day, said Jesus, His Word will judge us.


 John 12:48: He that rejects me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.  For I have not spoken of Myself; but the father which sent Me.  He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.  And I know that His commandment is life everlasting; whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the father said to Me, so I speak.”


The Word will “bring to light the hidden things of darkness,” says Paul, and make manifest the counsels of our hearts!” (1 Cor. 4:5)


Because unbelief is a matter of the heart it often escapes the notice of man, but never of God is whose word living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.  It has the power to reach right through to the inmost parts of one’s personality.  It has the power to judge both the feelings and thoughts of the heart.  It is able to discern and decide on the moral value of a man.  The Word through the prophets, Christ and His apostles possessed a dynamic so great that when heard and retained it creates anew (Romans 1:16).


As we come to Verse 13, the writer shifts from the Word of God to God Himself.  We are to picture all things as lying “naked and bare” before His eyes. 


4:13: Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.


With this the author concludes his lengthy warning and comes to the subject which is closes to his heart and which he has already touched upon twice before, the priesthood of Jesus.


4:14: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.


Our writer has finished comparing Jesus with the prophets, angels, and Moses.  The writer identifies the Lord as God’s apostle and high priest, who was faithful to God as was Moses.  As great as he was Moses was unable to lead his people into the “rest” of Canaan, whereas Jesus is fully able to lead His people into the “rest” of God.  With that comparison finished, the writer moves to the central theme of his letter.


 He can now bring forth the great truth that was on his heart when he began this letter--- the priesthood of Christ.  For the next six chapters (5-10), he will be explaining what it means to have Jesus as our high priest.  He will do it by contrasting the earthly system of the Jew’s religion, with the priesthood at the center, with the heavenly ministry of Jesus as the true high priest.  Our writer shows that Christianity has a high priest that is superior to Aaron, whom God personally appointed high priest of Israel.  The Jewish believers must be shown that there really is a high priest in Christianity to Whom they can look for help.


Here the writer adds the word, “great” in describing Jesus as the “Great High Priest.”  This is in contrast with the Jewish high priest.  As we begin this study of Jesus’ priesthood, it is set against the history of the Israelites in the wilderness.  The entire book of Hebrews is laid against the system of religion God gave through Moses at Mt. Sinai. 


1.     Jesus ministered in a heavenly sanctuary, not an earthly one as did Aaron.  Jesus “passed through the heavens,” so that He now carries on His ministry in the Spirit.  His is a priesthood without beginning or end.

2.     Through His own obedience and faithfulness, the Lord Jesus has been exalted to the place of supreme power. 


Our Great High Priest is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.  He was tempted as we are tempted and overcame temptation. He died for us on the Cross and lives for us now in heaven.


The old Jewish system (Judaism) was only a type and shadow of the Heavenly priesthood.   That Jesus “passed through the heavens” tells us that Jesus’ priesthood is heavenly and spiritual, making obsolete all forms of earthly worship.  No longer can anyone approach God by any physical means.  He can only be approached “in Spirit.”


In the appointed time, Jesus came and died for our sins.  With his sacrifice accepted by the father, He now has the joy of applying its benefits to us.  This is what he does as our High Priest.  Through the Holy Spirit, He applies the cleansing power of His blood to our consciences.    This is why we don’t remember our sins, nor should anyone else.  With the consciousness of sin washed away, we feel free to draw close to the Lord.


Seeing that Christ has purchased His Kingdom blessings, for time and eternity, we are now invited to draw near to His throne of grace and mercy.


Psalm 24:7:  Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be you lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.


As we approach the season of the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection Glory, let us rejoice that Christ bore our sins, suffered for them, and carried them into the land of forgetfulness.  Jesus has washed us in His own most precious blood and has clothed us with the robe of His imputed righteousness.  We are invited to come boldly before His throne. 


We have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one who was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin”.


When Jesus burst the bonds of death and ascended to the right hand of God, He neither resigned His priestly office, nor laid aside His humanity.  He was, and still is, both God and the Son of man.  He was, and still is, a merciful and faithful High Priest, --- never weary of His office--- never forgetting or abandoning it, --- never overlooking the wants and necessities of those whom He loves, and for whom He intercedes.


It is finished” is gloriously inscribed on the Priest’s work as the Son of man.  It never ceases” is gloriously written on His work as our Intercessor with the Father.  Jesus appears at the right hand of the Majesty on high, clothed in priestly vesture.  The names of the true Israel are on His shoulders---a token that all His strength is ours to protect us.  The names on His breast are a token that while His heart beats, it beats for us.  The voice of His pleading ever sounds and ever

prevails, “Father forgive them,” and we are forgiven.  “Father have mercy on them,” and mercies speed on rapid wing.  The incense of His intercession ever rises, “Father bless them” and we are blessed; “Father, smile on them” and it is light around our path. 


4:15-16: For we do not have a high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


This is the first statement of open access into God’s presence for all who wish to come.  It is repeated seven times in the Book of Hebrews.  The expression “approach” or “draw-near” was a technical term employed by the priests who alone were able to approach God in worshipful service.  Now the right of priestly approach is extended to all Christians.” (Westcott, Comm. P. 108)


He can be touched,” --- He has learned sympathy by suffering.  Until we have participated in his sufferings, we are all selfish, shallow, often cruel, and unfeeling to the suffering of others.  In the midst of His glory, His spiritual body yet bears the print of the nails; and upon His side, the scar of the wound inflected by the Roman spear.  The crown of universal glory will never obliterate the record of the crown of thorns.  passed into the heavens,” He is still as keenly “touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” as when he stood weeping beside the grave of Lazarus; or, as when He hung upon the cross, committing His bereaved mother to the care of His beloved disciple.



This passage makes it very clear that Jesus experienced temptations in just the same manner as we do and His sinlessness was the result of ‘conscious decision’ on His part in the midst of intense struggle.  There are some who believe and teach that because of Jesus’ divine nature, that He was able to overcome sin.  I am of the persuasion that any interpretation of the person of Christ which in anyway diminishes the force and genuineness of His temptations cannot be correct.


Christ Jesus---our High Priest and Intercessor---our sympathizing Brother---is the only medium of prayer.  There is no access to the Father but through Him.  The great invitation to draw near to God is, Jesus, at the right hand of God.  He is our interceding High Priest---He is our Advocate with the Father---our Kinsman-Redeemer within the veil.


Ask nothing in your own name but ask everything in the name of Jesus.  Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.”   “having therefore brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, when He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh---and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near.


This year 2024, has blown into the world with strong force through a fierce war season.  I believe this is the testimony of most of the front-line warriors. 


Christian, whatever you are facing, whether it is a trial of your faith, illness, family relationships, financial distress, do not waste your energy brooding over the circumstances.  Bring it to the throne of grace.  The longer you bear the burden under which you groan the more hopeless and wretched you will become.  If you take it to the foot of the Cross, you will assuredly obtain relief with mercy.


Our high priest is not one who is so far beyond us that He can’t sympathize with our weaknesses.  To the contrary, during His earthly life He experienced the full force of human temptation yet did not sin.


Lay down the stumbling block of Religious Pride and Vain glory of being a super-hot-shot Christian that has it all figured out.  Super religious people and Super ministers have the hardest time getting past that wall into the Throne of grace and mercy to allow the Holy Spirit of Truth to enter in and open up the gates that the King of Glory may come into our hearts.


Trust in Him, and He will be with us, in life, in death, and in eternity; for His word is---“No man shall pluck them out of my hand.  “He will not let us fall.”


Lord Jesus of all power and might, we come today, trusting in your almighty strength, your infinite goodness, and your gracious promises.  I come, to ask of you whatsoever is wanting in me that you take it to the Father and enrich me with spiritual renewal and blessings.


Whatever sin or infirmity that is in me, O Lord, forgive me, and give me the grace to overcome it.  Thank you, Jesus, that you are with us everywhere, and at all times, in health, in sickness, in prosperity, in trouble, and in all the events and circumstances of our lives.  That you will never leave us nor forsake us, and you will not let us fall.  Thank you, Lord, that we are dwelling with you in heavenly places enjoying your love and presently inheriting your glory now and forevermore---Amen.


The Throne of Grace is a teaching unto itself.  Perhaps, we will preach on that next week before going into Chapter 6.


Taught by:  Pastor Carolyn Sissom

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; Purdy Commentary;

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