Hebrews 4 (3)
The writer appeals to Psalm 95 yet again (cf. Heb. 3.7, 8, 15) to urge his readers not to lose their focus, and think that the rest they need is in release from persecution, rather than in the presence and blessings of God. Today, now, is the time to hear the Word of God, believe, and enter His rest.
Review Psalm 95.
Read Hebrews 4.6, 7.
Think it through.
1. We have seen that our writer makes much use of the psalms in calling his readers to faithfulness. Already he has appealed to Psalms 2, 8, 22, 45, 95, 102, 104, and 110. For those Hebrew believers, the Psalms were their prayer book and hymnal, just as they have been for Christians throughout the ages. Look at Acts 4.23-26. In this situation, one person probably began praying Psalm 146.5, 6, then took up the first verses of Psalm 2. As he did, the people – thousands of them – raised their voice with one accord, like we would do in an assembly of believers if someone started singing “Amazing Grace”. Why would it make sense for the writer of Hebrews to base his argument and appeal on the Psalms? What was he hoping to accomplish by linking his teaching to prayers and songs his readers would know very well? Are we missing something by not singing and praying the psalms any more than we do? Singing psalms is evidence of the filling of the Spirit (Eph. 5.18ff). Would it please the Spirit if we sang and prayed psalms? Would we benefit from this discipline? Explain.
2. The writer links unbelief with disobedience in recalling the failure of his readers’ forebears (vv. 6, 2). Unbelief and disobedience flow from a heart that is hardened against the Word of God (v. 7, quoting Psalm 95.7, 8). How did the hearts of those people become hardened? What hardened their hearts, so that they refused to enter the land of promised rest? How do our hearts become hardened today? Today and every day, we need to hear the Word of God, and claim the rest that comes from believing and obeying. This is what it means to “hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3.14). How can we guard against our hearts becoming hardened against hearing God’s Word? How can we encourage one another in this?
“They had received clear evidence of the power of God; they ought to have believed. But yielding too much to fear and imagining nothing great concerning God and being faint-hearted, they perished. And there is also something more to be said, as, that after they had accomplished the greatest part of the journey, when they were at the very doors, at the haven itself, they were sunk into the sea. This I fear, he says, for you also.” John Chrysostom (344-407 AD)
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10.28
You have called me to hold fast my confidence in Jesus today and every day, O Lord. But I can see snares of the fear of man ahead, such as …
Pray Psalm 84.5-9.
How will you deal with the fear of man today? Call upon the Lord for His strength – strength to strength – and plead with Him to be your shield. Then go forth in boldness into your Personal Mission Field.
Psalm 84.5-12 (Holy Manna: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship)
Blessed are they whose strength is founded
In Your strength, O Lord above.
All whose hearts in You are grounded
Journey in Your strength and love.
Though they weep with tears of sadness,
Grace shall all their way sustain.
In Your presence, filled with gladness,
They shall conquer all their pain.
Lord of hosts, my prayer receiving,
Hear me, help me by Your grace!
In Your courts I stand believing;
Turn to me Your glorious face!
Lord, our sun, our shield, our glory,
No good thing will You deny
To those who proclaim Your story,
And who on Your grace rely.
T. M Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.