Blessings to you on this beautiful Sunday, the first day of the Biblical week. The Lord put something on my heart today that I think is important to share. It involves the Sabbath. Now, we know from Scripture, that the Sabbath, the commanded day of rest, is on Saturday (7th day). But of course, the vast majority of Christians celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday. We wrote a post quite awhile ago explaining the significance of the Sabbath (see link below). But today, I wanted to write about Hebrews 4, the chapter that the Lord had me research today. It certainly was not what I expected to see
Hebrews 4: Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
“As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”
although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.”6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
The Lord very clearly put Hebrews 4 on my heart this morning. I really didn’t even know WHAT was in Hebrews 4, but Holy Spirit put Hebrews 4 on my heart. So I looked it up, and read the verses above.
Now, to give a bit of background information and where the Lord was leading me…last night, as I sat down to pray to the Lord before retiring for the night, I asked His forgiveness because I wrote “The Midnight Cry” on this blog yesterday. My prayer went kind of like this…”Dear Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not resting on the Sabbath….I should have waited until Sunday to write these posts, as they are “works”…but instead, I was excited and wrote them on the Sabbath, when I should have spent more time in prayer and resting with You”. I felt guilty for not spending more time WITH my Savior on the Sabbath rather than writing ABOUT my Savior. 🤔
After praying this, I went to sleep. I woke up this morning understanding that the Lord Jesus Christ wanted me to dig deeper into Hebrews 4. Now, I really had no idea what was IN Hebrews 4. You know, I love Scripture but I don’t always remember chapter and verse (where I find which Scriptures). I therefore went to my Bible to look it up. When I looked it up, I wasn’t surprised to find out that these verses are about Sabbath since I had just been praying about that very topic the night before. However, they are NOT at all what I had THOUGHT they would be about…as I discovered this morning by digging deeper into these verses. Of course, like most of us, when I first read those verses I thought, wow, Holy Spirit is confirming to me that I should not have written yesterday’s blog post on the Sabbath because I wasn’t keeping the Sabbath perfectly. That was how I FIRST read those verses…but I was WRONG!
These verses in Hebrews 4 are NOT telling us that it is disobedient to FAIL to OBSERVE the SABBATH REST on Saturday, or Sunday, or any particular day. That is NOT what these verses are about, and I thank God for that!! Here’s where Holy Spirit led me this morning, which is important for me to remember as well as I also included some of this information in my previous post “The Midnight Cry”.
Hebrews 4: (10) Rest means to not continue on in works.
For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
a. He who has entered His (Jesus) rest has himself also ceased from his works: Entering this rest means no longer NEEDING to work. The idea isn’t that there is no longer any place for doing good works. The idea is that there is no longer any place for works as a basis for our own righteousness.
i. “There is a sense in which to enter Christian salvation means to cease from one’s works and rest securely on what Christ has done.” (Morris)
b. Ceased from his works as God did from His: This cessation from works as a basis for righteousness fulfills our “Sabbath rest.” God rested from His works on the original Sabbath of Genesis 2:2 because the work was finished. We cease from self-justifying works because Jesus finished the work on the cross.
This is so important. One thing that I have definitely learned from watching Jimmy Swaggart’s “The message of the Cross” is that many, many Churches have moved away FROM the Cross as our only source of Righteousness or JUSTIFICATION (standing JUSTIFIED before a HOLY GOD)…TO works based righteousness, which is really SELF-righteousness and DISOBEDIENCE.
Hebrews 4:5: and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.”6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
Hebrews 4 tells us that when we trust in our own works for righteousness then we’ve failed to enter Christ’s Sabbath rest. Many Churches still teach that Salvation is by the blood of Jesus, but then they turn around and teach that righteousness and justification is by our own works. Although we await our full transformation into sinless bodies (Phil 3:21), Jesus invites us to ENTER into His Sabbath rest now, even while clothed in these bodies of sin. To enter into God’s rest does NOT mean that it is OKAY to sin! It does NOT mean that it is OKAY to transgress God’s laws. What it DOES mean is that we should NOT view our own “works (even Sabbath or “law” keeping) as making us EXTRA righteous or Justified (In Right standing with God). Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross already accomplished PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR US! We cannot add to this through our “works”. Conversely, when we fail to work, we should not view ourselves as LESS RIGHTEOUS or JUSTIFIED. To do so is to fail to enter Christ’s Sabbath Rest. Christ’s work on the Cross means that we do NOT have to WORK to be in right standing with God…nor can we! In-fact, Hebrews 4 says that to CONSIDER ANY “WORK” as a means of gaining or KEEPING righteousness is DISOBEDIENCE to God’s Gospel invitation to enter into HIS REST!
Are Christians supposed to “work”? Yes, Obedience and service are important aspects of our Christian walk; HOWEVER, our REASON for working matters. We work because of our Love for Christ, NOT to become more Righteous or Justified before our Holy God.
Let’s look at the example that was given to us by the Apostle Paul who was likely the writer of Hebrews.
Hebrews 4: 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,
“As I swore in My wrath,
They shall not enter My rest,”
Paul used this quote from the Old Testament as an example of what it means to “not enter into God’s rest”. We find this Old Testament verse in Psalm 95:
Psalm 95: Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
9 “When your fathers tested Me,
They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
10 “For forty years I loathed that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
11 “Therefore I swore in My anger,
Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”
Why did Paul use Psalm 95 as an example of those “disobedient people” who REFUSE to enter into God’s rest? Actually, we spoke about this in our previous post “Midnight Cry”. God told MOSES and the Israelites that He was giving them the Promised Land of Canaan. Moses then sent in 12 spies to spy out the land. Moses wanted to see what they’d be “up against”. When the spies returned, TEN SPIES came back with a BAD report. They were shaking in their boots because they saw LITERAL GIANTS (nephilim) in the land. They were like “no way, we can go in there anD take the land!” The Israelites BELIEVED the bad report and refused to go into the Promised Land! Now remember, in Psalm 95 God said “Do not harden your hearts…when your fathers tested me, though they had SEEN MY WORK”. In Psalm 95 we are REMINDED that the Israelites had just been led out of Egypt by God’s mighty and wonderous works! They had just SEEN God’s MIRACLES…and still, they did not TRUST that God could defeat those GIANTS in CANAAN! So, because they did not TRUST GOD, they were NOT allowed into the PROMISED LAND (CANAAN)...But the additional verses in Hebrews 4 about Joshua tell us that really, God was speaking about the future promised land of Heaven. We ONLY get into the PROMISED LAND by TRUSTING the finished work of JESUS CHRIST on the CROSS! If we don’t trust His Finished Work for salvation, for Righteousness, for justification…then we don’t enter into the Promised Land.
Sadly, the MAJORITY of churches have moved to placing their trust in Psychology, ” The Purpose Driven Life” and humanism…as a means of sanctification/righteousness. This ONLY leads to SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. Hebrews 4 TEACHES US that if we want to enter God’s Final rest (Kingdom of God/”Promised Land”)…. we MUST place our faith completely in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross as our only means for justification and righteousness. Cessation from works based righteousness is what Hebrews is speaking about...resting SECURELY on what Christ has done.
We always think that the TEN virgins who had fallen asleep are steeped in sin, and many are, but it can also mean that they no longer TRUST in what Christ has done to CAUSE us to be JUSTIFIED before a HOLY GOD. We do NOT have to keep Sabbath or ANY PART of THE LAW to be JUSTIFIED (In right standing before a Holy God). As a matter of fact, it is the opposite. When we DO THAT..when we KEEP SABBATH, or any law as a MEANS of righteousness (to keep or maintain our righteousness), then we’ve fallen from GRACE and are heading towards SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Galatians 5:4: You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Jesus put Hebrews 4 on my heart this morning for a reason. Based on this, I added to the post “Midnight Cry” that the 5 FOOLISH virgins brought absolutley NO OIL with them! This likely means that NOT ONLY had they fallen into OPEN SIN, but they had also moved to a works-based righteousness. Like the TEN SPIES with the BAD REPORT, the TEN VIRGINS FAILED to TRUST GOD’s ability to DEFEAT THE GIANTS and thus enter into Christ’s SABBATH REST..the rest whereby Jesus paid the price so we no longer have to WORK to obtain RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is their DISOBEDIENCE. Think about this. All manmade RELIGION falls into this category. They all teach that MANKIND has to WORK to OBTAIN RIGHTEOUSNESS (although their “works” vary from religion to religion). They teach that man has to reach up to God…but we can never reach up high enough. No, it took GOD HIMSELF to reach down to man. That is the only way we can connect with God.
Again..just so nobody panicks. We need to be clear that to enter into Christ’s Sabath Rest does does NOT mean that open, wanton sin is okay. It’s never okay, and I still believe that we need to remember the Sabbath Day (Saturday) and keep it Holy…but we don’t do this BECAUSE we want to be more righteous…we do this because we LOVE our Savior and remember that the Sabbath is about JESUS. Jesus IS our Sabbath Rest, and His Work on the Cross has made it POSSIBLE for us to REST from our labors (of trying to be justified before a Holy God)…and REST in Christ’s finished work on the Cross, TRUSTING that CHRIST ALONE will defeat the giants and bring us into the PROMISED LAND.
I pray this blesses you as it blessed me. For me personally, putting Hebrews 4 on my heart, and having me “dig deeper” is like the Lord was telling me..”tfj, it’s okay to post some posts that blesses people on the Sabbath. What’s not okay is to think you’re somehow less justified or righteous BECAUSE you did that, for in so-thinking, you’ve placed your faith in your own works and not in My finished work on the Cross. You need to trust SOLELY in My Work for Righteousness and Holiness which is WHY I asked you to research Hebrews 4. It is DISOBEDIENT to trust in your own righteousness, rather than in MY righteousness. That is where the DISOBEDIENCE lies.”
God Bless! 🙂