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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 4

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-13

  1. Intro:
    1. St. Augustine said in his Confessions, “Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for thou hast formed us for Thyself, & our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”
      1. It is like getting into a warm cabin after having the cold wind blowing against your face all day. [Haleakala summit/warming hut]
      2. It’s like a ship finally pulling into a safe harbor after many days battling a storm tossed sea.
        1. Our theme continues with rest. [Rest in Heb = Noah]
    2. 5 rests in Scripture: [1] God’s Sabbath rest [2] Canaan rest after wandering for 40 yrs. [3] the Believer’s rest present at salvation [4] the Overcomers present rest of victory [5] The future Eternal rest in heaven.
      1. God’s Sabbath rest is like our Salvation rest (following the finished work of Christ on the cross).
      2. Canaan rest is likened unto our life of victory as we walk by faith.
        1. So there is a Past, Present, & Future rest for those who come unto Him.
    3. Title: Divine Rest
    4. Outline: Still Time for Rest? & The secret of entering His rest?
  2. STILL TIME FOR REST? (1-10)
    1. (2) Not mixed w/faith
      1. It’s like spaghetti w/o boiling water; it’s like running out of flour in the midst of preparing a cake; it’s like sushi w/o soy-sauce/wasabi…so belief (intellectual only) w/o faith(trust).
      2. Thousands upon thousands were believers (in that they had a mental ascent in believing there was aGod), but only 2 really trusted God & found rest. (Joshua & Caleb)
      3. “Belief, the mental acceptance of a fact as true, will simply not bring rest to any soul.” (Kent Hughes)
    2. (3) My rest - This is the rest God enjoys Himself. This is like when Jesus said…
      1. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Jn.14:27 Jesus Peace
      2. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.Jn.15:9 Jesus Love
      3. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. Jn.15:11. Jesus Joy
        1. So this My rest, is God rest, that we see...they missed.
    3. How do we enjoy the rest of another? - In Alaska I enjoyed the “rest” of 2 brothers that sold all,
      1. built a cabin on the shore of “Excursion Inlet”, north of Juneau.
    4. (4) God rested - A rest of satisfaction not after exhaustion.
      1. Interesting all 6 days of creation end w/“So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Then it comes to the 7th day & it doesn’t mention morning or evening… ie. “God’s Sabbath still continues.”
    5. (7) Today – Don’t be disheartened church. This rest is still available to you.
      1. As it was to the Israelites (vs.6, those to whom it was 1st preached), then in David’s time (Ps.95 quote), it still is in the Hebrew Christians time (to whom he was writting); & now it is in our time. Today = Now!
      2. There are only 2 things that prevent the promised rest from our lives…distrust & disobedience.
    6. Harden not your hearts – It never says to soften your heart, instead to get a new 1.
      1. Ezek.18:31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?
      2. [pull out play dough] Once we’re saved, our heart is like Play Dough…every time you want to use it again it needs re-worked. [God has to soften it]
    7. (8) Joshua (same as Jesus in the Gk.) – The OT “Jesus”/Joshua led his followers to the land of Canaan. But that was not the real rest but only a type. But now the NT Jesus, the Son of God, can & will bring us into His rest.
    8. (9) If you get anything out of this remember the rest is there if you want it.
      1. What did Jesus say, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
        1. Msg Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company w/me and you’ll learn to live freely & lightly.
    9. (10) Ceased from our/his works – When we believed, we finished w/our works-righteousness & entered God’s rest.
      1. This will result ultimately in our eternal rest like it says in the Holy Spirits beatitude, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' " "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Rev.14:13
    1. (11) Ok, how do we get this rest? [here comes 2 challenges]
      1. Be diligent – labor; to be in a hurry; make haste.
        1. ​​​​​​​“Be in a hurry to rest”; “Strive to rest” - Concentrate one’s energies on the achievement of a goal.
        2. This is the opposite of drifting. (2:1)
        3. Do our utmost to focus on the rest. There is no room for mental laziness. Think with all you have on Gods rest. Kent Hughes pg.113
        4. Again, this is not speaking of salvation but the Victorious Christian life.
        5. No one ever matured in the Christian life by being careless or lazy.
          1. Remember, “Sodom can’t evangelize Gomorrah!”
      2. Be in the Word of God. - The Word is the answer to every spiritual condition.
        1. The Word has cut me many a times! And each wound was bandaged up, & healing was produced.
        2. Like each of the scars on your body, bring the reminder of how you received them.
          1. How has the Word cut you? - How is the Word cutting you today?
        3. Living – (not dead) Alive.
          1. It lives because it endures forever, Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. (Ps.119:89)
          2. It lives because it has life in itself, it’s God breathed.
        4. Powerful – (not weak) Energetic, active, productive, effective.
          1. Activity which produces results. Often used for Divine activity which produces effective results – It does what it promises!!!
          2. Is.55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Wow
          3. I like reading of the champions of the faith who were saved when they heard one special verse. Like Martin Luther being awakened by The just shall live by faith.
          4. Or the one word that struck Spurgeon between the eyes.
            1. Retell the story from “The Life of Charles Haddon Surgeon”, pg.60-64
            2. Is.45:22 Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
          5. Do you remember the verse or text when you believed? (mine was in Kings)
        5. Sharper – (not dull) God’s Word can cut through anything.
          1. It (the Word) can sever the closest of relationships(even family).
          2. The Word of God can filet us wide open (e.g. China fish market in Guangzhou)
          3. The Sword of God is a sin slayer - It has stains of blood all over it…even up to the hilt.
            1. It cuts like a hot knife through ice-cream.
          4. It is 2-edged thus it cuts us 2 ways – 1st deeply that we might die; then it cuts us again that we might live again.
        6. Piercing – (not sheathed)
          1. (i.e.) the extreme power of penetration of the Word of God, to the very core of man’s being.
          2. A man named Thorpe was a member of the Hell-fire Club. (a group of men in the 1700’s who tried to detract the work of George Whitefield) - One day Thorpe jumped upon a table & started mimicking Whitefield, delivering his sermon brilliantly accuracy, perfectly imitating his tone & facial expressions, when he himself was so pierced that he sat down & was converted on the spot. [he went on to be a prominent Christian leader in the city of Bristol]
        7. Discerner - (not ignorant) God’s Word sifts through the hearts thoughts & attitudes w/unerring discrimination.
          1. Do you ever feel I’m talking right to you & a situation that you are going through? I hope you take it personal. I hope you get cut from God’s word while I’m teaching…else I am not wielding it properly.
          2. Unbelievers...I dare you to come to the Word of God with an open mind.
    2. (13) Naked & open – (not hidden nor veiled) there is nothing to hide in or behind.
      1. Naked we flee to God for clothes...Like in the garden.
        1. But its your choice…which clothes:
          1. We flee to man’s way - Fig leaves (very itchy on the back side).
          2. We flee to God’s way – Sheep Skin seat covers (garments of skin, Gen. 3:21)
        2. Open - different suggestions to this words meaning.
          1. Refers to the bending back of the neck of a sacrificial victim making ready for the final stroke. (LKGNT)
          2. Refers to the wrestler’s art of seizing one by the throat rendering him limp & powerless.
        3. The meaning is clear, all creatures are in the grip of God, totally vulnerable, helpless, & laid bare before his eyes, of Him to whom we must give account.
          1. Prov.15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil & the good.
            1. God sees everything! This can be discomforting…IF you have something to hide. Or, This can be comforting...IF you’re ready to come clean, with nothing to hide.

Verses 14-16

  1. Intro: Title: Our Great High Priest
    1. Outline: A Great High Priest. A Sympathetic High Priest. An Approachable High Priest
    1. Not just a priest, nor only a high priest, but a Great High Priest.
    2. History of priesthood: 1st every man (Noah, Ab, Isacc, Jacob, Job); 1st named...Melchizedek; then Tribe of Levi (sp Aaron’s fam); David divided into 24 classes (cont after captivity); all priests prefigured the Great Priest who offered one sac for sins, once for all. Now no human priesthood, yet term given to all bel.
    3. Passed through the heavens – Speaking of His Ascension.
      1. Perf. Tense – He has passed through the heavens & is still there.
    4. Let us hold fast our confession – Confession has to do w/the believers testimony of his faith in Christ & his faithfulness to live for Christ & gain the promised blessing. (Warren Wiersbe, Outlines on the NT.)
      1. Not hold fast to your faith (i.e. so you don’t loose it) but because it’s so sure/faithful.
      2. As a Catholic boy I held fast to a priest who I was told could be the bridge (Lt. pontifex) between me & Jesus (even to the forgiving or retaining of my sins).
        1. But the passage here is drawing the distinction between earthly priests & this heavenly 1.
        2. Not an Imam, not a Catholic priest, not a Buddhist priest, not even Judas Priest. But we have a great, high priest in heaven!
    1. Tempted as we are – Really? I mean really tempted as we are?
      1. For centuries Christians have debated the question, Was it really possible for Christ to sin? If so, could He have fallen from being God? If He really couldn’t sin did he experience “real” temptations?
      2. The Latin word peccare = to sin.
      3. So People line up on 1 of 2 sides: Those who believe in the Impeccability of Christ(not able to sin); & those who argue the Peccability of Christ (able to not sin)
      4. I’ll do my best to explain this but I can’t help but thinking of Martin Luther as he once observed, When the angels want a good laugh, they read the commentaries!
    2. What we are positive of:
      1. Christ never actually sinned – vs.15 yet w/o sin.
      2. Jesus was tempted, & these were real temptations(40 days v.15 tempted as we r)
      3. God cannot be tempted w/evil – James 1:13,14 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
        1. Hear the problem? Jesus was tempted / God cannot be tempted.
        2. God doesn’t tempt us, i.e. try to entice us into sinning. However He definitely does test us
        3. The Devil however tempts us; the world system tempts us; & as James says, our own desires tempt us & entice us to sin.
        4. Yet, Jesus’ desires never tempted him as our desires tempt us, because Jesus had no original sin, no fallen human nature.
          1. Jesus was like the 1st Adam in that way. Before his fall Adam had no original sin, no fallen human nature, & yet Adam experienced real temptations!!!
        5. Being fully human Jesus then came to temptations w/the same moral equipment as Adam. W/the ability to sin & the ability not to sin…& Jesus Prevailed!!!
      4. Wayne Grudem explains, The moral strength of His Divine nature was there as a sort of “backstop” that would have prevented him from sinning in any case (& therefore we could say that it was not possible for him to sin) but he did not rely on the strength of His Divine nature to make it easier for him to face temptations.
        1. So, we can ask, in Jesus’ human nature (if it could be separated from His Divine) could He have sinned? (yes). w/His Divine nature could he have sinned? (No!)
      5. Were Jesus’ temptations real? Many theologians have pointed out that “only those who successfully resists a temptation to the end most fully feels the force of that temptation!”
        1. Examples: The Weightlifter who successfully lifts & holds over head the heaviest weight feels the force of it more fully than one who attempts to lift it ½ way & drops it.
          1. So any Christian who has successfully faced a temptation to the end knows that that is far more difficult than giving in to it at once.
          2. So it is w/Jesus, every one He faced, He faced to the end, & triumphed over it. The temptations were real & in fact most real because he took them to the end…& never gave in.
    3. Sympathize – (lit.) to share the experience of someone.
      1. Jesus never gave people sympathy in the sense of saying, “Oh, you poor thing. Isn’t it awful?” Jesus never encouraged people to wallow in their self pity, nor encourage those who were feeling sorry for themselves.
      2. Slide#12b Sympathy (Defined) – A relationship or an affinity between people or things in which whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other.
      3. Slide#13 Sympathetic Resonance: 1 thing vibrating makes another thing vibrate. Like when an Opera singer breaks a drinking glass.
        1. If 2 Tuning forks of the same pitch are placed near each other. If one is struck & set in vibration, the other will take up the vibrations sympathetically. The 1st is the generator, the other becomes the resonator.
      4. When a cord is struck in the weakness of our human instrument, it resonates in His.
        1. There’s no note of human experience that does not play on Christ’s exalted human instrument
      5. So it doesn’t mean that Jesus experienced every individual temptation we do.
        1. Jesus never experienced the pain of childbirth. He never experienced old age. Yet, he did experience the essential temptations that cover, & in His case supersede, whatever we may experience.
      6. Where do you go for Sympathy? The most sensitive man who ever lived sympathizes w/you. Why go anywhere else? Don’t go anywhere else.
        1. He mastered the instrument down here & still has it up there.
        2. He will not simplistically and heartlessly quote Scripture at you (like some well meaning friends do), but will empathetically grieve with you.
        3. Play any key, any minor cord, any dirge, & see if it doesn’t resonate in Him. IT DOES!
    1. Come boldly – to come, to draw near. [was used in the LXX for the priestly approach to God in service]
      1. It is in the pres. tense emphasizing that the privilege is always available.
    2. Come, Come, Come…
      1. If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. - Let the little children come to Me - Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. - And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come.”
      2. Come to His banqueting table; Come to His Throne of Grace; Come to Him w/your doubts; Come to Him w/your fears; Come to Him to obtain Mega Mercy & to find Grand Grace.
    3. Their whole Jewish tradition said just the opposite…Stand back!
      1. We step on to the temple mount & walk through the court of the Gentiles. Going up the steps to the temple we come to the 1st entrance, the Court of the women, Yet to the Gentile it says, Stand back!
      2. You walk through that court to the other side & come to the bronze gate & it says to all women, Stand back!
      3. The men proceed into a small very crowded court, the Court of the Israelites until you reach a knee high wall & it says to all the men, Stand back! unless you are a priest
      4. The priest can pass until he reaches the sanctuary, the Holy Place, where at that door it says, Stand back! unless you have been chosen to burn incense.
      5. Then of course there is the very inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies, where its curtain shouts, Stand back! unless you are the high priest, & that only once a year, & under very strict conditions…can you then dare enter.
        1. The No Trespassing Sign had been torn down, and in its place…a neon sign that reads COME!
        2. No more fear & trepidation; but instead w/confidence & boldness you may come saints.
          1. I remember my 1st date with Kelly: I came in & sat on the couch in their families den, & her dad kept the paper in front of his face, after he said a quick hello. My 1st time, with fear & trepidation. But now I can go in & flop on the coach & relax.
        3. You won’t be denied access - Funny story, Dan & key yesterday. He didn’t have access to a closet. Joked my key was same...then came back, “I guess they forgot 1 notch on my key accidentally.”
    4. Jesus is the perfect High Priest because He is perfectly God, & perfectly man. Because He has known our life, He can give us sympathy, mercy & power. He brought God to men & He can bring men to God. William Barclay
    5. ​​​​​​​Prayer: God, we count on Your Mercy for our Past mistakes; We count on Your Love for our Present needs; We count on Your Sovereignty for our Future. (​​Augustine)
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Hebrews 4". "Bell's Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/hebrews-4.html. 2017.
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