We had a great gathering of our cluster groups last evening. It's so great to see the depth of love and friendship that has formed over this last year. People are at ease in each other's presence and Jesus is clearly the central personality within our community! There was a lot of time given to informal fellowship before we entered our musical worship circle.
Terri and I shared just a bit about "Entering God's Rest" from Hebrews 3-4, we prayed together and Steve Ward led us in receiving the Lord's Supper. All very simple and laced with joy.
Here are the broad stokes of the passage in Hebrews 3-4:
1. Jesus is greater than Moses. The "Promised Land", also described in Scripture as our "Inheritance" and God's “Rest” in this passage, that He died and rose again to grant and offer to us is also greater.
2. The children of Israel of Moses' day were not allowed to enter "God's rest' because they believed the "evil report" of the 10 spies instead of the "good report" of Joshua and Caleb. They were more impressed with the "giants" than the "giant grapes" within the land God offered them. Even though they experienced daily miracles, they simply did not agree that God would overcome their enemies who were occupying their promised inheritance. Isn’t it terribly ironic that the main struggle that God’s people have with God is that they can’t imagine that He wants to bless them and give them a better future and hope…that He is actually more “for them” and “bigger and better” than they comprehend?
3. Even though Joshua did lead the next generation of Israelites into the land, this still did not fulfill the essence of the prophetic promised God was making to His children, since King David declared in Psalm 95 (many generations after Joshua) that there is still an even greater promised rest for the people of God to receive that the first one simply pointed to.
4. It's the "greater Joshua" (The Hebrew name for Jesus is Joshua!) who delivers the true rest or promised inheritance to believers who walk in the same hopeful and confident mindset as Joshua and Caleb did. We are called to "dream an impossible dream" and trust that God is more than willing and able to bring it to pass by His grace and mercy.
5. Hearing God’s "voice” in this passage is focused upon “hearing, believing and receiving the great Divine promise of goodness” vs. a more generalized word of God or a word of correction. Psalm 95, from which this passage is quoted, is mostly about magnifying the Lord and rejoicing in His presence and goodness!
6. That there is a promise of entering God’s rest “today” and not only in a future age.
7. This rest is essentially about “ceasing from our own labors” and relying upon the “labor” that God has already accomplished. (It’s akin to how the branches (we) become naturally productive and fruitful by simply abiding in the vine (Jesus) in John 15. The "rest of God" is the new operating system downloaded into us by the Holy Spirit through the New Covenant in Jesus! It’s also like receiving an inheritance from a father or mother who did the hard work and passed the profits and savings on to us to live on. Inheritances and wills are activated when someone dies. In the context of the book of Hebrews (cf. 9:16-17) Jesus died to activate a greater will and testament than anything ever offered to the people of God in previous generations.
8. The Divine promise over us is "living and active” just as the knife of the High Priest who cuts the sacrifice in two halves…exposing what’s hiding on the inside…our innermost thoughts and desires. However, it’s not just exposing our fears, doubts, resistance, resignation and the like, it also exposes the buried desires, deferred hopes and forgotten dreams given to us by God that we once dared to imagine were true.
This passage (4:12-16) reminds us of God and Abraham’s interactions in Genesis 15 where God “cuts a covenant” with Abraham. Abraham was weak due to the delay of God’s promise to him of an heir and God allowed him to vent about it. Then God caused Abraham to “rest” by putting him to sleep and inaugurating an unconditional promise to Abraham and his descendants all by Himself. Our great High Priest, Jesus, sympathizes with our weaknesses and invites us to yet boldly approach God to receive the mercy and grace we need to continue to believe for the impossible.
Where is the spirit of Joshua and the courage of Caleb in our ranks? May we see the better view of things!!
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.