Hebrews 4 | Why Don’t You Give It A Rest?

Just the other day, I was watching a scientist from NASA describe the incredibly detailed pictures we now have of the sun. What only before had been a very limited awareness of the sun’s activity has now become vastly more refined. This new knowledge was all due to the movement of an exploratory satellite designed to come closer to the sun than anything ever had before. The pictures it sent back were astounding in their ability to capture solar events that before, we would never have known. At one point, the NASA scientist stated that one recent solar flare sent back by satellite was only a small event in relation to the overall sun. Yet, it was about ten times the size of earth and contained enough energy to run our little place in the universe for over a million years! This reminds me of God’s unfathomable power. And we can only see a tiny fraction of it!

Amazingly, this God who made everything has made us the crown of his creation. No other part of his creation is said to have been made “in his image”. And so, his eye is lovingly focused on us, even in times when we might wonder if he is there. He IS there. And he is especially attentive and concerned about every facet of our lives.

The writer of Hebrews 3 has warned us against ignoring God’s rightful place in our lives. God’s rest in creation anticipates the rest we can have as his new creation in Christ. As long as we are pursuing a disobedient path, we will always remain restless. Just hearing the good news about Christ will not save us. We must believe what we have heard (obedience) instead of choosing to do what we want (rebellion). Chapter 4 summarizes this point by teaching us that we need to pursue that fellowship with Him that results in finding our greatest joy and satisfaction. Right now there is a rest we enjoy as we fellowship with Jesus (Mt. 11.28-30), but we also look forward to a heavenly rest with him and all who have gone before us in the future (Heb. 11.13-16).

The concern of the writer in all of this is that we do not lose sight of what matters to God, disconnecting our “faith” from our behavior. Disobedience is fatal. We dare not forsake Jesus just to do our own thing. Godly behavior is proof that our faith is genuine. Like the satellite that opens up a new awareness of the sun, the Word of God sees us as we really are and reveals all the details. Without it, we are all a bit blind to the realities of our condition, even as believers. There’s only one thing that gives us the ability to see the way God sees.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”                

Hebrews 4:12-16

The writer of Hebrews uses this well-known verse to show why we cannot hide the deepest, most hidden parts of ourselves. As we live before an all-knowing, holy God, He sees not only our secrets but is intimately acquainted with everything about us. He sees even what we cannot see or know (our motivations and attitudes) about ourselves. God’s Word always gives us the objective, unbiased, truth of who we are and what we need. It is a mirror (James 1.23-25) that reflects who we really are at heart and judges us correctly. In another sense, it is a fire that burns away impurity or a hammer that crushes our selfishness and insecurities (Jer. 23.29).

Because this is true, we cannot hide anything from God, and therefore, are totally accountable for everything we are. The light of God’s word makes us aware of things that need to be changed or swept away. This is quite unsettling when you think about it. It reminds me of the character of Jonah, who, when asked to be obedient to God’s calling upon his life, boarded a boat and tried to sail away from his responsibilities. He thought he could escape God’s view by putting some distance between himself and God. We sometimes try that ourselves. Fat chance. King David, when reflecting on this same idea, comes to the conclusion that we really can’t run from or hide anything from this ever-present God. We must eventually face the truth.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139: 7-12, see also vs. 13-24 

Today, you may feel as if you have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Welcome to the human race! If you’re in what I call a ‘spiritual funk’, don’t you dare stay there. Remember, this Jesus you are called to follow faced the same attractiveness to sin, yet never gave in to it. And, while Jesus can sympathize with us, what we have is not a fellow-loser but a winner of the highest order – One who intends to take us with him all the way to the Winner’s Circle (2 Cor. 2.14). Take the advice, therefore, of the author of Hebrews: “…since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess” (Heb. 4:14).

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