March 4 - Hebrews 4
SEEING IS NOT BELIEVING: Chapter 3 ended with the statement that the Israelites wandering in the desert 'were not able to enter [God's rest - the Promised Land] because of their unbelief.' Today we read that 'we've had the gospel proclaimed to us just as they did' (v2)! Although they could not have known about Jesus, they actually saw God's saving power in how He led them out of Egypt, opened the Red Sea, and led them with His physical presence going ahead of them through the desert. They saw God's saving power, but 'it was no value to them, because they did not share the faith' (v2). Just reading the Bible or going to church has no value unless it's accompanied by faith: belief and trust in God's perfect salvation.
THE PROMISED LAND = GOD'S SABBATH REST: The first few chapters of Genesis lay the foundation for our faith in so many ways. One of those ways is the introduction of the concept of sabbath: God created all that exists, and then He rested. The rest of history is the story of God making it possible for His people to once again experience His perfect rest: a condition wherein there is 'no more death or mourning or crying or pain' (Rev. 21:4). In addition to the 1/7 rhythm we still live by in which we get a small taste of God's sabbath each Sunday when we come into His house, God provided a big picture of salvation with the Old Testament concept of the Promised Land, a place where God's people could live and work and rest in perfect shalom (the Biblical concept of peace). Of course, that concept was never fully attained because of sin, but now as sinners who have been made new in Christ, 'there remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.' We are called to 'make every effort to enter that rest.' (v9-11). The 'Promised Land' we are being called into is no longer a patch of ground in Palestine, rather it's an eternity of shalom in the eternal presence of God.
MEMORY VERSE #1 - "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" (v12). The words you are reading each day are more than mere letters on a page, they are the living & working presence of God in your life. Keep reading!
MEMORY VERSE #2 - The final few verses of chapter 4 introduce the concept of Jesus being the great and final high priest. We'll look more at this concept tomorrow, but for today focus on the amazing benefit you receive from Christ's priestly work. Really all of v14-16 should be memorized, but at a minimum know: "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (v16). Review previous memory verses.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Nothing in all of creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (v13).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Make every effort to enter God's Sabbath rest, so that you will not perish by falling into disobedience (v11).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: Approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that you may receive mercy and grace to help you in your needs (v16).