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050 - The Promise of Rest Still Stands

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
The Truth Network Radio
July 10, 2021 2:00 pm

050 - The Promise of Rest Still Stands

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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July 10, 2021 2:00 pm

Episode 050 - The Promise of Rest Still Stands (10 July 2021) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink.

Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages. Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, guess what? You won the lottery. How do you know that? Well, because I know it. No, that's too good to be true. That can't possibly be true. So you don't believe me? Nope, I sure don't. Well, because you don't believe me, you're not going to get it.

And that's exactly what happens to Israel and all mankind today on More Than Ink. Well, a wonderful, warm welcome to you this morning. I'm Jim and I'm Dorothy.

Good morning. And yeah, we are sitting in our dining room table like really we are always. So we're glad you can join us, figuratively speaking, but this is our context for a relaxed discussion about God's Word. It's just a wonderful way that we, through dialogue, just sit down and share what we see when we read this.

Because these are fascinating passages as we enter into Hebrews 4 today. Are you excited? I am. You know, I actually wish that you all were sitting here with us with your Bibles open, because that's really what I love to do, is sit with the Word open and talk live with people who are actively responding to what they're reading.

And so I kind of miss that because I'm not doing that during the summer the way I do during the normal school season. So you'll just have to put up with me as the response group. No, but this is so good for us. So as I mentioned, we're going into Hebrews 4 and this is, I've got to tell you, this gets rapidly more and more fascinating as we go here. So as we come into 4, it's one of my favorite sections in the entire New Testament. And you might see why in a second here. So let's just start reading it and we'll see what goes on. You want to lead us into that? Sure.

Sure. Hebrews 4, 1, I'll start with verse 1. Therefore, oh, we'll have to talk about that. While the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them because they were not united by faith with those who listened. You know, can we stop there?

Sure. We probably have to remind people who the thems are. Yeah, who are the them and what's the therefore, right?

Because the writer of Hebrews has been talking about believing and about unbelief and about disobedience and about pay attention, don't drift, don't neglect, hold fast to the truth that you've been taught. And so, you know, he had just said that they weren't able to enter God's rest because of their unbelief. So who are the they? Right. He's talking about the Israelites.

Right. He just talked about them in chapter 3 and we looked at it about the fact that God had promised them once they left Egypt that He would take them to a land He promised about where, you know, land flowing with milk and honey and just a wonderful place to live. But that was a place they had never seen. They'd never seen. And could not imagine. And God promised. He says, you know, across my heart, hope to die.

I'm giving this to you. Well, you can say it quite like that. Not quite like that. But I mean, it was a serious promise and yet they got right on the brink of it. They sent spies in to kind of check it out. Spies came back and said, we don't think we're going to go there. There's giants except two of the 12 spies.

No, God's got this. And I would encourage you to go back and read that as with always in the New Testament, but particularly with the book of Hebrews, it's really important that you go back and read the Old Testament narrative that's being quoted or alluded to. It's a very important test case.

That is essential, especially here. So you can find this particular account of them going up to the edge of the land, sending spies in, and then refusing to go in themselves in Numbers 13 and 14. And those who believed God were Moses, who sent the spies in, and then Joshua and Caleb. Joshua and Caleb. But all the rest of that entire generation did not believe.

Said, nope. Even though they heard the report of the land. And even though God's promise stood.

God's promise was still there. I'm going to take you into the land. And as we find out at that juncture in their history, God said, okay, I will take you in, but not you guys and not now.

I'll take your children in. You are going to die in the wilderness for your unbelief. And as he closed chapter three, he said the issue was a fundamental issue of unbelief, which means basically I don't believe that God can be true to his word, to what he promised.

Right. I don't think he'll do what he says he'll do, because I can't see it. That's really a very fundamental, disrespectful thing of God. When God goes to all this trouble to provide for them this wonderful place, and they say, nope, don't think so. And so really, that's where he brings us to the beginning of chapter four. Here they are saying, we don't think that God can do this.

We will not put our trust in his promise to us. And the astonishing thing is what they had seen him do very concretely up to this point in their history. He had brought them out of Egypt with all of those miracles, all of those plagues. They had seen fire on the mountain. They had seen the pillar of smoke and fire with them.

They had eaten manna every day. Had water appear out of the rock. All of these things that God had done for them while they were making this journey. And they came right up to the edge and said, nope, we're not going to believe this. Our God's not big enough for those giants.

And in fact, there's a word coming up later I'm kind of fond of, which when you translate it more accurately, means someone who's just unpersuadable. There's just no way you can talk them into it. Nothing you can say will change my mind.

Nothing you can say that's kind of like an obstinate. I've set my course this way. I will not believe God can do this. And that's why God said, so, you wanted to rent my rest. I can accept it.

So that's where he starts out here. So therefore, the promise of entering his rest, it still stands. God did not retract that promise. But it didn't happen for those particular people because they wouldn't believe. They wouldn't believe what? That God would do what he said he would do even though they couldn't see it.

Right, right. Now it's interesting, when he starts off this chapter, he does something kind of interesting in the time sent. I mean, we were talking about historical past, about Israel not going in because they wouldn't believe God.

But now when he starts this out, he kind of goes into the present tense. He says, you know, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear, lest any of us should seem to have failed to reach it. So in a way he's saying, in the same way that the Israelites would not obstinately believe God's promise to them, we are in a similar situation where there's apparel to us, where a promise from God to us stands, but we may not be believing that he can carry through with that promise.

This is serious business. Right. And so we need to probably remember back into chapter 3, verse 12, he said, Now take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart in falling away from the living God. So we, even as believers, are vulnerable to those times when we, well, I don't think God really meant that, or I don't think he can really deliver on that promise. And this writer says that is evil and unbelieving and will lead you to not enter the rest that God has promised you. So we, like them, are the beneficiaries of a tremendously beneficial promise from God. Tremendously. And yet, although he has not retracted that promise, we can miss it if we don't think he'll do it.

So that's what he's saying right here. In verse 2, he says, So look, the good news came to us, and this is the good news of God's promise of life, abundant life to us. The good news came to us just as it did to them, but the message they heard didn't benefit them.

Why? Well, because it wasn't united by faith, and faith is really that persuasive confidence that what God says is going to happen. It wasn't united by faith with those who listened. So you can listen, and you can receive the promise by listening, but unless somewhere inside you embrace it, that's the faith part, then it doesn't really matter if you heard it or not.

The promise still stands, but you won't gain benefit. Okay, so we're going to see this word rest, rest, rest, rest, rest a dozen times or more even in this half of this chapter. So you use the word life, and that is synonymous probably with this idea of God's rest. But the writer of the Hebrews says rest because that's the picture that God had given. So what kind of rest is he talking about?

A ceasing from your labor, but a place of provision of rest from all of your hard labor to satisfy yourself. And resting in what God has accomplished for you and what God promises you. Well, we know from the rest of the New Testament that that rest is only found in Jesus, God's solution.

And so we'll probably circle back to that in a little bit. Yeah, my easiest parallel when you talk about this word rest for him is there's a Psalm, Psalm 95, that he pulls out from here. In the middle of that he quotes this thing about God being our shepherd. And he says we're his people and the people of his pasture. Well, that pasture, that place of rest and wonderful abundant life, that's rest, that pasture for the sheep.

So that's what we're talking about. And you get into that rest by believing God. So we need to come back to the passage because we mentioned Psalm 95 and he's quoted, oh, I know exactly where we left off. But he's quoted Psalm 95, he's going to be three or four times by the time we're finished with this. Oh, that's right, he does in verse three. So in verse three he says, for we who have believed enter that rest as he said, and here he quotes Psalm 95, as I swore in my wrath they shall not enter my rest, although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way, and God rested on the seventh day from all his works. And again in this passage he said, and they shall not enter my rest. Okay, so let's look at Psalm 95 for a second. Because in verse 10 of Psalm 95, which is the part that he didn't quote, it says, God says, for 40 years I loathed that generation and said, they are a people who go astray in their hearts and they have not known my ways.

Therefore, I swore in my wrath they shall not enter my rest. So they refused to know in a way that changed them, God's ways. Yeah, and his ways were meant for their benefit. That's a great contrast to that part about the people of his past who were the sheep of his hand. It says in Isaiah 53, all we like sheep have gone astray.

So what we've done is we've gone away from God's plan for rest and pasture for us. And in verse 10 you just quoted in Psalm 95, God says they've gone astray in their heart. Well again, you can hear the promise from God for life, but unless you embrace it you go astray in your heart. If you want to go independent and rebellious, and that's actually the status of mankind as they're born.

They are rebellious and independent from God, while God has for mankind a promise of abundant life. A plan laid down and put together at the beginning of the universe, that's there and it's waiting for us. And that promise is there, but you can miss it if you don't embrace it. Well, and the promise is predicated on believing the one whom he has sent, Jesus the Son.

And he'll be pivotal in a second here as the discussion goes on. So he's just wrapping up for us after three about, remember the Israelites in the desert, remember the promise stood, remember the promise was good and they wouldn't go in because they would not believe. And if you refuse to know me, refuse to believe me, then you don't get to enter the rest.

That is the entry requirement, believing God. And what a great picture that word is, rest, because it's actually putting down your labors, putting down your earning, putting down your striving to achieve something, you know, for your own benefit. And he says you'll enter a place where God himself has already done the work and he's rested. So it's all put in place, it's all done, it's ready to go, and you need to in the same way put down your works as well.

And I'll talk about that in a second. So probably one of the most famous places where Jesus talked about rest, and you all know this, in Matthew 11 26 to 28 when he said, come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest, right? And he actually was making reference to Jeremiah 6 there where it says exactly the same thing, come to the old ways and you'll find rest for your souls, but Jeremiah goes on to say, but they would not. They wouldn't do it. I'd rather do it my own way. That's the issue here. God is deliberate, unpersuadable, unbelief. So you're seeing here in almost a philosophical way, mankind's resistance to receiving from God. Right. And preferring instead to try and create it themselves. And that's... How's that working for you? And that's the quandary of all mankind is that very thing.

I know I'm not going to accept what he gives me, I'd rather do it myself. And you know, if you know anyone who lives in an agrarian background, like a farmer or something like that, when we talk about taking a day off from the farm, it's a slightly terrifying prospect. It is. Because in an agrarian sense, if you don't stay on it, the pests can get you, the drought can get you, you need to stay on it or else your crops will fail. It's something we don't really relate to really well in a modern society, but it's a big deal for God to ask them to take a day off and find rest. That was the issue with keeping the Sabbath. He said don't work your crops on the Sabbath. Don't work your crops.

Trust me, I'll provide for you. But what's implied there is if you take a day off, God will watch the farm for you. Because it really is the Sabbath idea, is the idea of trading your efforts and trusting to receive. So it's really a change into receiving from God in a very dependent way.

And that picture of rest every seven days reminded them that in the big picture, this is what God intends for us as life with him, is life provided from him that we receive. And it's a heart issue. It's a heart issue. So let's read on. Yeah. Let's read on.

Or we are. Okay, so we're at verse six. Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, God's rest, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, today saying through David, so long afterward in the words already quoted. Again, here comes Psalm 95.

Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. Right. So it's a heart issue. It's a heart issue, and it's a current event issue in our lives. Right.

We're not just talking about something that applied to the Israelites when they were trying to go into Israel. It is a current promise to us. We've had good news preached to us, but you don't want to fail because you will not embrace it.

So it's interesting, he says, now don't you harden your heart. Right. Don't you toughen up, stiffen up your heart, and let the word of God bounce off instead of penetrate. Right. Yep, yep. And if you think you're immune to that kind of unbelief, I mean, again, remember the Israelites are a great example. They saw the Red Sea parted, and they still wouldn't believe that God could carry through with his promise. Right.

Have you seen the Red Sea parted? Well, not exactly. But in so many other ways, so many figurative ways in life. Yeah.

But so you're prone to this as well. So don't harden your hearts. Don't say, I don't think God's got this. But what's interesting is that he uses an interesting present tense issue. If indeed going into the promised land was way back when, I mean, way before David. Right. And yet when David writes this psalm, he says, today. So this promise still remains for us to enter God's rest and has nothing to do about moving into Palestine.

Right. God is always speaking today. It's current events right now. If you are living, breathing, and got ears in your head, let him connect to your heart today, because God is speaking. So David warns them centuries after, when they're already in the promised land.

They already live there. He's saying the promise remains for more life from God. So don't harden your hearts like they did in the desert. And that extends to us right now. And so the writer of Hebrews is using this argument to say, look, a promise stands from God for your benefit for real life, real pasture for the sheep. Even here, even now.

It's not just about the geography. Right. Don't ignore this. It's still pending. It's right there.

It's offered to you. Don't harden your hearts. And that's actually from a New Testament vernacular. That's the good news. That is the good news.

That is the good news. But God had always promised His people that He would remove their hearts of stone and give them a heart of flesh, a heart of flesh that was filled with His Spirit and wanted to walk in His ways. You can find that in Jeremiah 31. You can find that in Ezekiel 36. You can find that in, where's Ezekiel 11?

I think it's also Ezekiel 11. Yeah. So you know that.

God had promised that. Oh, let's read on. Let's read on. Yeah. Let me take it from here.

Okay. Here's this whole contemporary thing. He says, look, if Joshua had given them rest, this is verse eight. If Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from His works as God did from His. So again, this brings it up into contemporary stuff.

There's an offer being made. Joshua did give them rest to a certain degree, but not really. I mean, rest in terms of the definition of moving into the promised land. Joshua brought them in the promised land. But God has spoken of another day later on and that's us entering the rest provided through Christ. So all of that exodus and entering the promised land under the guidance of Joshua was real time, real people, real place, real history.

Good example. But a picture. A picture of the bigger promise from God. Yeah. And it all kind of unpacks that in 1 Corinthians 10. So you can go back and read that chapter and put two and two together.

Yeah. And so this is the good news. God has made a promise of rest and life and provision and love for all mankind. But mankind, many of them just stiff arm him and say, don't want it.

I want to do it myself. But God's promise still remains. And so we want to be part of that. But one of the prerequisites in verse 10 is that we have to enter God's rest, his provision, his providing force.

Right. We have to rest from our works that is trying to create it for ourselves. So are you primarily in a position where you're receiving from God these great benefits or are you still trying to kind of do it on your own?

That's the fundamental conflict right here. And you know, do you remember in John 6 when Jesus had fed the crowd and they followed him across the lake and they said, what work do you do? Show us the works of God. What works must we do? And she said, this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent. So he has just taken that whole idea of the only work required of us is to believe in the word of God made flesh in the person of his son. Right. And his son will do the works that are required and we can receive them. Right.

So it's a whole different posture change. Well, let's move on. Verse 11, so let us therefore strive to enter that rest so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. I love this passage.

And let me just stop it right there because this is just a great thing. Striving is not working. Strive here really is the idea of going quick.

Like don't hesitate. Don't let anything stop it. Go now.

Go right now. Don't wait. Yeah, it's a time issue, this strive thing, to enter that rest so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience and that disobedience is the word I referred to earlier. That's the one about being unpersuadable or obstinate. I mean, don't be obstinate.

Don't, don't, no, don't do that. That same sort of obstinance. 12, for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creatures hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. So if you're wondering about yourself, are you struggling with that same kind of, and he says disobedience, the same kind of obstinate refusal to accept what God does?

Are you like that or not? And you say, well, I don't know. I can't tell my heart.

He says, I'll tell you how you can find out. And that's where he goes into 12 about the word of God. The word of God, which is living and active right now. It's not dead words on a page. That's right.

Hence the title for our program here, More Than Ink. Exactly. The word of God can expose what you really believe. Oh, three things really leap out at me here. He says it's like a two-edged sword. It penetrates and divides the very deepest part of you. The invisible inside. It can discern your thoughts and your intentions. The invisible inside.

Oh my gosh. What's going on inside of you and expose it and make known to you because God knows. But it's when we come into encountering the word of God and letting it open us up and expose our hearts to us.

Right. And this isn't something that God needs for him to understand our hearts. It's for our benefit. This is something for our, so we can understand. Because it says in 13, look, there's no creature that's hidden from his side.

I mean, he knows what's going on. But if you want to understand whether or not you're somehow harboring a disobedient and apathetic and unpersuadable heart, the word of God will make that clear. And that is a very murky inside.

We don't know ourselves as well as we think we do. You know, the soul and spirit. You know, he's using kind of an idea about butchering an animal here. Right. Take an animal apart with a knife. You see the hidden insides of it.

Well, the word of God is like that too. Right. It's not a butcher, but what it does is it separates and makes known what's unseen inside of you. It knows how you're connected, how things work, and how to take them apart to expose what's really there.

Right. And it can many times be sort of ruthless, but that's okay because I want God to be up front with me about where my heart's really at. I may have heard, I might have listened like they did in the desert. They listened to the promise. But have I really embraced the promise and said, I'm all in. I'm all in. I trust your promise. I'm following you.

Here we go. Because for those 12 spies, 10 of them heard the promise, but they didn't embrace it. But two of them heard the promise and they embraced it.

So I want to really know where's my heart. Is it with the two spies or is it with the 10 spies? Well, here's the warning. We must all give an account, right? Everything is open and exposed to the God with whom we have to do. This is the God who is.

And we must give an account to him for what he spoke to us. Right. Did you believe what I told you?

Do you believe me now? Yeah, exactly. So as we come to this section, the end of this section on rest, this idea won't go away. But this whole thing paints what the benefit is for why we need Christ.

I mean, we all want that rest. We want that life of receiving from God. This is what's at stake. This is what's at stake. How do we get there? We know that our own hearts are our worst enemy. The word of God reveals that to us.

And remember, Jesus himself is that word as well. So how do we get there? How do we make sure that we participate in this promise of God? And what's the role of Jesus in all of this?

Because he's critical. And so that's what he's going to segue to next, is the role of Jesus to get us here, to get us to God's rest. To get us into this place of soul rest. We're not talking about a life where you do nothing.

Exactly. But a life where you are deeply, profoundly at rest in your soul. The pasture that God has shepherded once.

Because God has accomplished your salvation. Yeah. So we're talking John 10, Jesus says, I'm the good shepherd. And he brings us to abundant life, not just life, but abundant life. That's the rest.

That's what we're going towards. What is his role is that? So he's going to segue now into what Jesus does for us. And he's going to spend most of the rest of the book talking about Jesus' role in terms of bringing us to this place of rest. This great promise from God. For abundant living, that promise always stands, but our own hearts can be the biggest problem.

How does Jesus figure into how this all works? So that's what we work to next as we go into the next section. Well, we are like out of time. That went so fast. That went so fast.

I have stuff to talk about. We didn't even touch on it. Yeah, I know.

I know. You all will just have to come and sit at the table with us again. That's all there is to it. The rest of God is such a marvelous picture of God's intention for relationship with mankind.

Not to be distracted by us striving and trying to earn our own happiness, but actually receiving that life from God directly, life in fellowship with him. So we're glad you're with us. I'm Jim. And I'm Dorothy. And you can read ahead and we'll find out more about how Jesus, as our high priest, figures into getting us into this place of rest.

So we hope you join us next week on More Than Ink. Too much preaching. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Too much preaching. Too much preaching.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-23 10:08:21 / 2023-09-23 10:20:40 / 12

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