May 5, 2011

Friday after the First Sunday after Easter


Lectionary

Morning – Ps. 40:1-16, Ex. 16:1-15, Heb. 4:1-13
Evening – Ps 39, Is. 42:10-17, 1 Pet. 2:18


Commentary

Hebrews 4:1-13 continues the theme begun in verse 7 of chapter 3, namely, love and obedience to Christ.  This is a pattern of the book of Hebrews.  Chapter 1 tells us Christ is the Son of God who is far greater than angels.  Chapter 2 tells us that since He is greater than angels, He is more worthy of our love and obedience than they.  Chapter 3: 1-6 tells us Christ is greater than Moses.  This is followed by an exhortation to honour and obey Him more than Moses.  Today’s reading is part of that exhortation.

Verses 1-6 use a word we don’t hear much anymore, “fear.”  “Let us therefore fear.”  And what does it tell us to fear? Coming short of entering into His rest.  The Bible is using the experience of the Hebrew people who were freed from Egyptian slavery, yet did not make it into the Promised Land.  We remember that they came to its borders, but failed to enter out of fear of the Canaanites.  According to Hebrews, their fear was the sin of unbelief.  They simply did not trust God enough to put their lives in His hand.  Therefore, they died in the wilderness rather than obey God.  The point being made is that many people will appear to start the journey of faith in Christ, but will not make it to Heaven because they will not really trust God with their lives and their souls.  They will go astray.  They will love the things of the world more than they love God.  They will pursue the things of the world, to the exclusion of God, because they will not trust God to provide for them in this life.  And if they cannot trust God with their lives, they cannot trust Him with their souls.  Therefore, they will be lost.  They will not make it to Heaven.  These people may be very religious.  They may keep the outward forms of the faith carefully.  They may pray and worship and read the Bible, and give money, but their hearts belong to them, not God.  You can see it in them that they are afraid to trust God.  They are afraid to give up their pleasures and amusements to serve Him.  They find their life’s meaning in toys and recreations rather than God, and when they face challenges in life, they turn to their amusements rather than God, to see them through.  At one time they “tried Jesus.”  At one time they started the journey of faith in Him.  But at some point they stopped trusting Him.  They couldn’t face the giants, so they entered not into the Promised Land, and if they do not return to God they will not enter Heaven.

Thus, verse 7 exhorts us to follow Christ “today.”  It is not to be put off.  The longer we wallow in sin the harder it becomes to get up and walk in faith.  The longer we put our trust in money, or things, or amusements, the harder it gets to put our trust in God.  The more we love these things, the more we fear losing them, and the less we trust God to be worth more to us than they are.  What if God takes them away from us?  What if I have to give up my Saturday night out or my Sunday morning golf  to go to Church?  What means more to me, these things, or God?  Today is the day to choose.  In fact you will choose today.  You are choosing now.  Today, harden not your hearts as the Hebrews did in the wilderness.  Do not turn away from God.  Today trust Him with all your heart, and enter into His rest.

Verse 12 is often quoted but little understood.  It means that the word of God sees into your soul and makes it plain whether you are following God or not.  It cuts through your defenses and the make-believe world you create to insulate yourself from God.  They are coverings of fig leaves, but to God your soul is naked, for He discerns your thoughts.  He knows whether you are following Him or turning back away from Him.

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