Yeshua’s Rest Is Superior To That of Moshe and Y’Hoshua ~ Part 3b

Messianic Jews 4:11-13
Letter to the Messianic Jews

In my last post, I began to explore a warning against missing Yeshua’s rest in Messianic Jews 4:1-10. In this post, I conclude this topic of rest by examing Messianic Jews 4:11-13.

A Warning Against Missing Yeshua’s Rest ~ Part 2

11 Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest; so that no one will fall short because of the same kind of disobedience. 12 See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart. 13 Before God, nothing created is hidden, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.” ~ Hebrews 4:11-13 (CJB)

The point of this passage is that the Word of God came to humanity and cannot be disregarded. The Jews always had an exceptional idea about words. Once a word was spoken, it had an independent existence. It was not only a sound with a specific meaning; it was a power which went forth and did things. Isaiah heard God say that the word which went out of his mouth would never be ineffective; it would always do that which He designed it to do.

We can understand something of this if we think of the tremendous effect of words in history. A leader coins a phrase, and it becomes a trumpet-call which kindles some to crusades or crimes. A leader sends forth a manifesto, and it produces action which can make or destroy nations. Over and over again in history, the spoken word of a leader or thinker has accomplished things. If a leader of people can get things done, how much more can the Word of God?

The writer to the Hebrews describes the Word of God in a series of significant phrases. The Word of God is instinct with life. The significant fact about the Word of God is that it is a living issue for all humanity at all times. Other things may pass quietly into oblivion; other things may acquire an academic interest, but the Word of God is something that we all must accept or reject.

The same kind of disobedience is implied in his discussion of Shabbat (Messianic Jews 4:3-11) to his earlier review of the Israelites’ rebellion in the desert (Messianic Jews 3:2-4:3). He also ties the concept of obedience to trusting and being faithful.

See, the Word of God is alive! The Bible does not merely speak in the dead tones of the past but applies living truth to the people of today (Messianic Jews 3:7). When we read the Word of God with an open heart, mind, and spirit, we let God penetrate deeply into our lives. The inner reflections and attitudes of the heart quickly come under a judgment against the standards of Scripture. There is no hope for us apart from entering God’s rest, trusting in the cohen hagadol (Yeshua) whom God has provided to intercede for us (see Messianic Jews 7:25), and holding firmly to what we acknowledge as true.

 

But the Word of God is also Yeshua HaMessiah (Yochanan 1:1, 14). When He returns to conquer the wicked at the End of Days, “he is called the Word of God,… and out of his mouth comes a sharp sword”; while the eyes of him to whom we must render an account are described as “like a fiery flame” (Revelation 19:11-15). Actually, our account is rendered to God, but God has committed all judgment to Yeshua (Yochanan 5:22, Acts 17:31, Romans 2:16).

The Word of God is sufficient. It is one of the facts of history that wherever emissaries have taken God’s Word seriously things have begun to happen. When the English Bible was laid bare, and the Word of God came to the everyday people, the tremendous event of the Reformation inevitably followed. When people take God seriously they immediately realize that His Word is not only something to be studied, not just something to be read, not just something to be written about; it is something to be done.

The Word of God is also penetrating. The writer piles up phrases to show how penetrating it is. It penetrates to the division of soul and spirit. It is by our mind that we think and reason and look beyond the earth to God. It is as if the writer to the Hebrews were saying that the Word of God tests our earthly life and His spiritual existence. He says that the Word of God scrutinizes our desires and intentions. It is as if he said: “Your emotional and intellectual life must be submitted to the scrutiny of God.”

Finally, the writer of the Messianic Jews sums things up. He says that everything is naked to God and compelled to meet His eyes. What he is saying is that as far as we are concerned, we may be able to wear our outward trappings and disguises, but in the presence of God these things are stripped away, and we have to meet Him as we are.

We will now begin a journey from Messianic Jews 4:14 thru 7:28 discovering how Yeshua is superior to the Aaronic Priesthood. In my next post, we’ll examine Messianic Jews 4:14-16 to learn that Yeshua Is the Way to approach God.

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Yeshua’s Rest Is Superior To That of Moshe and Y’Hoshua ~ Part 3a

Messianic Jews 4:1-10
Letter to the Messianic Jews

In my last post, I continued to explore that concept of the necessity of persevering faith to enter Yeshua’s rest contained in Messianic Jews 3:12-19.  In this post, I start the conclusion of this topic of rest with a warning against missing Yeshua’s rest in Messianic Jews 4:1-10. [I originally wanted to go through verse 13, but there was just too much material to cover.]

A Warning Against Missing Yeshua’s Rest ~ Part 1

1 Therefore, let us be terrified of the possibility that, even though the promise of entering His rest remains, any one of you might be judged to have fallen short of it; 2 for Good News has also been proclaimed to us, just as it was to them. But the message they heard didn’t do them any good, because those who heard it did not combine it with trust.[1] 3 For it is we who have trusted who enter the rest. It is just as He said, “And in my anger, I swore that they would not enter my rest.” He swore this even though his works have been in existence since the founding of the universe. 4 For there is a place where it is said, concerning the seventh day, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And once more, our present text says, “They will not enter My rest.” 6 Therefore, since it still remains for some to enter it, and those who received the Good News earlier did not enter, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David, so long afterwards, in the text already given, “Today, if you hear God’s voice, don’t harden your hearts.” 8 For if Y’hoshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later of another “day.” 9 So there remains a Shabbat-keeping for God’s people. 10 For the one who has entered God’s rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from his. ~ Hebrews 4:1-10 (CJB)

In a problematic passage like this, it is better to try to grasp the broad lines of the thought before we look at any of the details. According to Barclay, the writer is using the word rest in three different senses.

  1. He is using it as we would use the peace of God. It is the greatest thing in the world to enter into the peace of God.
  2. He is using it, as he used it in Messianic Jews 3:12, to mean The Promised Land to the children of Israel who had wandered so long in the desert the Promised Land was indeed the rest of God.
  3. He is using it about the rest of God after the sixth day of creation when all God’s work was completed.

This way of using a word in two or three different ways was typical of intellectual, academic thought in the days when the writer of the Messianic Jews wrote his letter.

The Good News the Israelites heard was the promise of entering His rest in the Promised Land; the Good News which has been proclaimed to us is, of course, that we enter the rest that comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven. The rest we are to enter is nothing less than the rest which God has been enjoying since the founding of the universe, even though he continues working (see Yochanan 5:17).

The seventh day recalled Psalm 95 quoted previously in Messianic Jews 3:8-11 and explained in the subsequent verses, was sung on Shabbat in the Temple and remains part of the Shabbat liturgy in the synagogue. Therefore, it is natural for the author to make his point about rest by introducing a quotation from another Shabbatrelated passage, B’resheet 2:1-3.

Although the author may be thinking of the rest that comes to Believers after they die (Revelation 14:13), it seems more likely that he has in mind Jewish traditions that equate a day with 1000 years and is, therefore, speaking of the rest that comes in the Messianic Age or Millennium. For example, in Sanhedrin 97a Rav Kattina teaches that a millennium of Shabbat will follow six millennia of ordinary history; the passage draws on Psalm 90:4 and is quoted in 2 Kefa 3:3-9, and see Revelation 20:2-7. [2]

The close reasoning in verses 6-8 and the exact use of texts is typically rabbinic; compare Yeshua’s logic at Matthew 22:31-32. Verse 7 repeats the today theme of Messianic Jews 3:7, 13, 15.

By leading God’s people into the Promised Land, Y’hoshua bin-Nun (Joshua the son of Nun) prefigured the Messiah whose name he shares; and just as God’s people Israel rested in Eretz-Israel, so God’s Messianic Community (Kehilah) rests in Yeshua.

A Shabbat-keeping is used only here in the Brit Hadashah. In the Septuagint, the related Greek word sabbatizein was coined to translate the Hebrew verb shabat when it means “to observe Shabbat.” The usual translation, There remains a Sabbath rest,” minimizes the observance aspect and makes the role of God’s people entirely passive.

Christians often assume that the Brit Hadashah does not require God’s people to observe Shabbat and go on to claim that Sunday has replaced Saturday as the Church’s day of worship (see 1 Corinthians 16:2). But this passage, and in particular verse 9, shows that Shabbat-observance is expected of Believers. From Colossians 2:16-17, which says that Shabbat was a shadow of the things that were to come, but the substance comes from the Messiah, we learn that the essence of Shabbat-observance for Believers is not following the detailed rules which halakhah sets forth concerning what may or may not be done on the seventh day of the week. Instead, as verse 10 explains, the Shabbat-keeping expected of God’s people consists in resting from one’s own works, as God did from his; it consists in trusting and being faithful to God.

In my next post, we’ll explore Messianic Jews 4:11-13 to conclude our exploration of this topic.

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[1] As a reminder, Stern translates “faith” as “trust.”

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.