[HEBREWS chapters 3 and 4]


In the beginning of chapter three of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul addresses Christians as "Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling."  Now the Gospel recognizes no holy brethren, but those who are sanctified by the belief of the truth: 5: 10; 13: 24.  Nor are any accounted to be receivers of God’s holy call, but such as believe: Rom. 1: 6; 8: 28; 1 Cor. 1: 2-24, 26; Eph. 1: 18.  As men of faith the Hebrew Christians are called to consider Jesus as "the apostle and high priest."  Jesus then was confessed by these as their atoning high priest,* and that in the face of enemies and blasphemers, who caused them trouble and loss.  Hence he names their faith a "confession."


[* As this point is being doubted or denied by many, I enter into it more fully in this note.  The [Book of] Hebrews is addressed to [regenerate] believers only; as is apparent from both negative and positive proofs.  (1) It is proved negatively, because there is not in the Epistle the call to entire repentance and faith, which characterize apostolic addresses to unbelievers: Acts 2: 38-40; 3: 19; 13: 38, 39; Matt. 3: 2; 4: 17.  (2) It is proved positively, because they are described as believers. "For we believers are entering into the rest:" 4: 3. "We are ... of them that believe to the saving of the soul:" 10: 39.  "We might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us;" 6: 18.  Here Paul* associates them with himself.  They had forgiveness of sins. "When He had by himself purged our sins:"1:3.  Contrast this with the position of Israel. "Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out:" Acts 3: 19. "Repent, and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins:" 2: 38.  These Hebrews had been baptized, and were not for ever to be halting at the first principles of the Christian faith: 6: 1, 2; 10: 22.  They had also received the supernatural gifts by laying on of hands.  They professed Christ in the face of danger to property and life: 3: 1; 4: 14; 10: 23; 13: 15.  They expected His return, and once boldly proclaimed it: 3: 6, 14; 5: 12; 10: 32-34.  They drew near to God, through the blood of Christ; they had faith, and were exhorted to its boldness and fulness: 10: 19, 29; 12: 24; 7: 19; 10: 23.  They had good works which sprang from love, and were accepted by God: 6: 10;13: 21, 24.  They had God’s hope: 3: 6; 6: 11, 18.  Hence the Holy Ghost does not teach them to turn away from their present evil standing, and to seek the one of faith.  Rather He bids them not to let slip, but hold fast what they had: 2: 1; 3: 6, 14; 4: 14; 6: 18; 10: 23.


[* The writer of the epistle is anonymous.]


[They are exhorted to duties proper to believers only: to be diligent, watchful, bearers of good fruit; patient to the end, (4: 14; 6: 9-20,) and to exhort one another: 3: 13; 10: 25; 13: 22.  They are bid run the race they had begun, imitating Christ, and laying aside all weights: 12: 1.  The writer covets their prayers for himself: 13: 18.  For some more instances in which the inspired writer of the Epistle associates those to whom he was writing as standing on the same ground of faith with himself, see 2: 3; 6: 20; 7: 14; 11: 40; 13: 20.  The typical position he gives them is not that of Israel in Egypt, but of Israel led out from Egypt by faith in the Lamb’s blood, who had passed the Red Sea of baptism, and were now in the wilderness near the edge of the land, owning Jesus as their Leader: 3, 4, 11. They were God’s people, Christ’s house.]


They had accepted "the heavenly calling," and hereby were placed in contrast to Israel.  For Israel was called by God with an earthly calling.  When He sent Moses as His apostle to the twelve tribes in Egypt, He descended to earth, and spoke to Moses out of the bush. He called Israel from out of one part of earth to dwell in another and a better portion of it; encircled with all earthly blessings.  At Mount Sinai also He spoke to them on earth, shaking the earth with His voice: 12: 25.


But now God is calling His people, by His Son who has ascended, and speaks from heaven: 4: 14; 12: 25.  He calls them to be strangers and pilgrims here; burying them to earth in baptism, but giving them also therein (in figure) a new hope in [the first] resurrection.  Their country, city, name, and substance are heavenly: 11: 16; 10: 34; 22: 23.  They are Abraham’s heavenly seed like the stars; and the gifts of power which signalized the profession of old were heavenly: 6: 4God invites us to His [millennial] Kingdom and glory; and Paul calls the first resurrection "the hope of our calling:" 1Thess. 2: 12; Rev. 20: 4, 6; Phil. 3: 14; Eph. 1: 18.


The apostle notices, in the second verse of the chapter before us, that ‘Jesus, the apostle of our calling,’ answers to Moses, and "is"* faithful to him that appointed him, as Moses also was in all his house."  The house of God in Moses’ day was Israel: and Moses was faithful in communicating to it all the messages of God.  So is Christ, who from on high calls us [His redeemed people] to seek the [millennial] kingdom and glory of God.


[* Our translators in rendering it "was" have darkened the sense.  Jesus is our high priest in resurrection: 8: 4.  He became our apostle in resurrection also.  Not till then did He call us from heaven.]


But Jesus is far superior to Moses in His Person: as the Creator of all things.  Moses was but a servant in God’s house: Christ stands as a Son over it.


"Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."


The apostle is here comparing the conduct of Israel led by Moses, with the conduct of the Church by Jesus as our leader.  Let us just run over the salient points of that history, as it bears upon the present subject.  Moses, after being addressed by Jehovah, is sent to bear to Israel a hope.  God would deliver them out of Egypt and its oppressions, and lead them into a good land and a large flowing with milk and honey.  Armed with miracles as his credentials, he spreads the hope God had given him before the people.  The people believe, bow the head and worship: Ex. 3:4.  God at once begins to deliver them; and by His plagues He judges the oppressing nation.  He commands the blood of the paschal lamb to be sprinkled on their doors as their safety.  They obey, and that night they are led out of Egypt full-handed and strong.  Pharaoh and his cavalry pursuing them, are swallowed up in the Red SeaIsrael’s faith now arrives at its highest point.  The riches of Egypt are theirs in assured possession; their foes are destroyed.  Now their hope burns brightly; it overflows in song to God; it anticipates the despair of the enemies that still hold the land to which they are travelling: Ex. 14, 15.  "The peoples shall hear and be afraid; sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.  The dukes of Edom shall be amazed."  "Thou shalt bring them (thy people) in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance."  Much later, Moses retains the bold profession of the hope.  To his father-in-law he says: "We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel:" Num. 10: 29.


What is our hope, "the hope of our calling"?  It is but one; though called, in the wisdom of God, by not a few names: Eph. 4: 4.  It is sometimes described as ‘the rest’ of God, sometimes as ‘the kingdom of God,’ sometimes as ‘the future age,’ ‘the first resurrection,’ ‘the resurrection of the just,’ ‘the return of Christ,’ ‘the glory of God,’ ‘the prize of our high calling from above:" Eph. 1: 9, 10, 18; Heb. 2: 5; 1: 6, 8, 13; 10: 25, 37; 2: 6, 8; Psa. 8; Psa. 110; Rom. 5: 2; 1 John 3: 1-3; 1 Pet. 1: 13; Luke 20: 35, 36; 14: 14.


To THIS rest and glory Jesus, our Lord risen from the dead, calls us.  "He that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father:" Rev. 2: 26, 27.  Here is the saint’s association with Jesus in His Millennial Kingdom, under condition, as in Hebrews. "To Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with my Father on His throne:" Rev. 3: 21.


At first the confidence of this blessed hope, and its bold assertion before men was strong in the Christians among the Hebrews.  They sold houses and lands, expecting the Lord’s speedy advent.  But time sped on, and the Lord came not; persecutions long and heavy befell them; and hope flagged and waned.  The confidence of it before God, the confession of it before men, diminished.  Some were almost ready to surrender it altogether.  In this they were like Israel.  When their hope was first pronounced by Moses, they gladly accepted it; but when at length they drew near the land, their confidence in God’s power to give it them died out.  They would not go up to possess it; they encouraged one another in unbelief, instead of in faith.  Hear their words after their hope is dead. "Would to God we had died in the land of Egypt!  Or would God we had died in this wilderness!  And wherefore hath the Lord brought us into this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and little ones should be a pray?" Num. 14: 2, 3.  At another time, when the hope of Moses’ descent from the Mount was gone, after forty days of tarrying, we see the evil results of their lost hope in their idolatry.  "Up, make us gods which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him:" Ex. 32: 1.


Now this is our warning.  The disciples of the Church of God are to be associated with Christ in MILLENNIAL glory, "IF" they hold fast to the end their confidence before God, and profession before men, of this hope.  Caleb alone was associate with Joshua in the glory of the victory and heritage, because he alone maintained the hope firmly through the wilderness unto the entry into the land.  "The end" to us is the coming of Christ, when He shall render to each according to his works and faithfulness.


The apostle [Writer] proceeds to quote from the 95 th Psalm, as giving to believers in our day Christ’s call to partake in His kingdom and glory.


"Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith,)To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.  Wherefore was I grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart: and they have not known my ways.  So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest.’  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;" verse 7-12.


The opening words of the quotation have much force. "The Holy Ghost saith" - We should have expected the past tense. - ‘The Holy Spirit by David said.’  But no!  This is the very point the apostle [Writer] designs to let us know, that the passage he is citing applies fully to Christians of this dispensation [of ‘to-day]It is the Holy Ghost addressing the men of "To-day," - calling them to be obedient while the day lasts.


The [Holy] Spirit is speaking to God’s people who are under the conduct of Jesus - His house  For there are two great divisions of God’s people; those of the Old Testament, and those of the New.   Now, as in their blessings, their responsibilities, their tendencies, and reward, they resemble one another, they can both be addressed in similar language by the Most High.  Is not the [Holy] Spirit speaking to God’s people?   What says the previous part of this verse of the 95th Psalm? "For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."


Who is it that teaches them?  The Holy Ghost!  An idea seems to have entered many minds, that the descent of the Holy Spirit has set Christians free from the teaching of Jesus; as if that were merely elementary!  Now it is true that the Holy Spirit was to teach many things to the disciples, which, before our Lord’s departure from the earth they could not bear.  The discovery of the [Gentiles in the] Church as the body of Christ was new.  But the teaching of the [Holy] Spirit in reference to the coming kingdom has not altered, so far as I can perceive, the previous instructions of Jesus to his heavenly people.  The witness of the Spirit here runs precisely along the same line as our Lord’s in the Gospels. Matt. 6: 33; Luke 12: 31, 46-48.




To whose voice are we to listen?


The context clearly shows.  This passage is adduced, to teach us our duty in reference to Jesus, as the Great Leader of the people of God, who is conducting them onward to His REST.  As the voice of Moses was to be listened to by those who wished to enter the earthly rest; so is the voice of Jesus, by those who own Him as the Leader of the heavenly calling.  His words point out the way.  Are the words of this Psalm in force in reference to us?  "Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away."  During what day is He to be listened to?  Some would make His words applicable to a ‘Jewish remnant’ of a future day.  The [Holy] Spirit says, they belong to the heavenly people of do-day.


One of the spiritual dangers of our time is the setting aside of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels, as if unsuited to believers of ‘the Church.’  This is a fatal idea, which will lead on to increasing evil, even to the denying the Lordship of Jesus, and His right to command His people.  On this point, then, I propose, - as the danger is imminent, - to state pretty fully the testimony of Scripture.


What says the Gospel of Matthew?  That, as soon as Jesus submitted to baptism, in token of His accepting the call to the kingdom which was given by John Baptist, the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended on Him as a dove, and the voice of the Father proclaimed Him His well-beloved Son, in whim He was well pleased.  Here the whole Trinity is seen together in its harmony of testimony.  Speedily afterward the Saviour delivers the Sermon on the Mount, and discovers at some length who of His disciples shall partake of the millennial kingdom.  He sets aside the standard of Moses, introducing a far higher one: Matt. 5: 20-48.


He proclaims Himself the Judge of those who shall enter the kingdom in the day to come.  He assures us, that those who neglect or disobey these instructions of his are disobeying also "the will of his Father who is in heaven:" 7: 24, 21.


But some will reply, - ‘We are not to seek the kingdom: we are in the kingdom already.  What says Col. 1: 12, 13?


Are you now, then, I ask, sitting down with Abraham Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God?  If you are not, then the kingdom which you are called to seek is not yet come.  You are [presently] in the kingdom in mystery; but Jesus teaches us far more about the kingdom in glory.  And this last, which awaits His return, He urges you to seek: Matt. 6: 33; Luke 12: 31; Matt. 13: 11, 41-43.  Immediately after the Saviour has mentioned the future building of His "Church," He calls upon those who would belong to it, to follow Him in suffering even unto death; promising to such as should surrender even life for His sake, glory in His Millennial Kingdom.  What He means by the kingdom He speedily proves, by giving a visible specimen of it in the Transfiguration: Matt 16: 13; 17: 9.  There anew the Father asserts His Son’s authority. "This is my beloved Son: HEAR HIM."  To whom is this call?  To those who were as Apostles to teach the Church of Christ: one of whom recalls this scene to the notice of believers of the Church, as intended for them: 2 Peter 1.


After Jesus’ resurrection, when He tells of the message to be borne to all the Gentiles, and of the holy name of Father, Son, and Spirit, into which the receivers of the truth were to be immersed, He describes the doctrines to be inculcated upon His disciples thus - "Teaching them to observe whatsoever I command you:" 28: 19, 20. "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Luke 6: 46.  Has the [Holy] Spirit’s descent done away with Jesus’ Lordship?


Does the Gospel of John set the matter on any different foundation?


By no means.  Jesus, both to the multitudes and to the disciples affirms, that all His words were taught by the Father, as well as the works which were done by Him: 12: 49; 14: 10.  Assembled with the apostles, after Judas had gone out, He as their recognized "Lord and Teacher," instructs them as to their future course, and hopes: 13: 13, 14.  He then utters His new command, that they should love one another, 13: 34; 15: 12.  If they loved Him, they were to give the proof of it by obeying His commands: 14: 15, 21-24. "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you:" 15: 14.  Is not this decisive?  Has the descent of the Holy Ghost loosed the bonds of friendship with Jesus?  It is the characteristic of His sheep that they listen to His voice, and own no other: 10: 3, 4, 27.  Was this spoken to Jewish sheep alone?  The Holy Ghost’s testimony meets this also.  Jesus says, of the other sheep whom the Saviour would bring, that "they shall hear His voice:" 16.  "Every one that is of the truth hears (Christ’s) voice:" 18: 37.  The promised Spirit of truth sent from the Father through Christ’s word, was at His coming to bring "all things to (their) remembrance, whatsoever I have said:" 14: 26; 17: 8.


At Pentecost the Spirit of the Father and of the Son descends in power; and the apostles speak as inspired by Him.  What then says Peter, after the Church has begun?  That Jesus was the prophet like Moses, foretold in the book of God.  "Him shall ye hear IN ALL THINGS, whatsoever he shall say unto you:" Acts 3: 22.*  Baptism was the token of burial to Moses, that they might be free to listen, in new life, to Jesus.


[* The words "unto the fathers," after "Moses said," are probably not genuine.]


What says Peter to Gentiles  That Jesus is the appointed judge of the living and the dead.  He commands them too, in the name of Jesus, to be baptized: Acts 10Thus He sanctions the application to them of all Jesus’ other commands.


What says Paul?  He is arrested by the risen Jesus speaking from on high; from Him he receives command and commission.  By Him Ananias is sent to the troubled penitent, and baptism is commanded : Acts 9.  Paul preaching afterwards at Ephesus to disciples instructed by John Baptist, gives them to understand, that John but paved the way for Jesus.  In His name then the twelve at Ephesus were baptized anew, and the [Holy] Spirit was given: Acts 19.  But thus Paul countersigns all the Lord’s words.  Baptism, by Christ’s ordinance, is but the porch leading to the observance of all His commands, as we have seen: Matt. 28: 19, 20.  When taking leave of the Elders of the Church in Ephesus, the apostle says - "Ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said - it is more blessed to give than to receive:" 20: 35.  These are Paul’s last words.  The Spirit which was on Paul then gives the same directions as the Spirit speaking through the original twelve - ‘Listen to the voice of Jesus.’


Finally, the Saviour presents to John, as His most precious gift, the Apocalypse.  He addresses seven of His churches.  He speaks to them all as their Lord and Master, (3: 8, 10,) whose praise it is to observe His teaching.  Moreover the burden of each of His addresses is directed by the Spirit to every one who has an ear: 2: 7, etc.* 


[* I give some more texts for those who would study the matter further. Rom. 6: 16; 2 Cor. 13: 3; Col. 3: 16; Eph. 4: 20, 21; 5: 1, 23; Gal. 6: 2; 1 Tim. 6: 3; 2 Peter 3: 2; 2: 19-21; 1 John 2: 3-8, 14; 3: 22-24; 4: 21; 5: 2, 3; 2 John 5: 6; Heb. 1: 2, 4; 3: 7, 15, 16; 4: 2, 7; 5: 9; 12: 22-24.]


The passage above quoted from the 95th Psalm recites the grounds on which the Lord at length sware against His ransomed ones, that they should not enter the land.  They provoked Him ten times; till at length, His sentence, never to be recalled, went forth.  But this applies, - as the Holy Spirit says, - in its full force to US.


Suppose a doctor to undertake a cure of a difficult and dangerous case of disease.  He sees the sick man, carefully examines him, lays down strict rules for diet, confines him to his chamber, save at a stated hour in the middle of the day; sends him medicine, and as he is poor, continually supplies him from his own table with necessaries.  But the patient is refractory: dislikes the bitter draughts, finds the restraint irksome, takes the things he is forbidden, eats unripe fruit, sits up late at night, and drinks occasionally of spirits and water, which are specially forbidden.  In place of being thankful, he complains, as if his doctor were only doing what he does on purpose to annoy him.  When his kind physician at length bids him go out for a long walk, because of his great improvement, he flatly refuses.  ‘He should catch his death of cold; the doctor only ordered it with a view to kill him!’  Would you wonder if the kind physician said at length - ‘I wash my hands of the case: he will die, and that soon!’


Like this was the case of Hebrew Christians; and of many [regenerate] believers now.  God was calling them out from old and earthly blessings, lest they should obtain their portion here and now.  He was leading them through trials here to a desire for the kingdom to come, and a fitness for it.  He called them to follow in the footsteps of His Son; to part for His sake with their good names, their lands and houses, their temple and festivals, and their earthly Jerusalem, that He might fit them for the temple and city on high.  They were to suffer with Christ, that they might also reign with Him.


The Lord grant us not to resemble Israel; but to sympathize with our Heavenly Father’s designs, and to give thanks in all things, because all is working for our good and for His glory!


12. "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God."


From the words "brethren," and "take heed lest there be in any of you" unbelief, it is clear, that Christians are intended.  Could there be any doubt, whether there was unbelief universally in Israel as a nation?  "Not this man; but Barabbas!"  "His blood be on us, and on our children!"  To inquire whether there were unbelief among professed unbelievers, were foolish!  The warning owes all its force to its being addressed to CHRISTIANS, not nominal, but real.  The inspired writer has classed himself with them.  "Whose house are we."  "Let us fear lest any of you."  Lest any should put aside the call of the Holy Ghost, the apostle grapples them at once.  Say you - ‘It is not for us’?   ‘Yea - take heed lest any of YOU!’


But how is it possible that [regenerate] believers should be in danger of "an evil heart of unbelief"?


This is the outlet of escape, by which [multitudes of real] Christians have hitherto avoided the forceful thrusts of the word of God.  But the shield is easily pierced.  The example which the apostle [Writer] has cited, supplies the answer.


The answer then is – ‘With general faith there may be, there oft is, SPECIAL unbelief.’  It will not be doubted, that the eleven apostles were men of faith: men of faith to the saving of the soul.  And yet they are rebuked for unbelief and hardness of heart by Jesus! "They, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen [after His resurrection] by her [Mary Magdalene] believed not.  "After he had appeared in another form unto two of them as they walked and went into the country.  And they went and told it unto the residue; neither believed they them Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen:" Mark 16: 11-14.  THAT is God’s preface to the message of the Gospel, sent to the world by the eleven!  (See verses 15-18.)


The nation of Israel is another example of the same thing.  When Moses first speaks to them of God’s appearing to him, and of His promise of the land, they believe: Ex. 4.  In faith they put the blood upon their doors, and leave Egypt: in faith they cross the Red Sea: Heb. 11: 28, 29. "Then believed they his words: they sang his praise:" Psalm 106: 12.


But when they had reached the land at Kadesh-Barnea, and were bidden by God to go in, they refused through unbelief.  So Moses declares. Their faith failed on this point.  "Then I said unto you - ‘Dread not, nor be afraid of them.’ (the Canaanites and giants.) Yet, in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God:" Deut. 1: 29, 32.


In John the Baptist we see a real faith shaken, but restored by the Saviour’s exhortation: Matt. 11: 1-15.


This special unbelief has eaten into the hearts of multitudes of true Christians.  They believe for [eternal] salvation.  But they will not believe the testimony concerning Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, and the special preparation which [regenerate] believers need, in order to attain it.  Now as faith in general makes us cling to God, so unbelief whether in part or in whole, dissevers our heart from him.


Who is "the living God" from whom we are warned not to swerve in heart?  Christ!  It was to prepare us for this, that the apostle had declared of Jesus, that as the Builder of all all things He was superior to Moses, being indeed Almighty God: verse 4.  Jesus proclaimed himself to be "Resurrection and Life:" John 11.  "Ye killed," says Peter, "the Prince of Life."  The Son of God is He to whose voice we are to listen.  Turning away from His words is turning from the Lord of life: 1: 1He it is, by whom the recompense, whether to obedience or disobedience, is to be rendered.  "For we know who said - ‘Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.’  And again, ‘The Lord shall judge His people.’  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God:" 10: 30, 31.  Now the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son: John 5.


The same conclusion follows from the general range of the chapter.  Jesus is our Apostle and Leader, as Moses was apostle and leader of God’s ancient people.  "Go and gather the elders of Israel."  "And they shall hearken to thy voice:" Ex. 3: 16, 18.  As soon as their heart departed from their appointed leader, they fell into sin.  What happened at the end of the forty days?  As soon as they said - "As for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him:" (Ex. 32: 1.) they fell into the idolatry of the calf!


But there was another occasion, still more critical, on which the eye of the inspired writer is here fixed.  At Kadesh the people believe the unfaithful spies’ report, that the land was too difficult to be won.  They weep in unbelief.  They murmur against Moses and Aaron. ‘Why had they brought them out?’  They blaspheme Jehovah himself.  All His previous mercies were only a trick, to lead them into battle with the Canaanites, in order to destroy them!  "Were it not better for us to return into Egypt?  And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and return into Egypt:" Num. 14: 1-4.  Here is the evil heart of unbelief, manifested in [the redeemed people of God in] its ways and words.  They have given up confidence "in this thing" both as regards Jehovah and His apostle.


Now Jesus is not only a man, but the living God; He answers both to Moses and Jehovah.  To disbelieve His voice is to depart in heart from the living God.


13. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘To-day;’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."


Hence arises another proof, that [regenerate] believers are addressed in this epistle.   Exhortation, as far as owned of God, can only spring from faith: 2 Cor. 4: 13.  How can one persuade me to seek that in which he himself has no faith?  Exhortation is a something that demands spiritual life in the exhorter, and supposes the person to be a believer: Rom. 12: 8; 1Thess. 4: 18; 5: 11; Tit. 2: 15; Jude 3.  Here each is to exhort the other.  All then were believers.


Exhortation in God’s appointed remedy against the danger spoken of in the preceding verse.  To exhortation belong two parts: the cheering onward by a view of the glory exhibited, an appeal to keep up hope, a setting forth of the aide afforded to attain it, and of its nearness: and the warning, by a presentation of the sad results of the loss of the prize proposed.


This is manifested to us in the example to which the apostle is referring.* As soon as the ten spies have given a statement of the difficulties to be overcome in entering the land, Caleb stills the people before Moses, and says, "Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it:" 13: 30.  Again, when the people in their unbelief are murmuring against Moses and against God, "Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes.  And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, ‘The land which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good landIf the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us, a land which floweth with milk and honey.  Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land: for they are bread for us: their defences is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not:’" 14: 6-9.


[* We see the ruinous results of the exhortation given by unbelief to turn from faith’s hope, in Num. 14: 3, 4.


Israel herein is an example of the hardening of the heart against excellent exhortation.  "All the congregation bade stone them with stones."  This is the last drop of sin; their cup flows over.  God appears and sentences the offenders to exclusion by oath.


Now the same danger threatens US.  There is great peril of hardening the heart, by refusing any word of God.  The Lord appeals to us believers by invitations to His [Millennial] Kingdom and glory, and by descriptions of its blessedness.  But we may shut up our heart by despising that period of reward, just as Israel despised the pleasant land, and gave no credence to His word.  Or we may harden our heart against the threatenings of God against offending believers.  We ought to fear the words of God when He threatens us, His sons: Luke 12: 4, 5.  We ought to covet the glories which He pronounces so excellent, and so suitable for us.  If we receive these His testimonies, our souls will be kept humble and obedient.  But if we refuse them , our souls will harden.  The results of that inward movement will be provoking words and ways, and finally exclusion from that kingdom and glory to which we are invited, and which were held out as the PRIZE of our calling.  The refusal of exhortation is - as we see in this special instance - a fatal sign.


Before the threatenings of God the soul of the believer ought to soften.  But you may hear upon occasion even a believer say - ‘I care not!  Don’t think to frighten me with your threats!’  This is to harden the heart.


Against the promises and threats of the living God sin interposes its deceits - ‘These threats don’t apply to you; they are Jewish: they are for mere professors.’  There are so many who are walking in the same way with you; fear not!  So many cannot be smitten!’  ‘How can you be responsible, if you have not grace enough given you?’ And so on.  Very many [regenerate] believers accept these teachings, to their present and future loss.


Against all these the Holy Ghost lifts up His word of exhortation to believers - "Be NOT DECEIVED; God cannot be mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap:" Gal. 6: 7. "Know ye not that unrighteous persons [and some of you are unrighteous, for ye do wrong and defraud, and that your brethren,] SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD, BE NOT DECEIVED:" 1 Cor. 6: 8-11; Rev. 2: 10, 25-27; 3: 4, 5, 11; 2 John 8; Matt. 6: 33.


How long is this weapon of exhortation to be plied?  Day by day, as long as this present [evil] age lasts.  "While it is called to-day," Satan is the Tempter at large; the world and the flesh are strong against the truth.   Israel is in unbelief; we have to walk by faith against sight.  Great and many are the dangers; in the smiles of false friends, the threats of enemies, persecutions without, fears within; present losses, the coldness of Christians, and [their] bad examples.  All these tend to destroy hope, and to lead us back again into the [sinful lifestyle of the] Egypt we left.


14. "For we have become associates of the Christ,* if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end." [See Greek]


The received rendering, "We are made partakers of Christ," darkens the sense.  The apostle is referring back to a previous occurrence of the word in this Epistle.  "Unto the Son he saith, - Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.  Thou lovedst righteousness, and hatedst iniquity: wherefore, O God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."  Here is the same word.  While Jesus as God has no fellow or associate, as the Son of Man and the Christ He has.  In the Psalm from which this citation is taken, we have a view of Him coming to earth as King of glory.  He rides on the white horse; His enemies are destroyed under His arrows of wrath.  As the King He sets up righteousness.  The queen is presented to Him: the hour of glory and power is come.  But He comes not alone; He rides among His "fellows," in the glory.  Here we see another view of Rev. 19: 11.  The Word of God comes forth from heaven as King of kings: He is attended by armies of His friends; the chosen, called, and faithful.  Then comes the slaughter of His foes; and the setting up of His Millennial Kingdom: Rev. 19: 20.


What the apostle then is teaching is this - ‘We are the riders attendant on the triumphant King seen in Psalm 45 - under condition of our retaining to the end our special faith in the Saviour as the Lord of the age to come.  We shall partake of the glory laid up for "the Christ," if we fail not.’  For the Millennial Kingdom is that which is prepared for Him as "the Christ," "the Son of Man."  After the thousand years He renders back again to God the empire, which with a special object in view, He received.  We cannot mistake then here what the hope is: what is the [Sabbath] rest which remains for the people of God.  For our hope, the hope of our calling, is but one: Eph. 4: 4.


Fail not to notice, believer, how potent an aid is given to this truth, by perceiving that Jesus Himself takes this kingdom on the ground of faithfulness, obedience, and suffering.  "Thou lovedst [during thy life as man] righteousness, and hatedst iniquity, THEREFORE O God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."  Is it any wonder, therefore, if the same principle be brought to bear upon His associates in the glory?  What says Phil. 3: 5-11?  "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  WHEREFORE God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those in earth, and those under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."


Here again the Scripture testifies, that Jesus takes His [millennial] kingdom as the result of obedient humility and suffering.  In the next chapter too, we have Paul stating how earnest was the wish of his heart, that by treading the same road with the Christ he might attain to a part in that first resurrection of glory.


"We became associates of the Christ." When?  When we believed. "IF WE hold fast."  Many refuse to confess the conditional promises set before believers, though they are not few.  Believer, harden not your heart, by denying them! * 


[* The writer has published a paper containing thirty-eight ‘ifs’ of the New Testament appertaining to regenerate believers.]


"For IF we became fellow-plants in the likeness of His death, why, we shall also be of the [first] resurrection:" Rom. 6: 5. (Greek.) "If children, then heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with Him, in order that we may be glorified together:" Rom. 8: 17. (Greek.)


This "if" then supposes possible loss of the association in the glory with Jesus in His Millennial Kingdom.  It is backed by the actual example of its loss by multitudes of God’s ancient people.


Paul desires to keep up to their early height of faith, hope, and love, those whom he now addresses.  If they would but hold steadfast to the end "the beginning of their confidence."  They would assuredly be fellows of Messiah in His Kingdom of glory.  How bright was their faith at first!  House and land weighed against the hopes of the coming kingdom were nought.  They sold them, brought the money to apostles; gave it away. See also Heb. 6: 9-12.


Do we not see the same thing in the history which the Holy Ghost has set as the mirror to reflect the matter to us?  Israel’s faith at first was strong.  At the Red Sea it overflowed in praise and song.  "Sing ye to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously."  Was that the same people who, at the borders of the land, when bid to go in and possess it, blaspheme Jehovah, and attempt to stone their leader, and the faithful spies?  The very same!


15. "While it is said, ‘To-day if ye shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.’"


This takes up the question which is stated naturally by the previous verse. - ‘You say, we are to be steadfast to the end.  When is the end?’  We answer, when ‘this day’ is concluded.  When God no longer calls our time ‘to-day.’  For there are two great days named in God’s word - this day,’ and ‘that day.’  As long as this day of temptation, toil, and war continues, we must be on our guard.  ‘That day’ alters all: and Christ is coming [back to this earth] to introduce it.


It is now the time during which the door into millennial glory is open; the time also, when there is danger of hardening the heart, of provoking God, and being excluded the kingdom.  As long as ‘to-day’ lasts, our duty is to listen to Christ the speaker from heaven: Heb. 12: 19-25.  ‘Look to Christ,’ is one excellent direction.  But "look to yourselves," is another of similar excellency: 2 John 8; Rev. 3: 11.


16. "For who when they heard, did provoke?  Why, was it not all that came out of Egypt by Moses?"*


[* The reading this verse as a question, as well as the two following ones, has the sanction of almost all critics, both of ancient and modern times. The present rendering clogs the apostle’s argument.] 


"But with whom was He grieved forty years?  Was it not with them that sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wildernessAnd to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest?  But to the disobedient?  So we see they could not enter in because of unbelief."


In the answer to these questions lies the whole force of the appeal. ‘Who provoked Jehovah?’  Was it the Egyptians?  Was it the Amorites?  ‘Who grieved Him?  Against whom did He sware?’


Against His own ransomed ones! Those it was, who provoked and grieved Him!  The whole congregation of those whom in His grace and power He led out of Egypt!  What a rebuff to those who would say, ‘It cannot be for us; for we are the people of God, the elect out of the world.’  Well, it was the redeemed of old that so provoked God - "the people of His pasture, the sheep of His hand."


It was not the ignorant heathen.  It was those who had heard His voice speaking in terrible majesty out of the fire and cloud of Sinai: Deut. 4: 33; 5: 23.  This the Lord notices in His sentence of exclusion.  "Because all those men which have seen my glory and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not harkened to my voice, surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers; neither shall any of them that provoked me see it, but my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit* with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whither he went; and his seed shall possess it:" Num. 14: 22-24.


[* Here is what I believe is the meaning of the salvation of the spirit, which Paul refers to in his first epistle to the Corinthians: “Deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus:” (1 Cor. 5: 5).  This text does not teach that “the wicked man” (verse 13), (who was regenerate ‘brotherwithin the Church of God and to be excommunicated immediately), will inherit the millennial kingdom in that day’!.  It simply means he will receive “another spirit” when the millennial kingdom is established at the return of Messiah/Christ; and he will then grieve over the tremendous loss of that future inheritance, unless true repentance and restoration is found beforehand. Luke 13: 3, 5; 15: 24. cf. Psalm 51: 10-12.]


These are God’s words sworn by Himself.  Thus there are two oaths, seemingly contrary, yet both upheld by God.


There is the oath of entrance for the obedient and the young of Israel. (2) There is also the oath of exclusion, for those who provoke.


To leave Egypt, as we here see, is not enough.  Without that indeed, there can be no entrance into the land.  But the deliverance out of Egypt does not involve entrance into the land.  That was the hope set before them when they left Egypt.  "But with the majority of them* God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness:" 1 Cor. 10.  Lot left Haran with Abraham: but he is not noticed when Melchizedec blesses the patriarch.  He is reckoned as belonging to Sodom: Gen. 14: 16-24.


[*Our translators have omitted the article; - "the many."]


It was a provoking thing to Jehovah, that Israel would not listen to Moses.  It is worse in disciples of the Church not to listen to His Son, and by vain cavils and exceptions to set aside His commands.


Our responsibility to Christ turns upon our hearing His words: then He looks for our doing them. "Whoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them" - shall be, in the day to come, accounted wise.  But he that heareth and doeth not, shall be esteemed foolish.  For, "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth* the will of my Father in heaven:" Matt. 7: 21.  He who would enter the glory must listen to the commands of the Guide to it.


[* The good works of regenerate believers, demanded by Christ for entrance into ‘the kingdom of the heavens,’ prove to us (in this context) that the kingdom here cannot be eternal: it is an “age-lasting” kingdom upon this earth, attained only be those whom Christ will deem to be “considered worthy of taking part in” (Luke 20: 35).  See also Matt. 5: 20 for the standard of personal righteousness required for entrance: and 2 Tim. 6: 12, where the Greek word translated “eternal,” should be translated “age-lasting.”  We don’t “fight the good fight of the faith” or “take hold” of something which we already have received by the grace of God as a “free gift”! (Rom. 6: 23, R.V.)  That is, eternal life (with God) in an everlasting kingdom of God in ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Rev. 21: 1) is assured to all of His redeemed people: His millennial kingdom, on the other hand, is not.  Hence, the apostle’s warnings to regenerate believers throughout his epistles, Gal. 5: 13-21; Eph. 5: 1-7.]


In verse 18, the oath of God goes forth against the disobedient.  In verse 19, the apostle derives for us the lesson, that unbelief was the cause of their exclusion.  What do we learn thence?  That unbelief in the heart is the cause of disobedience in the conduct.  God regards both: but it was only when the evil appeared in action that He passed sentence.  Entire unbelief excludes from eternal life: Acts 13: 46Partial unbelief, with its accompanying disobedience, excludes from the [millennial] kingdom of reward: Psa. 106: 12, 24, 26.


4: 1. "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should think he has come too late for it."


Observe the peculiarity of the sentence,"Let US fear, lest a promise being left US of entering into His rest, any of YOU should think."  What does the change of pronouns teach?  That Paul was in no danger of believing that the rest of God was finished.  But there was danger even to Paul and the believers of Italy, lest they should be excluded the rest.  Hence the inspired writer speaks of the general danger when he uses the word "us;" and of the particular danger which threatened some of the Hebrews he speaks, when he uses the narrower pronoun "you."


The reader will observe, that I have here given a different rendering from that of the Authorized Version.  My reasons are, that the usual translation stands in the way of the apostle’s argument.  Is the danger to the Christians only that of seeming to lose the rest?*  Nay, the example of warning shows, that, as the loss was actual on Israel’s part, so it may be on ours.  Now, this is admitted by most of those who defend the old rendering.  They say the word ‘seem’ is put in, in order to soften the harshness of a more direct statement.  But I am slow to believe, that a word is inserted by the Holy Ghost, which is not to have its force.  And if it have its usual force, it blunts the edge of the argument, and of the example.


[* If any will retain the Authorized Version’s rendering then the danger will be, the being left behind at the rapture of the ready Christian, and the passing through the Great Tribulation.]  


With the sanction of many critics, then, I render it - "lest any of you should think* that he has come too late for it."  Here every word retains its force; and is most suitable to the context.  The second verb signifies to come short of a thing - which may be either in regard of time or place.  Here it is taken as coming short in respect of time: as in Heb. 2: 3, (LXX,) and Matt. 25: 11.  To this it may be added, that the subsequent context proves this to the meaning, as we shall see.  Also the fact, that the verb is in the perfect tense: the force of which is lost in our translation.


[* For this sense of the Greek word … see Heb. 10: 29; Phil. 3: 4; James 4: 5.]


Greatly did Paul [the Writer of Hebrews] value the glory of the kingdom.  For it as the prize of his heavenly calling he earnestly sought.  Jesus commends those who with zeal were seeking it: bids us to do so.  But he knew full well, that this hope of our calling might soon drop out of view; and would be easily set aside in the minds of some, by the very first objection which suggested itself.  Now, the readiest of these, and the most forcible, was the one which the Holy Ghost singles out for refutation. - ‘O Paul, how can you attach any force to such an argument as that?  ‘God’s rest was over ages ago!’  It is this deceit of the Enemy, then, which he [the Holy Spirit] sets himself to expose.  That this was the choice weapon of the Old Adversary against the doctrine of the Millennium, so forcible as that in its effects upon the [regenerate] believers, is proved for us again in 2 Tim. 2.  After Paul has stated the terms of entrance into the future kingdom, and their sure subsistence and execution in the day to come, in spite of man’s unbelief, (8-13) he adds, that two leaders of false doctrine had affirmed, that the (first) resurrection was already past.*  Thus the faith of some in the Christian’s great hope was lost.  But with God its reality abode, unchangeable as before: 17, 18.


[* And this same false teaching is what is happening today amongst regenerate believers who do not believe in the intermediate state and place of the souls of the dead in Hades – the waiting-place of the dead before their resurrection, (Matt. 16: 18; Rev. 6: 9-11).  Multitudes of regenerate believers teach and believe that they ascend into heaven at the time of death!  If that is true, then there would be no need for a resurrection of the dead!  If the time of Death is the time of Resurrection, then, who would be in the least concerned about any “better resurrection” of reward?  Heb. 11: 35; Luke 14: 14; 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11; Rev. 20: 4-6.  Is the animating ‘spirit’, which returns to God at the time of death, the man?  No it is not.  It is what gives life to body and soul, (Luke 8: 55; Job 34: 14, 15; James 2: 26.)  Is the ‘body,’ that decomposes at the time of death, the man?  No it is not, for the bodies of believers were eaten by wild beasts in the Roman amphitheatres; and Jacob believed Joseph’s body had been ‘devoured’ by a wild beast (Gen. 37: 32).  Is the ‘soul’ the man?  Yes.  The soul is the man for this is what the Word of God teaches: “thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades:” (Psa. 16: 10; Acts 2: 27, 31).  Is this intermediate place of the dead in Heaven?  No it is not; those in Hades need to wait for ‘the resurrection of the dead’ before they can ascend into heaven: and Resurrection reunites everything that Death has separated.  As Death separates spirit, body and soul; Resurrection will reunite them.  Therefore, all who teach contrary to what the Word of God teaches us concerning Resurrection: “Have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already and overthrow the faith of some:” (2 Tim. 18, R.V.)  If this fundamental doctrine of Scripture was fully understood by the people of God today, then there would be a realisation of how important it is to attain that resurrection of which Paul speaks of in his letter “to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi” (Phil. 1:1; 3: 10-14.).]


In consequence of his fear for the Hebrew Christians therefore, lest this sheet-anchor of the vessels of faith amidst the storms of life should be stolen, he proceeds to prove, that God’s rest is not past; and therefore that we do well to seek it.


"The promise is left us."  Its force is not exhausted: the day of seeking for a part in it is still running on.  Let none, then, be seduced from pursuit of this glorious object by this wile of the enemy.  The kingdom of God is still being proclaimed; all the wise [disciples] will be pressing to enter it,


4:2. "For to us has the good news been brought, as well as to them; but the word of the report * [* See Greek.] did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."


The ‘Gospel’ here spoken of is not the tidings of [eternal] salvation by the blood of the Son of God; but the good news of God’s rest; or (as it is called in Matthew), "the gospel of the kingdom," which is indeed the basis of that evangelist’s history: 4: 28; 9: 35; 5: 7.  But lest any should think that this kingdom of God is Jewish and earthly only; peculiar to the ministry of our Lord and the ‘Jewish’ apostles; let him observe, that it is quite as habitually proclaimed by Paul, as was "the gospel of the grace of God." How clearly the [Holy] Spirit of God foresaw this refuge of unbelief, and has given witness against it in Paul’s last address to the elders of Ephesus!  He speaks there first of "the ministry which I received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel (good news) of the grace of God."  What comes next?  "And now behold I know, that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.  Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all.  For I have not shunned to declare unto you ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD:" Acts 20: 24-27.  Take notice, then, that the good tidings of God’s present grace as seen in the present preaching of forgiveness, and access to God through [faith in] Christ, together with the good tidings of God’s future [millennial]  kingdom of glory, to be bestowed according to WORKS, make up the full counsel of God.  They are seemingly opposed testimonies to the eyes of many; but both are really of God.  The present grace, the future justice, are both to be proclaimed, - both to be believed.  They are the two hedges of the narrow way.  Against these two great parts of God’s counsels the Holy Ghost foresaw that false witnesses would rise up; and therefore cautions the elders against some not yet among them who would enter in, to the damage of the flock.  Also of others, even already among themselves, who would break up into parties the hitherto undivided Church of Christ.  Accordingly, in 2 Tim. 2, which is the Spirit’s message to Ephesus, we see the tidings of the future kingdom of God’s millennial glory set aside by the teaching of some.


The Holy Ghost here supposes, that the rest proclaimed of old is the same that is now offered to us.  But this many Christians have contradicted.  They hold that the rest supposed in the Psalms was only the enjoyment of the earthly Canaan under Moses; and therefore, that Paul, in applying the word to Christians, is either mistaken, or else using allegory.  This idea however would destroy the argument.  We must then insist upon what is necessary to uphold the inspired argumentation.  Thence it will follow, that the rest of God is His future millennial kingdom of glory; of which both the worthies of the Old Testament and those of Christ’s heavenly people will alike partake.  Hence Israel’s entry into and establishment in the land under the kings of David’s house, was not the whole counsel of God.  It was typical only of the better rest to come.


"The word of the report did not profit them."


This is a reference back to Israel’s history.  God at first testified to Moses of the good land into which He would introduce Israel; and at its first announcement the people believed the report of God conveyed through Moses: Ex. 4.  But at length they reached the borders of the land; after the discipline of trials in the wilderness as their training for war.  God bids them go in and possess.  But they would prefer to have the land searched by spies, who should bring word what kind of a land it was, and specimens of its fruits.  This of itself sprang from weak faith.  There was no need of spies to examine a land that Jehovah himself had searched for them.  There was no need of spies to indicate the best route of entrance, when Jehovah went before them to lead the way.  On the return of the messengers there was speedily a conflict of testimony.  ‘The land was good, but not to be inherited; it was too strongly fortified by the cities’ strength, and the stature of its inhabitants.’  Two of the spies stood on God’s side; but the other ten weighing themselves against its difficulties, and leaving out the strength of their God, declared it impregnable.  The spies’ report then concerning the land, that it was a good land flowing with milk and honey, and abounding in rich fruits, profited them not.  For they did not believe, that it could be attained by them.  As well never have heard of this land!  For we cannot win it!  Thus the land was to them as though it existed not.  They would not seek to enter it.  They mourned their hard fate in being conducted up to its edge, only to be destroyed utterly, if they attempted to do battle with the Canaanites!


Here we see Satan’s two pleas against the rest of God; which have so constantly been successful in the souls of most. (1) ‘There is no such kingdom of millennial glory as you talk about.  Tis all your imagination!’  That is deceit the first.  (2) ‘There is indeed, we allow, but it is so beset by obstacles within and without; it demands such strictness of life, it sets up so lofty a standard, that we cannot enter.  We have given up all hope of it!  Perhaps a favoured few of the heroes and martyrs of the Christian faith may enter; but it is useless for us to attempt it!’


These two forms of unbelief in God’s testimony we see in the history which is given us to exhibit it.  At Kadesh the rebellion of Israel is founded on the latter form of unbelief.  After that, God turns the assembly of His people back into the wilderness.  The glory is put off.  Then bursts out the last and worst form of unbelief, as manifested by Dathan and his gainsaying crew.  "And Moses sent to call for Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab: which said, ‘We will not come up. Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?"  Here Moses is reproached for having led them out of the reality of blessing, only in order to exhalt himself.  Egypt was the real land of milk and honey, which they wished they had never left!  What unbelief!  "Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men?  We will not come up."  Herein Moses is reproached with falsehood.  He led them out of Egypt, under promise of possessions in the best and most fertile of lands.  Had he fulfilled it?  They had but to look around them on the scorching plains of the naked sands quivering with the sun’s heat, to be assured of his lying.  Until he should deprive them of their sense of sight, they could never fail to be convinced of his deception.  They would therefore no longer own his leadership.  "We will not come up."  Hereupon the Mediator is wroth, and pleads against them.  Judgement therefore tarries no longer.  All who would escape their doom must come away from them.  Then the earth opens, and they go down alive into the place of the dead.  This sense is typical of the last form of unbelief.  "They perished in the gainsaying of Korah;" Num.16: 12-15Now God can be affronted by His people [in the Church today] of the heavenly calling questioning the reality of His promise, as surely as He was offended by [Israel] the earthly people [under the leadership of Moses.].


4:3 "For we believers are entering into the rest,* [*See Greek.] as he said - ‘So I sware in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest:’ although the works from the foundation of the world were finished."


The differences of rendering in this verse are important.  Our translators, who were no millenarians, saw only in this argument of the apostle’s, the proof of the present rest of all believers in the work of Christ: and hence they have missed the sense; and obscured by their translation a passage difficult enough in itself.


They render the word -"Do enter."  This is one form of the present, which we may call the customary presentThey have also omitted the article beforerest.’*  But the word here is really a ‘prospective present;’ as in the Saviour’s words - ‘I am going to prepare a place for you.’ "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven."


[* “The definite article, the, is in the Greek permitted where the English refuses it.  Thus the Greek says Abraham begat the Isaac.  But the rendering Abraham begat Isaac, is not a true account of the matter, since the very next word, Isaac begat the Jacob, has not the article.  It is fair neither to Author nor to reader, not to apprize the reader that of the two Isaacs side by side one has the article, and the other has not.  Unfair to the Author, since Matthew (not to say the Holy Spirit Himself), like any serious writer, may be presumed to have had a reason for such marked distinction.  Unfair to the reader, since he has a right to know that in the original a bell as it were is rung to attract his attention.  Here, forsooth, GIVE HEED, READER, Article here, no article there: a distinction, and it is for thee to find wherein it is.”]


The course of the argument requires this.  Paul is proving that ‘the rest’ of which the Psalm speaks is yet future; and that we are not come too late to partake of it.  Unbelievers are excluded.  Unbelief was the principle of loss on their part.  But we are believers; we have long been so. (Aorist participle.)  We then have in us the principle needed to gain the rest in question.  Believers are on their way to this rest of God’s promising: and none but they.  Faith is an indispensable condition to its attainment.  Only those who have come out of Egypt, and who through the Red Sea have passed into the wilderness, are on their way to it.  Not that faith is all that is required: the obedience and patience [perseverance] of faith are demanded also.  It is a race open only to the people of God, justified by faith in the work of Christ finished.  We believers were set at the starting post of this race, as soon as we believed.  We are day by day moving onward to it; as Moses says to Jethro, "We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you:" Num. 10: 29Israel having once left Egypt was every day of its journeying moving nearer to the promised rest, until their unbelief turned them back into the desert to die.  But we are not, as they were, unbelievers in regard to this rest.  We do not despise it; we are not cut off from it by God’s oath.  The profit of the message received by us is this – “our (the) salvation is nearer than when we first believed  [The night is far spent, and the DAY is at hand: let us therefore cast all the works of (the) darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Rom. 13: 11).]  We near the goal and its prize daily, while walking as men of faithIsrael’s motion onward was only stopped, when they in heart despised and refused the rest.  Then came God’s word - ‘Though so long nearing it, though then so close to it, they shall not enter it.’


To show what is ‘the rest’ of which he is speaking, that rest towards which believers in Jesus as our Leader are tending, he quotes again the words of the Psalm - "So I sware in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest." Then He adds - "Although the works from the foundation of the world had been finished."  This is the order of the Greek, and it is the best.  It gives us a clear view of the course of the inspired argument.  It is as if the apostle said - ‘I grant you, that God’s work of the six days of creation is over, and also the rest of the seventh day.  That rest, I own, is past.  But the Psalm speaks of new "works" of God, and of a new "rest."  "They saw my works."  "They shall not enter into my rest."  Here then is God even now at work; for His rest is not yet come.  But we are invited to it. God’s future rest supposes His present work.  But His creation-work and creation-rest of the seventh day are past.  This then is another work of another character: it is redemption-work, tending on to redemption-rest.  It is needed; because God’s old rest in creation was broken by Satan’s and man’s sin.  And there can be no true rest in sin.  The redeemed by Christ, the better Conductor, are being led onward to a redemption-rest in resurrection.  Out of God’s new and better work is to spring (when it is accomplished) a new and better restA rest, better in its nature; longer in its duration.


Thus God’s present work is fashioned after the pattern of the former.  It is clear then, - as the adversative conjunction ‘although’ proves, - that the apostle is not speaking of a past rest of God, or of a present rest enjoyed by believers, but of God’s present work, and of the future repose to which He is inviting us.  Paul is battling against that deceit which nullifies the promise - ‘Do not disquiet yourself in vain: that rest was over long, long ago!’


4:4For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise - ‘And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.’” 5. "And in this place again - ‘If they shall enter into my rest.’"


The first time that the rest of God is spoken of is, after His six days work of creation was finished.  We are, I own, long too late to participate in that!  Nor is the rest the observance of the Sabbath, as was given to IsraelFor the twelve tribes had that, even while still in the desert.  The Sabbath was a rest required of them under penalty of death: not a rest given of God.  Nor could Jehovah rest in Israel’s observance of the Sabbath: Ezek. 20.


(1) But the future rest is arranged after the pattern of God’s earlier one, as to time.  God wrought six days; rested the seventh. Since that time God’s redemption-work has been going on; and now, each of God’s working days consists of a thousand years.  The rest is to be a "great" day of a thousand years: 2 Pet. 3This is the Millennium, or the seventh thousand of years.  It was to this distribution of time that the many sevens of the Law looked onward: the seventh day, the seventh month, the seventh year, and the seven times seventh year.  (2) The past rest of the creation-sabbath was God’s rest.  From the similarity of expression between Genesis 2 and the Psalm, we conclude, that there will be a real likeness in the things described by God in nearly the same words.  He ceased to create, after the six days were complete.  So God shall cease to redeem, after His six great days are over.* 


[* If God will not redeem any during the Millennium; what then would be the purpose of the Jews evangelizing the other nations during that time?  It would be better to have written:- 'God shall cease to redeem, after His seven great days are over.'  This would then take us to eight day -the time of the resurrection of all the dead, the Great White Throne Judgment, and ‘a new heavens and a new earth’.]


(3) The creation-sabbath was God’s rest, in relation to His feelings. He enjoyed the rest of satisfaction in His works, as He contemplated them all, and beheld them very good.


The future rest also is to be God’s rest, and His satisfaction in redemption-work complete.  Creation as at first made could offer no resistance to His will. But out of His moral creation strife and trouble have arisen, which His redemption-work only partially undoes at present. Christ can rest in His redeemed people only in so far as they are obedient to His words: as long as they rest in Him. Will Christ be satisfied with all His people when He returns, and brings them into judgment?  By no means!  Many walk, not by faith, but by sight.  This was the danger of old. "Now the just by faith shall live; but if he draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him:" * Heb. 10: 38.


[* This is the order of the Greek. There is no ‘any man’ in the original.]


With Jesus, God was ever well pleased; and He thrice expressed His admiration: Matt. 3: 17; 12: 18; 17: 15.  But with the majority of Israel God was not well pleased: the proof being, their destruction in the desert: 1 Cor. 10: 5.  The apostle therefore directs us how to please God: Heb. 13: 16; Col. 3: 20; Phil. 4: 18.  He teaches us, by his own example, to seek to please Christ: 2 Cor. 5: 9.  And in this epistle to the Hebrews, he encourages us by the example of Enoch, who as diligently serving God was rewarded; by a sudden rapture escaping death.


The 4th and 5th verses, then of the chapter before us exhibit side by side the past and the future rests. "God did rest" on the one.  "If they shall enter into my rest," bespeaks the other as yet to come.  None of mankind enjoyed with God the creation-sabbath.  But many shall enjoy with God the future sabbath; although, as presented in the Psalm, we find only the negative view.  We are called on to be fellow-workers with God in His redemption-work, that we may be fellow-resters with Him in redemption-rest: 2 Cor. 6: 1; Rom. 16: 3, 9, 21; 1 Cor. 3: 9; John 4: 36.  None will partake of God’s millennial rest, but those on whom He can look with complacency, as obedientGreat will be the glory and joy of those permitted to enter.  Great the sorrow of those [regenerate believers] being excluded, as disobedient and unbelieving.  "His rest shall be glory:" Isa. 11: 10. (Heb.)  The body redeemed, no less than the soul!  Death swallowed up in victory!  The Lord we serve the manifested King of kings!  Israel, no longer unbelieving, shall be redeemed into their own land, their foes cut off.  The nations that remain shall serve them and obey Christ.  The six great working days are the old and evil age; the rest that remains is the new and better age. "This is the DAY that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."


6, 7.  "Seeing therefore, it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom the good news was first brought entered not in because of disobedience, He again defines a certain day, saying in David, - ‘To-day,’ - after so long a time, as it has been before said, *[Critt. Edd.]To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’"


The apostle is still engaged in proving, that the invitation into God’s future rest is still by God’s authority proclaimed.  The promise has never been exhausted.  The ‘remaineth’ of this verse takes up the word "a promise being left us" of verse 1; and "there remaineth a rest" of verse 9.  The passage cited from the 95th Psalm tells only of the rejecting of some from entering that rest.  But God’s designs cannot be frustrated: and on the accomplishment of His promises, He must enjoy the rest of satisfaction.  This passage is greatly illustrated by our Lord’s parable of the Wedding Garment.  Those first bidden refuse to assemble to enjoy the king’s royal supper. Thereupon the monarch issues a second invitation, in order that the hall may be furnished with guests.  The refusal of those first invited shall not bring to nought the royal banquet.  Others shall enter, if the first refuse it.  The oath of threat excludes some; but it proves the feast is not yet come.  Hence the call to listen to God’s voice, to obey, and not provoke Him, still holds good: for the banquet has not yet taken place.  It is only as yet the invitation to the guests, their robing, and assembling.  The feast cannot begin, till all the guests are seated.


We are instructed in the reason of this rejection of Israel.  It was because of disobedience.   Unbelief and disobedience are as closely allied as obedience and faith.  They stand related as root and fruit.  Israel’s heart lost confidence in God’s power and will to bring them into the land, despite all the obstacles; then came their refusal to proceed, their murmurs at God in the person of His appointed leaders, and their attempt to stone the faithful witnesses.


Whether we are to regard verses seven and eight as a parenthesis or not, depends on the sense we give to "Again."


(1) Is it a detached word?  Does it notify the introduction of a new branch of the argument?  If so, we must regard these two verses as parenthetic.


(2) Or does it qualify the word ‘limiteth’?  "He a second time defines," (or limits.)  This is, I believe, the true meaning.  It falls in best with the previous words - "those to first proclaimed;" and "He would not afterward have spoken of another day."


There are then two days contemplated by God in this connection. The first was that under Moses - which he calls "the day of temptation in the wilderness": 3: 8.  It was the forty years’ duration, after which Joshua led the people into the land.  But now long after Joshua’s day, and so late as David’s, God speaks of "another day."  Is it the period of patience to last for them?  No!  God is defining another day.  It embraces the present season: for it is called ‘To-day.’


Of what character is the day thus defined?


Is it the day of labour?  Or is it the day of rest?


It is the day of labour, of the listening to God’s voice, of the invitation to the rest, of fear and carefulness against provoking God.  In proof of this, the apostle cites again the words of the Psalm - ‘To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’  In the day which is to follow - the blessed day of rest - there will be an end to the toils, and the cares and dangers of the wilderness.  But now God is still working, and calls on His people - ‘Son, work to-day in my vineyard.’  Those who thus work with Him will rest with Him, when the limits of this day of toil and conflict are past, and the day of repose and of victory is come.


Thus also our Lord in His closing words to each of the churches uses the present tense - "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches."*


[* Here behold a proof of the error of supposing that these churches belong to the terrible future day of wrath.]


8. "For if Joshua (marg.) had given them rest, then would he not have spoken of another day after these things."


These words answer an objection which would naturally occur to the mind of a Jew - ‘It is true, that the generation of the disobedient was cut off in the desert; but it is certain also, that their descendants were introduced into the land by Joshua the son of Nun.  And the Scripture expressly says, that Joshua gave them rest.  "And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers:" Josh. 21: 44.  Joshua also owns it.  "Now the Lord hath given rest unto your brethren as He promised them:" 22: 4.  And again - "And the land had rest from war:" 24: 15.  Moreover God gave to David and to Solomon his son the rest He had promised.  Of David it is said - "The Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies:" 2 Sam. 7: 1.  Solomon could say, "Now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent:" 1 Kings 5: 4.  And again - "Blessed be the Lord that hath given rest unto His people Israel according to all that He promised:" 8: 56.  Also 1 Chron. 22: 9. Hence it follows, (the Jew might say,) ‘that Palestine is the land of rest; and this land we possess.’


How are we to reply hereto?


Thus: If the rest of God were Israel’s enjoyment of Palestine, then it was fulfilled in Joshua’s day, in David’s, and Solomon’s.  But God speaks of David’s day as being the day of labour, and of calling into a future rest.  Hence it was not the rest promised.  Moreover, we may add, The land is said to rest; and the Lord is said to have given Israel rest.  But God is not said to have rested.  His work was not complete: nor could He feel satisfaction in Israel.  We find Him complaining even of those that entered the land, that they brought Him no sacrifices, and bore about with them their idols from place to place: Acts 7: 41-43.  Nor could God rest either in David, or in Solomon.  He found sin in both David and his people; and was compelled to send both famine and pestilence.  Much less could His soul repose in Solomon; who, after so many favours, fell into idolatry.  How incomplete too was Israel’s tenure of the land!


As then the day of labour and trial precedes the day of rest, and as David by inspiration proclaimed it in his time to be still the day of trial, it is clear, that, neither Joshua’s day, his own day, or that of Solomon his son, introduced the promised repose God speaks of the rest in David’s day as yet future. "If they shall enter into my rest."  When once the rest is come, there will be no warning of danger, no invitation to seek to enter.  After God’s repose in redemption is come, there will be no further day of trial and suffering to encounter.  The Millennial Day of repose runs into the eternal rest.  "He would not have spoken of another day after these things"*  - the labour, and the rest.


[*Better so rendered, than more indefinitely -"afterward."]


Joshua (GreekJesus’) the son of Nun led God’s ancient people into the place of earthly repose; and after some years of conflict, the land had rest from war.  But Israel was only one part of God’s people, and the cessation of war is but one form of the rest to come.


Jesus the Son of God has to lead the heavenly people into the rest of the heavenly country, and the loftier department of God’s kingdom in resurrection.  All through this ‘evil day’ it is a time of conflict for the heavenly people of God.  While Satan is at large in heavenly places, our warfare cannot cease; nor our need of vigilance, and of the armour of God: Eph. 6.


9. "There remaineth therefore a sabbath-rest for the people of God."


This is the conclusion from the previous argument.  Paul had stated in the first verse the danger of losing the rest, from supposing it had long been fulfilled.  He set himself therefore to prove, that it was not the seventh-day rest of creation which was in question; nor the peaceful enjoyment of Palestine under Joshua or David.  For the privilege of being invited to enter that day of repose is still extended by God, as long as He calls the time "To-day," - and as long as He teaches His people to be obedient to Christ with a view to this blest result.  The rest is therefore yet future.


God’s limiting the call to carefulness and attention during this day, tells us, that the rest is to come tomorrow.  This day is the day of labour: "that day" the day of recompence.  "I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."  "There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day:" 2 Tim. 2: 12; 4: 8.


But the apostle suddenly changes the term he has hitherto used.  If we must trust critics, the apostle coined it to suit the occasion.  He desired to connect the coming rest of God with his past rest.  His past rest was the rest of the first sabbath, or seventh day of the world.  He wrought six days; He rested the seventh.  The rest of God’s people is likewise the world’s great sabbath day, the day of the seventh thousand of years.  The new rest is to be after the pattern of the old, in regard of time.  It was with this view that God signalized so oft the seventh period under the law.  The seventh year was to be peculiarly one of rest.


"And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: but the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat.  In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard:" Ex. 23: 10, 11.  "And the Lord spake unto Moses in Mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye come into the land which I gave you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord.  Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof: But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.  That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.  And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee.  And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat:" Lev. 25: 1-7.


The seven times seventh year was the year of jubilee, the year of restoration of all heritages to their former condition.  And God promised, that if obedient, Israel should be supplied by Him in the sixth year for three years: Lev. 25: 20-22.  That sabbath-rest which is to come [the Millennium] is also to be like the first in God’s feelings of complacency over His work of redemption accomplished.  Hence those in whom God cannot feel complacency will not enter into that day of rest.


The sabbath to come will introduce rest in all its forms.  (1) The wilderness was to Israel rest from the enforced labour of slavery.  (2) But it was made up of unsettledness.  They had no houses, no abiding location.  The tent was pitched, or the tent struck, as the cloud called them to stay or move.  But Joshua introduced them into fixed resting-places.  Each had his city, his house, his heritage fixed for himself and his family.  (3) The wilderness was a wide, howling waste, full of dander to life by its barren sands, its want of food and water, and the presence of serpents and scorpions.  But the land of promise gave them a dwelling in a land flowing with milk and honey.  After the first years of war were over, they enjoyed settled peace under Joshua and the elders.  Thus the sabbath-rest to come is to be to us deliverance from present toil and suffering, present danger and war, and present unsettledness both of place and of rulers.  Into all these forms of rest, Jesus our apostle is leading those who will follow Him.  Of the present time of unrest Paul could say:


"Already ye are full, ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us; and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.  For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.  We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised.  Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place, And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we intreat: we are made the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day:" 1 Cor. 4: 8-13.


Until God rests from redemption-work His redeemed will not be able to rest; and to seek it here below is evil.  This was the Jew’s stumbling block.  When Jesus had healed the impotent man on the Jew’s day of rest, and was accused of a breach of the sabbath, the Saviour replied in effect, that He as the Son of God could not rest in them, or their sabbath of law; that his Father had been working ever since the Fall to bring in a new rest; and He, as the Son of God sympathizing with His Father’s plans, could but work too.  This made matters much worse in their view; for they saw dimly, that their Jewish rest, enforced of law, was rejected.  Their sabbath left the palsied man powerless still; and left them condemned and under the curse.  The Father and the Son therefore are together working in grace, to bring in a better rest than law can bestow.


This sabbath-rest is for the "people of God."  Who are they?  Israel would say - ‘Tis ourselves!  The twelve tribes!’  The Church of Christ would say - ‘Tis ourselves!  The men of faith in the risen Christ!’  Both are right!  The people of God is twofold: those of the Law, and those of the Gospel.  Israel in Moses’ day is called God’s people.  Moses "chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season:" Heb. 11: 25.  The Holy Spirit distinguishes ‘the people according to law’ from that educated on the principles of grace.  The sons of Aaron have a command to tithe "the people according to the law, that is, their brethren, though they came out of the loins of Abraham:" 7: 5.


"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days saith the Lord ... I will be to them a God, and they will be to me a people:" 8: 10.  The following passage seems to own both parts of God’s people.  "Wherefore in all things it became him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people:" 2: 17.  Now Jesus’ death had a double aspect. "He (Caiaphas) prophesied, that Jesus should die for that nation (of Israel). And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad:" John 11: 51, 52.  "The Lord shall judge His people:" Heb. 10: 30.  This includes both Israel and those who belong to the Church.


Abraham’s seed is twofold; the seed of his flesh, and the children of his faith.  Hence the Lord several times promises him two posterities; one of the earth, the other, to people the heaven. "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore:" Gen. 22: 17.  Those in the flesh shall inherit the promised land of earth; those risen from the dead shall inhabit the heaven, as the stars fixed there in brightness.


These two people of God will both enjoy the millennial rest, or the kingdom of the Christ.  It is necessary to the completeness of the rest, that there be a perfect king; as the scripture notes, that the absence of such a ruler was the occasion of the rise and progress of a variety of evils.  And the kingdom of God must put down the great present Ruler of earth, even Satan.  The day of sabbath-rest and the millennial kingdom of God are the same.  Both the people of God have had to march by faith through scenes of trial from God, and danger from foes, under work appointed of the Lord, with loss of the glory as a thing really to be feared.  But the one kingdom of God in the hand of the Son of Man will embrace both.  "These all (Old Testament worthies) having obtained a good report their faith received not the promise [the thing promised:] God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect:" 11: 39, 40; Luke 13: 28, 29.


[* The “us” refers to the regenerate of “today”, and the “they” refers to Israel of old; and the “better thing” is the kingdom with the curse lifted off the land after both are “made perfect.”  That is, after the worthies of old, together with the worthies of “today” are resurrected or rapt at the Second Advent of Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 4: 17; Rev. 3: 21, 22.]


This verse seems to be a justification of the employment of the term ‘sabbatism’ in the previous one.  In this verse we return to the previous word used for ‘rest.’  The future rest will be the enterers a rest like God’s.


But the principle is generally stated, and is applicable to both rests, - the present rest, and the future one.  It is singularly expressed in two points.  Though the apostle had affirmed, that the future sabbath-rest was designed for a multitude, - "the people of God," - yet he puts the entrance in the singular - "He that entered."  He uses the Greek indefinite tenses in expressing both the entrance and the rest.  "He that entered rested," instead of "They who enter will rest," as might naturally have been expected.


Why is this?


I think, because the apostle wished to express the principle in such a general way, as to allow it to receive a threefold application: to (1) Christ, (2) to His people now, and (3) to the people of God, when possessing the kingdom hereafter.


1. The primary reference, If I mistake not, is to the Lord Jesus.  Moses went up the Mount of God, hoping to effect atonement with Jehovah for the sin of the calf: Ex. 32: 30.  But the attempt is refused: all he can obtain is the deferring of the vengeance due to it.  Moreover, when Moses at last ascends the mount, it is with his obedience rejected, to die.  Not so with our Lord.  His great work of obedience and of atonement is completely wrought; and the Father in it fully satisfied, has called His Son to rest at the top of the Mount.  The great foundations of redemption are laid in that work accepted.  "When He had Himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."  The priests of Aaron’s race had again and again to stand and offer the same imperfect sacrifices, incapable of taking away sins.  But Jesus, after His one sacrifice, has for a continuance sat down, till His enemies become His footstool: 10: 11-14; 8: 1, 2.  Jesus, the living God, after completing this redemption-work, has for ever ceased from it, as He did from creation-work.  In this work the Father rests in full complacency.


2. In this Christ’s work of perfection the Christian also rests.  In this work he is justified and accepted, and finds peace within, and peace with God.  Those under law are seeking justification, and have no peace: for the curse is upon their disobedience, for which they can make no atonement: Rom. 9: 30; 10: 4.  Hence the apostle warns all at the close, against falling back to Moses and law; for that is perdition.  "For our God is consuming fire;" as He showed by the glory which encircled Mount Sinai when the covenant was accepted.  The brightness that clothed the mountain was that of devouring fire, ready to burst out at a moment on the transgressors.


Our hope of entering the future rest turns on our entering into present rest in Christ’s past work of salvation.  Israel, the unrighteous under law, though ‘children of the kingdom,’ are to be excluded: Matt. 7: 12.  But Paul is to us the example of one surrendering his own work, in order to receive that of Jesus.  And thereupon he tells us of his earnest effort [after his justification by faith (not to be accepted as righteous under law) but], that he might have part in the future resurrection-rest: Phil. 3.


The same principle applies also to the millennial rest.  God is now enjoying present rest in His Son’s work.  But He is about to provide a future rest; a rest both external and internal, in redemption completed.  As God is at work in redemption still, we too [who are regenerate] are to be co-workers with Him.  To rest now from the work assigned us would be wrong.  "Occupy till I come."  To rest in the present evil world, or in the state of the Church, would be a mistake.  Paul rebukes Corinthian Christians for attempting to rule and rest now: 1 Cor. 4.


But the day is coming when God will rest in redemption accomplished, and cease from its labour.  Then too the Christian will cease from labour, and enjoy the work of God fulfilled, and will have (in measure) joy in his own work accepted by Christ: 2 Tim. 4; Matt. 25.


Further, after this season of trial and labour are over, no such period of strife and danger will again occur.  At the close of the thousand years all is wound up, and fixed in its perfection.


Thus the Christian is a paradox.  He rests, for God is resting: he labours, for God is labouring.  He finds joy in redemption thus far complete: he sighs for "the adoption, to wit the redemption of the body."  It was like this with the typical people of old.  They in one view enjoyed rest.  There was no more lashes to suffer; no more rigorous toil of brick-making: Psa. 81: 6; Deut. 4: 20.  But they had not yet come to the rest and the inheritance which God had provided for them.  He who enters into God’s present rest is admitted into the kingdom in mystery.  But only the partakers of the resurrection will enter the kingdom in manifestation of glory.


11. "let us labour (be diligent) therefore to enter into that rest, lest any fall after the same example of disobedience."*


[*See Greek.]


Here is the general conclusion.  We are to use our diligence to obtain an entrance into the rest.  Therefore it is not ours already by faith.  "Let us labour."  It is something common to Paul with every believer.  Our diligence may be shown in two ways: negatively, by removing what would hinder: positively, by using what would promote so glorious an endOpposite dangers fence the way: you may lose it through the presumption which imagines you cannot lose it; or through the despair which says - ‘I will not seek: ‘tis hopeless!’


Let us labour to enter "that rest."  One rest is already attained [received] in Christ by faith: Matt. 11: 28.  But there is another, a rest whose futurity the apostle has proved.  God bids you be diligent to win [attain –‘gain by effort’] that distant one.  Work with God, that with Him you may rest[Regenerate] BELIEVERS are to work towards this.  They alone can attain it.  Jesus has shown the way open to this glory, both by example and precept: Heb. 1: 9; Luke 14: 10; Rom. 2: 7, 10.


Let us "seek to enter."  By these words it is connected with ‘the kingdom of God,’ or ‘the kingdom of heaven,’ in which Jesus directly and indirectly teaches us to seek a portion: Matt. 5: 20; 6: 33; 7: 21; 18: 3; 19: 23; Mk, 10: 15; John 3: 5.


This word - "Let us seek to enter," stands linked with "let us fear,"  "Let us labour ... lest any fall."


If any sin like the tribes in the desert, they will experience like treatment from the Most High.  It was disobedience which drew forth the excluding oath of God.  It is the disobedience of partial unbelief which may exclude the [regenerate] believer still.  The exit out of Egypt, and the passage through the sea, are no guarantee for an entry on the land.


May we turn aside this appeal with a - ‘That’s Jewish?  Nay!  This same call of God, this same warning, is found both in the Gospels, Epistles, and Revelation.


1. Jesus calls us to ‘seek first the kingdom of God’: Matt. 6: 33.  Now as the hope of our calling is but one (Eph. 4: 4), the future rest of God and the ‘kingdom of heaven’ in manifestation, are but different names for the same thing.  And this call is given by Christ’s voice, not in the gospel of Matthew alone, but in that of Luke also. Luke 12: 31; 14: 12, 14.  The kingdom and the rest are also identified in Isa. 11: 10.


2. The same teaching is given from another point of view in Rom. 2: 4-16, where the Christian is instructed to seek for glory by patient continuance in well doing.


3. The same call is given in various ways in 1 Corinthians. Now it is set forth as ‘the prize’: now we are deterred from evil by fear of the loss of this rest: 3: 6.  In chapters nine and ten the seeking of God’s rest, backed by the same example of the exclusion of Israel from the land, is pressed on us.


4. In Philippians, third chapter, Paul tells us of his earnest desire and effort to obtain a part in the select resurrection from among the dead.  Also by the [Holy] Spirit he calls on all who are perfect [mature] to follow him in this object of persuit.  He points out also to us Jesus as having previously passed this way, and the glory bestowed on Him in consequence: Phil. 2.


5. In Paul’s last epistle the same subject is presented from another point of view.  The reign of Christ is conditional on suffering with HIM.  While some were pushing aside the first resurrection, which is really the Christian’s hope, believers were not to be discouraged; for God’s foundation in election, and His superstructure in the call for holiness, remain firm: 2 Tim. 2: 10-21.


1. If then the reader be a believer yet un-baptised, I would beg him to obey at once that command, as his first step of obedience.  Let him fear the threat that stands against God’s disobedient children: John 3: 5; Rom. 6: 5; Luke 12: 47, 48.


12.  "For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.


13. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto the eye of him with whom we have to do, (or, ‘to whom is our account.’)"


The apostle would elevate our thoughts about the Scripture.  Many suppose it is a ‘dead letter,’ past, and done with, without application to us!


Out of this low view of the Word of God springs the disobedience to it against which we are here warned.  The Word is Christ’s voice, the call of the Captain [Commander – in - Chief] who would lead us to this [future] rest.  The Word is not a ‘dead letter;’ ‘tis a ‘living Word.  It searches the heart, the motives, the intentions.  It should prepare us for the day of judgment before Christ; for to Him is our account.


The day is at hand!  The Lord grant the writer and reader to meet in the rest that remaineth for the people of God!