Hebrews 3:1-4:13 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Fix Your Thoughts on Jesus
Comments for Study 2

Hebrews 3:1-4:13
Memory Verse 3:1



I. Fix Your Thoughts on Jesus (3:1-6)

>1. What does the author call those who he wrote this for? What did they share in? (1) According to verse 1, What two titles does Jesus have? What did they encourage them to do? Why would confessing Jesus be hard for them? For us?

Hebrews 3;1 "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus the apostle and high priest whom we confess."

* "holy brothers" -We are all brothers because of Jesus, for he became our brother in the flesh some 2000 years ago. We are made holy by Jesus Christ, because he died for our sins when he was in the flesh. We have been made holy brothers for a reason. First, because God loves us. Second, because he has a mission for us.

* "heavenly calling" -Our mission as holy brothers is a "heavenly calling." We all share in a heavenly calling. This is the calling to come out of the darkness of sin and into the light of the kingdom of God. It is a calling to come out of serving ourself to serve God and others. This is the calling to be Jesus' witnesses to all nations. (Mark 16:15) Our common heavenly calling is not an easy one to accomplish in our humanistic, materialistic, and hedonistic society. Many obstacles get in the way. How can we continue in the quest for our heavenly calling in such a self centered society?

* "fix your thoughts on Jesus" -The author encourages his holy brothers to fix their thoughts on Jesus. To do this we need to know who is Jesus?

* "the apostle" -Apostle means one sent out. Jesus is the supreme Apostle because God sent him to us with the supreme mission. Jesus left his throne in heaven and became flesh and blood. His mission was to bring men to God by teaching the word of God and by dying on the cross for their sins.

* Through Jesus, the Supreme Apostle, came all the apostles; Peter, James, John, ect. and so on. (You know the rest.) They were sent out with a task to follow Jesus' example. Even to this day Jesus is sending out people out to do this work. We are today's apostles if we accept the heavenly calling. But there are many obstacles that keeps us from following our heavenly calling. One is thinking that we aren't capable to teach the word of God. Of course when we look at ourselves we see many mistakes, weaknesses, and faults. No man is perfect or even close to perfection for that matter. But thinking that we can't teach the word of God because of our mistakes, weaknesses, and faults is wrong because we are fixing our thought on ourself and putting faith or that lack of it, in ourself. This is why we need to fix our thoughts on Jesus, the Supreme Apostle. By fixing our thoughts on Jesus we will grow in faith in his power. We will see that he can use us to teach us his word.

* Look at the twelve apostles, the first men Jesus sent out to teach. They were full of many faults, mistakes and weaknesses; they never understood what Jesus was talking about, they broke all kinds of Jewish laws and aggravated the Pharisees, their actions caused Jesus all kinds of problems, even in the book of Acts we see their mistakes. For example: angles continually rebuked Peter for bowing down to them, what a stupid mistake! And it was even more stupid to continually do it. With human eyes such dumb smelly fisherman would be the last people to send out to teach the word of God. But Jesus, the Supreme Apostle, thought they were the best. He choose them to teach his word because he had faith in God. He know God would teach and work miracles through them. So, let's fix our thoughts on Jesus instead of ourselves so that we can have faith that he will use us to accomplish our heavenly calling to teach the word of God.

* "and high priest" -The author also calls Jesus the our high priest. The high priest job, according to the Old Testament, was to deal with the sins of his people. He would offer blood sacrifices for his people to action for their sins. So, Jesus offered his own blood for the cleansing of our sins. By doing this Jesus cleaned all our sins. The significance of this is explained in a later chapter.

* For the Hebrews who first read this letter fixing their thoughts on Jesus and sticking to their heavenly calling wasn't easy. There was many obstacles to overcome. In Jerusalem, much persecution would come to the person who admitted to being a Christians. He would definitely be thrown out of society. And it was almost certain that their family members wouldn't understood why they would leave the Jewish way of life. If one admitted to being a Christian it was even possible that he would be stoned to death for being a a heretic. So, before a Hebrew Christian would have to admit to be a Jesus follower he had to overcome the thoughts of what would happen to him. If they were to focus on all these things they would never admit to being a believer in Jesus, let alone witness to others. Instead, they would only despair. But they did not focus their thoughts on these things. Instead they focused their thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest who was send out and who offered himself for them. They continued in their heavenly calling. Continually they encourage each other to do the same. That's why this letter was written. The author wanted them focus their thoughts on Jesus. He knew that once they did this they would stick to their heavenly calling and a great work of God would come about. He knew that many people in Jerusalem were brought to Jesus and salvation.

* Today there are many obstacles that continually keep us from our heavenly calling. One is when we testify to Jesus people often look at us funny and some even make smart remarks. Many more simply reject us. Another is our families usually don't understand what we are doing. If we fix our thoughts on these things we will only despair. But it we fix our thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest, a great work of God will be done through us. By fixing our thoughts on how God sent Jesus out as an apostle into a hostile world; and how many people were brought to God through his accepting it; and by fixing our thoughts on how his offering his blood to God as a high priest brought salvation to many, we too can accept being sent out to witness and we too can offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. We will be able to keep our heavenly calling because we know that many people will be brought to God and be saved.

* By fixing out thoughts on Jesus we also will grow in the love and peace of Jesus and we will receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Then no matter what persecutions come are way we will be have peace, faith, power and contentment to continue our heavenly calling. So, let's fix our thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest, so that we can continually do his work and encourage each other to continue to do it with us.

>2. Who appointed Jesus? Was Jesus faithful to that appointing? Who is Jesus compared to? (2) Who is the great between the two? Why?

Hebrews 3:2 "He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house."

* Jesus was faithful in his apostleship. He continues to show Jesus greatness by comparing Jesus to Moses.

* The Jews had a high regard for Moses because he was so faithful to his call. But their high regard for him caused them to fixed their thoughts on him and on the laws that came through him. When they did this they slowly but surely stopped fixing their thoughts on the Lord God. Instead of thinking of the Lord they only worried about many man made laws like how many times a man should wash his hands before they were ceremonial clean. The author knew of the Jews high regard for Moses and how it caused them to drift away from God. He did not want his holy brothers to do the same. He helps them to not do this by showing how Jesus and the grace through him is greater and than Moses and the law that came through him. And therefore, he should be the object of our thoughts.

* What was the God appointed task of Jesus and Moses? Jesus was appointed as the mediator between God and men. He was appointed to save men from the slavery of sin and bring them to the kingdom of God by coming to earth and dieing for our sins. Even today he saves men from their sins. Jesus was and still is faithful to this call. Moses was appointed to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land. He was faithful to this call, with one exception when he credited himself for bringing water out of a rock. As can be seen Jesus' call is a greater and harder call to faithful to. And yet, Jesus is more faithful to his calling than Moses was to his. Therefore, "Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses" as the author points out in verse 3a.

>3. How is Jesus faithful in his duties as a son? Who is the house of God? How can we follow Jesus' example?

Hebrews 3:3-5 "Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house.

* Here, Jesus' appointed task is described in a different way. The author calls Jesus a builder and maintainer of the house of God. God's house is based on love, faith, and hope. Jesus life, death and resurrection fulfilled this to the tee. He is the builder and maintainer of God's house. As is pointed out Moses was only a great worker in the house of God that Jesus built. Moses in only a part of God's house and Jesus is the maker of that house. So as verses 3, and 5 says, "Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself... Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house."

Hebrews 3:6 "And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast."

* We are the house of God and Jesus died so we could be a part of God's house. Now he is continually and faithfully helping us grow. He is molding us into mighty men and women of God. So let's be faithful to our call of witnessing like Jesus is faithful to his. Let's hold on to our courage and witness and boasting to others the salvation in Jesus.

* What follows is a practical lesson learning from the generation of Moses. We are reminded that they did not enter God's rest because they hardened their hearts towards God during the time of testing and training. Therefore, the author warns us to not harden our hearts toward God, especially since we have received the greater message of grace through Jesus, God's son. If the Israelites did not enter God's rest because of a harden heart, we certainly will not enter God's rest if we harden our hearts to the Son of God. (3:7-3:19) On the other hand, we are given the promise that if we believe God in obedience to the end, we will enter his rest. And we are told what a complete rest we will receive. (4:1-13)

II. Today, if you Hear His Voice (3:7-19)

>4. What is the background of verses 7-11? (Ref. 16-19) Why are we reminded of the Israelites' past during the time of Moses? What could happen to our hearts? What does this mean?

Hebrews 3:7-11 "So, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'"

* Hebrews 3:7-4:13 is a message based on Psalm 95:7b-11. This is recorded in verse 7-11.

* The Holy Spirit's point of reminding us of Psalm 95 was to warn us not to follow the pattern of the Israelites, for if we do, we too, will not enter God's rest. (15)

* To understand this we must first know the history of Psalm 95:7b-11. This is revealed more in verses 16-19. Look at these verses and verses 7-11 simultaneously.

* First, out of love, God deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to be a holy Bible teaching nation. He gave them his word so they could fulfill this task, verse 16. Then, out of love, the Lord God lead them through the desert for forty years as a time of testing and training so they could be ready to fulfil their calling as a holy nation, verses 8, 9, and 17. But, instead of receiving God's love and following his words, the Israelites provoke God's anger by continually rebelling and sinning against his word, verses 10, 16 and 17. They had an ungrateful heart towards God. Finally, they did not believe they could fulfill their calling as a holy nation and drive out the Canaanites when they reached the Jordan. This is "the rebellion" mentioned in verse 3. At that time God swore that all of them would enter God's rest in the promised land. And that they would die in the desert, verses 11, 17.

* Finally, the unbelieving Israelites did not enter God's rest in heaven, verses 11, 18 and 19. Because of their terrible downfall, the Holy Spirit warns us; "'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts...'" (7) Why? Because we, like the Israelites, have been saved from slavery. Our salvation, however, is a greater salivating; the salvation from the slavery of sin. This is God's grace and love to us. This salvation came to us through the sacrificial life of God's Son, Jesus Christ. By his death and resurrection he freed us from the power of sin and death. Now, he is leading us through our lives. He is training us and testing us, so that we may be better equipped to fulfill our heavenly calling. Just like when he lead the Israelites though the desert, training and testing them, so that they would be better equipped fulfill their calling as a holy nation.

* Like them our training gets hard. At many times it is easy for us to harden our hearts to God's voice, leave our calling, and go back to our old way of living. (14) Because of this the Holy Spirit warns not to harden our hearts to God. We are warned of two enemies that could cause us to harden our hearts to God's heavenly call: the enemy within and the enemy without in the following verses.

>5. How is sin defined in verse 12? How can sin be deceitful? Consider this in light of Jesus' parable of the seeds on different types of soils. (Matt. 13)

Hebrews 3:12 "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God."

* First, the enemy within.

* Within us, we can harden our hearts to God and his heavenly call by not believing the words in the Bible or superficially accepting them. When God tell us of the evil of sin, the excellence of holiness, the necessity of receiving him by faith as our Savior and Lord, the world mission command to be disciple makers for all around the world, we must not shut our ears and heart to him. It is also hard to receive God's training as he raises us up to fulfill this task. It is especially hard for us to believe God's words when everything seems to go wrong and our training seems unbearable.

* When we get into financial problems, material problems, family problems, work problems, acceptance problems, or work problems; we are tempted to think that God's word is not true, his hand is not with us, and the life of faith is not a true blessing. When the Israelites had a food problem, a water problem, or an enemy problem, they thought that God had left them. When in fact it was God training them out of love. But they were ungrateful and hardened their hearts to God. They only complained and rebelled. Then, they decided to stop their pilgrimage toward the promised land. They decided to turn back to their old slave life. But God was patient with them. Yet when they reached the promised land all of them said it was impossible for them to fulfill the mission God had given them. So again they rebelled. Because of this God swore that they would not enter his rest in the promised land.

* Similarly, when problems comes our way or our training seem to unbearable we should not follow the Israelites bad example. We should not hardened our hearts and doubt God's calling. Instead, we need to believe his word by faith.

* When tests come our way, we should see to it, brothers, that none of us has a sinful, unbelieving heart that hardens and turns away from the living God. For when we do we can be sure that we will enter God's blessing and rest.

>6. How long are we to encourage each other? What is the goal of encouragement? What does verse 14 mean?

Hebrews 3:13 "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."

* The second enemy that can cause us to have a sinful unbelieving heart is the enemy outside us.

* Sin hardens our heart from God and our heavenly call. According to verse 13 sin is very deceitful. This is because Satan, that old crafty serpent is behind all temptation to sin. He makes sins look harmless and pleasing. For example: the lazy and the content life is very deceptive. It looks harmless and pleasing to take a rest for only short periods of time. But, being lazy and content takes us away from our Bible study and prayer times. This causes calluses to appear on our hearts, our hearts become hard. Then when God calls us through the Holy Spirit or his servants we reject it. We fail the test and fall away from our heavenly calling.

Hebrews 3:14-15 "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."

* "share in Christ" -united as a body is.

* "hold firmly" -like to a log going down the rapids.

* "till the end" -We can not stop.

* Jesus' parable of the path soils in Matthew 13 is a good example of this.

Hebrews 3:16-19 "Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

* These verses refer back to the points made by the author of Hebrews at the beginning of this study.

III. His Rest (4:1-13)

>7. What does the word "Therefore" tell us?

>8. What has God promised us through Jesus? Why is this message good news?

Hebrews 4:1-2 "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith."

* "Therefore" -This tell us that 4:1-13 is a conclusion to 3:15, which says, "Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your heart..." What will be the conclusion if we don't harden our hearts to God and our heavenly call? We will enter God's rest stated in verse 4:1a, 3a, and 6a. "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands..." and, "Now we who have believed enter that rest..." and, "It still remains that some will enter that rest..." The availability of God's rest to us is indeed good news. But how can we keep from making the mistake that the Israelites did which kept them from entering God's rest?

* We need to combined what we learned from Jesus with faith. By faith we must accept and follow Jesus' words. This life is not easy but in the end we can be assured that we will rest in the kingdom of God.

* But what exactly is God's rest? First, God's rest in in Christ Jesus as it says in 3:11. When we accept Jesus into our hearts we are no longer fighting against God, but at rest and peace with him.

* Secondly, God's rest in in heaven. Look at verse 9-11.

>9. What should we do when we receive the good news? What would happen to us if we do not do this? What Sabbath-rest is the author referring to?

Hebrews 4:3-7 "Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

* Two kinds of rest.

Hebrews 4:8-11 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

* Not a rest in this world.

* What follows is a statement made because of the power of God manifested through Psalm 95. Verses 12, part one, tells of the tool which God uses to open our hardened hearts, the word of God. The author says that the word of God is living and active. Verse 13, part two of today's passage, explains how God see all that we do and we must give and account of all that we do to him one day.

>10. What attributes does the word of God have? How does it apply to this study?

Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

* The subject verse 12 is the word of God. We know of the word of God in three ways. First, as the tool which God use when he created. John 1:1-3 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." In Genesis we see this truth in each of the seven days. God used word to create all the universe. As we survey that which was created, its beauty, simplicity, harmony and power we can begin to come to understand just what the word of God is capable of doing.

* Secondly, we know of the word when it became flesh. John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only Begotten, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." The word of God is Jesus. When we survey Jesus' life we see how the word of God is personal, loving kind and demanding. Through Jesus, the living word of God, we are touched with the love of God.

* Thirdly, we know of the word in the Bible. All that we need to know about God was given for us in written word. As we survey the Bible we learn who God is and how he deals with man. We also learn who we are and what our purpose in life is. Through deep Bible study we can be receive light, life and hope.

* "living and active" -Being of God it is also of his kingdom. Jesus describes some of it's characteristics in his parables. He said that the word of God "is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches." or "...it is like yeast that a women took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." (Luke 13:19,21) Studying and accepting the word of God at first looks insignificant. But there is power in the word. It changes and grows once planting is a persons soul. It makes a person a better being. Each saved soul is an example of how the word of God is living and active. I use to be a small man. I use to get drunk and chase girls. I was selfish and hopeless, with no direction in life. But when I accepted the word of God continually I slowly began to change. The change became so evident that all now hardly believe I was that way. The word of God helped me to stop drinking and stop chasing girls. Instead of doing these things I teach the Bible to bring people to God.

* "sharper than a double edge sword" -We can use the word of God as a double edge sword. In the first century the double edge sword was the pinnacle of weaponry weapons. If a soldier had a double edged sword none of his opponents could beat him. If, of course, he knew how to use it correctly. Singularly if a spiritual warrior uses the word of God correctly none of his appointment will defeat him. Therefore, we can use the word of God for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training. (1 Tim. 3:10) At lot of times it is tempting to use our own intellect when we study with and raise new disciple candidates. We think our brains are sharp. But compared to the word of God, which is sharper than a double edge sword, our brains are as dull as a brick. Therefore, let us use the word of God, for it changes men's hearts by dividing them open.

* "penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow" The word of God pierces our beings. It is able to discriminate successfully between what is spiritual in us and what is merely soulish; flesh and natural. It is especially active to penetrate and divide when the two are opposing each other. When we are confused on what we should do or if we can not find the strength to do what is right we can turn to the word of God to find direction and strength. With the word of God we all are able to test and approve what the will of God is, his God pleasing and perfect will.

* "judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" -In our hearts men rebel against God and his will. We often rationalize this rebellion, telling ourselves we have done nothing wrong. But when we read the word of God the truth is brought our transgressions in the open. At that time we are convicted with the word of God. Then we can humbly confess the truth and ask for forgiveness. When we read or hear the word of God we should not be like the Israelites who hardened their hearts. Instead we should humbly accept the truth. In the past all of us, if saved, heard the gospel for the first time. At that time our hearts were pierced. Then we were able to see the truth. We saw the light. At that time we experienced the peace of God. Let's remember this the next time the word of God knocks at the door of our heart.

Hebrews 4:13 "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

* We can learn two things from this verse.

* "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him, (that is God)" -No matter what we do, whether good or bad, God knows it. For instance; when Adam sinned he tried to hide for God. But he could not. God had known what he and Eve had done. So even when Adam lied God knew that he ate from the tree of God and evil. Or for instance: When King David sinned he too tried to hide what he had done by killing Uriah. But he could not. God knew what he and Behtsheba sinned and he had killed Uriah to try and hide his sin. So when we go against God's will we try to rationalize our sins and hid then. In doing this we are actually are lying to ourselves and God. We try to build up walls thinking we can hid. But we can not. So, rather that hiding for God let's stay in truth. Let the word of God pierce our hearts, by accepting it and repenting.

* "we must give account (to God)" -Account of what we have done with the word of God while in the flesh. If we do not accept our sins now and repent we will be in trouble for all must give an account to God. If our sins had not been paid for by death and judgement we will be sent to hell, where the fire never goes out. However, if we accept Jesus and live according to his word by faith we will be able to enter his kingdom and receive rest.