When our kids run to us with excited chatter of what just occurred as an offense to them, we listen half-heartedly, sometimes with amusement with how they are telling it, because we have heard this over and over in the course of a day among siblings. If the story is cluttered with all kinds of words of accusations and veers off the path, we stop them with, “Get to the bottom line. What happened and what do I need to do about it?” Children will draw that long sigh and then simply say, “It all started when he hit me back.” Sigh.
We humans still argue and blame others for our own disobedience. Our selfish natures lead to selfish ways of thinking and behaving. God knows us well. God knew from the beginning of time that we would need a Way to be saved from self and our sin that we succumb to when we are self-seeking. When we self-seek, we lose all touch with our Creator, the One and Only, who has our best in His heart. Do we realize how much God longs to be in a pure, holy, loving relationship with His creation? (Read Genesis) But God cannot be where sin is so if we have not repented of our sin, a relationship cannot be had. So, He designed a plan to reconcile our relationship to Him. The Plan came with a Promise that is everlasting and eternal. The Promise is Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The writer of Hebrews gets right to the point, the bottom line, reminding us of the Promise. God promised the wandering Jews in the desert, “I will be your God and you will be my people—if you obey.” But they didn’t obey, so the promised rest in God was not available to them. They wandered around, constantly moving, camping from here to there, with no real destination, trying to solve their own problems, whining about God’s gracious provisions to them while consistently seeking self-gratification. Ah, but we humans today aren’t like that? Are we?
As a result of remembering the wanderings of God’s self-focused people, we find then, that a strong, growing faith in God, with gratitude for all He has done in our lives is the real motivator in obedience to God. In other words, God’s promises are mixed with our faith and obedience to produce a growing, intimate relationship with Him! Our obedience is a measure of our faith!
We also find that God’s ultimate Promise, that would solve our broken relationship with Him. This Promise was a renewable, powerful, forever promise of salvation from self and our sin. This Promise was Jesus. Jesus is the bridge to God. Jesus paid our debt of sin, so we could now freely come to God on our own, “coming boldly up to His throne” with requests for help. Our part is to believe in Him, obey Him in faith that He will provide all we need for He is everything we need. We are saved—all because of Jesus, the Promise.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 NKJV
“Take the mercy, accept the help.”
Hebrews 4, The Message
When the Promises Are Mixed with Faith
1-3 For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said,
Exasperated, I vowed,
“They’ll never get where they’re going,
never be able to sit down and rest.”
3-7 God made that vow, even though he’d finished his part before the foundation of the world. Somewhere it’s written, “God rested the seventh day, having completed his work,” but in this other text he says, “They’ll never be able to sit down and rest.” So this promise has not yet been fulfilled. Those earlier ones never did get to the place of rest because they were disobedient. God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation:
Today, please listen,
don’t turn a deaf ear . . .
8-11 And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience.
12-13 God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one can resist God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.
The High Priest Who Cried Out in Pain
14-16 Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
I repent of my sin and the results of my disobedience. I accept, believe and want you to be in control of my life for you are Life! You are everything to me. You are the reason for living. I trust you, dear Jesus, to be my only high priest to you, God, the Father. I love you. I love our growing relationship. I accept the mercy and grace. I ask and accept your help for living this life to the full! I want to be “at rest in You” always.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen