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Hebrews 4:1-7

03.10.2011

Today our author stays on point but flips the script.  Instead of focusing on the consequences of not trusting God (like with the Exodus generation), he encourages his listeners to enter God’s rest.  As far as I can tell, God’s rest is like so much else in the Bible in that it has been inaugurated but not consummated, the oft-used ‘already-not-yet’ category.  There are a few elements of the Christian life that I can think of that fall into this category:

  • Israel’s restoration
    • Ezra recounts the return of the Jews to their homeland after exile.
    • But the Kingdom of Israel was not reinstated, and they lived in submission to a chain of outside rulers.
  • David’s son
    • Solomon built the Temple that David could not, as God promised.
    • The Temple did not last forever as promised, and Solomon did not fit the description of the promised Son.  Only Jesus would ultimately fulfill this promise of God.
  • God’s rest
    • We experience the peace that surpasseth all understanding in that the hope we have in Christ puts in perspective the trials of this life.
    • At the same time, we still face the trials of this life and won’t know peace and rest in full until Heaven.
  • Righteousness
    • We are freed from sin and cleansed of its stain by the blood of Jesus, wholly made new and purified to be righteous saints in fellowship with God.
    • However, we still do what we hate and don’t do what we ought, being sanctified in God’s time while living and struggling as sinners in a broken world.
  • The Kingdom of God
    • The Kingdom of God is ushered in at the Incarnation, bringing the good news of the Gospel to all men, blessing the low and humbling the mighty, revolutionizing the affairs of men.
    • The Kingdom of God is not yet fully in evidence, as the wicked still prosper and the justice that we’re promised is still just a dream.

This is the hard part of living in faith, the sense that we’re clinging to promises that have been fulfilled just enough to give us hope, but not so much that we don’t fall into discouragement.  This is where we struggle and wonder which promises are just figurative and which are ‘dual time horizon’ prophecies and which are already-not-yet.  These are the times we have to fall back on our faith and be thankful that our God is ever faithful.

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