And these words which I command to thee today, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt tell those to thy sons, and thou shalt think upon them, sitting in thine house, and going in the way (and going on the way), lying down, and rising (up).
What are ‘these words’? Moses orates:
Thou shalt love thy Lord God of all thine heart, and of all thy soul, and of all thy strength. (Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength.)
Hard to imagine that meditating on these words can make any difference in your life? Think again.
For the word of God is quick, and speedy in working, and more able to pierce than any twain-edged sword [two-edged sword], and stretcheth forth [till] to the parting of the soul and of the spirit, and of the jointures and marrows, and deemer of thoughts, and of intents of hearts. (Hebrews 4:12)
So Moses tells us to speak of loving God, to imagine loving God, to meditate on loving God, to teach loving God to our children and to our neighbors and even to those who we perceive as enemies.
As we think on ‘these words’, these words change us.
If you speak to your child through someone else, through – let’s say – a sitter; you mean what you say but your words have less of an impact than if you speak directly to your child. When God speaks to us through His Son, He speaks directly to us. He no longer uses a prophet to show us who He is. Instead, He shows us His very self by revealing Himself through the “heir of all things,” through the One “by whom He made the worlds” – that is, Jesus Christ.
“God, that spake sometime by prophets in many manners to our fathers, at the last in these days he hath spoken to us by the Son; whom he hath ordained heir of all things, and by whom he made the worlds.”
“so Christ was offered once, to void the sins of many men [for to void, or do away, the sins of many men]; the second time he shall appear without sin to men that abide him into health.”
Bishops (priests) acting in the old covenant (testament) offer the blood of bulls, goats, lambs repeatedly, year and year in order to cleanse themselves and the peoples of sins. In the new covenant (testament) Jesus as the only Bishop (Priest) offers Himself once, not to cleanse but to void (to do away with) the sins of many.
Christ plans to return “without sin” to His people who “abide Him into health.” What does that mean? “Without sin?” Jesus becomes sin on the cross; when He appears a second time, He no longer carries the sins of the world for He voids these on the cross by His own blood.
Christ’s sacrifice is not repeatable. Nothing need be added to it; and certainly nothing may be taken from it!
“But because [Christ] remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.”
Under the old covenant, the priest literally stands between the people and God. Annually, the priest offers an unblemished lamb as a sacrificial substitute for the people, their sins burning up along with the body of the lamb, the sweet fragrance satisfying the wrath of the Lord. The people come to God through the priest; God accepts them because of the lamb.
The author of Hebrews may as well shout. For under the new covenant — the better covenant — the priest “remains forever,” and “always lives to intercede for [the people].” Under the new covenant — the final covenant — the priest is the Lamb! And, the sacrifice is once for all. And, the Priest lives forever, always able to intercede for each and every one “who comes to God through Him.”
God has a problem, early on, with the first covenant He makes with His people. He finds fault with them, and seeks another way of making His people right with Him. There is no denying there is something wrong with the old covenant, says the writer of Hebrews. (see Hebrews 8:7-8, NIV)
The key here is that God finds fault with His people, and He requires some way to resolve this separation of Himself from the people He has chosen. He cannot abide sin, but His law is not achieving the end He desires. He’s resorted to punishment, to discipline, to promises; but these do not lead His people to love Him consistently enough to turn from their evil ways. As a matter of fact, God knows His people are essentially incapable of turning to Him.
Therefore God looks forward to His new covenant in which He puts His law in the minds of His people. This law is inside; no longer an outside force. Rather this law is written on the hearts of God’s people. God declares:
“No longer does a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12)
Yet, someone may argue that Jesus states emphatically that not a letter of the law is set aside. Since Jesus Himself fulfills every requirement of God’s law, no contradiction exists. The law is external for us; but for God’s Son, the law is always internal. Hence Jesus meets all God’s expectations for the people of God. Jesus gives us His own righteousness like a robe we wear on the outside while the Holy Spirit transforms us on the inside. Kind of like dressing for the cold while the glow of warmth rises inside.
God rests on the seventh day after He creates the universe, every world, every living thing, and us. God calls us to a “Sabbath-rest” of our own, saying through His Holy Spirit that “anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God does from His.” (Hebrews 4:10) God’s “work has been finished since the creation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:3) We are to “make every effort to enter that rest.” (Hebrews 4:11) Then, the author of Hebrews adds, “so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11)
What example of disobedience? The people disobeyed by not combining the message they heard with faith. (Hebrews 4:2) They heard the good news, but did not believe it. They heard His voice, but they hardened their hearts. (Hebrews 4:7) “So we see they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:19)
The author emphasizes that entering God’s rest happens in the present — Today, in fact.
“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13)
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:7,8)
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)
Rest from your own work. Make every effort to enter the Sabbath-rest God prepares for you.