The Rest of God: A Great High Priest & a Throne of Grace

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. More specifically today’s passage is found in the third and fourth chapters of this New Testament book. “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:1-6).

 

            “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 you fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was 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” (Hebrews 3:7-11).

 

            “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12-19).

 

            “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest on the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:1-11).

 

            “For the word of God is quick, 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. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

 

            “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

 

            When you come to the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the epistle written unto the Hebrews transitioning from the preeminence and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ to something entirely and altogether different. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews you will indeed find an incredible amount of language concerning the glory, the honor, the majesty, the supremacy and the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, you will encounter so much more than that. The more you delve into the epistle written unto the Hebrews the more you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous responsibility we have in light of the truth that has been presented. This reality is first expressed in the opening four verses of the second chapter of this epistle when the author calls and invites us into a place of response in light of what has just been written. If we want to truly understand the words which are found in the first four verses of the second chapter we must needs recognize that what is contained there is a strong and powerful invitation that was granted unto the readers and audience in light of the words which were previously spoken. In all reality it’s almost like a call and invitation to respond based on what was just written and spoken within the epistle. The words which are presented in the first four verses of the second chapter are essentially an “altar call” within the epistle calling and inviting us into a place of response and responsibility.

 

            It is having said this and with all of this being in our minds I invite you to consider the words which are found in these verses for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding our response to God in these last day speaking unto us by and through His eternal and only begotten Son. In light of the Lord Jesus being made greater than the angels and in light of the Lord Jesus Christ being the fulness and express image of the invisible God there is a responsibility and response that is indeed needed on our parts in light of this particular reality. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first four verses of the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews:

 

 

            “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by the angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will” (Hebrews 2:1-4).

 

            We must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they invite and call us into a place of responsibility. In light of the supremacy and preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ as the express image of the invisible God we as the saints of God are to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard. In the first chapter the author not only speaks of those things which were spoken by the living God through the prophets but they also go on to declare how God has in these Last Days spoken unto us by His Son. In the opening verse of the second chapter the author speaks of us giving the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard lest at any time we should let them slip. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the wonderful truth surrounding those words which the Lord Jesus has indeed spoken unto us. In the first verses of the second chapter the author of this epistle calls our attention to those things which we have heard—this despite the fact that they do not actually describe those things which we have heard. Essentially that which the author of the epistle is seeking to do is to remind us and to draw our attention to those things which have indeed and have in fact been spoken unto us—both by and through the prophets as well as by and through the Son in these Last Days. Oh we dare not and must not miss that which is found in these verses for they call and draw our attention to the awesome and wonderful reality of those things which we have heard—those things which in these Last Days have been spoken unto us by and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews goes on to declare the reason that we are to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard by speaking of our letting them slip from our hearts and our minds. This would immediately be followed by the author going on to speak of the word which was spoken by angels was steadfast and how every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward. This writer would go on to ask the question of how we shall hope and expect to escape if we neglect so great a salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord and was confirmed by those which heard Him. That which the author seeks to present unto us in this passage of Scripture is the tremendous gospel and witness of salvation which has indeed been spoken and manifested unto us by and through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The author of this epistle speaks of the salvation—and not just the salvation but the great salvation—which we have received and heard from the Lord Jesus Christ. It was written how those who rebelled and disobeyed against the word which was spoken by angels received a just recompense of reward in the mouth of two or three witnesses and now there is a far greater and far better word that was spoken unto us by and through the Son. The Law of the LORD was given unto Moses atop the mountain in the wilderness in the midst of thick darkness, thunders, lightnings, dark clouds, and a consuming fire and those who rebelled and transgressed against the word which was spoken would indeed receive the just penalty for their sin in the mouth of two or three witnesses. What we now have, however, is a far better and far greater word than that which was spoken unto Moses in the midst of the consuming fire, the thick darkness and the great cloud which was upon the mountain.

 

            The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews calls us to give more earnest heed to the things which we have heard lest at any time we should let them slip. They then go on to declare that the word spoken by angels was steadfast and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward. Not only this but the author goes on to ask how we shall hope and think to escape if we neglect so great salvation which at the first began to be spoken of by the Lord and was confirmed unto us by those that heard him. Not only this but God also bore them witness both with signs and wonders and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost according to His own will. We know that the Lord Jesus Christ was and is greater and far more supreme than the angels which were in heaven and we have been given an incredible invitation to hear and listen to Him. Oh I can’t help but hear the same words which were spoken from the midst of the cloud atop the mountain being spoken unto us who are reading these words in this generation. I cannot help but get the strong sense that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who hear—and not only hear but also listen to and obey the words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. We who have heard the words spoken by the Lord Jesus have indeed been called to give the more earnest heed unto those things which we have heard. Remember the words which the Lord Jesus Christ spoke unto each of the seven churches in the prophetic book of the Revelation—“Let him to hath ears hear what the Spirit is saying unto the churches.” Oh there is a great and powerful need for us to not only hear the words which the Spirit is speaking unto the churches but also to do and obey them.

 

            As you come to the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the author going on to speak of and unto the holy brethren who were partakers of the heavenly calling. The author goes on to make an appeal unto the holy brethren who were partakers of the heavenly calling to consider the Apostle and High priest of our profession who is Jesus Christ. This Apostle and High Priest of our profession was faithful to Him that appointed Him as also Moses was faithful in all his house. This Apostle and High Priest of our profession was counted worthy of more glory than Moses forasmuch as the one who built the house has more abundant honor than the house itself. Every house is built by some man but he which builds all things is God. Just as Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after, so was Christ as a son over his own house. What’s more is that Christ as a son is over his own house and it is this house we are if we hold fast to the confidence and the rejoicing of hope firm unto the end. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words which are found here bring us face to face with the tremendous need—not only to consider the Apostle and High priest of our profession but also to hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Thus within this passage we encounter the heavenly calling, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, our profession, and even the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Oh how absolutely wonderful this particular truth truly is when you take the time to think about it for when we consider our walk and relationship with the living God we must needs recognize and understand both the profession as well as the confession we have as the saints of God—the holy brethren who are and who have been made partakers of the heavenly calling.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about the fact that the author of this epistle refers to the Lord Jesus—not only as the Apostle but also as the High Priest of our profession. Within the first verse—not only do we encounter the reality of the heavenly calling but we also encounter the reality of the profession we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the opening verses of the third chapter of this epistle we are brought face to face with the profession and confession we have in the Lord Jesus and how He is both the Apostle of our profession as well as the High Priest of our profession. I have previously heard it mentioned how an apostle brings God unto men while a high priest brings men unto God, thus when the author of this epistle speaks of the Lord Jesus as being both Apostle and High Priest they are demonstrating the strong truth that He not only brings God to men but He also brings men unto God. What’s more is that in the second chapter of this epistle we are first brought to terms with the Lord Jesus as being a high priest—and not only a high priest but also a faithful high priest. It would be in the final verses of the second chapter the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wonderfully and powerfully declares concerning the Lord Jesus how He was made a little lower than the angels and took upon Himself the nature of flesh and blood that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest. It is actually something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for when we think about the Lord Jesus Christ we must acknowledge that He is indeed a merciful and faithful High Priest—one who is able to strengthen, support and succour us in all our trials, all our troubles, all our tribulations and all our temptations.

 

            The more I think about the words which are found in the epistle written unto the Hebrews the more this reality of the Lord Jesus Christ as a merciful and faithful high priest sticks out within my heart and mind. In the seventeenth verse of the second chapter the author declares concerning the Lord Jesus how it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren that he might be a faithful and merciful high priest in things pertaining to God. As a merciful and faithful high priest He not only made reconciliation for the sins of the people but in that He suffered being tempted He is able to succour those who are tempted. We dare not and must not miss the incredible significance that is found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome reality that as our merciful and faithful high priest the Lord Jesus not only made reconciliation for the sins of the people restoring fellowship and relationship with the living God but is also able to stand and serve as strength and support in the midst of those things we struggle with in our daily lives. It was absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand the importance of this truth for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that this Jesus who took upon Himself the nature of flesh and blood and was made a little lower than the angels is able to stand and serve as our faithful and merciful high priest. What’s more is that Scripture speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ as having set down at the right hand of the Majesty on High after He had made atonement and reconciliation for our sins. It is in the first chapter the author clearly references the Lord Jesus making reconciliation and atonement for our sins and after He had purchased us by and through the blood of His cross He sat down at the right hand of the Father. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this reality truly us and how the Lord Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be made a little lower than the angels for suffering and death and would ultimately be set down at the right hand of the Father who is in heaven.

 

            I have to admit that I absolutely love the words and language that is found in the opening chapters of the epistle written unto the Hebrews—and not only the words which are found in these opening chapters but also the words which are found throughout the epistle. The more you read this epistle the more you will be brought face to face with the incredible truth of the Lord Jesus being our merciful and faithful high priest. It is in the second chapter of the epistle we first encounter this language of the Lord Jesus being our high priest—and not only our high priest but also being a faithful and merciful high priest. In the final verses of the second chapter the author presents the Lord Jesus as a faithful and merciful high priest who was made like His brethren in things pertaining to God. The sole purpose of this being made like unto His brethren was that He could be a faithful and merciful high priest who would make reconciliation for the sins of the people just as the high priest under the Law would enter into the Holy of Holies once a year with the blood to make atonement for the sins of the people. In the Old Testament, however, this process would have to be repeated year after year as the high priest would take the blood of the sacrifice with him in the Holy of Holies and present before the Mercy Seat behind the veil. What we must recognize and understand—and what we will see later in the epistle written unto the Hebrews—is that whereas the earthly high priest needed to make atonement for the sins of the people year after the year the Lord Jesus needed to make atonement once and for all. The Lord Jesus would enter into the Holy of Holies in heaven and with His own blood which He shed upon the earth and on the cross He made atonement for the sins of the people that they might be reconciled before and unto the living God.

 

            Upon coming to the third chapter we find this language of the Lord Jesus being a High Priest continuing with the notable exception of the author now adding the role and office of Apostle. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews presented the Lord Jesus as both the Apostle and the High Priest of our profession and as being faithful to Him that appointed Him as Moses was faithful in His house. As the Apostle of our profession the Lord Jesus is able to bring God unto us and make Him known unto us while as the High Priest of our profession He is able to bring us before and unto the living God. What’s more is that within the opening verses of the third chapter we not only encounter the Lord Jesus as the Apostle and High Priest but we also encounter the Lord Jesus as being the Son within and over the house of the living God. Just as Moses was servant within the house under the Old Covenant so also would the Lord Jesus be Son over the house under the New Covenant. What’s more is that as you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the author declaring that we are of this house if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. There is a house which the Lord Jesus is Son and Lord over and this house is such that we are a part of if we not only hold fast the confidence but also the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this for this concept of hope would be mentioned again in the eleventh chapter when the author would declare that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen. There is something truly remarkable and beautiful about this reality of hope—and not only hope but a hope which is unseen by the natural eyes and yet is found within our hearts and spirits.

 

            In the third chapter of this epistle we find the author referring to the heavenly calling, the profession, the confidence and the hope which we have in the person of the Lord Jesus. What we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words is the tremendous responsibility we have within our lives in light of who the Lord Jesus is. In the first chapter of this epistle we find the Lord Jesus as being the fulness of the glory and majesty of the living God and being the express image of the invisible God as the apostle Paul declared in the epistle written unto the Colossian saints. Within the first chapter we discover that after the Lord Jesus had made atonement and reconciliation for sins He set down at the right hand of Majesty on high and not only gained a name that was far greater than the angels in heaven but also an inheritance that was far greater than the angels had. The sole purpose of the first chapter of this epistle is to demonstrate the voice of God in these Last Days speaking unto us by and through His Son who was made so much greater than the angels which were in heaven. The Lord Jesus was indeed and was in fact made greater than the angels having obtained a better name and inheritance than they had. It was indeed necessary for us to recognize and understand the supremacy and preeminence of the Lord Jesus over and above the angels for it makes the words and language in the second chapter all the more captivating. This One who was and is so much greater than the angels in heaven having obtained a better name and inheritance than they were would allow Himself to be made lower than the angels for the purpose of suffering and death. As the eternal and only begotten Son of God He was entirely and altogether unable to partake in suffering and death—a reality which warranted His taking on the form and nature of flesh and blood. It would be because He took on the nature of flesh and blood and was made like unto His brethren that He was not only able to partake of suffering and death, and not only make reconciliation of sins but destroy him who had the power of death which was the devil.

 

            The words and language we find in the second chapter of this epistle must needs be carefully understood for in Jesus’ taking upon Himself the nature of flesh and blood and suffering in the flesh He was and is still able to stand in that office and place as a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God. As our merciful and faithful high priest—not only did he make atonement and reconciliation for our sins but He is also able to stand between us and the living God making intercession for us. If we want to truly understand Jesus’ role and office as High Priest we must needs acknowledge that it is not only centered upon atonement and reconciliation but it is also centered upon intercession on behalf of the trials, temptations, troubles and tribulations we face within our every day lives. For us to truly understand what the role and office of the Lord Jesus as the faithful and merciful High Priest entails and looks like we must recognize that it not only touches the realm of intercession but also the realm of atonement. The Lord Jesus has by and through the blood of His cross and sacrifice made atonement for our sins in the past tense, however, He has not forfeited nor abandoned His role in the office of the High Priest. The Lord Jesus fulfilled the atonement and reconciliation part of the office of the high priest, however, there is another purpose found within the office of the High Priest which He has been fulfilling ever since He set down at the right hand of the Father. How absolutely incredible it is to think about the fact that the Lord Jesus did in fact make reconciliation and atonement for our sins by and through His blood and now He ever lives to make intercession for us.

 

            As you read the words which are found in the third chapter of this epistle you will find the author calling us as the saints and brethren of the living God to hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope we have firm unto the end. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the significance of what is found here for not only do we have confidence and hope but directly linked and connected to that confidence and hope is the need for perseverance and endurance unto the end. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that we have indeed and have in fact been called into a place of endurance, patience and perseverance in the days in which we are living. Perhaps one of the greatest purposes of this epistle was to call and invite the saints of God into a place of endurance and patience in their calling and confidence in the sight of the living God. Within this passage of Scripture we not only encounter the awesome truth surrounding the heavenly calling we have but also the confidence we have because the Lord Jesus is indeed our faithful and merciful High Priest and Apostle of our profession. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you come to the twelfth chapter of this same epistle and read of the Lord Jesus as being the author and finisher or author and perfector of our faith. Thus within this epistle we not only find the Lord Jesus as being the Apostle and High Priest of our profession but we also find Him as the author and finisher of our faith. It is the Lord Jesus who not only authors and begins our faith but also completes and finishes our faith knowing that He who began a good work in us can and will be faithful to complete it unto the time of the coming of the Lord Jesus.

 

            In the third chapter of this epistle we are brought face to face with the wonderful reality of the responsibility we have to hold fast our confidence—and not only to hold fast our confidence but also the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Essentially what we find here within this passage of Scripture is not only the reality of holding fast but also that of standing firm unto the end. That which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews sought to accomplish and fulfill within this epistle is to not only remind us of the heavenly calling, the profession but also the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps one of the greatest truths found in the epistle written unto the Hebrews is the confidence and boldness we can have in the presence of the living God—and not only in the sight and presence of the living God but before the throne of grace. I realize I am getting ahead of myself but if you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found at the end of the fourth chapter you will find additional language concerning the confidence and boldness we have because of the work which the Lord Jesus accomplished and fulfilled. Beginning with the fourteenth verse of this chapter we find the author speaking of our having such a great high priest that is passed into the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—we are to hold fast our profession. Moroever the author goes on to describe how we do not have a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tempted like as we are and yet was without sin. It is because we have a high priest who can indeed be touched with the feeling of our infirmities that we are able to come boldly unto the throne of grace that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

            I have to admit that I absolutely love the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within these verses we find the author speaking of the profession we have and how directly linked and connected to that profession is the high priest. This is now one more time within the epistle written unto the Hebrews we find the author speaking of Jesus as the high priest which we have who has passed into the heavens. In the second chapter of this epistle the author speaks of our having a faithful and merciful high priest who is able to succour us in all our temptations, trials, troubles and tribulations. In the third chapter of this epistle we find the author speaking unto his audience concerning the High Priest and Apostle of our profession who is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now in the final verses of the fourth chapter we find the author once more speaking of the Lord Jesus as a great high priest who has passed into the heavens. It is because this great high priest has indeed passed into the heavens that we are to hold fast our profession—the same profession which the author spoke of in the third chapter. It was in the third chapter of this epistle the author spoke of the Lord Jesus being the Apostle and High Priest of our profession and now in the fourth chapter we find the author speaking of our need to hold fast our profession. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for not only are we instructed and invited to hold fast our profession but we are also invited to hold firm our confidence and the rejoicing of the hope until the end. Oh how we must needs recognize and understand the need for patience, for endurance and for perseverance within our hearts and our spirits within the generation in which are living.

 

            In the final verses of the fourth chapter the author of this epistle speaks of a great high priest that has passed into the heavens and then goes on to declare that we do not have a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. There is a great need for us to pay close attention to the words found here for having passed into the heavens and having sat down at the right hand of Majesty on high the Lord Jesus can never suffer in the flesh. It is in the second chapter of this epistle we find the Lord Jesus being made a little lower than the angels for suffering and death and it is important to note that while in the flesh Jesus experienced suffering and death on the earth never to experience it in the heavens. The Lord Jesus suffered and died in the flesh and when He rose from the grave he deliberately and intentionally chose to retain and hold on to the scars of His suffering. If you turn and direct your attention to the gospel narratives you will find Jesus inviting Thomas to place his hands in the print of the nails which pierced his hands and to thrust his hand into the print of the spear which was thrust into His flesh while He hung there upon the cross. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this epistle it’s that although the Lord Jesus did in fact suffer in the flesh and although He did die in the flesh and rose from death to life He would never suffer again. Having ascended unto the right hand of the Father who is in heaven the Lord Jesus can never be touched with the actual infirmities we face within this life in the flesh but can in fact be touched with the feeling of those infirmities. In all reality there are times when the feeling that is associated with the infirmity we are facing is more real and more potent than the actual infirmity itself. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints concerning his own infirmities:

 

            “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands” (2 Corinthians 11:23-33).

 

            “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

 

            I WILL GLORY OF THE THINGS WHICH CONCERN MINE INFIRMITIES! WILL I RATHER GLORY IN MINE INFIRMITIES!  I TAKE PLEASURE IN INFIRMITIES! Please pay attention to the words which are found here for the apostle Paul speaks of glorying in the things concerning his infirmities, he actually glories in his infirmities and he takes pleasure in his infirmities. Perhaps the best question that can be asked is how the apostle could actually do this. How could the apostle Paul actually glory and take pleasure in his infirmities? I would dare say the answer is actually found in the final verses of the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews. The author of this epistle emphatically declares that we do not have a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tempted like as we are and yet without sin. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand this particular truth for I am convinced that what would and could enable and allow the apostle Paul to glory and take pleasure in his infirmities was knowing that he had a high priest who was able to be touched with the feeling of the infirmities. The Lord Jesus took upon Himself the form of human flesh and blood and tasted suffering and death and it is as a direct result of this that He knows both the intense pain of suffering as well as the feelings of such suffering.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that since we do in fact have a high priest who has passed into the heavens we can not only come unto the throne of grace but we can come boldly unto the throne of grace. There is something incredibly powerful about the words and language we find within this epistle for there is a tremendous amount of detail and emphasis placed on our profession, on our confidence and on our confession of faith. That which the author of this epistle presents us with on this particular instance is that we can indeed come boldly unto the throne of grace because we have a high priest who has not only passed into the heavens but can also be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. We as the saints of God—those who have partaken of the heavenly calling and have a profession of faith—are those who can indeed come boldly unto the throne of grace that we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. It’s truly astonishing to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not only encounter the truth that we have access unto this throne but that it is indeed a throne of grace. What’s more is that it is in and at this throne of grace we are able to not only obtain mercy but find grace to help in time of need. Remember the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto the apostle Paul in the midst of his struggles and infirmities concerning grace—“My grace is sufficient for thee.” When we consider this throne of grace and finding grace to help in time of need we must needs recognize and understand that the grace of the living God and of the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed sufficient for us in all our infirmities, in all our distresses, in all our weaknesses, in all our struggles, and in everything we face within our lives.

 

            Beginning with the fourteenth verse of the fourth chapter we find the author of this epistle speaking of the great high priest we have which has passed into the heavens—Jesus the Son of God. It is because this great high priest has indeed passed into the heavens that we are invited and instructed to hold fast our profession—and not only hold fast our profession but hold fast our profession unto the end. One of the greatest truths found within this epistle is the awesome and powerful need within our hearts, within our souls and within our spirits to be those who are able to with patient endurance bear up under the infirmities, the temptations, the suffering, the trials, the troubles, the affliction and the tribulations we face. The author of this epistle invited the reader(s) to hold fast their profession since we do not have a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Although the Lord Jesus can no longer feel and experience the physical pain of our infirmities He can nonetheless feel and be touched with the feeling of those infirmities. I continue to hold to the truth that more often than not the feeling of our infirmities are more potent and more real than the actual infirmities themselves. How many times have you yourself experienced infirmities within your life and it has not been the actual infirmity itself that has caused you so much anxiety, stress, distress, pain, agony and sorrow but the actual feeling of those infirmities. It is absolutely incredible the author of this epistle draws and calls our attention to the feeling of our infirmities for the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed able to be touched with those feelings. Pause for a moment and consider how incredible it is to come boldly unto the throne of grace—not only where we might obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need but also knowing the living God is seated upon the throne and our faithful and merciful high priest is set down at the right hand of the throne.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in this particular section of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with what we read in the third and fourth chapters. If you take the time to truly read the words presented within them you will find the author speaking of a rest—and not only a rest but a rest that is available for the people of God. If you begin reading with and from the ninth verse of the fourth chapter you will find the author emphatically declaring unto their audience that there remained a rest to the people of God and then declaring in the tenth verse how he which has entered into his rest has ceased from his own works as God did from His. The author then goes on to instruct and invite us into the place where we labor to enter into that rest lest any man fall after the same manner of unbelief. What makes this all the more interesting is when you consider the apparent link and connection between the rest that is promised for the people of God and a believing heart. If you turn and direct your attention back to the third chapter of this epistle you will find the author quoting the words of the psalmist—“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 I was 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” (Hebrews 3:11). The author then goes on to point blank instruct and command the readers to take heed unto themselves lest there be in any of them an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will find the author continuing by instructing their audience to exhort one another daily while it is called To day lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Thus within this passage of Scripture—not only do we find the author writing of an evil heart of unbelief but also of departing from the living God. Moreover the author goes on to instruct them to exhort one another daily while it is called To day and spoke of their being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Within this passage we encounter the tremendous truth of an evil heart of unbelief and being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin and how both are incredibly detrimental to our entering into the rest of the people of God. In addition to this the author would emphatically declare that we have been made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence (there is that word confidence again) steadfast unto the end. Oh it is absolutely necessary we pay close attention to the words which are found here in this passage of Scripture for at the very heart and center of it is the rest which has been promised unto the people of God. There are certain things we can indeed do which can and will prevent us from entering into that rest just as that generation which departed from Egypt during the days of Moses did not and would not enter into the rest of the promised land. When they departed from the land of Egypt they were indeed promised the rest of the promised land and while they were journeying through the wilderness they were making their way unto the promised land, however, through the hardness of their heart, through their unbelief and through the deceitfulness of sin they were unable to enter into the rest. In fact this tragic narrative is found in the Old Testament book of Numbers and describes how not only did the living God declare they would not enter into His rest but also that they would wander in the wilderness forty years until every last one of them perished and their bodies fell in the desert:

 

            “And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:26-33).

 

            “…And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israle. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (For thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak,s aying, Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by one means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my m iracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened 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 whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea” (Numbers 14:10-25).

 

            “And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son fo Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still. And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly” (Numbers 14:26-39).

 

            Please don’t miss the words and language which are found in this passage of Scripture for this is perhaps the quintessential passage that highlights and underscores that which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews spoke of. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews spoke of not hardening their hearts as in the provocation and in the day of temptation in the wilderness when the fathers tempted the LORD, proved Him, and saw His works forty years. The author goes on to write and declare concerning that generation how they did always err in their heart and did not know the ways of the LORD. As a direct result of this the LORD swore in His wrath they would not enter into His rest. As a direct result of this the author invited and instructed them to take heed lest there be found in them an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. The author goes on to build upon this even further by inviting them to exhort each other daily while it is called To day lest any of them be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Oh we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the author directly links an evil and hardened heart of unbelief with being unable to enter into the rest which is provided unto the saints. It is in the final verse of the third chapter the author of this epistle even went on to declare that they could not enter into the Promised Land because of their unbelief, thus indicating that the unbelief which might very well be present within our hearts can indeed keep and prevent us from entering into the rest which is afforded unto us as the saints of the living God.

            In the opening verse of the fourth chapter the author of this epistle further invites them to fear lest a promise being left unto them of entering into his rest any should seem to come short of it. What makes this all the more intriguing when you consider the words in this epistle is the author goes on to declare how the gospel was preached unto them as well as unto the fathers who journeyed in the wilderness. The single greatest difference between those who perished in the wilderness was that although they heard the word preached unto them it did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith within the hearts of those who heard it. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this particular truth—particularly and especially when you consider the words which the Lord Jesus spoke unto His disciples and followers. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the book of Psalms as well as the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter unto the saints which were scattered and suffering. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these passages:

 

            “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

            “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: HE leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:1-6).

 

            “…Yeah, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: For God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11).

 

            As I bring this writing to a close we must needs recognize and understand the words which the author of this epistle goes on to write for beginning with the tenth verse the author goes on to declare that the one who has truly entered into their rest has ceased from all their works as God did His when He rested on the seventh day. The author then not only goes on to invite them to labor to enter that rest lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief—the example of those who died in the provocation in the wilderness—but also goes on to declare concerning the word of God how it is quick, 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. Moreover the author goes on to declare how there is no creature that is not manifest in the sight of the living God but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of the One with whom we have to do. Thus the word of God which must needs be mixed by faith is firmly able to understand and discern us—the thoughts and intentions of our hearts—and show us who we really are. It is through the word of the living God we stand exposed before the eyes of the one with whom we all have to do and who hath called and redeemed us.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that we have been called and invited into a place of rest which has been prepared for us by the one true and living God. The ultimate and underlying way we enter into this rest is not only through full faith, confidence, trust and assurance before and in the person of the living God but also hearing and receiving the word of the gospel by and through faith. This word is quick and powerful and is sharper than any two-edged sword and discerns both the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, thus making us naked and open before the living God. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for prior to the fall in the garden Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed in the garden of Eden. It was only after they sinned and transgressed the commandment of the LORD they realized they were naked, became ashamed of their nakedness and attempted to cover themselves by sewing fig leaves together. Ever since the fall in the garden we have been afraid and ashamed of being this vulnerable and this exposed in the sight and presence of the living God and perhaps the single greatest truth we must needs recognize and understand is that we have been invited to be in this place of openness and vulnerability before the living God. There is a show on television right now called “Naked and Afraid” and while the underlying premise has absolutely nothing to do with the garden of Eden and the fall of Adam and Eve I can’t help but feel the very name of the show describes countless men and women among us in this generation—those who are naked before the Lord and who are not only afraid but also ashamed.

 

One of the greatest truths we must needs recognize and understand is that in order for us to truly enter into and walk in this rest we must needs allow ourselves to be naked, exposed and vulnerable in the sight and presence of the living God. This is and can only be done through putting off our old man with its lusts and wickedness and allowing ourselves to truly be naked and vulnerable in the sight of the living God. We must needs be those who are willing to remove all those attempts we have made to clothe ourselves with our own righteousness and with our own holiness that we might be clothed with the living God. We have been invited to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and the only way we can indeed put on the Lord Jesus Christ is if we allow ourselves to indeed be naked and vulnerable in the sight and presence of the living God. We must be those who are not only naked and unafraid but also naked and unashamed in the sight and presence of the living God. We must cast off the evil heart of unbelief within ourselves that we might not only hear the word of the gospel but might also mix and receive it with faith. It is the word of God which is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword that discerns the thoughts and intentions of our heart thus making us known in the sight and presence of the living God. Oh that we would recognize and understand this for it invites us into the place where we truly allow ourselves to encounter the rest which has been promised us by the living God as well as being able to come boldly unto throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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