The Effect of Death Q: Why do so many people attend church after September 11? Why do teens ﬂock to the youth group when a youth is killed in a car accident? Death is an ultimate wakeup call. It causes us to admit that life is short, and we can’t control it.
The Fear of Death (Hebrews 2:14-15 ESV) ... through death he [Christ] might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Q: How does the fear of death subject people under “lifelong slavery”? Are you under it? Fear of death haunts our choices, fuels our obsessions, and propels us to a self-centered, self-preserving way of life.
The Fear of Death “One thing that causes all our hearts to be restless and disturbed, one thing that robs everybody of peace, is the thought of death.” (Martin Lloyd-Jones) Q: Do you agree that many people are affected by fear of death, that it makes us “restless”?
The Trivialization of Life and Death (1 Cor 15:32b ESV) If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Q: Do you believe in (or know someone who believes in) “Life is short, eat dessert ﬁrst”?
The Trivialization of Life and Death It has been popular for booted contestants on “American Idols” to say: “Well, at least I had a good time” Q: Would you appear before God the Judge and say “Well, at least I had fun in my life”?
Worthwhile Hope “Financial planners tell us, “When it comes to your money, don’t think just three months or three years ahead. Think thirty years ahead.” Christ, the ultimate investment counselor, takes it further. He says, “Don’t ask how your investment will be paying off in just thirty years. Ask how it will be paying off in thirty million years.”” (Randy Alcorn) (1 Cor 15:19 ESV) If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Worthwhile Hope (2 Cor 4:16-18 ESV) So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary afﬂiction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. In other words, “what will happen matters more than what has happened.” (Mark Buchanan)
Hope & Foretaste So what is it that we hope for? Q: What is heaven like? Playing on harps and ﬂoating on clouds? Having jobs and ministry? (Rev 14:13b ESV) “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Rev 7:17 ESV) For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Our hope is for a perpetual Sabbath rest.
Eschatological Reading of Psalm 23 The well-known Psalm 23 could in fact be seen as a glimpse of our future rest. (Ps 23 ESV) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his names sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overﬂows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Foretaste of Eternal Rest Abraham Heschel says that our earthly Sabbath is a preview and a foretaste of our eternal rest — it helps us rehearse heaven. “Part of our inability to appreciate Heaven as a place of rest relates to our failure to enter into a weekly day of rest now. By rarely turning attention from our responsibilities, we fail to anticipate our coming deliverance from the Curse to a full rest.” (Randy Alcorn)
Foretaste of Eternal Rest There was another thing that foreshadows our future rest — the “Promised Land” in the OT. (Joshua 1:13 ESV) Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, “The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.” Yet a whole generation of Israelites died in the wilderness without entering the Promised Land. This is the subject of Hebrews 3:7-4:13 ...
Our Future Sabbath Rest in Hebrews 4 (Hebrews 4:1-2 ESV) Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not beneﬁt them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. Q: Who do “them” or “they” refer to? Those failed to enter Promised Land “rest” Q: Why were they unable to enter? What they heard didn’t connect with faith Q: What’ve we heard? Is it connected w/ faith?
Our Future Sabbath Rest in Hebrews 4 (Hebrews 4:3-4 ESV) For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were ﬁnished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”” Belief in God’s rest is the kind of faith that relies on God’s ﬁnished work (as evidenced when he rested on the seventh day), so that we can have complete trust and rest in Him.
Our Future Sabbath Rest in Hebrews 4 (Hebrews 4:7-8 ESV) Again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. Q: What are the signiﬁcance of the key words/ phrases “today” and “hear his voice” throughout this passage?
Our Future Sabbath Rest in Hebrews 4 (Hebrews 4:9 ESV) So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Both the rest of the Promised Land and of the weekly Sabbath are just a shadow of a future Sabbath. To appreciate this better, it helps to know that Sabbath is more than just resting on the 7th day.
Sabbath Expanded: Not Just the 7th Day Sabbath is more than the seventh day of a week. The 7th-year Sabbath for the land: (Lev 25:2b-3 ESV) When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. For six years you shall sow your ﬁeld, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits (Lev 25:20-21 ESV) And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufﬁcient for three years.
Sabbath Expanded: Not Just the 7th Day The 50th-year “super Sabbath”— Jubilee: (Lev 25:10-11 ESV) And you shall consecrate the ﬁftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. That ﬁftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. So in the year of Jubilee, there’s rest, all the slaves are set free, all debts are forgiven, and the land ownerships are returned.
Jesus & Jubilee (Luke 4:16-21 ESV) He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. ... “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lords favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and ... began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulﬁlled in your hearing.” Q: What did Jesus mean that the passage about Jubilee (Isaiah 61:1-2) was “fulﬁlled today”?
Jesus & Jubilee Jesus is our Jubilee — in Him, we are set free from slavery, and our sins (debts) are forgiven. Bridge: To be so completely guilty, given over to despair To look into your Judge’s face and see a Savior there Our hope and our rest are found in Christ.
Our Future Sabbath Rest in Hebrews 4 (Hebrews 4:10-11 NIV) For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Q: Is this a contradiction? Q: What kind of “effort” is required here? “By faith we make every effort to enter this rest, not by striving, but by trusting. Not by works, but by believing.” (Mark Buchanan)
Our Future Sabbath Rest in Hebrews 4 “I used to think that growing as a Christian meant ... to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on … [but that] isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. ... what we need most is a substitute — someone who has done for us and secured for us what we could never do and secure for ourselves. The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and his performance for us.” (Tullian Tchividjian)
Our Future Sabbath Rest in Hebrews 4 “Thinking out the deep implications of the gospel and applying its powerful reality to all parts of my life is a daily challenge and a daily adventure. … [For example:] How do the life, death, and resurrection of Christ affect my thirst for security, affection, protection, meaning, and purpose? … I’m not saying the Christian life is effortless; the real question is Where are we focusing our efforts? Are we working hard to perform? Or are we working hard to rest in Christ’s performance for us?” (Tullian Tchividjian)
Our Future Sabbath Rest in Hebrews 4 (Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV) For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. In order for us to enter God’s rest, we must allow God’s word/voice to perform a surgery of our hearts each day, to examine our motivations as to why we are doing what we are doing.
References The Rest of God (Mark Buchanan) Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Tullian Tchividjian) Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled (Martyn Lloyd- Jones) “Time Fulﬁlled” (N.T. Wright) “Enjoying Rest, Now and in the Life to Come” (Randy Alcorn) “Well, At Least I Had A Good Time...” (Trevin Wax)