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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 4: The Day of Rest
Many Christian students of Scripture have long realized that the accounts in the Bible contain types and allegories throughout both the historical and the prophetic writings, if we may break all Scripture down into those two categories. However in the Bible the lines between history and prophecy are not always clear because sometimes prophecy presents things which had occurred in the past rather than things which shall occur in the future. Moses was one such prophet, who presented prophecies describing events from both the past and the future, while also recording historical events from his own time. When Moses wrote of the past, his inspiration was not from any recorded histories, but from Yahweh his God. In that same manner, through the prophet Isaiah, Yahweh had challenged the idolaters as it is written in Isaiah chapter 41, where the Word of God says “22 Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.”
So here in his epistle to the Hebrews, Paul draws on facets of the accounts of the lives of David, Solomon and Joshua and applies them in a prophetic manner to Yahshua Christ. The writers of the Gospels did that very same thing, so the types and allegories in the historical events and in the lives of the figures of the Old Testament must have been understood by them as well. Along with them, Paul believed that things which happened to these historical individuals were described as they were in Scripture for the very reason that these men, who were all chosen by Yahweh to be leaders of the children of Israel, were living examples of the Messiah which was to come. These examples are commonly called types, and many Christian students have long understood that at least some of the events in the lives of these men were indeed prophecies of Christ. But there are other such types in Scripture which are not related to specific events or the lives of specific individuals.
For instance, some students of Scripture have also correctly pointed out the fact that the significance and sequence of the feast days of ancient Israel foreshadowed the developing history of the relationship between the children of Israel and their Messiah. Feasts such as Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles all seem to have not only a spiritual, but also a prophetically historical significance to the assembly of the children of Yahweh. So the feast days are, ostensibly, a type, or example, for the plan of redemption and reconciliation of Israel to Yahweh their God. And here we shall assert that this is also true of the Sabbath Week which was given to the ancient children of Israel.
When Moses wrote Genesis, it was not a book written from the beginning as a precise historical account of ancient times. Moses wrote Genesis perhaps around 1500 BC, or – according to the somewhat more accurate Septuagint chronology – four thousand years after the events described in its opening chapters actually took place. Ostensibly, there is a greater period of time between Adam and Moses than there is between Moses and our own time today. And when Moses wrote Genesis, it was written as an allegory which contains both parables concerning the Creation of God, and types, or examples, expressing God’s will for man.
In Exodus chapter 31, Yahweh commands in the law that the Sabbath Week is followed by the children of Israel, where it says: “15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” It is also quite evident that the Sabbath Week was to be taken very seriously in the Old Kingdom.
So therefore, when Yahweh God gave the children of Israel the laws by which they were to regulate themselves in His Kingdom, He gave them the Sabbath Week. And in order to demonstrate how important it was for His people to keep the Sabbaths, as an example of the Sabbath Week Moses had recorded a poetic description of the stages of Yahweh’s Creation after that same pattern. Therefore the six-day account of Creation is written in that manner as an example which God has made for men. Men should not, however, perceive that Yahweh God is confined within the structure of the natural world in which man must abide. God does not suffer the boundaries of His Creation, living inside of 24-hour days and fixed calendar months and years. So as it says in Genesis chapter 2, that “... on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made”, in the perception of men Yahweh must still in that period of rest. Here we shall see that was indeed the perception of Paul of Tarsus.
In that manner we read in Exodus chapter 20: “11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” In this example which Scripture gives to men, Yahweh continues to enjoy His period of rest, since He has not created any new works upon the earth in the manner of the Creation of Genesis. That is the type, or model, which Paul offers here in Hebrews chapter 4, that while men are confined by the world in which they live, that God is nevertheless resting from all His works, and therefore when men are obedient to their God they too shall have the opportunity to enter into His rest.
Paul himself had already explained that the feasts and sabbaths of ancient Israel were indeed types in the manner in which we explain here, where he described the feasts and sabbaths in Colossians chapter 2 as a “shadow of things to come”, and we would understand a shadow in that sense to be what we call a type. So Paul said in that passage “16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Here in Hebrews chapter 4, Paul explains how the Sabbath day is a type, or shadow of things to come.
First, Paul had explained in Hebrews chapter 3 that, if indeed his readers possessed the promises in the first place, they may take hold of the promise in Christ and become a partner of Christ. Making that explanation, citing Psalm 95, Paul asserts that the “today” of the Psalm intends to mean the day of the coming of the Christ. That certainly seems to be the intent, as the Psalm sung of Yahweh God as the rock of salvation, the great King and shepherd of the people. Therefore upon this “today” the children of Israel are given a new opportunity to enter into partnership with their God, which their ancient ancestors in the Exodus had refused to enter into because of their disbelief. The Psalm informs us that those who do not hear His voice shall not enter into His rest. So Paul is correctly taking the prophecy of the Psalm and demonstrating its application and its consequences in relation to Yahshua the Messiah. In that manner Paul continues here in chapter 4:
1 Therefore we should fear that at no time, a promise being left to enter into His rest, any one of you would seem to have fallen short.
In Deuteronomy chapter 12, as the children of Israel are about to enter into the land of Canaan, we read where it is said to them: “9 For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you. 10 But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety…” However this promise of rest was made under certain conditions, such as which we read further on in that same chapter: “28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God. 29 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; 30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”
Throughout the Biblical accounts of the subsequent centuries, at diverse times when the children of Israel were generally obedient to their God, they were given rest, but it was never for long because they were never obedient for long. We read in Joshua chapter 21: “44 And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.” Then not long later, in Judges chapter 2, we see that the children of Israel failed to keep the conditions of the covenant of rest, where we read: “1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. 4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.” So the rest of the history of the children of Israel is founded upon this failure of the people to follow those conditions which would have assured them rest.
Joshua could not give them rest, but rather he gave them a warning, as it is recorded in Joshua chapter 24: “1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. [The term flood refers to the river Euphrates. Yahweh took Abraham out of the entire Adamic race which had turned to paganism, even the ancestors of Abraham himself.] 3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood [Euphrates], and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. 4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. 5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. 6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. 7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. 8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. 9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: 10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand. 11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. 12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. 13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat. 14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; 17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God. 19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. 21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. 22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. 23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. 24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. 27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. 28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance. 29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash. 31 And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel. 32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. 33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.”
As soon as Joshua and the other elders died, we see the pattern of apostasy which was described in the Book of Judges, and which we have already seen here citing Judges chapter 2, and the failures of the children of Israel to drive out their enemies. So Joshua, a type for the Messiah, was only a man who could not do the task which would eventually fall onto the shoulders of God Himself, in the person of another Joshua, which is Yahshua Christ, as it is described in Isaiah chapter 53 where it says that “Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” So, as we had explained in part in our last segment of this presentation, discussing the last verses of Hebrews chapter 3, the period of rest promised to the children of Israel was based on the original conditions which were explained by Joshua himself as the children of Israel were about to enter Canaan, where he told them in Numbers chapter 14 “The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. 8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.” But we read in Judges chapter 6: “7 And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, 8 That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; 9 And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; 10 And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.” Therefore they could not enter into His rest, and their continued rejection of His rest is described in Jeremiah chapter 6: “16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”
However the children of Israel are still promised that rest in Yahshua Christ. So we read in the 132nd Psalm: “13 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. 14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. 15 I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. 16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. 17 There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. 18 His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.” We also read of this period of rest in a prophecy of Christ, in Isaiah chapter 11: “10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the [Nations] seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
There were two themes which Paul discussed in Hebrews chapter 3: Christ as the ruler of His Own household, which are the same children of Israel, and their renewed opportunity to enter into His rest through obedience to Him. This promise to enter into the rest of Yahweh God, which is a rest from the enemies of the children of Israel, is the rest which is now made manifest in the Gospel, for which Paul continues:
2 For even we have been announcing the good message among ourselves just as they also, but the word of the report did not benefit those not being united in the faith with those who heard.
The Codex Sinaiticus (א) has the latter half of this verse to read: “but the word of the report did not benefit, it not being united in the faith with those who heard”, which the King James Version seems to follow; the text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46, and 3rd or 4th century papyrus P13 and the Codices Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), Claromontanus, and the Majority Text which varies slightly.
The King James Version treated the second verb of this passage as a passive verb, where it has “unto us was the gospel preached”. But first there is another Greek verb, ἐσμεν, which is is we are. There is no pronoun for us, and the verb is not passive, rather the we is doing the action described. The second verb is εὐηγγελισμένοι, which is an aorist plural participle form of εὐαγγελίζομαι (Strong’s # 2097) in the medium voice, where properly the initiator of the action of the verb is also the recipient, for which reason we have written it is “announcing the good message among ourselves”. Where Paul says “just as they also”, he refers to the Word of Yahweh announced among the ancient Israelites by Joshua and the other elders of the people, when they first had the opportunity to enter into the rest of their God. So Paul is preaching the same gospel that the elders of ancient Israel had preached, and he is preaching it to the same people. The people to whom Paul had brought this Gospel, the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and others, were all indeed descended from the ancient children of Israel, as he had told them in many places.
3 For we who are believing enter into that rest, just as He spoke: “So I have sworn in My wrath, whether they should enter into My rest.” And indeed those works have been done from the foundation of the Society.
The papyrus P13 and the Codex Alexandrinus want the word for “whether” here, where we would substitute “that”. The citation is from Psalm 95:7-11, which Paul had also cited in verse 11 of Hebrews chapter 3 where we have discussed the passage at length. Because the ancient children of Israel refused to be obedient to Yahweh their God, they were precluded from entering into the rest that He had promised them on the condition that they were obedient. Here Paul is using this as a warning to the Hebrews of his own time, since the children of Israel are once again offered that state of rest if they choose to be obedient to Christ.
But Paul’s analogy here has nothing to do with salvation in reference to life after death. Rather, in verse 12 here Paul says that “the Word of Yahweh is living and active”. The commission of the Israelites of the Old Testament was to establish the Kingdom of Yahweh on earth, and they failed. Likewise the Christian commission is for the descendants of those same Israelites to establish the Kingdom of Yahweh on earth, and not merely in heaven, as we see in Luke chapter 11 that Christians are taught to pray to their God, that “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” In obedience to Christ, Christians are promised rest from their enemies and from being judged by the world. Let us once more see the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah chapter 9: “6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” The throne of David is on earth, and not in heaven. The kingdom of the Messiah is an organization of the very same people whom David had ruled over. The government is the Kingdom of God on earth was proclaimed by Christ in the Gospel of the Kingdom, for the gathering of the lost sheep of the House of Israel. As Christ said in Matthew chapter 24, “And this good message of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the Nations”, meaning the many nations which were descended from the same children of Israel (Romans 4, 1 Corinthians 10).
For this reason, as it is described in the Book of Acts, once the warden of the jail where Paul and Silas were kept realized the power of Yahweh, the God of Paul and Silas, when the earthquake had opened the doors of his jail, he went to Paul and inquired what it was that he must do to be “saved”. The jailer, who was about to slay himself fearing what would happen if any of the prisoners escaped, was a Roman pagan. Therefore he had no consciousness of the possibility of eternal life in Jesus. He only sought earthly salvation from the punishment he expected for which he nearly killed himself. So we read in Acts chapter 16: “25 And about midnight Paul and Silas praying were praising Yahweh, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Then suddenly a great earthquake came, so as to shake the foundations of the jailhouse, and immediately all the doors were opened and all the fetters let go. 27 And the jailer coming from sleep and seeing the doors of the prison opened, drawing a sword was about to slay himself, believing the prisoners to have fled away. 28 But with a great voice Paul cried out saying ‘Do nothing evil to yourself! For we are all here!’ 29 And requesting a light he burst in and coming trembling fell before Paul and Silas, 30 and leading them outside he said ‘Masters, what is necessary for me to do that I be saved?’ 31 And they said ‘Believe in the Prince Yahshua and you and your house shall be saved.’” The jailer being the head of his house, if he chose to keep the commandments of Christ then the household would follow by necessity. Turning to Christ, the jailer and his household would ostensibly keep the commandments of Christ, and that is the way to preservation in this life, by which the children of Israel can hope to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Then they will indeed have rest.
Paul continues his analogy in the offer of rest made to Israel:
4 Somewhere He spoke in this manner concerning the seventh day: “And Yahweh rested in the seventh day from all of His works.”
Saying “somewhere” Paul seems to once again reveal that he is citing Scripture from memory, without having a copy of Scripture at hand. The citation is from the opening verses of Genesis chapter 2.
5 And with this, again: “Whether [I has ἤ for εἰ, P13 and D want the word; the text follows P46, א, A, S, C and the MT] they should enter into My rest.”
And once again Paul cites Psalm 95:11, and directly equates the rest of Psalm 95:11 to the Sabbath rest of Genesis chapter 2. This also demonstrates, that if the children of Israel have an opportunity to enter into the rest of Genesis chapter 2, that Yahweh Himself remains in that same allegorical period of rest. Therefore, those who would uphold the very peculiar contention that Yahweh God began a separate act of Creation on some imagined 8th day of Creation are not telling the truth. As it says in Exodus 20:11, “11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” So there is no supposed 8th-day creation, as the creation of Adam described in Genesis chapter 2 is only a recapitulation of the creation of Adam which was briefly mentioned in Genesis chapter 1, and again in that same manner it is recapitulated in Genesis chapter 5.
Of course, it can be proven in many other ways that there is only one Adamic creation described in Scripture, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion, and something which we have already presented here in detail in our Pragmatic Genesis series.
Paul continues his assertion that the Psalm demonstrates that the promise of rest remains open for those who turn to God in Christ:
6 Therefore since it remains for some to enter into it, and those who formerly heard the good message did not enter in on account of incredulity [P46 and א have “disbelief”], 7 again He determines a certain day, in David saying “Today,” after so long a time just as it is said before hand: “Today if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
In verse 6 Paul repeats the assertion that the gospel of Joshua and the elders of Israel was the same Gospel being announced by the apostles of Christ. Then here in verse 7 Paul cites from Psalm 95, verses 7 and 8, which he had also cited along with verse 11 of that Psalm in Hebrews chapter 3. And here we see another revealing aspect of Paul’s view of Scripture. The people of Israel had “formerly heard the good message”, meaning that the ancient Israelites were hearing the Gospel in the days of Joshua. And then, as Paul explains where he cites the Psalm, “He determines a certain day, in David saying ‘Today,’” where we learn that in Christ the Gospel is for those same people to have another opportunity for obedience to Him.
From the time of Joshua, to the time of David, to the time of Christ, the Gospel message is a consistent message for the children of Israel to be obedient to their God and in that manner to obtain rest and deliverance from their enemies. So we read in Luke chapter 1 that the purpose of the Gospel of Christ was the same as the purpose that Yahweh had for the children of Israel in the days of Joshua the son of Nun, where it says in words attributed to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist: “68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.”
As we have seen, the ancient children of Israel failed, however it is they who continue to have a hope to ultimately achieve that rest in Christ, for which Luke had recorded the words of Zechariah which are written in his Gospel. The Gospel of Moses and Joshua is therefore the Gospel of Luke and of Paul, ostensibly because that is also the Gospel of Yahweh and of His Christ. There is only one Gospel in Scripture, and it is the same from Moses to the Revelation. So Paul continues:
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken concerning another after that day. 9 So a period of rest remains for the people of Yahweh.
In this manner Paul is explaining why the Psalm, written by David perhaps five hundred years after the time of Joshua, still made the offer of rest to the children of Israel, which was finally being made possible in Christ.
The name Joshua is the very same name, Ἰησοῦς in Greek, for which we have written “Yahshua” everywhere else in the Christogenea New Testament. Ἰησοῦς is the Greek form of the name which is also found in the Septuagint wherever the Old Testament Joshua is mentioned in Scripture. Therefore here, to distinguish Paul’s reference to Joshua the son of Nun from Yahshua – or Jesus – Christ, we have spelled it in the manner traditionally found in the King James Version Old Testament. But they are still the same name. In this verse of Hebrews, however, the King James Version has Jesus. There is one other place in the New Testament where the name Ἰησοῦς appears in reference to Joshua the son of Nun, but where the King James Version also has Jesus, and that is in Acts 7:45.
The phrase “period of rest” in verse 9 is from the word σαββατισμός (4520), which only appears here in the New Testament. It is a transliteration into Greek of a Hebrew word, and it properly it refers to a Sabbath-keeping. It may have been written “So a Sabbath-keeping remains for the people of Yahweh”. Once again it becomes evident that the people Paul had in mind where he spoke of this Sabbath-keeping are the same people of Old Testament Israel to whom the Sabbath was given. As it is evident throughout all of his epistles to the Nations, Paul is teaching reconciliation theology, and had no concept of modern so-called replacement theology, which is a lie based on historical misunderstanding concerning the true identity of the people of God.
This also demonstrates the fact that the Sabbath Week kept in the law from day to day was created as a type for the overall history of the people, and that type has a transcendental significance as well. While the main force of Paul’s arguments here have to do with the physical world and the establishment of the kingdom of Yahweh on earth, there is a spiritual aspect which cannot be denied. The following is from the King James Version of Revelation chapter 14: “9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” So this period of rest certainly seems to also indicate a spiritual rest.
However the period of rest of which Paul speaks is also evident in the Revelation, although the rest promised to Israel in Christ has not yet been fully achieved. So here is another digression: As we explained at length in Christreich, Revelation chapter 6 is a prophecy of the fall of Imperial Rome. In that chapter we read a description of those who had the testimony of God: “11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
In that same presentation of our commentary on the Revelation which we call Christreich, we explained how Revelation chapter 20 describes the thousand year period of relative peace that Christian Europe enjoyed when the Jews were ostracized from society. Going back to Revelation chapter 6, we may see that thousand year period as the fulfillment of the statement that “they should rest yet for a little season” in verse 11. The thousand years began as the Jew was ostracized in a process which started in the 6th century to the time of Charlemagne at the end of the 8th, and Satan was loosed from the pit in the process by which the Jews gained their emancipation, from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th. While that thousand year period was not perfect, Christendom nevertheless prevailed over all of their enemies, and neither Jew nor Moslem could penetrate Central or Western Europe with any lasting success, although they never ceased in their attempts for the conquest of Christendom.
There is something else which we never really mentioned before, but which is interesting to point out. We would not teach it as a doctrine, but it may be more than a coincidence. Understanding the Septuagint chronology is much more accurate than what is found in the Masoretic Text, and understanding that a thousand years is but a day to Yahweh, as the apostle Peter professed, we can determine that the 7th thousand-year period of the history of the Adamic race corresponds to the placing of Satan into the allegorical pit, so the so-called millennium of the Revelation corresponds to a millennial Adamic Sabbath. Apparently, from multiple aspects the Sabbath Week is indeed a type illustrating the purpose of God for His people. However emerging from that Sabbath Week, we find ourselves in the prophesied Time of Jacob’s Trouble. But while this may be an example, it is clear that Paul informs us that this prophesied period of rest continues to await the children of Israel. The thousand year rule of Christianity in Europe, which is the thousand years of Revelation chapter 20, was the first restoration, which is also a type for the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
10 He who is entering into His rest, he would also rest from his works, as Yahweh from His own.
As we have asserted here from the start, the stages of Creation as they are explained in Genesis are a type for the Sabbath Week, and the Sabbath Week is a type of Yahweh’s plan for His children, that once they are obedient to Him, they will enjoy the period of rest from their toils as He is enjoying that same period. Thus Paul continues:
11 Therefore we should be eager to enter into that rest, lest anyone would fall into that same pattern of incredulity.
According to Liddell & Scott, the Greek word σπουδάζω (Strong’s # 4704) is “to be busy, eager, zealous, earnest to do a thing”. Where the King James Version has “let us labor”, the meaning is only inferred. Rather than “pattern of incredulity”, the papyrus P46 has “pattern of disbelief”, and the Codex Claromontanus (D) rather strangely has “pattern of truth”, which is certainly incredulous.
Falling into a pattern of incredulity, or disbelief, causes one to go astray into sin, and ultimately to suffer the punishment which results from sin. The eternal life of the spirit is another matter entirely, as even Paul had said in 1 Timothy chapter 1 that he had “delivered [certain men who perverted the faith] unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Likewise Paul had written to the Christian community at Corinth, speaking of a fornicator, admonishing them “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” So incredulity and sin prevent the children of Israel from establishing the Kingdom of Yahweh their God on earth, which is what Yahweh demands of them. They shall be punished until they finally comply, which is the entire theme of Scripture. For example, in Hosea chapter 12 the Word of Yahweh says “2 The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.”
The entry of the Israelites into the land of Canaan also now serves as a type, or example, for the Christian people of God today. If the Israelites were obedient to their God, the promised land is a type for the national rest that they should have had, free from war with their enemies and free to enjoy the fruits of their own labors. It is not that they would be free from labor, but they would be free to keep for themselves what they had labored for. For that reason the warnings of disobedience promise the contrary as punishment, for instance where they say in Deuteronomy chapter 28 that “30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof. 31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them. [Today society is more sophisticated. So we have oppresive taxers which support welfare systems for the aliens, which is the equivalent of the alien taking one’s sheep and oxen and ass.] 32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand. 33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: 34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.” These warnings and others in that chapter are national punishments resulting from sin which the Christian children of Israel, the White race of today, are also currently suffering because they have once again become incredulous towards the Word of their God. So we have oppressive taxes to take away our homes and our goods, and we are surrounded by aliens who help themselves to our daughters and our sons, as well as to our wealth, and there is no way that we can resist. But there is a way out, and Paul begins to describe it:
12 The Word of Yahweh is living and active [B has “visible”, or perhaps “distinct”], and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as a division of life and Spirit, of both joints and marrows, and critical of the devices and notions of a heart.
Dividing life and spirit is what happens when, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, one is involuntarily delivered “to the Adversary, for destruction of the flesh, in order that the Spirit may be preserved in the day of the Prince.” Avoiding that fate in repentance from sin, dividing life and spirit is what happens when, as Paul describes in Romans chapter 7, “22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The word of Yahweh to the fleshly mind should be as the joints are to the marrows of a bone, which allow the whole body to be held together as one. Making the Word of Yahweh one with his own mind, then the spiritual man can inhabit his fleshly body in relative peace.
If we profess that Yahweh God created the world and everything in it by His Word, and gave the ancient children of Israel laws to live by that had efficacy in this world, and Christ came to uphold those same commandments which are found in the law, the gospel of Christ being the same gospel which was preached by the ancient patriarchs of Israel, how can we imagine the laws and the Word of Yahweh have no efficacy in the world today? Where Paul quotes “Today, if you will hear His voice” in reference to both ancient Israelites and the Hebrews of his own time, how can we imagine that has changed at all today? If the children of Israel choose to obey their God, they shall indeed enter into His rest. Once enough of the children of Israel obey God, the Kingdom of Heaven materializes on earth.
As Paul had written to the Romans in the closing verses of his epistle to them: “25 Now with ability you are to stand fast in accordance with my good message and the proclamation of Yahshua Christ; in accordance with a revelation of mystery having been kept secret in times eternal, 26 but being made manifest now, through the prophetic writings; in accordance with the command of the eternal Yahweh, for the submission of faith to all the Nations, in discovering that 27 Yahweh alone is wise, through Yahshua Christ, to whom is honor for the ages. Truly.” The mystery of which Paul spoke was the identity of the nations of the blind, lost sheep children of Israel who had been put off by God in punishment. Here he talks to Hebrews, Israelites who had maintained their historical identity. However the gospel, while Paul explains it here form a different perspective, is nevertheless one and the same gospel.
13 And there is not an act unnoticed before Him, but all things naked and laid open to the eyes of Him before whom with us is the Word.
The Greek for this passage follows, and the English translation here will be placed in brackets after each word or phrase:
καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν [and there is not] κτίσις [an act] ἀφανὴς [unnoticed] ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ [before Him], πάντα δὲ [but all things] γυμνὰ [naked] καὶ [and] τετραχηλισμένα [laid open] τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς [to the eyes] αὐτοῦ [of Him], πρὸς ὃν [before whom] ἡμῖν [with us] ὁ λόγος [is the Word].
We do not understand how the King James Version arrives at the translation of this verse, which says “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Here we would assert that the context of this verse is found in the verse which precedes. Where Paul mentioned the Word of God and the notions of the hearts of men, Paul is speaking about the acts of men, and not of “creatures”, as other translations render the word κτίσις here.
According to Liddell & Scott, the word κτίσις (Strong’s # 2937) means: 1. a founding, foundation. 2. loosely, a doing, an act. 3. a creating, the creation of the universe. 4. that which was created, the creation. 5. an authority created or ordained. Since in this context Paul must be writing in reference to the doings of men, then here a κτίσις is an act, and not a creature. As for the final clause of the verse, which reads in the King James Version “with whom we have to do”, we are mystified since our own translation is straightforward and perfectly literal.
Also according to Liddell & Scott, the preposition πρός primarily means to or toward, or also before or in the presence of someone or something. Paul is only saying that the acts of men are laid bare before the eyes of God, and that in the presence of God the Word of God is with men, in this case Paul and the Hebrews to whom he writes. So Paul is once again warning these Hebrews, that if they reject Yahshua as the Christ, who is described by that Word of God which they have with them, that Yahweh God will see their disobedience.
14 Therefore having a great high priest having passed through the heavens: Yahshua the Son of Yahweh, we should hold fast that profession.
Earlier in this epistle Paul called Yahshua Christ the “apostle and high priest of our profession”. In the chapters which follow, Paul will associate Yahshua Christ to the Melchizedek priesthood, and explain how that is so much better than the Levitical priesthood. Doing so, he will cite the Psalms that also make such a prophecy.
15 For we do not have a high priest having no ability to sympathize with our weakness, but who being tested by all things in like manner, is without failure.
And as Paul had already explained in Hebrews chapter 2, “16 For surely not that of messengers has He taken upon Himself, but He has taken upon Himself of the offspring of Abraham, 17 from which He was obliged in all respects to become like the brethren, that He would be a compassionate and faithful high priest of the things pertaining to Yahweh to make a propitiation for the failures of the people. 18 In what He Himself has suffered being tested, He is able to help those being tested.” A judge who cannot judge men from their own perspective is not a righteous judge. Yet Yahshua Christ, being God incarnate in the flesh and having faced the trials of fleshly life, in that manner God can indeed be the righteous judge of men.
16 So we should come with liberty to the throne of that favor, that we would receive mercy and we would find [B wants “we would find”] favor for opportune assistance.
The apostles Peter (1 Peter 2:16) and James (1:25, 2:12) taught of the liberty that men have in Christ. Paul also taught those same things to the Israelites of the ancient dispersions, in Romans chapter 8 (8:21), 1 Corinthians chapters 8 and 10 (8:9, 10:29), 2 Corinthians chapter 3 (3:17) and Galatians chapters 2 and 5 (2:4, 5:1, 13). In 2 Corinthians chapter 3, speaking of the books of Moses and explaining that they are Christian scriptures, speaking of those who continue to reject Christ Paul said “15 Then until this day, whenever Moses is read a veil lies upon their hearts. 16 But when perhaps you should turn to the Prince, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Prince is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Prince is, there is liberty.”
In his epistle to the Galatians Paul had been explaining to them that the law was their schoolmaster to bring them to Christ. Of course, the Galatians were descendants of the ancient Israelites which had been carried off into Assyrian captivity. So Paul informed them that while they should return to Yahweh their God, in Christ they were nevertheless free of the rituals and ceremonies of the law. He made analogy comparing the Levitical rituals and ceremonies of the law to the bondage of Hagar. Then in chapter 5, Paul exclaimed that “In the liberty in which Christ has set us free, you stand fast indeed, and do not again be entangled in a yoke of bondage”, referring to the rituals and ceremonies of the law. Then later in that same chapter, Paul told the Galatians: “13 For you have been called on to liberty, brethren, only not that liberty for occasion in the flesh; but through love you serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one statement, to wit: ‘You shall love him near to you as yourself.’”
Here at the end of this last verse of Hebrews chapter 4, where Paul said “that we would receive mercy and we would find favor for opportune assistance”, the King James Version has “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”, which is a fair translation. Saying that, Paul seems to be referring to the same brotherly love about which he had informed the Galatians, where he said “you have been called on to liberty, brethren, only not that liberty for occasion in the flesh; but through love you serve one another.” It seems to us that through rituals and ceremonies, men find self-justification in the works of their own hands, and they become isolated from one another. But in the sacrifice which is in Christ, men do not need to rely on the works of their own hands for their justification, and should find it instead by following His example and sacrificing of themselves for their brethren, as He had commanded His disciples to love one another as He had loved them.
The Word of Yahweh is living and active. When we ever start practicing it collectively, we can indeed begin to build the kingdom of heaven.
But these Hebrews are also convinced that they should continue in the rituals and ceremonies of the Levitical law. While Paul mentions the liberty which is in Christ here, later in this epistle he will explain those same consequences that he had explained to the Galatians, in a quite different manner.