Musings on the Epistle to the Hebrews: Hebrews 3-4

Hebrews 3-4
We were observing that one leading characteristic of this epistle is that it gives us a look into heaven as it now is — not as it was in Genesis 1, and not as it will be in Revelation 4 or 21. The heaven of Genesis 1 had no glorified Man in it, no Apostle, no High Priest. The heaven of Hebrews has all these. That being the general character of the epistle, we looked at the Lord Jesus as in that heaven. Then we were observing how the Lord is there as a glorified Man — as the Purger of our sins — as our Apostle preaching salvation, and as the High Priest making reconciliation for sins. Every page is fruitful in casting up the glories of the Lord Jesus now in heaven.
Now we will take up Hebrews 3 and 4. Having been introduced to the heavens where Christ is, and to the Christ that is in those heavens, Hebrews 3 and 4 turn a little round on themselves and look a little sharply at us and tell us to take care now that we are traveling along the road in company with Him. The first thought is that we are to consider Him in His faithfulness. The exhortation here is commonly misunderstood.
For what are we to consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession? Is it to imitate Him? The religious mind says so. But that is not the point of the passage at all. I am to consider Him as faithful, for my sake, to God; faithful so that I might be saved eternally. If I do not consider Him so, I have more than blunted the point of the passage and lost the sense of grace. The word should be, not "was faithful," but "is faithful," or "being faithful." Not in walking down here but now in heaven. I look up and see Him discharging these offices, faithful to Him that appointed Him. What business have I to imitate Him in His high priesthood? I am to consider Him for my comfort.
What a constellation of grace there is in all that! The grace of God that appointed Him, the grace of the Son that discharges the work, and the grace that opens Hebrews 3 is infinite in magnificence. Could there be sublimer exhortation or diviner doctrine? We get the Son in the highest heavens, there seated as the Purger of our sins, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, and could any exhortation be more divine than that which tells me to sit still and look at Him in His faithfulness up there?
Then in verses 3 and 4 and onward we get further glories unfolded in contrast with Moses. The first dispensation is here called a house. It was a servant to serve a coming Christ — Moses and the house are identical. All the activities of that dispensation were worth nothing if they did not bear testimony to a coming Christ: therefore it was a servant. When the Lord comes, on the other hand, He comes as a Son, to claim that which is His own as His own; and the whole thing now depends on this — Will the house, over which He is set, be faithful to Him?
What is your faithfulness? To continue in confidence and hold the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. “Christ for me, Christ for me!” I will take nothing but this all-sufficient Christ. Cling to Him day by day till the wilderness journey is over. Then you are part and parcel of that house over which He presides as a Son. He not only presides over it, but He claims it as His own — a dearer thought. It is quite right to be subject to Him, but He tells you to lie near His heart. Faithfulness is not merely being subject to the headship of Christ. If I am lying on His bosom, then I am faithful. So that when the Spirit comes to exhort, in Hebrews 3 and 4, He has not left the high and wondrous ground of Hebrews 1 and 2.
Then, having come to that point, He turns aside to Psalm 95. If you begin to read at Psalm 92 and read to the close of Psalm 101, you will find it a beautiful little millennial volume. It is exhortings and awakenings of the Spirit of faith in Israel, summoning them to look forward to the rest of God.
How is that brought in here? The wilderness journey of Israel is a beautiful, lively picture of the journey the believer is now taking from the blood to the glory. People sometimes at the opening of Hebrews 4 turn it on themselves. But rest to the conscience is not the thing that is thought of at all. It assures us that we are out of Egypt and looking towards Canaan. The danger is, not lest the blood should not be on the lintel, but lest we should break down by the way, as thousands did in the wilderness. It never calls you to reinvestigate the question of having found rest in the blood, but to take care how you travel along the road. When He speaks of rest, it is the rest of the kingdom He talks of, not the rest of the conscience. Then He calls the whole age through which we are passing one day — "Today." It was a short day to the dying thief, a short day to the martyred Stephen. A longer day to Paul, and a longer day still to John; but let the wilderness journey be short or long, it is one day, and you are to hold by Christ to the very end. If you are to be partakers of Christ, you must hold fast to the end.
Now, what is the Christ of verse 14? A Christ crucified? No, Christ glorified. You are made partakers of Christ in the kingdom if you hold fast by Christ crucified. Let this “today" ring in the heart and conscience every hour. Holding to a crucified Christ is my title to the rest of a glorified Christ. Two things contest this with you — sin and unbelief. Do you not recognize these two enemies as you pass along? Shall I continue in sin? Am I to give place to one wrong thought? I may be overtaken, but am I to treat them other than as enemies? Then unbelief is an action of the soul towards God. You and I do not know what saintly character is — what it is to be between Egypt and Canaan if we are not aware that those two things stand out to withstand our passage every day.
Hebrews 4 still pursues the subject. The Christ of Hebrews 3:1414For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14) is the rest of Hebrews 4; Christ glorified — rest glorious. He has us out of Egypt. The exhortation attaches to a people out of Egypt. We have left the blood-sprinkled lintel behind. The glorious Canaan is before us. Take heed lest you come short of it. “Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them." The gospel, not of the blood of Christ, but of the glory of Christ. It took one form in the ear of the Israelites and it takes another form to us; but to them, as to us, rest was preached.
Then He beautifully falls back on the Sabbath rest of the Creator. The blessed Creator provided Himself a rest after creation. He promised Himself a rest in Canaan after bringing them through the wilderness. Adam disturbed His creation-rest. Israel disturbed His Canaan-rest. Is He, therefore, disappointed in His rest? No; He has found it in Christ. The secret of the whole Book of God is, God retreating into Christ when man in every way had disappointed Him. Christ is the One who has worked out that rest, and who holds it now, and it remains with Him both for God and for His saints. “Therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein." It is no longer a fallible thing depending on Adam or on Israel, therefore let us take care that we do not come short of it.
Now we get two ways in which to use Christ. We had two enemies in the end of Hebrews 3, now we have two uses of Christ in the end of Hebrews 4. We are to use Him as the Word of God and as the High Priest of our profession. Is that the way I am using Him? These two uses stand opposed to sin and unbelief. Let the Word of God discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. Instead of giving place to your lusts and vanities, invite the entrance of the two-edged sword, that makes no allowance for a single bit of sin. And when you have dragged out the enemy — found some favorite lust lying in. this corner and some unsuspected vanity in that, what are you to do with them? Take them to Christ and let His high priesthood dispose of them in the mercy and grace that are in it.
There we pause for the present. We have seen the heavens opened, and looked in, ands found there a Man arrayed in glories, every one of which I have an interest in. Then comes the exhortation. Two enemies beset you — take care. Instead of yielding to them make use of the two-edged sword; and when you have found them out, take them to Jesus. There is a beautiful suitability between the Christ that is exhibited up above, in Hebrews 1 and 2, and you and me as we are exhibited here below in all the characteristics of Hebrews 3 and 4.