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Home The Light Articles from 2005 Let Us Therefore Fear... Hebrews 4:11

Let Us Therefore Fear... Hebrews 4:11

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Let Us Therefore Fear... Hebrews 4:11
by Raymond Walton

The writer of the Hebrew letter is drawing an analogy between those who were rescued from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses and Christians who have been rescued from sin under the leadership of Christ. After the Israelites were delivered from Egyptian bondage and started on their journey toward the promise land of Canaan, they displeased God by falling into sin in the wilderness and thereby lost the "privilege-of entering into His rest" that He had provided for them.

The "us" in this statement refers to Christians under the "new and living way"— the "better covenant" with "greater promises." It also includes a greater High Priest (Heb. 10:1-17) and a greater sacrifice, Jesus Christ, and a greater "kingdom which cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12:28).

Therefore, since men in the past failed to find God's rest which was prepared for them and only Joshua and Caleb entered into that rest, the Holy Spirit warns us against a failure similar to theirs. These Hebrew Christians, as well as us today, were in danger of falling away. We, as well as they, are appealed to through the sense of fear. Let us be "fearful" of losing "the promise of the eternal rest" that God has promised to His children. If we fail in this we fail in everything of importance. So, we are urged to be continually on guard—aware of the danger, lest we fall into like condemnation.

This is not the "fear" which means timidity (cowardly). The apostle Paul says, "God has not given us the spirit of fear..." (2 Tim. 1:7). An example of this fear is the one talent man who was afraid and hid his talent (Matt. 25:25).

The kind of fear recommended here is that which leads to caution and care. Since the Israelites lost the rest of Canaan through obstinacy and unbelief, so we who have the offer of heaven are in danger of losing it for the same reason. Hence, we should take every precaution and "fear" lest we fail of it. This fear is born out of reverence or respect for God and His will. It is the controlling factor in the Christian life for it motivates the Christian to act. The reason for the fear is given in the latter portion of the verse, ".. .lest any of us should actually come short of it."

The writer, Adam Clark, shows that "Canaan was a type of the wonderful privileges of the gospel of Christ and the glorious eternity to which they lead." This idea of coming short means any distance, however small. It will be little comfort to know how near we got to heaven if we miss it. Let us watch and be sober lest we run the Christian race well for a time and then allow the devil, the flesh, the world, to turn us aside the last few miles of the way. It is a dreadful thought to come near, but miss or come short of being eternally saved. It would be the tragedy of all tragedies to find on that final day of reckoning that we came short in our striving for the heavenly home.

Since there is a rest which attainment is worth all our efforts, let us labor, earnestly strive, be zealous and exert ourselves to enter into this rest of God. Heaven will never be obtained but by diligence. No one enters there who does not earnestly desire and who does not make a sincere effort to reach it. In order to gain admission into God's everlasting kingdom Peter said, "we must give diligence in adding to our faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Pet. 1:5-7). We are assured that if we do these things we will not fail, but that an entrance will be ministered unto us abundantly into that everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Always keep in mind that it is not only essential to start, but also to finish. We must not only enter the race, but run it to the finish line.

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