This study in Hebrews has certainly been a surprise. From time to time, I am astonished by a theme in Scripture, as if I had never seen it before. In this case, the theme of Today in Hebrews has captured my imagination again, as it did when I was in high school. I see now that the study could be far more complex. Perhaps at some point, I will be able to explore the Christology that the author of Hebrews seems to be weaving in with the theme of Today. However, for now, I’m tuning in to how the term Today is used in each context where it occurs. In this post, Today is linked to Rest, something we all seem to forget about with our fast paced lifestyles.
i. Hebrews 4.5-7
And again in this place it says, “They shall not enter my rest.” Since therefore it remains open for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he sets a certain day—“today”—saying through David much later, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.” (NRSV)
Hebrews 4.5 is one sentence. Verses 6-7 are one sentence in the Greek. Verse 7 quotes Psalm 95. Keeping the Today in mind, there are a couple indications that God is presently at work.
The first indication is that he sets a certain day, meaning that He is currently setting limits. That limit is not some nebulous day in the future. That limit is Today. We are profoundly limited by Today. It is our only opportunity to engage God.
A second indication of God’s present work is what He is saying through David much later. This shows that God draws upon words He speaks to the Israelites when they enter the Promised Land. He repurposes those words through David 400 years later. Now the writer of Hebrews draws upon those words again. In some mysterious way, God is present in all of these periods of time, yet makes His Word come alive in the now.
There is a blessed rest that is being discussed. Today we have the opportunity to enjoy that rest . . . or plug away without it.
ii. Hebrews 4.8-10
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.
There are two types of rest that are referred to.
1st type of rest
First is the rest of Joshua. This is a rest that refers to stepping into our Promised Land.
We all want Jesus to be our Moses, our Deliverer. Like Moses, we want Jesus to deliver us from what, who, or where we once were. But do we really want Jesus to lead us into what we are becoming? Do we really want Jesus to be our Joshua?
Joshua leads us into the promise, but there’s a fight to be fought. On the other side, after the fight, after obedience, there’s rest. After generations of rebels who wander in the wilderness, Israel finally takes her place among the nations . . .
. . . And the land had rest from war. – Joshua 11.23
2nd type of rest
The second form of rest in this passage is Sabbath: a sabbath rest still remains (verse 9). This type of rest comes only from incorporating rest into the routine. For the Israelites it is Saturday.
For the First Century Christians, Sunday comes to the forefront, most likely because of the Resurrection. It’s also possible that they are able to meet in local synagogues on Sundays.
Paul says some will regard one day as holier than another, but he is by no means arguing against the sacred rhythm of Sabbath (Romans 14.4-6).
iii. Hebrews 5.1-5
Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
We are called to certain arenas of life. Perhaps we don’t necessarily choose our calling. Jesus does not seem to choose to become the high priest for all time, but God places the mantle upon Him.
We may not be comfortable with the concepts of calling and vocation when we think of our everyday, or even mundane, jobs. However, if our work is not diametrically opposed to the work of God, then it is probably good.
Let’s remember that we are co-regents with God, tending to His creation. Let’s also remember that Adam’s job is simply to tend the garden. God has also made us a priestly people, giving us a share in His holy work of offering renewal to all.
We’re qualified not because of what we’ve done, but because of who we are. I mentioned the idea of Sonship in Hebrews 1. Salvation’s plan is not based on Christ’s performance, but on His position. He’s the Son of God. In our performance-driven culture this is paramount.
Here the author of Hebrews returns to the same thought and states that Jesus is the High Priest because . . . well . . . just because.
There really is no because.
He is simply God’s Son.
If we truly accept what Christ does as our High Priest, then we are qualified. We are qualified because . . . well . . . there simply is no other because.
Let that sink in.
That’s the beautiful undercurrent of the Today in Hebrews 5. Today will we allow the High Priest to share Sonship with us?
Today, you are His begotten . . . simply because.
Today, you are qualified to share His priesthood, His Sonship, to be a change agent . . . simply because.
Don’t be afraid to slow down
and find rest in God Today,
not just physical rest,
but rest for your soul.
Don’t ever be ashamed
of taking your place,
in the Kingdom of God Today.
Jared Ingle is a Christian family man, an online professor, a supervised marriage and family therapist, and a minister. To get more acquainted with him or the services he offers CLICK HERE
more titles in this series, Today in Hebrews:
The following reference works have greatly influenced this study. If you take time to follow the links and purchase any of them on audio, Kindle, or in print, I will receive some remuneration. If you would like to connect with me about great Christian reads, I would be happy to consult with you about building your library.
Arthur G. Clarke, Analytical Studies in the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1979).
John Chrysostom, On the Epistle to the Hebrews.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures.
Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1894).
Thomas C. Oden, Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992).
Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, ed., Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962).
Theodore of Mopsuestia, Commentary on Hebrews.
John Wesley, Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Book-Room).