May 7, 2017
I want to begin this morning by throwing a word at you. This is a word that most of you have heard me use and even if it does not sound familiar, the concept behind the word is one with which you are familiar. And, though this may sound a bit strange up front, it is a word that is important in terms of understanding what the Author of Hebrews is doing in this passage.
The word is “Typology.”
You know by the its ending that it is the study of something: Biology, Psychology, Archaeology, Theology, Sociology, Criminology, and the list goes on and on.
So what is Typology the study of? Is it the study of typing? No…but as an aside, and this is for you who are still students, if you get the opportunity, take a 10-Finger typing course, it will serve you well over time.
Typology borrows its name from the Greek word: tupos, which refers to an indentation that is left behind in something to provide a mold or a copy. I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and one of the staples in detective shows is that while investigating a crime they discover a pad of paper with the previous sheet peeled off. So, you all know what happens next. The detective takes a pencil or some charcoal and makes a rubbing so he can read what was written — caused by the indent of the pen on the sheet above it. That imprint is a tupos.
So, a “type” is an imprint or an image that points toward an original or greater thing that the first is an impression of. The original is called an “anti-type.”
Typology then is the study of these things in the Bible. Since God is the author of the Bible as a whole, you should expect to find this kind of thing present. These types, normally fulfilled in Christ, is a reminder of God’s sovereignty and his hand at work in the affairs of men through history. These things take place in God’s providence and ultimately are types of — they foreshadow — Christ.
So, for example, we are told that the temple and the tabernacle foreshadows Christ, who is the greater temple. King David, the great king foreshadows Jesus’ greater Kingship. Solomon’s wealth and Golden Kingdom foreshadows Christ’s greater wealth and kingdom, which has streets described as being made from gold. Have you ever wondered why the Bible goes on at length to talk about the wealth of Solomon’s palace? It was not just because it was a remarkable place; it was meant to point to Christ!
There is Moses the covenant mediator and Elisha the great miracle-worker, all foreshadow Christ’s greater work. Peter even tells us that Noah’s flood is a type of Christian Baptism (1 Peter 3:21). And the examples abound.
So, typology is the study of these “types” and of their greater fulfillment in Christ. With that in mind, how then does this help us to understand our passage?
The Author is drawing a comparison between Old Testament Israel being led out of bondage in Egypt and the New Testament Church being led out of their bondage to sin.
The first — Israel being led out of Egypt — is the type.
The second — the church being led out of sin — is the antitype.
The “rest” being spoken of is the Promised Land in the context of the first.
It is our eternal inheritance in Christ in the context of the second. Note Peter’s language:
“An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4-5)
But, we have been led out already but have not yet realized the inheritance in its fullness. That is what theologians creatively call “the already and the not yet.” In other words, we are in a kind of “in-between” state. Hence, many refer to the church age as the church in the wilderness. Just as Israel was in-between, so too are we. We are in the wilderness of this sinful world.
That’s the comparison that the author of Hebrews is making when he quotes Psalm 95 in verses 7-11 — establishing a parallel between the type and the antitype, but with a warning for us to heed.
Let’s go to the text once again…
Verse 7: “Thus” — and this “thus” is looking back at the previous language of the chapter that Jesus is a better Covenant Mediator than Moses…Moses the type; Jesus the antitype. Moses foreshadows the greater Jesus to come.
The text goes on…
“Thus, as much as the Holy Spirit is saying…”
I think I need to stop here for a moment and talk briefly about the Holy Spirit. He is a “He”, a divine member of the Trinity and not just a spiritual force. Those who have been through my Confirmation class know that one of my pet peeves is when people call the Holy Spirit an “it”. The Spirit is a “He.”
That should be a no-brainer to most of you here. But in a recent Lifeway Research poll, conducted at the request of Ligonier Ministries, 56% of professing Christians they polled — not of the general populace — but of those in evangelical churches — they said that the Spirit was a “force” and only 27% said He was personal. The rest said, “I don’t know.” That means 3/4 of those they polled did not understand one of the most basic doctrines to the Christian faith.
So, for the record: God is One God who exists in three persons who are co-equal, co-eternal, and equal in glory. To borrow the language of Athenasius: “One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.”
And thus, back to Hebrews, the Holy Spirit is speaking. That is an action taken by a person, not some sort of impersonal force. And what is he speaking? He is speaking the words of Scripture in Psalm 95, which is what we call, by the way, inspiration…
It is Plenary in that every word, sentence and clause of Scripture is inspired by God.
It is Organic in that God speaks through the personality and experiences of each author.
And it is infallible and inerrant because the Scriptures come from an infallible and inerrant God.
These are non-negotiable aspects of the faith, folks. They are essential truths. Now I am getting ahead of my self a bit, but cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of these matters.
So, the Spirit speaks:
“Today, if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
— we know from Psalm 95 that this is a reference to Massa and Meribah, the place where the people tested God but Massa and Meribah also become symbolic of all of the complaining and rebelling that God’s people did through the wilderness wanderings — testing God and doubting his provision for them.
“in the day of testing in the wilderness when your fathers tried me with a test — even when they had beheld my works for forty years!”
That testing is a matter of seeing whether something is genuine. They tested God and his response is to say, “Look folks, you see my works…” Isn’t it interesting that Jesus said essentially the same thing in John 10:38 when the Jewish officials were rejecting Him. “If you will not believe me, believe the works so that you will know that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” He was saying, “Look at what I have done, only God the Father had the power to do them.”
“Therefore I was angry (insert provoked or offended) with that generation and I said…”
The ESV renders this: “They always go astray in their hearts…”
A more literal rendering is: “They always are deceived in their heart.”
“But they do not know my ways.”
In other words, the people were saying, “I am good with God; God loves me just the way I am…” But they did not know God’s ways and provoked him with their unbelief.
J.C. Ryle, the evangelical Bishop of Liverpool in the 1800’s, once wrote that if a king of a region made a law and whether you lived or died was based on your strict compliance with that law, men, women, and children would dedicate themselves to learning and applying those riles within the letter.
Yet, many in the church claim to love Jesus and even claim to be loved by Jesus but wholly ignore Jesus’ commands… Yet, Jesus says, “if you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)
If we do not know the ways of God as they are found in the Bible and strive to practice them, we are, in our hardened hearts, no better than unbelievers — actually worse, because we know better. And that makes us rebels in the wilderness and under the wrath of God — for all intents and purposes, practical atheists.
Verse 11: “How I swore in my wrath: ‘They shall not enter my rest.”
How did this take place? They died in the wilderness.
Now, the type has been given and here in verse 12, the author begins presenting the anti-type, applying the same idea to the church in the wilderness. He writes:
“You must observe/examine yourselves, brothers, lest there is in any of you a heart of evil or disbelief.”
because, he writes, “it will cause you to depart (or fall away) from the Living God.”
Look, we must examine our hearts, he is saying, and we must examine them for two things: evil and unbelief. If those things are there, they will lead you to fall away from the Living God. And this happens all of the time in the church, and ours is not excluded. Their falling away does not mean that they lost faith; it means that they never had true faith in the first place.
So examine yourselves. Where you find evil, repent of it and put it do death in your life. That means that you end those practices that God considers evil. And where you find unbelief, pray to God that he will help your unbelief, recognizing that the things we believe will shape the way we live. So, if you are a genuine believer, you will want your life to be consistent with your profession of faith.
Now, notice verse 13; this idea of examining ourselves is not just a personal or individual thing. It is a corporate matter.
“But exhort one another every day until such a time as the day is called in order that none of you are hardened by the deception of sin.”
“Exhort one another” is an old Jewish figure of speech that refers to the person in the Synagogue who is bringing a word based on the Scripture readings — it is both a matter of exhortation and explanation. Yet, in the context of this passage, it is not limited to church services, but is meant to be everyday and often during the day. Thus this is more than just the gathering of the church on Sunday or during the Weekdays when it is called together for worship, it is every day. This is the principle that every mature believer ought to always be exhorting and teaching and mentoring other Christians in the congregation and in the community — at work, in the community, in your neighborhood, everywhere you go. Challenging people to live according to God’s ways as is found in the Bible.
This of course, presumes that we care about one another’s spiritual growth — if we don’t care, then why bother. But if we do care….
Verse 14 continues and the ESV gives us a bit of an unfortunate translation:
“For we have come to share in Christ if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
My objection is to the phrase, “original confidence” which makes this sound like faith and perseverance is a matter of will-power, which it is not.
The Greek more literally reads: “For we are partakers of Christ if indeed (note the conditional clause) we hold the essential first principles unwaveringly to the end.”
Essential first principles, not original confidence.
What is the author trying to say?
Christianity is not just about loving Jesus. Faith has content and meaning that must be held and believed if one is to be a Christian.
I mentioned the Holy Spirit and the Doctrine of the Trinity a little bit ago. You can call yourself many things and reject the Doctrine of the Trinity, but you cannot call yourself “Christian.”
Historically, the main essentials are often summed up in what is called the “Five Solas.” (Sola just being a Latin word that means “alone” or “only”.)
We are saved by God’s Grace Alone through Faith Alone (in other words, works testify to our salvation, they do not contribute to our salvation). And this is made possible by the work of Christ Alone, who is fully God and fully Man. It is revealed in the Scriptures Alone (the inspired and inerrant word of God) — and all of this is for the Glory of God Alone.
And if what you hold or believe comes into conflict with these five points, you cannot rightly call yourself a Christian and you must repent lest you be judged in the fires of Hell.
These are essential first-principles to which you must hold…
— unwaveringly —
to the end.
Verses 15-18 contain a series of rhetorical statements.
“So it is said, today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart as in the rebellion…
For who were those who heard and rebelled?
Was it not all of the ones who left Egypt with Moses?
But with whom was He angry for forty years?
Was it not the ones who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?
And to whom did he swear, ‘They will not enter into his rest’, if it wasn’t to the ones who disobeyed?
Verse 19: “And we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”
Conclusion? Those who are in the visible church, but who are not believing will not enter into Christ’s rest — they will fall away in the wilderness as the Israelites did.
Now, I named the sermon, “We will enter into His rest,” as much as a hope and prayer as it is an exhortation. Let us commit ourselves to putting evil and unbelief to death in our hearts, to holding on to the essential Truths of the faith without wavering, and to living a life of obedience that demonstrates to God and to a watching world that we know God’s way for us and that we have found it in the Bible.