Chapter 3

The first two chapters have been intensely doctrinal. In chapter 1, the enthroned Sin-purger is seen at rest, and His rest in yonder glory is eternal. In chapter 2, His people are seen in association with Him for ever there, and now we come to listen to divine instruction concerning the eternal rest of God, in which His people are to share.

Verse 1.—“Wherefore holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling.” In addressing us as “holy brethren,” the allusion is to chapter 2:11, where the sanctified and the Sanctifier are seen to be “all of one “—set apart with Him. Therefore holy “brethren” shews, we stand together on an equality—age, experience, knowledge not being counted here. “Partakers”—sharers of “The heavenly calling,” shews where the call came from, and where we are going. It is a calling the effects of which continue, even as when the Creator’s voice said: “Light be,” so light was, and so it continues until now. That call once heard, becomes mightier and goes on, until we are right up on His bosom in that glory. His word “Come to Me,” calls us with a heavenly calling, and as His session there demonstrates, His acceptance and ours there is complete and identical. What a glorious fact!

“Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus.” We are here directed to “attentively survey,” —as the word is, that glorious person who combines both these two offices in Himself. An apostle is one who speaks to us from God. An high priest speaks for us to God. In Israel, the two offices were apart: Moses being the apostle or messenger of God to them, and Aaron the high priest who went to God for them, thus evidencing their imperfection. But by the combination of these two in one person, to whom the Holy Ghost here directs our gaze, we learn that this same Jesus fills the entire space between our souls and the living God. So fully does He fill the entire void, that He can lay His hand equally on the uncreated throne in the heavens, and on the heart of the sinner. He, as the Apostle, speaks peace to our souls; His first word to the hearing ear is “Peace” (Eph. 2:17). As High Priest He sustains us in that peace. As Apostle, He transacts all God’s affairs with me. As High Priest, all my affairs with God. As High Priest He is very near to God. As Apostle He is close to me. So the word that He gets from God, He immediately speaks to your soul, and that word is “peace.” By attentively surveying this wondrous Person, this glorious “Jesus”—as the Spirit here calls Him (see Greek), we enter God’s rest. “Of our confession “—not profession. Confession is of the heart: if there it must come out. Profession is on the surface, often with nothing inwardly to correspond. There are many who profess who do not possess.

Verses 2-5.—”Who is faithful.” The Greek tense is both present and imperfect. He “is faithful.” Yes, blessed be God to Him, who “appointed “Him to fill that wondrous place. Moses was a faithful servant—the word means, “a servant intimate with his master”—in all his house. The reference is to the tabernacle of old (Num. 12:7), which was built by Moses, in which he served, and God bore witness to his faithfulness there. But he witnessed to something to come, “a testimony of those things yet to be,” of which the tabernacle and its services were but a “shadow” (Col. 2:17). Christ is above Moses. Here, He is contrasted with Him.

Verse 6.—“Christ as a Son over His house; whose house are we” He and He only is “over” the house of God; His alone is the presidency that God acknowledges. He bought every stone of which it is composed with His own blood. He made them into living stones, instinct with His own life. He bought them and builded them together; and now as Son He presides over the house of God, preparing to rest there in His love.

If we hold fast the confidence (or rather “the boldness”), and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Here is the road by which we are to reach the rest. As faith “holds fast,” it gets stronger and stronger, grasping more tightly. In verse 14, the word translated “confidence “is stronger still, and quite a different word from verse 6. It should be translated “substance,” as in chapter 11:1; for by holding fast, we become better acquainted with God, and thus our joy is deepened, and as we thus become better acquainted with God, our confidence in Him is vastly increased. “The hope” here, is the coming of the Lord Jesus.

Verses 7-11.—Here the allusion is changed from the tabernacle to Canaan, and the entrance of some thereinto. Now we are in the wilderness, and here we prove what we are. Do we believe what He has spoken, and thus enter into God’s own rest? These verses are a warning. In that wilderness, how many fell with whom God was displeased. The voice of the Holy Ghost here is to believers. His word “To-day,” implies how relapse, and the heart is shewn to be the seat of the mischief. “They set not their hearts aright” (Psa. 78:8). “In their hearts they turned back to Egypt.” These forty years are like the maximum of Christian life. Alas! that it should be as it often is, a time of “provocation.”

Verse 12-15.—“Take heed,” there is need for great watchfulness, for we are still in the place of danger. “An evil heart of unbelief.” When the heart gets wrong, when it ceases to have Christ as its object, it quickly then departs from the living God, losing confidence in Him. When the heart has Christ as its object, attentively considering Him in the greatness of His Person, filling the entire space between me and God; then my confidence grows and I am pleasing Him. When it is otherwise, I am “provoking” Him by casting a slur upon His Christ and departing from Him.

Verses 16-19.—Here an assertion is made, and two questions are asked. “Some” did provoke. “With whom was He displeased? To whom did He sware?” Out of the whole six hundred thousand, only two entered in. Surely this is a solemn word to professors. What became of the rest? They “believed not”—they were disobedient, unbelieving: the same word as in John 3:36, “disobedient to the Son.” These verses have a very solemn voice to us, and shew how easy it is to miss God’s beautiful and perfect way of entering into rest. They all heard, but only Caleb and Joshua “believed “and entered into the land. Of all the rest it is written— They “despised the pleasant land, they believed not His Word, but murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of Jehovah” (Psa. 106:24). O that we may hear the voice in which He speaks to us, and “enter in.”