Hebrews 3-4, pt.3

Fr. Gabriel should be with us this week to lead us through Hebrews 3-4. If you haven’t already, please take the time to read through these two chapters.  As you read through these chapters pay attention to how the writer uses the word “rest” in 4:1-13.  The writer will use the word literally, allegorically, and eschatologically. 

Initially, the writer uses the word “rest” to mean the Israelite’s physical entry into the Promised Land. (cf., Heb. 3:12, Deut. 12:9, Ps. 95:11). Israel left Egypt to journey to that area between the Negev and the Euphrates promised to Abraham.  “Rest” simply means the physical destination of a literal journey. 

The writer also uses the work allegorically to mean the peace of God.  So in 4:1, the writer speaks of the “promise which offers entry into the rest/peace of God” which is obtained through faith in the gospel message.  This rest is immediately available to anyone with ears to hear.

Finally, the writer uses the word “rest” eschatologically. In the first creation account in Genesis 1, every day ends with the refrain “There was evening, there was morning, a (first, second, etc.) day.” However, the account of the seventh day omits this refrain and instead states that God blessed and hollowed this seventh day because it was the day that God rested. Gen 2:1-3.  In Rabbinic thought, this day has not ended yet and there is still that opportunity to enter this eternal rest.  As the writer says in 4:7 (paraphrasing Ps. 95:7-8): “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Today, the day on which he wrote the letter and the day on which we read this letter, is the day not to harden our hearts so that we may enter into that everlasting rest.  This exact idea is echoed in Revelation 14, where St. John the Divine writes “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’ Our ultimate rest is becoming like Christ so that we may dwell with him forever.

Dinner is a 6. The menu is meatball stroganoff. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you hear, and please bring a friend.

You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.

Augustine, Confessions 1.1.1

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