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4. A Sabbath Rest for God's People
1Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. 2For indeed we have had good tidings preached unto us, even as also they: but the word of hearing did not profit them, because it was not united by faith with them that heard. 3For we who have believed do enter into that rest; even as he hath said,
As I sware in my wrath,
They shall not enter into my rest:
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he hath said somewhere of the seventh day on this wise, And God rested on the seventh day from all his works; 5and in this place again,
They shall not enter into my rest.
6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some should enter thereinto, and they to whom the good tidings were before preached failed to enter in because of disobedience, 7he again defineth a certain day, To-day, saying in David so long a time afterward (even as hath been said before),
To-day if ye shall hear his voice,
Harden not your hearts.
8For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. 9There remaineth therefore a sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. 11Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience. 12For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.
16. Let us therefore come boldly, or, with confidence, etc. He draws this conclusion, — that an access to God is open to all who come to him relying on Christ the Mediator; nay, he exhorts the faithful to venture without any hesitation to present themselves before God. And the chief benefit of divine teaching is a sure confidence in calling on God, as, on the other hand, the whole of religion falls to the ground, and is lost when this certainty is taken away from consciences.
It is hence obvious to conclude, that under the Papacy the light of the Gospel is extinct, for miserable men are bidden to doubt whether God is propitious to them or is angry with them. They indeed say that God is to be sought; but the way by which it is possible to come to him is not pointed out, and the gate is barred by which alone men can enter. They confess in words that Christ is a Mediator, but in reality they make the power of his priesthood of none effect, and deprive him of his honor.
For we must hold this principle, — that Christ is not really known as a Mediator except all doubt as to our access to God is removed; otherwise the conclusion here drawn would not stand, “We have a high priest Who is willing to help us; therefore we may come bold and without any hesitation to the throne of grace.” And were we indeed fully persuaded that Christ is of his own accord stretching forth his hand to us, who of us would not come in perfect confidence? 8181 “Confidence,” that is, of being heard. — Ed. It is then true what I said, that its power is taken away from Christ’s priesthood whenever men have doubts, and are anxiously seeking for mediators, as though that one were not sufficient, in whose patronage all they who really trust, as the Apostle here directs them, have the assurance that their prayers are heard.
The ground of this assurance is, that the throne of God is not arrayed in naked majesty to confound us, but is adorned with a new name, even that of grace, which ought ever to be remembered whenever we shun the presence of God. For the glory of God, when we contemplate it alone, can produce no other effect than to fill us with despair; so awful is his throne. The Apostle, then, that he might remedy our diffidence, and free our minds from all fear and trembling, adorns it with “grace,” and gives it a name which can allure us by its sweetness, as though he had said, “Since God has affirmed to his throne as it were the banner of ‘grace’ and of his paternal love towards us, there are no reasons why his majesty should drive us away.” 8282 The “throne of grace” is evidently in opposition to the throne of judgment, which especially belongs to a king. Some of the Greek fathers regarded this as the throne of Christ; but most commentators consider it to be God’s throne, as Christ is here represented as a priest and as access to God is ever described as being through Christ. See Ephesians 2:18. — Ed.
The import of the whole is, that we are to call upon God without fear, since we know that he is propitious to us, and that this may be done is owing to the benefit conferred on us by Christ, as we find from Ephesians 3:12; for when Christ receives us under his protection and patronage, he covers with his goodness the majesty of God, which would otherwise be terrible to us, so that nothing appears there but grace and paternal favor.
That we may obtain mercy, etc. This is not added without great reason; it is for the purpose of encouraging as it were by name those who feel the need of mercy, lest any one should be cast down by the sense of his misery, and close up his way by his own diffidence. This expression, “that we may obtain mercy”, contains especially this most delightful truth, that all who, relying on the advocacy of Christ, pray to God, are certain to obtain mercy; yet on the other hand the Apostle indirectly, or by implication, holds out a threatening to all who take not this way, and intimates that God will be inexorable to them, because they disregard the only true way of being reconciled to him.
He adds, To help in time of need, or, for a seasonable help; that is, if we desire to obtain all things necessary for our salvation.
Calvin’s version is, “and find grace for a seasonable help;” which according to his explanation, means a help during the season or period of “today.” Doddridge has, “for our seasonable assistance,” — Macknight, “for the purpose of seasonable help,” — and Stuart, “and find favor so as to be assisted in time of need.” Our version seems the best, “and find grace to help in the time of need.” The address is to those exposed to trials
and persecutions; and the seasonable or opportune help was such as their peculiar circumstances and wants required. The word εὔκαιρον, is in the Sept. put for “due season,” or in its time, in Psalm 104:27. The idea of Calvin is that some of the fathers, but is not suitable to this passage.
“Mercy” is compassion, and “grace” is favor or benefit received; it means sometimes favor entertained, but here the effect of favor — a benefit, and this benefit was to be a help in time of need. — Ed. Now, this seasonableness refers to the time of calling, according to those words of Isaiah, which Paul accommodates to the preaching of the Gospel, “Behold, now is the accepted time,” etc., (Isaiah 49:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2;) for the Apostle refers to that “today,” during which God speaks to us. If we defer hearing until tomorrow, when God is speaking to us today, the unseasonable night will come, when what now may be done can no longer be done; and we shall in vain knock when the door is closed.