What if it’s more literal than we think?

Read Hebrews 3.

Go on, I’ll wait.

What is this rest into which the addressees of the book are in danger of not entering?

In American churches, we live downstream from the Great Awakenings, and so we tend to read in terms of individual salvation from hell to heaven when we die. If you read Dillow–and you should–you’ll be introduced to a good case that it’s speaking of entering into heavenly reward when we die.

But what is it about this chapter that suggests we should read it eschatologically at all? The example that the author uses is the Exodus generation. They weren’t headed to heaven; they were headed to Canaan. They didn’t fail to attain heaven and go to hell; they failed to attain Canaan and literally died in the desert. Living in the shadow of 19th-century hymnody, we effortlessly read “Canaan” as heaven, but what is the biblical case that we should read it that way? Is there one?

I’d like to suggest that we–at least experimentally–try reading this passage, with its example of earthly judgment and earthly rest in this life, as if it’s talking about earthly judgment and earthly rest in this life. Go back and read it again with that in mind — see what you think.


2 Responses to What if it’s more literal than we think?

  1. Tom says:

    Good word, Tim. Thank you for the challenge this morning.

  2. Tim Nichols says:

    Glad it was helpful!

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