Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Wrath 16

Hebrews uses the term “wrath” twice and both times it is a quotation from Psalm 95:11:
In a warning passage, the writer of Hebrews warns the audience to press on in faith and obedience and warns the readers by reminding them of the wilderness generation and he does so by re-using the words of the psalmist who was similarly warning his generation:
3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
?Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
as on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors put me to the test,
though they had seen my works 10 for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
and I said, ?They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known my ways.?
11 As in my anger I swore,
?They will not enter my rest.??
12 Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ?today,? so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,
?Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.?
16 Now who were they who heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? 17 But with whom was he angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

1. The followers of Christ enter into the “rest” the wilderness generation did not enter. This puts this into the realm of history, but it is a spiritual-historical reality. (The meaning of “rest” is disputed and it doesn’t matter here; at some level it refers to the final blessing of God.)
2. God’s wrath prevented the wilderness generation from entering into that rest.
3. Wrath in this text refers to something God in the long-ago past and that wrath was a historical wrath.

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posted June 12, 2008 at 6:14 am

don’t want to sidetrack the conversation, but just out of curiousity, where could one look for more info the meaning of ‘rest’?

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posted June 12, 2008 at 9:14 am

By “historical wrath” I take it you mean that the wrath experienced by those with “unbelief” happened for a “time” (in this case, 40 years of “unrest”)? At least in this sense, “wrath” is the lack of rest that is a direct consequence of a lack of faith. A time-limited consequence of disobendience versus eternal condemnation to unrest?

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posted June 12, 2008 at 12:06 pm

A nitpick about #3:
True, the wrath happened a long ago but so did the actions of those who hardened their hearts. The equation seems to me:
they hardened their hearts -> God’s wrath / no rest
don’t harden your hearts -> ?
It’s not that God’s wrath is hanging over our heads. But I think the wording of #3 may underplay the intended affect of invoking God’s wrath on the audience.

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Scott Shaffer

posted June 12, 2008 at 8:31 pm

1. Is historical wrath ever spoken of as eternal or everlasting? Or to put it another way, if wrath is ever spoken of as eternal or everlasting, does that exclude it from having as it’s referent events in history?
2. Is wrath or anger ever communicated through symbolism or imagery, apart from the specific use of the words thumos or orge? By concentrating on these two specific words, are we perhaps not seeing the whole picture?
Today’s text would bring to mind not just a few individuals who did not enter, but an entire generation who heard and disbelieved. I think there is a definite allusion here to the historical circumstances and a specific generation who would experience God’s wrath. I say historical.

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tim atwater

posted June 13, 2008 at 8:08 am

Jodi (#1)– i still think Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath is best on “rest” and should be a prereq for
Christians in this era in our reading of Hebrews…
(i note parenthetically that J Neusner, in his book taking strong issue w rabbi Paul (A Rabbi Talks with Paul — that may not be exact and i cant find it in a hurry in my piles) says nothing but good things about Hebrews… praising it effusively as superlative midrash…
This does tie in with the wrath discussion — as rest and wrath are in psalm 95 and Hebrews posed as opposite poles — and in the long earlier discussion re Joshua, Hebrews is where we read — “Joshua did not give them rest”…
Wrath may be in fact the absence of the Sabbath Rest of Jesus Christ… (which includes all the Sabbath and Jubilee Release themes as well…)

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posted June 16, 2008 at 3:21 am

Thanks Tim!

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