Hebrews 4

My friends who know me “`know that when I tell a story, I almost always have a point I am building up to! Generally speaking I do not tell stories just for the sake of telling them. When the New Testament recounts a story from the Old Testament it too has a point it is building up to. Hebrews is telling a story, and unless you know what the story is, you will misunderstand the point at the end.

Regarding Hebrews 4:9: Context is everything! We need to recognize that when it comes to reading the Bible there are DEEP THINKERS and there are SURFACE READERS. The surface reader jumps to a single verse and makes what he feels is a monumental case from it. Deep thinkers on the other hand, want to understand the context, the background, and really try to understand what is being said; they want to understand the big picture! A surface reader will jump to our verse in question, and in its single passage build a case, he thinks is irrefutable proof to support his claims about the Sabbath. We need to understand that the Bible has a point behind everything it shares.  In other words, the book was written by a deep thinker (likely Paul) and was inspired by an infinite God! That means the author of this book is capable of carrying a single point for several chapters using several examples and metaphors. So unless we are willing to step back and look at the BIG PICTURE of the entire context of the book we may actually miss the KEY POINT the author intended throughout the entire book.

It is important to realize that Hebrews 4 is NOT starting a new thought, rather it is a continued narrative from the previous chapter. Compare the following

Hebrews 3:11

So I SWARE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER INTO MY REST.

Hebrews 4:3

For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I HAVE SWORN IN MY WRATH, IF THEY SHALL ENTER INTO MY REST: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 3:13-15

13 But EXHORT ONE ANOTHER DAILY, WHILE IT IS CALLED TO DAY; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
15 While it is said, TO DAY IF YE WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS, as in the provocation.

 

Hebrews 4:7-8

7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, TO DAY, after so long a time; as it is said, TO DAY IF YE WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS.
8 For if Jesus (JOSHUA) had given them rest, then would HE NOT AFTERWARD HAVE SPOKEN OF ANOTHER DAY.

The writer of Hebrews shares THREE DIFFERENT TYPES of REST in chapter 3 and 4.

  1. The REST provided by entering the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
  2. God’s REST on the 7th day of the creation week.
  3. The REST we have in Christ.

 

The REST Provided By Entering the Promised Land after 40 Years of Wandering In the Wilderness.

The author of Hebrews is writing by means of comparison. Let’s look at the first. After the spies returned, Joshua and Caleb, told of all the wonders they saw. The Hebrews through fear and unbelief trembled before the reports of giants in the land. Because of this, NOT ONE ADULT PERSON WHO GAVE INTO UNBELIEF ENTERED INTO THE PROMISED LAND. God determined a year for each day the spies were in Canaan (40 years) should pass before he would allow the Hebrews to enter Canaan. At the end of the 40 years JOSHUA AND CALEB were the only two adults still alive! Everyone else was either a child or born AFTER the spies returned. Let’s review the sequence of events.

  1. God Promises Canaan to the Hebrews
  2. The Spies return from spying out the land.
  3. The Hebrews gave into unbelief against the promise of God
  4. None of the adults who doubted God’s promise entered Canaan.

Their unbelief did not dis-annul God’s promise. God still needed to fulfill it.

Seeing THEREFORE IT REMAINETH THAT SOME MUST ENTER THEREIN, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Hebrews 4:6.

 

 

God’s REST on the 7th Day of the Creation Week

Hebrews 4:4-5
4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And GOD DID REST THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS.
5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

Adam did not have to do a single good deed in order to inherit the newly created Earth, and the Garden of Eden. God had done all the work Himself, and the work that He did, He declared was “very good,” After God finished His work, he gave what He had made to Adam freely as a gift. In the same way we do not add to the works of Christ in order to become joint-heirs with Christ and inherit the New Heavens and the New Earth. Jesus has done all the work Himself, and the work He has done on our behalf, the Father has accepted as ‘very good.’ Jesus offers us this finished work freely as a gift. Adam did not have to add to the work of God in order to complete the creation of this world, neither do we have to add to the righteousness of Christ in order to become a new creature.

This is the first mention of the 7th day in the narrative. The 7th day is NOT the emphasis, rather it is an example to magnify the point to which this passage in Hebrews chapters 3 & 4 is ultimately leading up to. The author of Hebrews uses these two examples:

  1. The REST provided by entering the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
  2. God’s REST on the 7th day of the creation week.

These two examples help the author of Hebrews build up his over all point which he intended for us to understand from these two chapters.

 

The Rest We Have In Christ.

The KEY VERSE which helps us to understand WHY the 7th day is mentioned is v. 10.

Hebrews 4:10-11
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, AS GOD DID FROM HIS.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

The Garden of Eden was a gift to Adam. Adam had no part in its creation. The entire creation of this world was the work of God. All Adam could do was accept this world as a gift; Adam could not boast credit for anything that existed. The 7th day of the Creation Week as used in Hebrews 4 is a type of Righteousness by Faith. The only way for us to become righteous is to REST IN THE FINISHED WORK OF JESUS CHRIST and accept God’s gracious gift to us.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  NOT OF WORKS, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST. Ephesians 2:8-9.

 

The Transition

v.11 says, “Let us labour therefore to enter into THAT rest.” Which rest is this speaking about?

Is It:

  1. The REST provided by entering the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness?
  2. Or is it God’s REST on the 7th day of the creation week?
  3. Or is it the REST we have in Christ?

Throughout Hebrews 3:7 – 4:11 the ground work was laid to establish the amazing GOOD NEWS that TODAY IS THE DAY OF OUR SALVATION! To highlight how important this is to the author of Hebrews, allow me to point out the fact that he continues to emphasize this same point several chapters later in Hebrews 11! In Hebrews 4 the point is made that although the Hebrews came to rest from their wanderings in the wilderness when they made their conquest of the land of Canaan, and although they had the rest of the Sabbath, they never entered into the inner rest we now have available through Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 11 we are given many examples of Old Testament men of faith, and are told despite all their incredible adventures and amazing experiences, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises.” Hebrews 11:13.

The entire point of the Book of Hebrews is to MAGNIFY THE TRANSITION which took place at the cross. We can now enter into God’s rest. We can now receive the promises. We have passed from the Old Covenant into the New Covenant. We have moved from the old Levitical priesthood in to the Melchizedek type Priesthood of Jesus Christ. Christ moved from the earthly sanctuary and entered into the heavenly ONCE at his ascension and fulfilled the type, through the offering of His own body on the Cross.

>>>> In Hebrews 4:4 we transitioned from the Promise to Enter Canaan, to the

7th Day of Creation.


>>>> In Hebrews 4:7-11 we transition from the 7th day of Creation to TODAY!

Hebrews 4:7-11
7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, TO DAY IF YE WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, THEN WOULD HE NOT AFTERWARD HAVE SPOKEN OF ANOTHER DAY.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Verse 8 is the KEY VERSE to help us understand which REST vs. 9-11 is writing about. Verse 8 is not referring to Jesus, it is actually speaking of Joshua. Point 1: Verse 8 declares that Joshua did NOT give them the REST which Hebrews prescribes to post-Cross Christians TODAY! Point 2: Verse 8 says the REST we are offered TODAY came “AFTERWARDS!” These two points tell us “THAT REST” could not be the 7th day of the Creation Week, because that rest came BEFORE! Both the 7th day of the Creation week and the Sabbath commandment itself came BEFORE Joshua’s conquest of Canaan!

The REST that came “AFTERWARDS” is the REST we have in Jesus Christ! Are you ready for some GOOD NEWS? We do not need to wait for a special day of the week to enter this REST. We may enter this REST TODAY! Only those with faith may enter into this REST.

Neither the REST on the 7th day of Creation, nor the REST given through the conquest of Canaan has lasting qualities. Creations REST came to an end when Adam sinned. Canaan’s REST in many ways never really began!

Matthew 11:28-30
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and YE SHALL FIND REST UNTO YOUR SOULS.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Isaiah 11:10
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: AND HIS REST SHALL BE GLORIOUS.

The Hebrews made their conquest of Canaan and left the wilderness behind, and had the 7th day Sabbath throughout their generations, and yet Hebrews 4:8 says they did not enter into the REST we can have TODAY! If it had, “THEN WOULD HE NOT AFTERWARD HAVE SPOKEN OF ANOTHER DAY.

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.  Hebrews 4:9.

In order to enter into this rest we must cease from trying to enter heaven by our own good works and rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ!

Hebrews 4:10-11

10  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

11  Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

The Ten Commandments were a standard which could be judged by outward behavior. One could easily determine whether or not someone had stolen, lied, killed, or even broken the 7th day Sabbath. The law of love written in our hearts on the other hand is a standard by which only God can judge. Only the Lord knows whether we have lust, greed, pride, unforgiveness, or whether we have been covered by the blood of the lamb! The Lord is not as concerned about the externals as he is with the internals. If we have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof we are nothing more than white washed tombs with dead men’s bones inside. God offers to take from us the heart of stone and give to us a heart of flesh. He has removed the tables of stone and has promised to write his love in our hearts. We can only find rest in Christ by allowing the knocking Savior who stands at the door entrance into our hearts.

True rest is not in ceasing from physical labor one day in seven, rather it is ceasing from our own works of striving to merit our salvation, by finding TRUE REST in the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is HIS REST THAT REMAINS! It is HIS REST WHICH WE MAY HAVE TODAY! It is to this rest which we must strive to enter in by faith. We must wrestle against the temptation of unbelief which would cost our soul’s salvation.

Resting from physical labor one day in seven has no more power to save a soul than ceremonial cleansing at the ancient temple in Jerusalem! We are not saved by our own works, neither are we saved by our own outward behavior. We are saved only by receiving REST from our BURDEN OF SIN, granted to us by the FINISHED WORK OF JESUS CHRIST! It is not physical labor we need rest from in order to be saved, rather it is rest from the burden of sin itself! Christ bore our sins on a tree and nailed them to His cross and redeemed us from the power of death and damnation.

It is carnal and shallow thinking, to reason and believe that cessation from physical labor, a merely temporal work, is of such importance as to take the preeminence over the rest which we are offered in Jesus Christ from our burdens of sins. I thank God for Hebrews 4:9! I thank my Savior that there indeed remains a rest for the people of God! A slave driven to work 7 days a week, may still have the rest in his heart which Christ provided us at the cross! Praise His holy name!

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