There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. — Hebrews 4:9-11
One evening, my husband went into the kitchen and proceeded to enthusiastically sweep the floor. I wasn’t really sure what else he was planning to do, so I went to bed. The following morning when I came into the kitchen, I saw the mop and bucket sitting in the corner and realized that he had also mopped the floor. I wondered why he hadn’t noticed that I had already mopped! Even though my husband had the best of intentions and was sincerely trying to help out, he had labored over a task that was already done.
How many times do we as Christians do the same thing? There is a spiritual rest that God wants us to enter into, but instead of availing ourselves of it, we labor over things that have already been accomplished or that God has promised to do for us. Let us take care not to miss, through unbelief, what God has promised! For example, God may ask us to do a specific task that we feel is beyond our abilities. Instead of struggling to accomplish it in our own strength, we need to remember that He has promised grace to help in time of need. Perhaps we fret over trying to make ends meet, when God has promised to supply all our needs. Maybe we struggle with trying to figure out how to handle a difficult situation, when God’s Word assures us that when wisdom is needed, we should simply ask. Yes, we do have to take some action ourselves, but there is a special “repose” in our Christian lives that comes about when we base our actions on trust in God to provide what He has promised.
There is one area where God does instruct us to strive — we are told to labor to enter into His rest. After we pray and believe, we can rest in His promises that whatever the need is, it can be worked out according to God’s will.
There are two Greek words in this chapter that are translated rest. The first signifies “cessation from labor,” indicating that the weary body is physically rested and refreshed. The second means not only a rest from labor, but a religious rest — rest of a sacred kind, in which both soul and body partake.
God rested on the seventh day because His creation was complete. His rest has been available since then, but the Jews of Moses’ day failed to enter that rest. The writer of Hebrews reminded the Jewish Christians that their forefathers had the opportunity to enter Canaan, but their unbelief in God’s promises kept them from entering. Now God was offering them another opportunity to enter into the rest that comes through Jesus Christ. Just as God rested after His creation was complete, Jesus could offer ultimate rest because of His death and resurrection.
In verse 8, “Jesus” is the Greek translation for “Joshua.” Joshua led the Children of Israel into the Promised Land, but that did not bring lasting rest. That everlasting, eternal rest came only when they “ceased from their own works.” In verse 11, the writer encouraged them to labour (“to strive and give diligence”) to enter into that rest and not fall into the same unbelief their forefathers did.
The word translated quick in verse 12 means “alive.” Thus, the Word of God is alive and powerful, and is compared in this text to a sharp sword, penetrating and revealing our inner beings and making apparent what we really are.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The argument: the preeminence of Christ in His person and work
C. Parenthesis II: warning against disobedience
4. The call to fear (4:1-10)
5. The call to faithfulness (4:11-13)
God wants us to rest in the promises found in His Word, and to put our confidence in Him no matter what circumstances may come our way. If we do, then we will one day enter into His eternal rest in Heaven.