“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.’”
---End of Scripture verses---
Okay, so this is one of those passages that can really make your head swim if you read it over and over trying to make sense of it. I will remind you the Apostle Peter wrote that “some things” are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16), but they are not impossible to understand. Let’s see if we can follow the general flow of the logic, and I see no way to do this in few words. It is important to point out that much of the logic here is chronological in nature: from Creation, to the Exodus, to Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land, to King David the great psalmist, to Jesus.
A “promise remains of entering His (God’s) rest” (verse 1). “God rested on the seventh day from all His works (of creation)” (verse 4), and since that time He has extended the invitation to those whom He created in His image to join Him in peaceful rest and fellowship. The children of the exodus from Egypt did not enter into their Promised Land rest because of their faithlessness (Hebrews 3:16-19). But even this earthly Land of Promise was not the fullest fulfillment of the blessed rest that God had planned for those who truly love Him.
A case in point is that Joshua finally did lead Israel into the Promised Land and they conquered the inhabitants of Canaan, and it is said that: “The Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:44-45). And yet the Hebrew writer said that Joshua had not given God’s people the truest form of rest that He ultimately had in store for them (verse 8).
David wrote hundreds of years after Joshua in Psalm 95:11, “Therefore I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest” (verse 5); implying that “it remains for some to enter” into this blessed rest. The rest that David wrote of and looked forward to is the same rest that the Hebrew writer has been focusing upon: the “Sabbath rest” (verse 9) supplied only by Jesus the Loving Shepherd (Psalm 95:7). The peace and joy and fellowship that has been made available “today” (in this final dispensation through God’s covenant in His Son), is obtained only if we “hear His voice” and “do not harden” our “hearts” to God's will for us (Psalm 95:7; Hebrews 4:7).
How can we not be reminded of the heartwarming invitation of Jesus, the great and only provider of true peace and rest?: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
But of course, there is the warning to remain faithful in verse 11, which is really what the letter to the Hebrews is all about. The author sums up and concludes his whole line of argumentation this way: “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” The fullest measure and fulfillment of the rest that only Jesus provides for us will only be achieved in our eternal Sabbath in heaven, if we love Him and are faithful to Him until death (verse 10).
Please read Hebrews 4:12-13 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
- Louie Taylor