Entering His Rest- Hebrews 4:1-14

In this passage, the writer informs us about a “rest” which is available to the people of God. This rest consists of three forms or aspects, and we will examine this passage to see just what type of rest is referred to here. We begin, in verse one, by noting that “the promise of entering His rest still stands”. The Greek word rest here is katapausis, and the Greek word stands is kataleipo. We must mention here the writer of Hebrews use of the prefix kata, which in Greek is used to denote settledness or permanence. The rest entered here is a permanent and settled state. So how then can we fall short of it? The rest described here is gospel rest, entered into in the past by having the “gospel preached to us” and “combining it with faith” (verse 2). This rest is entered by faith, not works, and is intended to result in a permanent state of rest. Those who have entered this rest have left behind once and for all any notion of trying to work for or earn their salvation, they rest in the salvation they have received through faith in Christ, trusting not in their own works but in what Christ did for them. So having already entered, how do believers then “fall short”? This is approached in verses 4-8 with the example of Israel. God’s rest was available to them, but they refused to enter into it due to “unbelief”, they have “fallen short”. This applies to us today regarding those who have trusted in Christ for salvation but contend that we must now behave and perform in certain ways in order to maintain that salvation. Salvation begins by trusting in Jesus’ works, but is maintained by trusting in our own works. This is “unbelief”, for it is trusting in anything but the finished work of Christ for salvation. Many in the early church were falling short of entering this rest (see Galatians), and many in the present day church do so as well. The second aspect of rest mentioned here is found in verse 9, where we find that “there remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God”. The Greek word “Sabbath-rest” is sabbatismos, used only here in the New Testament. This “rest” is directly related to God’s rest on the seventh day, with the Sabbath as a model for God’s people to follow. So why did God “rest”? In the creation story, we have the story of God preparing a place for the creature created in His image, this was the purpose of creation, and God “rested” because He had accomplished His purpose. This is what the “Sabbath rest” is basically about, why it is not the rest of katapausis as in verse one. This Sabbath rest is then a “rest” from one’s search for meaning and purpose in life, a rest from the struggle to find out who we are and what we’re here for. This rest is available but not automatic, we must “make every effort” to enter it, it has been made possible (subjunctive mood here, mood of possibility), but will involve the exertion of effort to enter into. It is a rest we may “fall short” of, we may continually fail to enter this rest, to spend our lives in rather aimless wandering (kind of like Israel in the wilderness), failing to ever discover the true God-given purpose for our lives. The writer then gives us the reason why some fall short of this rest, and it is through “disobedience”. Notice here that this is not due to ignorance or unbelief, but disobedience. Disobedience to what? The answer is provided in verse 12. Disobedience to the Word of God, which “penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit” and “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. The way we fall short, then, is through failure to spend time alone with God in His Word. This is the divinely ordained means through which He shows us ourselves, and also shows us the true meaning and purpose to us. There is no substitute for this, and all who fail to do so do not make “every effort”, and will fall short of the rest provided here. The third aspect of rest is then mentioned in verses 13-14. where we find that Jesus our high priest has ascended to the throne of God and “rests” in heaven for eternity, and so also all who are “in Him” will also rest in heaven for all eternity. This rest is also entered by faith alone (no mention of effort here), and it is promised to all who trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior, our eternal rest in heaven never based upon our works but solely upon what Christ did for us. It is our prayer that all believers would understand and abide in the first and third “rests” found here, and that they also would individually “make every effort” to enter into the second kind of rest, that each would find his or her meaning, and God-given purpose and rest from their struggle to discover who they really are and why they are really here.

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