Summary: What determines whether someone who hears the gospel actually enters God’s rest? We do not have to ponder this question because He gives us the answer in John 3:16. [“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”]
Lesson #14 [IC3c]: Warning Against Not Entering God’s Rest (HEBREWS 4:3-13)
Scripture: Hebrews 4:3-4:13 (NIV)
3. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’?” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world.
4. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works” (see Gen.?2:2).
5. And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
6. Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience,
7. God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (see Psalm?95:7,8).
8. For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.
9. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
10. for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works [or labor], just as God did from his.
11. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
12. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
13. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 remind us of a people who would not “go on” to maturity. They settled for less than God had for them. As a result, they were condemned to ceaseless wandering in the wilderness, until they were overtaken at last by death. They were a people who had trusted God to bring them out of Egypt, but simply refused to trust Him to bring them into Canaan. As a result they lost, not their salvation, but their joy, the peace, and the rest God intended for them in the Promised Land.
What determines whether someone who hears the gospel actually enters God’s rest? We do not have to ponder this question because He gives us the answer in John 3:16. [“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”]
How did the prophet of Israel . . .
How did the writer of Hebrews . . .
Reason from the Old Testament that someone other than Israel had to enter God’s rest? (Heb. 4:3-9) The disobedience of Israel during their wanderings in the wilderness and their refusal to enter Canaan soon after they arrived at the border of Canaan resulted in God barring them from entering the land He promised them. God sent them on a 40-year trek through the wilderness until a new generation that were willing to believe God had grown up.
How does the idea of God’s Sabbath rest from Creation give meaning to the rest belonging to the people of God? (see Heb. 4:4, 9) God was not tired from the work of Creation. He rested as an example for the people of God and He made resting from work on the Sabbath one of the 10 Commandments.
Faith believes what God says and acts in line with His Word. Faith allows the believer to enter the rest into which God has called all His people. It acknowledges the completed work of salvation, while faithfully obeying every instruction from God.
Israel’s failure to enter Canaan becomes a solemn warning, in case professing Christians fail to enter the rest that God has promised. This rest is not entrance to Canaan, as it is in Hebrews 3:18 [“And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed?”], but that historical event is a type of the rest to be enjoyed by Christians. Some commentators view rest as a future heavenly rest, while others feel that the term describes the present experience of the believer who has fully surrendered to the lordship of Christ and is totally controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Do you think the rest that exists for the people of God spoken of in Hebrews 3-4 is primarily a reference to the eternal state of redeemed humanity or primarily a reference to the quality of life “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus Christ” intends for Christians in this life? Why?