Lord, we have mixed Your Word with faith.
Read HEBREWS 4:1–11
A Sabbath-Rest for the People of God
4 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] 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.’”[b]
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.”[c] 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.”[d]
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,[e] 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.
- Hebrews 4:2 Some manuscripts because those who heard did not combine it with faith
- Hebrews 4:3 Psalm 95:11; also in verse 5
- Hebrews 4:4 Gen. 2:2
- Hebrews 4:7 Psalm 95:7,8
- Hebrews 4:10 Or labor
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘So that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.’ (Titus 3:7) Rejoice in the hope you have in Christ.
Sometimes, perhaps when on a long walk or involved in a particularly taxing piece of work, we long for the moment when we can take a break and have a rest. That’s the thought here. The rest which the writer sees lies in the future, prepared by God for His people. The idea that there might be a link between God’s ‘rest’ after creation, the ‘rest’ offered to the Israelites in the Promised Land and the ‘rest’ held out to us as followers of Jesus may not strike us as obvious, but the writer is using the methods of interpretation of Jewish scholars of the time and his readers would not have found the connection strange. God’s rest was the model for all subsequent rests. What the ‘Sabbath-rest’ (9) that awaits the followers of Jesus the Messiah might look like is not spelled out, but it is worth aiming for and making sacrifices for so that we do not miss out.
That is the danger. Just as a generation of Israelites missed out on the Promised Land through disobedience and refusal to trust God, so might the first-century or the 21st-century community miss out. We must make every effort (11), we must be careful (1), we must maintain faith in God’s future (2,3). This raises a question at the heart of Hebrews, which has troubled and divided generations of Christians. Is it possible that we might lose our salvation? A (slightly!) fuller discussion must wait until we come to chapter 6, but for the writer there seems to be a real and present danger, an
active possibility of missing out. God has provided a future, but we must receive it; just as the Israelites had to enter the Promised Land physically, so we must continually appropriate by faith the promise of God’s future.
Think about the hope you have. Then think about wider society. Where is hope needed? How might Christians bring it?
Lord, thank You for giving Your life on the cross so that we who believe could enter into and enjoy the eternal rest You have provided.
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