Labor To Enter The Rest, Heb 4:1-16

The Hebrews in the Tribulation must labor to enter the rest that was promised to them in their land during the millennial reign of Jesus

The Rest Was Promised To The Hebrews

v.1 Let us therefore fear.  Paul has been comparing the Jews who wandered in the wilderness, who were promised the land of Canaan, to the Jews in the Tribulation who, through their profession in Christ, are promised rest in his millennial reign.  “Therefore” signifies that, as the Jews in the wilderness had to keep from being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, 3:13, into unbelief, 3:17, 19, so the Jews in the Tribulation have to continue to believe and “hold the beginning of (their) confidence stedfast unto the end”, 3:14.

v.1 God left them a promise of entering into his rest.  You see this promise in the Old Testament.  In Is 14:1-7 (3, 7) we see the rest promised to Israel; and notice that it is “his” rest, Ps 132:8, 13-14.

v.1 any of you should come short of it.  The Jews in the wilderness, because of unbelief, 3:18-19, could not enter the promised land.  Likewise, the Jews in the Tribulation, who turn to unbelief, will come short of the rest promised to those who endure to the end, Matt 24:13, Heb 3:6, 14.

v.2 unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them.  The gospel here is the “good news” of entering into his rest.  To both the Jews in the wilderness and the Jews in the Tribulation, the promise of rest is fulfilled in the land promised to Israel through Abraham.

They Must Believe The Promise That Their Works Will Be Finished

v.2 the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.  This is the unending dilemma with the words of God.  People who don’t believe them don’t receive the promises in them. Faith is always a factor no matter what time period you’re in.

v.3 we which have believed do enter his rest.  Then Paul quotes Ps 95:11; but he changes the quote.  In Ps 95:11 God swore in his wrath they they should not enter into his rest.  However, the context of the quote begins with Ps 95:7.  There he said, “To day if ye will hear his voice…”.   So, Paul is simply condensing the entire passage into this truth, “if they shall enter in to my rest” then they have to believe.

v.3-5 the works were finished.  God rested from his works in Gen 2:2-3 on the seventh day.  And that rest is a testimony to Israel, Ex 31:16-17, of their future and perpetual rest in Christ’s millennial kingdom.  

Notice this “veiled” truth in the sabbath of rest.  In 2 Pet 3:8 “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”.  Adam was made in approximately 4004 BC.  That’s 6,000 years ago or six “days” of 1,000 years each.  Very soon, following the rapture of the church, and then the Tribulation, the millennial reign of Jesus will begin, which is the 7th day of 1,000 years.  This is the “rest” to which Paul is referring, v.5.

A Remnant Will Believe And Labor To Enter The Rest

v.6-9 some must enter therein.  For the promise of God to be true, at least a remnant of Israel must enter the promised “rest”.  And they will, Rom 9:27.  And the Lord “limiteth” this promise to “a certain day”, which is still future.  They didn’t get this rest about which Paul is writing when they followed Joshua (“Jesus”) into the land of Canaan, v.8.  So, “there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God”, v.9, which is still in the future.

v.10 he that is entered into his rest… hath ceased from his own works.  This is absolutely true in Rev 14:13.

v.11 Paul brings this line of reasoning to a conclusion in v.11.  He said, “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief”.  In the Tribulation, the righteousness of Tribulation saints requires both faith and works, belief and labor, as in Jas 2:17-26.  See this also in Rev 12:17 and 14:12.

The Word of God Will Discern Who Truly Believes

v.12-13 Paul started this chapter with “Let us therefore fear”.  What should cause them to fear is that their unbelief is not something that they can hide from God.  The word of God is quick (1 Pet 1:23, alive), and powerful (Heb 1:3), and sharper than any two-edged sword (Rev 1:16, 19:15).  With it the Lord divides the soul and spirit, as when a man dies whose soul departs to hell when his spirit returns to God, Ecc 12:7, Lk 16:22-23.  And with it he can do the intricately precise surgical work of dividing joints and marrow.  

And his word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, like Matt 9:4.  Thus, they cannot hide their unbelief from the word of God. See a good example in Is 66:15-18.  This powerful word reveals the secrets of a man’s heart, 1 Cor 14:24-25.  All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.  They and we are no more able to hide from God than Adam and Eve were in the garden.

Jesus Christ Will Help The Believers Hold Fast Till They Enter

v.14-16. Fortunately, these Hebrews who profess Christ can hold fast their profession because the great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, is passed into the heavens.  He can be touched with the feeling of their infirmities because was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.  

The three broad categories of temptation are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, 1 Jn 2:16.  The devil tempted Eve with these three in Gen 3:6, and Jesus with the same three in Matt 4:3-11.  And we are tempted the same way.

Therefore, they are instructed to come boldly unto the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  The Lord will help them when they pray to him for mercy and grace.

Of course, all that Paul wrote to them doctrinally in v.12-16 applies spiritually to us in our walk with the Lord today.  

To study the prior lesson, see Consider Christ Jesus. To study the next lesson, see The Author of Eternal Salvation.