Sermon: Entering God’s Rest (Hebrews 4:1-10)

Entering God’s Rest

Hebrews 4:1-10 (ESV)

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.  [2] For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.  [3] For we who have believed enter that rest, 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.  [4] For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”  [5] And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

[6] Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,  [7] again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts.”

[8] For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.  [9] So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,  [10] for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Introduction

Last week we looked at a generation of Israelites who failed to enter into the Promised Land because of unbelief.  There lack of faith kept them from entering what is referred to as God’s rest.

The Lord issued the invitation for them to enter and they did not listen.  They forfeited their opportunity to enter.  Rather than worshipping the Rock known as Jesus Christ and seeking refuge in Him, they looked back to Egypt for comfort.  This wasn’t a one time thing, but they were doing this for 40 years.

The Almighty swore in His wrath that they would not enter into His rest.

The Lord’s invitation to enter into His rest is still valid today.  The message is the same today as it was in those days.  We must enter into that eternal rest by faith.

Last week we learned of the grumbling of the Hebrews in the wilderness, we looked to Psalm 95 and discovered that the Holy Spirit through David told us not to be like that evil generation.  We also saw how the writer of Hebrews quoted from that psalm and applied that same warning to us.

The Primary Claim of this test is: There is a promise of rest that is secured by faith and a danger of loosing it.

1. A Rest Denied Because of Unbelief (Hebrews 4:1-2)

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.  [2] For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened

The reality of our human nature is that we so often get caught up in busyness and other things that we fail to listen to God.  We must be very aware of this danger.  The Israelites in the dessert all heard the same gospel.  They all heard the Word of God, but only some believed it.

In these verses, we can see that many of the Israelites heard the good news.  Hearing it is not the same as believing it and acting upon it.

We’re told the promise that the OT people heard in the wilderness still stands for NT people.  This promise is still the same for us as it was for them.

The promise is for a spiritual rest or we could call it an eternal Sabbath.  Someday we as believers will enter into an eternal Sabbath rest in the presence of the Lord.

They heard this same message of good news but it had no benefit to them because they did not secure it by faith.  The Word of God fell on deaf ears.

How many times in the Gospels does Jesus say, For those who have ears, let them hear?

To help us see this clearly, it’s vital for our understanding that we equate the gospel or good news with God’s Word.

Ex. Gospel According to Matthew

The Word of God was heard by the Israelites through the prophet Moses.  They heard it but most did not believe it.

[2] For good news came to us just as to them…

This good news namely, that they could enter into a land flowing with milk and honey, did not benefit them because of unbelief.  As they marched through the wilderness they were marching in unbelief.  They weren’t given good news once and rejected it but they heard God’s Word over and over again for years and rejected it.

A principle is evident here.  God fulfills His promises only to those who believe.  Those who refuse to believe will not experience God’s goodness but will experience God’s wrath.

It’s so important that as we hear the Word of God we also couple it with faith and live in light of our belief in the Word of God.

Romans 10:16-17 (ESV)

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  [17] So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

I would go on to say that Christ is the rest that the writer of Hebrews speaks of.  How do we stay consistent and avoid falling into unbelief?  We keep our eyes fixed on Christ.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

We enter into God’s rest because His promises still stand today.  It’s also important to see that while His glorious promises still stand, His wrath is still real as well.

Another important principle is that everyone must have a personal belief in Christ.  No one can enter into heaven based on their mother or father’s faith and no one can enter believing anything else but the Gospel of Christ. The Israelites for the most part didn’t believe.  Joshua and Caleb did.  They entered into God’s rest based on their personal belief.

The writer of Hebrews warns us not to stop short of entering into God’s rest.  We must be strengthening our faith and caring for our souls by daily building up faith in Christ.

Jesus tells us of some people who will stop short.

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  [22] On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  [23] And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

What is the will of God?  Is it that we will do great and mighty things?  Is it that we will work harder than anyone else?

John 6:40 (ESV)

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:29 (ESV)

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

2. A Rest Pictured By God (Hebrews 4:3-4)

[3] For we who have believed enter that rest, 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.  [4] For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”

As we think together through this issue of God resting after creation, it’s important to see that God was not tired.  He didn’t need to rest because of exhaustion.  He rested for a different purpose.  I think the writer of Hebrews shows us why.

When God created everything in 6 literal 24 hour days, it sounds redundant, but He created everything.  He not only created the universe and everything in it but He also created the covenant and the plan of redemption.

In the OT the Israelites were commanded to observe the Sabbath.  On the Sabbath Israelites were to stop their normal work and rest and worship.

The reason was because God had entered into the Sabbath rest and offered it to all who would believe.  So when an Israelite observed the Sabbath by resting, the act of resting for a day was a symbol for an eternal rest that God’s people can experience through Jesus Christ.

The problem was in the days of Jesus that the Sabbath had with it so many man-made rules and regulations that it was more work to observe the Sabbath the way the Jews taught than if it was just another day.  The work one did to observe the Sabbath was more exhausting than the other six day’s work.  Jesus comes along and shows everyone the right way to observe the Sabbath and He is almost killed for it.

Mark 2:23-28 (ESV)

One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.  [24] And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”  [25] And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him:  [26] how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?”  [27] And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  [28] So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

When Jesus said He is Lord of the Sabbath He was saying a lot.  He is the Creator of all things.  He is Creator of the Sabbath.  He is also Creator of the eternal Sabbath rest that God’s people will enter into.

There are different views that godly people have concerning the Sabbath.  Some say we are to still observe it like the Israelites on Saturday.  Some say that there is now a Christian Sabbath which we should observe on Sunday.  While I think there is some merit in the second view.  I personally believe like with so many others that symbols in the OT are fulfilled when the reality comes, the type becomes obsolete.  God’s people were called to observe the Sabbath because it pointed to an eternal rest that they could enter into physically.  Now that we have Christ, all who are in Christ have entered into that rest.  This rest isn’t completed yet.  But to observe a Sabbath is to say we are still waiting for the reality.  I say, the reality is here.

Matthew 5:17-18 (ESV)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

When Jesus came nothing was done away with but much was completed.  He finished or fulfilled or finalized the Law.  He’s what the Law was waiting on.

We dishonor our Savior and the work He accomplished when we still keep the sign rather than rejoice in the reality of Christ Himself.

God rested and we enter into the rest by faith in the work of Christ on our behalf.  We don’t work to earn salvation, Christ worked to earn it for us.  His work is done and He has entered into a Sabbath rest.  We also enter into it by faith in what He has accomplished for us.

3. The Rest that Remains (Hebrews 4:6-10)

[6] Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,  [7] again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts.”

[8] For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.  [9] So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,  [10] for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Up to now as we follow the writer’s reasoning through the text we see that there is a rest that has been prepared from the beginning of creation.  The Jews in Moses’ day failed to obtain it because of unbelief.  While Joshua did lead the people into the Promised Land he didn’t even lead them to God’s rest.  The promised rest remains open for God’s people who enter through faith.

[9] So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God

We can rest from the works of religion and the works of seeking to be good enough to enter heaven.  Jesus did all the work for us.  If we trust Christ as Savior we enter into the Sabbath rest promised by God and foreshadowed by the OT followers.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  [29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  [30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

If your soul is weary and worn out by the cares of this world, Jesus would have you to rise above this world and enter into His rest.  The call to come to Christ is still ringing forth.  It still remains.  Don’t be like the Israelites who all heard the Gospel and failed to securing the benefits because they didn’t believe and act on what they heard.

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.  [2] For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.