A Sabbath rest for the people of God
Hebrews 4 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The Believer’s Rest
Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just 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 said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In today’s text, the writer of Hebrews, again speaks of the believer’s rest. There is a parallel drawn between entering our rest and entering our promised inheritance. Yet there is more to it than that. The text says: For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. So the rest of God was more than the promise, the inheritance of the land. That was only part of it. Joshua 21:43-45 says: So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. There is a rest and a peace which we are promised as God’s people. Paul often referred to God as the God of peace. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 says: Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! Romans 15:33 says: The God of peace be with all of you. Amen. In Romans 16:20 it says: The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. In order to know and abide in the peace of God, we must know and abide in the God of peace. The psalmist says: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” (Psalm 91:1-2) Philippians 4:7 says: The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. The peace of God surpasses all understanding because it is both a peace from our enemies and trouble and also a peace in the presence of our enemies; in the midst of trials and tribulation. Before He calmed the storm, Jesus slept in the boat. (Matthew 8:24) There is a peace and rest, a protection from our enemies that comes to us as we know and abide in the God of peace and there is a peace and protection we have in Christ, even in the midst of the storm.
The text says: There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Under the law there were extensive restrictions regarding what if any work could be done on the Sabbath. It was a day set aside for devotion to the Lord. Just as peace is more than a thing to be had; true peace is a person. It can only be known in knowing the person Christ, the God of peace. In John 14:27 Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” So also, is knowing the Sabbath rest, knowing Jesus Christ. In Mark 2:23-27 Jesus reveals the truth of the Sabbath: And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” In Matthew 12:8 Jesus says: "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." The Sabbath rest for God’s people is more than a day set aside for devotion to the Lord. The Sabbath rest comes in knowing the Lord of the Sabbath. It comes as we abide with and in Christ. Just as the peace of God is both peace from and peace in the storm, so too is the Sabbath rest, both rest from and rest in our labor. We are to live daily in the Sabbath rest of Christ. The text says: Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We have confidence, peace, rest, mercy and grace in Christ Jesus our Lord, the God of Peace and the Lord of the Sabbath.
May Jesus prayer and declaration in Matthew 11:25-30 be yours as you rest in Him: “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Amen.