Hebrews 4: 8 – 11
In the early chapters of the book of Genesis, we read about how everything started with God and how He took His time in the plethora of creation as we see today. No one has ever been able to display such power since and after creation…this is what makes Him God, the sovereign God and the maker of Heaven and Earth. I like the way Apostle Paul coined His character when he said all things were made by Him, the same things were made for Him and in Him all things consist. John said without Him was not anything made that was made. Therefore, for God to rest after all He had created, it meant that what the entire world would ever need to remain as, God had thrown into being. He was not tired, but had completed the work He started.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews had the same in his mind as he penned down this beautiful Epistle. The first issue he discussed was how Jesus is/was God and how the same Jesus was higher than angels whom he classified as messengers for the heirs of Salvation. He went on from there to also clarify that Jesus was greater than Moses in the sense that Moses was a servant in God’s house while Jesus owned the House. He stressed that the owner of the House is far more important than the one sent to build the House. He moved from the presentation into the discussion about Salvation, which he termed REST after a careful understanding of all God has done, comparing and interpreting scripture with scripture. No doubt in my mind that this writer was indeed inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The writer as stipulated had an audience; they were predominantly of the Jewish race but were divided by the message of the Gospel into three different groups. It’s either you are saved, you have not committed or you are not saved. This part of REST or Salvation had to be nipped on the board and clearly understood as the fundamental doctrine before any other thing can be discussed. This was the reason why it became the chief message that had to be presented before his audience. It is the most important message today; it was the same message that Jesus told His disciples to spread. It is the message of the Gospel. Apostle Paul did not fail to stress that if anyone preaches/teaches another gospel separate from the main Gospel, the said person needed to be cursed.
The Gospel is the message about God who is offering REST (Salvation) to the many who will respond positively. Jesus called it eternal life or life everlasting. It was the same God who RESTED from His work because all was ready to bring into this world a Savior for mankind. The idea behind this writer’s Epistle is that if the REST of God meant tiredness, He would not have spoken about another future day of entering His REST.
The writer also described the episode at Kadesh: the Israelites did not enter into the Promised Land because of unbelief. Canaan was the Promised Land but according to the spies who went to check in order prove that God had either lied or spoken the truth to them, there was indeed a Land that had milk and honey flowing but there were giants in the Land. By this, REST was therefore rejected because of UNBELIEF. REST does not mean there wouldn’t be opposition, it meant even in the midst of opposition, we are supposed to be at REST as God’s people. Again if Canaan were the final REST mentioned in scripture, there wouldn’t be the need for having another day promised for the entering into his REST.
Jesus during His time here on planet earth said to His disciples and those listening to Him, “Come unto me all of you who labor and I will give you REST”. This was years after the episode of the Israelites in the wilderness, meaning, REST did not end with the Israelites but it was God’s way of helping us to remember the past so that we will not fall and make the same mistake they made.
Jesus at Calvary when He hung upon that cross made an emphatic statement as He communed with His Father after shedding His blood; He said it is finished and commended His Spirit. That was the final completion of the Work God sent Him to this world to accomplish. This is the all-encompassing message of the Gospel that will eventually bring REST to ONLY the people who have or will respond positively or obey the contents of the message.
TO THE SAVED: The Bible stresses you have entered into the REST God has earmarked for you. The irony is that because we are in this world, we are not immune to the challenges and the pressures of tribulation but are supposed to be in a state of REST pending the final REST, which awaits us when God finally wraps up the remaining part of the dispensation of Grace. Jesus said, in this world we would have TRIBULATION but promised that He had overcome. This He said so that our minds could be at REST.
This was the picture presented as we look back at the episode of the Israelites and Canaan; there was a land that flowed with milk and honey BUT there were giants there. The idea is that they would possess the Land from the giants not because they were stronger or had the military paraphernalia and intelligence, but that they were simply the children of God. God had promised them victory, just as He has promised us victory in our world today and this should mean REST for us.
The first group of people in this audience who were BELIEVERS still had their own issues, pressures and challenges; they were ostracized and because of this, some of them who had committed to Jesus had to stop worshipping in their synagogues. Though they had moved from Judaism to the true and living way, some had their one leg in Jesus and the other in Judaism just because of the pressure been mounted and they felt they had to gain acceptance or men’s commendation. So the writer encouraged those who have responded (Believers) to the message of the Gospel – HAVE ENTERED INTO HIS REST, to also cease from the WORKS accompanied with Judaism.
TO THE JEWS WHO HAD THE GOSPEL AND HAD NOT COMMITTED AND THE UNSAVED JEWS: Although they were accepted by their people, the writer warns about not hardening their hearts to the message of the Gospel and that they could fall as their Father’s fell as carcasses in the wilderness because of unbelief. This means that if one is not SAVED, then eternal damnation is the inevitable consequence. No matter how much WORK they did in their worship (Judaism), it wasn’t and would never be enough to save them. The hearers are advised to respond immediately when they hear the message because procrastination may end them up where their parent’s soul ended up.
The writer further encouraged these two other groups that the REST of God still remained but only through the unrivaled message of the Gospel in obedience. Diligence (laboring to enter into His REST) to adhere to the message of the Gospel in obedience “today” is sufficient for ENTERING INTO HIS REST without mixing it with Judaism.
This, the writer said because the Jewish culture held in absolute regard that the PARENTS ARE A SIGN OR WARNING TO THEIR CHILDREN.
We have entered into God’s REST because we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior; we are at REST as we face the CRISIS and TRIBULATION in this world and eventually we would enter into His REST as Jesus wraps up the end of this dispensation of Grace.
“God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.” – R.C Sproul