Posted, 7/11/17


Hebrews 4:1-5.

We understand not only from this passage, but from all of Hebrews that “rest” does not mean freedom from work.

Being created in the image of God, man naturally seeks rest. However, the natural man seeks a false and empty rest in physical retirement, freedom from the responsibility of work. Since the fall, he has sought a paradise without responsibility to God’s purpose for him in creation.

Adam was in a perfect environment, yet he was assigned responsibility to work. His rest was found in work as he fulfilled his God’s Command Word for him.

Genesis 1:28 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

To reduce “rest” to freedom from work makes rest man-centered, rather than God-centered. Hebrews 4:10 “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”

It is notcessation of work, but rather of the weariness and pain in toil. Thewriter pictures salvation as God’s rest which man is to share and Godwill have perfect satisfaction when man is in harmony with him (Dods). (RWP)

“Harmony with him” in this life by obeying the Command-Word of God.

The rest of v. 1 is God’s rest for his people as found in Christ, not man’s rest from his earthly labors.

Many teach this “rest” means heaven, or crossing over the Jordan River. However, the “promised land” required a great amount of work in obedience to the the Word of God.

V. 4 is Genesis 2:2, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”

The context of this passage is God-centered, for it refers to God resting from his work of Creation. Using rest in the modern meaning of the “end of work” makes this Biblical word meaningless. The rest in Genesis 2:2 refers to the completion of a task. The rest of Hebrew’s celebrates Christ’s atoning, mediation work, and the destruction of the power of sin as a result of God the Son’s work.

Genesis 2:2, rest celebrates God’s 6 day creative work. To the Christian, rest celebrates God’s creative work in the heart of the believer, the believer’s salvation and victory over sin.

Rest in Hebrews celebrates the successful completion of God the Son’s task that was assigned to him by God the Father. (Heb 12:2) The Hebrew’s desire to return to mediation work of Moses in the Temple abandoned the rest promised to the Hebrews through the mediation work of the Son.

Isaiah 57:20 “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”

Those apart from Christ’s mediation cannot rest. They are compared to “the troubled sea”, as it casts up dirt and mire.

The rest Adam had as he obeyed his Creator was lost in his fall. But that lost rest is regained in the Second Man, Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”

Hebrews tells us that our rest is found only in Jesus Christ.

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

(Philippians 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”)

God’s rest was after he finished his work of creation. Our rest in him is found only after his work of the new creation in us. The new birth is into the life of rest, victory and authority of Christ. In Christ, we are reestablished in the command he gave to the first Adam.

We enter into God’s rest by doing his will, and by bringing every area of life and thought into captivity to Jesus Christ. His people are responsible to do all things to the glory of God, and thus subdue all things under the just and righteous government of King Jesus.

Adam failed in his responsibility when he disobeyed the King’s command-word.

From the start, God’s people have felt that because the Son was their savior, all they must do is call on him, and they will be transplanted on flowery beds of ease into the promised land of their imagination. They expect their enemies to collapse before them, and everything handed to them with little or no effort on their part. The Exodus generation did not trust God, so they refused to obey, so God did not allow that generation to enter into the promised land.

Hebrews tells us that God’s chosen people who came out of Egypt lost their rest by failure to obey the Word of God, just as the first Adam lost his rest through disobedience. After the fall, that lost rest awaits God’s chosen people in the second Adam, if they will do what the first Adam failed to do. That is, “Fear God, and keep his commandments”. (Ecc 12:13)

We have seen many testify of their wonderful life after their conversion experience, yet we know their life is a mess, because they have not exercised dominion in the smallest areas of life: dominion over self, over their families, over their occupations, &c.? His people are required to accomplish “whatsoever they do” to the glory of God. That is, exercise the authority of the Word of God in every activity.

The idea that once a person “choses Jesus”, their every desire will be provided, is foolishness. The new birth produces a new creation in Christ, and that new creation seeks to expand the Kingdom. Bringing all things under His authority requires many conflicts with the pagan laws around us. Israel had to confront and conquer the pagan laws as they went into the promised land of their rest. But the battles are fought through Christ. Christ represents a new law-order that is in contrast to the pagan law order.

The father of our faith illustrated the Christian faith that claims the victory of Christ when he stepped out in obedience to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.

The Hebrews who were tempted to depart from Christ and return to the mediation of Moses were told that their fore-fathers did not enter into that rest because of unbelief and disobedience. Will these Hebrews also turn their backs on the work of Christ and perish?

As the promised land of rest for Israel was prepared from the foundation of the earth as a shadow of the true rest, God has prepared the reality of that rest for the new Israel of God in Christ. Israel of old was to move in obedience in order to conquer or take dominion over the promised land of rest, yet unbelief prevented their entrance, and they perished in the wilderness.

V. 1. The new church had the opportunity to move into the promised land of rest or perish.

The story of old Israel coming out of Egypt and failing to go into the promised land was the most familiar part of Hebrew history. Would the new Israel of God fail with the same unbelief? Therefore, the warning:

“Let us therefore fear…”

Are they going to repeat the sin of their fathers? They are warned of the seriousness of any turning back. They were on trial, and Hebrews is calling them back from the brink of judgment and death.

Their fear of the opposition in the promised land of their rest prevented their entrance into that rest. (Num 13:33)

Their failure did not nullify the promise, for the “works” were established from the foundation of the world. Their responsibility was to claim those works through the obedience of faith.

Their fear only led to their own destruction. The Word of God does not change, and the promise remains. The Word of God is perfect, and his work is perfect. He calls his people into the rest he has prepared for them from the foundation of the world in Jesus Christ. They enter into that rest by doing what Adam failed to do, i.e., doing all things the Word of God commands.

V. 2, God’s Word of promised victory and rest in the land of promise did not profit the Exodus generation because they lacked faith. Dismissing the power of God, they looked to themselves. Their faith was a man-centered faith. God had miraculously brought them from Egypt, yet in their faithlessness and discontent, they demanded more.

They maintained that God had a duty to them, yet they had no duty to him. If he did not answer their prayers and meet their demands, they threatened to return to Egypt.

Numbers 11:20 “But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?”

Numbers 14:18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. 19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. 20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: 21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. 22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:


We are looking to move to OH to be closer to children and grandchildren in our old age. We can worry, lack of faith, or we can move by faith. Do what we know to and leave the results up to God. Cast the details on him, and rest in faith. Keep our mind off of what we can do, and cast it upon him. If we restrict ourselves to only what we think we can do, we have departed from the faith.

God’s rest like all his being and work is perfect, and he calls his people into that rest. Jesus Christ now has opened that rest to his people, and he calls them to enter into his rest by fulfilling the creation or dominion mandate. (Mat 6:33, 1 Cor 10:31, Col 3:17-23)

They compared themselves among themselves, and left out the God of the Exodus. Forgetting God, they saw no way they could overcome, or claim the victory over the enemy, and refused to even try until it was too late. They saw victory only in themselves, and it cost them the promised rest they would have had if they had gone in to claim that victory.

Vv. 3, 4. These unbelievers could not enter into God’s rest, but this letter tells us that if we are faithful, we can enter into His rest.

The Hebrews to whom this letter was addressed, understood its warning. They knew the promised rest had not been attained in Israel’s history. Though there were brief periods of rest, peace and prosperity, their history was one of turmoil. And they were currently under Roman rule, with war close at hand.

V. 2, tells them the reason that rest escaped their fathers. The gospel was preached to Abraham and to his offspring, so that they knew that none entered into God’s rest save by Christ alone. (Poole) But the knowledge of the gospel did them no good because in hearing it, they did not believe it. They did not believe they could take dominion of the promised land by obeying the Command-Word of God. Rather, they looked to their own strength, and failed.

The word preached, or literally, the “word of hearing” was preached to them. (RWP)

The Word of God is of no profit to those who fail to hear (do) the total Word of God. The context here is rejecting the responsibility given in the dominion mandate to go into the pagan land and conquering it in the power of faith that God would give it to them, as they followed his Word.

Even as the Exodus generation had heard the Word, so the following generations who have heard the Word are without excuse. The same ingratitude and vain man-centered expectations of “paradise” without responsibility and work have followed the compromised church from its beginning.

Now the Sabbath rest of God as promised in Hebrews is not something handed to those willing to give simple verbal assent to God. It isn’t just a matter of saying yes to Jesus. In Matthew 21, Christ tells of a man with two sons. The blessed son was the one who repented and obeyed, not the one who said he would obey.

The Sabbath rest is for those who obey the Word of God in whatever they do. That rest is for those who apply the Command-Word of God to every area of life. God’s people have a serous task, as they must live by faith. “Trust and Obey”. Obey the Word of God and trust that he will bring it to pass.

Psalms 37:5 “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

V. 4 reminds us of God’s rest after creating all things by the Word of God. We are thus told that as those who are recreated into the likeness of the Son of God, do all things according to the Word of God and for the glory of God, they also enter into His rest.

The Son of God has given the redeemed a serious task of subduing the world to Himself through the preaching of the gospel and teaching his word to those who have been subjected to Him by the Spirit. It is through his just and holly law that the powers of sin and injustice shall be subdued, and “the earth … filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)

See my mailing on “Tyranny”.

V. 5

Psalms 95:7 “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”

The Exodus generation “said yes” to God in order to get out of Egypt. But when it came time to follow him into the battle to take control of the land by submitting to His commands, they rebelled, and perished in the wilderness.

God’s rest for his people is conditioned upon “trust and obeying” the command of our King. The people of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, have a new nature which overcomes the sin nature introduced by the first Adam. The new nature seeks obey the King in whatsoever is done in this life.

Those who neglect their calling to exercise dominion through Jesus Christ by means of applying God’s law word will also perish in the wilderness.

Hebrews 10:36 “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

Obeying God is living by faith. Faith and God’s law must be considered as one. God has no pleasure in those who fail to fulfill their calling him Christ.

1 John 5:2 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (See also John 14, &c.)

Our prayer to the Father should not be self-centered, e.g., “Here is what I want and need”, but should be Christ-centered. That is, prayer for understanding of God’s commandments, prayer for wisdom of how to apply them, and then prayer for grace, intestinal fortitude to apply them in the face of a very hostile and pagan culture, which is becoming openly anti-christ and pagan at an amazing speed.

The rest is not rest from physical work any more than was for the first Adam. Rather, our rest is the result of the work of our Mediator, Jesus Christ, and keeping his commandments.

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”