Hebrews 4: There Is A Better Rest Coming

We are headed toward Spring Break.  Some of us will have that week off as teachers and students, others will take the week as vacation time because kids are out of school.  Some will head to the beach or Disney World or out west to ski if the man-made snow can hold out.  Others will simply sit still at home, catch up on the “honey-do list,” and truly rest.  These will be wonderful days of restoration.  Even if the week is filled with travel and fun-filled attractions, there is still a rest for the soul that is so precious.

I would guess most of us love those times of vacation and rest when they come.  We feel more sane, more centered, more whole.  Probably many of us are thankful for our jobs and feel a sense of purpose in those careers, but we love our breaks too.

The Hebrew Christians knew something about breaks too.  These thoroughly Jewish Christians would have likely still observed the Sabbath, a precious time of rest and reconnection.  In the Old Testament this idea of “rest” was also a way to talk about the kind of life that would be experienced in the Promised Land of Canaan, and this is how it is being used in today’s reading:

They will never enter my rest. (4:3, 5)

You may remember that during the forty-year Wilderness Wanderings from Egypt to Canaan, there were some Israelites who let go of their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Punishment came and they died in the desert, far shy of the promised rest.

The idea of “rest” would have been precious to the Hebrew Christians.  Each week in their Sabbaths they were experiencing a small piece of the Promised Land rest of their ancestors.  But the Hebrews author reminds them,

There is still a future sabbath “rest” for God’s people. (4:9)

There is a new Promised Land we are journeying towards.  We will cross over Jordan, led by a new Joshua, to a land overflowing with milk and honey.  Better than any Sabbath will be the endless rest we experience in the New Creation with God.  So don’t give up on Jesus:

Today, if you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts. (4:7)

Personally, I plan on enjoying my Spring Break.  But I am also remembering there is a rest coming that is far longer, richer, and better.

What sorts of “rest” do we long for that pale in comparison to God’s final rest? 

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Categories: Hebrews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Hebrews 4: There Is A Better Rest Coming

  1. Melanie Semore

    When I think of rest, I first envision sleeping until daylight. But I enjoy rest and relaxation only when I’ve gotten my chores and errands done, have everything checked off my to-do list. I don’t enjoy putting my feet up when the house is messy or there are tasks hanging over my head. In the same way, as Christians, I think we sometimes believe that we will have to get our work done, get our act together, to enjoy the greater rest that awaits us. In actuality, we can’t earn and don’t deserve God’s rest, but we also can’t fathom what it will really be like truly to rest in him.

  2. jray23@mac.com

    Rest is certainly something that look forward to, when I allow myself the opportunity to actually experience it. I am encouraged by the Hebrews writer’s reminder to allow the rest to come fuel is the struggle of daily life. Who’d want to miss out on that peaceful retreat by stumbling into unbelief during the brief period of our life-before-life-after-death???

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  5. Melanie: What a great thought! There is work to do before we can truly rest. But that rest is not conditioned solely on the completion of that work. Kind of reminds me of what my parents did: rest always followed work, and I felt like to did such a fantastic job, but I am sure there were many times my parents had to clean up after me. But that never made an issue out of it. The rest came, and it was sweet!

    Josh: Great to see you the other day! I hope this week has been a sort of rest for you.

  6. V9-“a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;” Looking at this verse, the reason of Sabbath because God also resting, so God reserved one day for rest?

    V3- They shall never enter my rest.
    V10-for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
    Earlier verse, “God said they never enter his rest”, by using word “shall” in the verse is very strong. Again in v10, there are possibility to enter God’s rest.

    V15- When I read the verse, I remember the culture of Roman Catholic. People confess their sin in small chamber.

    • Yes, the account of creation in the Christian Bible says God created the world in six days, then rested on the seventh. Then every time Sabbath-keeping is mentioned in the Old Testament the rationale is tied back to God resting so we should rest too.

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  8. “His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it – no matter what.”

    As a teacher of that Bible, sometimes I wonder. But it is pompous to think that what I see is true. These words are true. God is working through his Word. Praise God!

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