Hebrews 4:1-13 / Jesus Is Better #5 / Jesus Brings His People Into True Rest


  • Matthew 11:28 (HCSB) — 28 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
    • And our first verse shows us the promise of entering God's rest still stands (1)
    • But what is God's rest?
      • Context:
        • What came before: An ability for Hebrew Christians to enjoy Christ without succumbing to the pressure to engage in the Old Testament rituals again.
        • What comes immediately after: It is similar to the seventh day of creation, the Promised Land rest Joshua led Israel into, and the Sabbath system God instituted for Israel.
        • What comes eventually after:
          • A future place: The city that has foundations (11:10) / our homeland (11:14) / our heavenly country and city (11:16) / the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem (12:22) / the kingdom that cannot be shaken (12:28) / the lasting city that is to come (13:14).
          • But also a current state: For our whole passage today shouts at us to "enter that rest" (4:13).
            • It's as if our eschatological hope -- heaven -- reaches out and impacts our current reality, setting us free from dead religion and bringing us into the heaven-life today.
            • Tomorrow impacts today.
      • Contrasts:
        • No more slave-like relationship with God, but a life responding to His grace.
        • No more dead religion, but life and joy with Him.
        • No more dreadful fear and worry, but now free in His love.
        • No more self-effort for righteousness, but receiving and running in the righteousness of Christ.
        • No more mere words, but congruity between words and actions.
          • Peace / Joy / Freedom / Love
      • Experiential:
        • The today portion of this rest is experienced today and is, in a sense, subjective and personal.
          • Difficult subject for me to talk about.
          • Note: Some don't have it because they've never believed in the first place. For that, we have the gospel!
  • Six lessons about God's rest.

1 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.

1 -- Entering God's rest should be a major priority.

  • 1 Let us fear least any of your should seem to have failed to reach it:
    • Fear:
      • This does not speak of a twisted paranoia.
      • Nor does it speak of a reverence for God.
      • But this speaks of a desire and concern that we get everything Christ has for us.
    • Do you want to reach that rest?
      • We should fear the “I’m saved, I’m sealed, I’m good” mentality. That life is compared to the life of wilderness wandering.

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. 3a For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said [as in Hebrews 3, he quotes again from Psalm 95], “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ”

  • Why didn't the Exodus-generation get to go into the Promised Land?
    • Because they were not united by faith with those who listened, men like Joshua and Caleb, guys who believed in God's ability.
    • Their lack of trust kept them out of God's best for their lives.
    • Just as the modern Hebrews would be kept out of God's best if they didn't continue to trust Christ.

2 -- God's rest is accessed by faith.

  • Examples of how his rest is accessed by faith:
    • Tension -- Matthew 7:12 (NLT) — 12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
    • Worried -- 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) — 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
    • Fruitless -- Psalm 1:2–3 (ESV) — 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
      • Each can be done as slavish acts of law keeping, but they are meant to be steps of faith and trust in your Father God!

3b although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere [not disrespectful] spoken of the seventh day in this way [from Genesis 2:2]: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage [Psalm 95] he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”

  • 3-4 His works were finished from the foundation of the world / the seventh day:
    • Recall past the wilderness wanderings and into Eden itself -- God established rest in that place.
    • In a sense, he is announcing that this rest has not been recently introduced, but has been available throughout the whole of man's history, by faith.

3 -- God's rest takes us back to -- and beyond -- the original.

  • God established it all so that humanity could enjoy him.
    • And that is what Christ's blood invites us back into.
    • He wants you to know him!
      • Adam and Eve were righteous and able to enjoy God completely. They had no anxieties, pressures, worries, pain, frustrations, or heartaches. They did not need forgiveness, comfort, or encouragement. All they needed was his fatherly friendship.
      • We have so much more of Him!

6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience [lack of faith], 7 again he appoints a certain day [going back to Psalm 95], “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

  • 7 Today: It is a word of GRACE. We can go into his rest today. They could not have today. They had to wait for forty years. But we can have today. Today we can, afresh, get back to the throne and promise and joy of God. Today.

4 -- We should enter God's rest daily.

  • Immediately -- We all have an opportunity today.
  • Daily -- Our decision to enter his rest is daily.
    • I was 18. I wish I had been 16. I wish I had sooner.

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on [there in Psalm 95, written years later by David]. 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.

5 -- God's rest is pictured in creation, the Promised Land, and the Sabbath system.

  • 8-10 Joshua / Sabbath rest / as God did from his:
    • Joshua pointed to a better Joshua in Jesus.
    • The Sabbath rest system pointed to a better Sabbath rest in Jesus.
    • 10 Rested from his works: The creation rest of God, as we've already seen, pointed to a better rest in Jesus.
      • No more work. Good works flow, more than ever, but no longer for any justification. From rest, not to gain rest.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

  • 11 Strive to enter that rest: Similar to verse 1. This is really the solitary direct exhortation from the author, from God, on the subject.
    • NIV -- "Make every effort to enter that rest..."

1 (Revisited) -- Entering God's rest should be a major priority.

  • Remember -- 1 Let us fear least any of your should seem to have failed to reach it.
  • 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest:
    • Be diligent. His rest is worth it. Open your heart. Examine your soul.
      • You cannot put your trust in Jesus until you stop trusting yourself.

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

  • Doesn't this statement on the word of God seem a little out of place?
    • Reason 1 -- It is an abrupt shift.
    • Reason 2 -- It is not usually taught in context, but as a stand-alone message.
  • What is he saying?
    • In making his case, he has used many scriptures.
      • He used Psalm 95, Moses, Joshua, the prophets, and Genesis.
      • He has expected the word to intermix with human heart. He expects a movement to take place in the hearts of his hearers. How does this happen? By the word!
    • He expected the word to hold out a different life to the reader, student, believer.

6 -- God's rest is offered in God's word.

  • Mess with it and it will mess with you. It will heal you.
    • Living and active: It is alive and working.
    • Sharper, piercing: It cuts.
    • Soul, spirit, thoughts, intentions: It shows you who you are.
    • Naked and exposed: It reveals you.

Conclusion: God's rest should not be faked.

  • We should not pretend we have this rest when we don't.
    • Do not hesitate to express your need before God.
      • Who cares what others think!?
      • Plus, we would love that honesty and transparency.
      • If you have not entered into rest then do not say that you have.
      • If you are not in his rest right now, don't say that you are.