Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      Hebrews - Chapter 04 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. The promise to enter the place of rest is still good, and we must take care that none of you miss out.
    2. We have heard the message, just as they did. But they failed to believe what they heard, and the message did not do them any good.
    3. Only people who have faith will enter the place of rest. It is just as the Scriptures say, "God became angry and told the people, 'You will never enter my place of rest!' " God said this, even though everything has been ready from the time of creation.
    4. In fact, somewhere the Scriptures say that by the seventh day, God had finished his work, and so he rested.
    5. We also read that he later said, "You people will never enter my place of rest!"
    6. This means that the promise to enter is still good, because those who first heard about it disobeyed and did not enter.
    7. Much later God told David to make the promise again, just as I have already said, "If you hear his voice today, don't be stubborn!"
    8. If Joshua had really given the people rest, there would not be any need for God to talk about another day of rest.
    9. But God has promised us a Sabbath when we will rest, even though it has not yet come.
    10. On that day God's people will rest from their work, just as God rested from his work.
    11. We should do our best to enter that place of rest, so that none of us will disobey and miss going there, as they did.
    12. What God has said isn't only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts.
    13. Nothing is hidden from God! He sees through everything, and we will have to tell him the truth.
    14. We have a great high priest, who has gone into heaven, and he is Jesus the Son of God. That is why we must hold on to what we have said about him.
    15. Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin!
    16. So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help.
Reflections

Hebrews - Chapter 04

Entered: February 23, 2006
The comparison of chapter 3 to entering God's Promised Land continues in chapter 4, although the Promised Land and the rebellious people of that time are no longer mentioned. It is God's promised rest that is actually the subject of this chapter. This is how heaven or eternity is referred to. It is the Sabbath rest. Verse 4 says that on the seventh day God rested. Now He wants us to enter this rest with Him. How do we enter it? "For we who have believed enter the rest" (4:3). The writer cautions us in verse 6 by telling us that those who formerly received the good news did not enter God's rest because of disobedience. Then he exhorts us saying, "Let us then make every effort to enter that rest." We are encouraged then that we may approach the throne of grace with boldness and may receive mercy because of our high priest, Jesus Christ.

Entered: February 07, 2012

The writer continues his discussion regarding our entry into God's promised rest through the perseverance of our faith. He has compared it throughout the discussion to God's promise of rest to the Israelites in their reaching the land of promise. They did not attain this because of their disobedience. Therefore, he says, God's offer of a "rest" is still future and not past. As late as king David, God spoke through him to say that the promised rest still applies. Then, in verse 11, he drives home his point: "Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience." (4:11)

What is this promised rest to which all of this refers? Besides the comparison to God's promise of rest in the promised land to the Israelites, the writer, in this passage, also compares it to a sabbath rest: "for somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in this way: And on the seventh day God rested from all His works." (4:4) Later, in verse 10, he says, "For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His." A further comparison to a sabbath rest. Our thoughts naturally apply this rest to our attainment of heaven at the end of this life. But is that the reference? Some say "yes." It refers to our eternal rest in heaven when our labors will cease. Others say, "no," once we profess faith in Christ for salvation, heaven is assured. This reference to a rest that is ours only if we persevere in faith speaks of being Christ's "partners" and reigning with Him in the Messianic Kingdom.

Is it important whether we understand this correctly or simply that we recognize the importance of persevering in our faith? It would seem that what is of greatest importance is made explicit. In this case, the writer is very clear about persevering in our faith. If his concern is for the loss of a salvation the readers once had, which I don't think is the case, or the attainment of a special role in the Messianic Kingdom, the message of perseverance is the same. To my mind, the main message is that perseverance validates a genuine faith.