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The Book of Hebrews

Chapter 4

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

But what does it really mean to be in God’s rest? The recipients of this letter were quite familiar with this term. But to them it meant Canaan—the promised land. After journeying some 40+ years from Egypt, their forefathers could now enter Canaan—their own home, and take a load off their feet! They finally felt safe at home. But there’s more to it than that. One can be safe at home, but still not at ease—still lacking that inner peace. The writer is telling them that Canaan was just a “foretaste” of the ultimate rest.

The Hebrew’s way of life had become one in which salvation was based completely on their own best efforts to please God through their adherence to, and obedience of the Law. This however is a salvation based on works. It says “how good can I be?”, and, “if I can be really good, God will love me more and I will be in His good graces.” This however, is all they knew for thousands of years! These 1st century Hebrews were now trying to make a transition into the “FULL taste” of ultimate rest but they were holding on to the old concept AND Christ’s salvation at the same time! The good news of Jesus Christ is that by fulfilling ALL of God’s requirements, Christ bought our salvation and gave it to us as a gift. Therefore when we accept this gift, we too can now rest from working for our salvation.

In Romans 6:23, the Apostle Paul says, “ For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God, is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” There is no wages/salary for Salvation because it cannot be earned.

Question to ponder:

  • How would you respond to a letter written to you specifically telling you that you should give up your religious beliefs in exchange for some new ones recently discovered?
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