The Letter to the Hebrews: a commentary & meditation
"While the promise of entering his rest remains"

Scripture: Hebrews 4:1-13

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest remains, let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them; but the message which they heard did not benefit them, because it did not meet with faith in the hearers. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, `They shall never enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way, "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." 5 And again in this place he said, "They shall never enter my rest."

6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he sets a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later of another day. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; 10 for whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Meditation: The author to the Hebrews speaks of the promise which offers entry into the rest of God. The rest he refers to here can mean three different things. It can refer to entering into the peace of God. It can also mean the promised land. The people of Israel had wandered so long in the wilderness that their entry into the promised land was indeed the rest of God. The rest of God also refers to the sixth day of creation when all God's work was completed.

The promise of the rest of God still remains for us today. The danger is that we can fail to reach it. The Israelites who wandered for forty years in the desert failed to enter into the rest of God. They did not trust God to bring them through the difficulties that lay before them in the wilderness.

In Psalm 95:7-11, the Lord speaks through David and says that if they do not harden their hearts they can enter his rest. This rest is more than entry into the Promised Land. On the sixth day of creation when God rested, Genesis makes no reference to evening. In other words, there is no ending to God's rest on the sixth day. The day of God's rest goes on for ever.

God's appeal applies to us today. "Do not harden your hearts lest you fail to enter the rest of God." In other words, "be on guard that no disobedience or lack of faith keep you from entering the rest and peace which God is offering. To those who hear and believe God's word there awaits a great promise: they will know the peace of God, the joy and bliss of unending happiness with God, and the rest which will never cease.

"Lord Jesus Christ, you bring us into the rest of God where we may find true peace, happiness, and joy forever. May I celebrate your victory over sin and death with true joy and hope in the resurrection."

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(c) 1999 Don Schwager