Entering His Rest

Text: Hebrews 4:1-11


I.         There are religious groups who argue that we are still under the Ten Commandments. In particular, the commandment to rest on the Sabbath Day

            A.        One argument is based on Hebrews 4:9, which says there remains a Sabbath rest for God’s people.

            B.        One person asked about it because he noticed what appears to be a contradiction between this and Colossians 2:16-17, which states we are not to be judged on whether we keep the Sabbath.

            C.        When you find something that appears, at first glance, to be contradictory, then you can be sure that you missed something or that you don’t understand some point.

            D.        The Scriptures are from the mouth of God, so they cannot be contradictory - II Timothy 3:16-17

II.        Examining the context - Hebrews 3:7-4:11

            A.        This section of Hebrews is a commentary on a passage from Psalm 95:7-11

            B.        The word “Sabbath” in Hebrew means “rest.”

                        1.         The seventh day of the week was called the Sabbath because it was the day God rested from His creation - Exodus 20:8-11

                        2.         It was given as a memorial to the Israelites - Deuteronomy 5:12-15

                                    a.         As slaves they could not rest from their labors when they felt like it.

                                    b.         So in their freedom, God gave them a day when they had to rest

                                    c.         Thus it was a day to remember where they have come from.

III.       What rest was the Psalmist talking about?

            A.        It could not have been Israel’s weekly Sabbaths

                        1.         Israel was observing the Sabbaths. People were punished when the Sabbath was broken during the wilderness wanderings - Numbers 15:32-36

                        2.         Yet in this passage God said they could not enter His rest and sent them wandering in the wilderness

                        3.         Obviously, it is not the weekly Sabbaths God has in mind

            B.        There is only one rest under discussion

                        1.         Greek is a very precise language. We can learn a lot by paying close attention to its many forms it uses for words.

                        2.         All through this section “rest” and “Sabbath” are in the singular form.

                        3.         There is one particular rest or Sabbath that the writer of Hebrews has in mind

                        4.         A weekly observance would be multiple rests and when addressed would be in the plural

            C.        Was it the Promise Land?

                        1.         The passage in Psalms is referring back to the time God denied the Israelites entrance into Canaan - Numbers 14:20-23

                        2.         They died in their unbelief and so could not rest from their wandering

                        3.         The Hebrew writer is using this event as an allegory to teach an idea to Christians

                                    a.         We, like the Israelites, must be careful lest we are unable to enter our promised rest – our land of promise – because of unbelief

                        4.         Since Israel couldn’t enter the Promise Land, there must be something yet remaining

                        5.         Joshua led Israel into the promise land

                                    a.         God gave Israel rest - Joshua 23:1

                                    b.         But Psalms 95 was written by David - Hebrews 4:7

                                                (1)       Long after Israel entered Canaan

                                                (2)       Yet David said, “Today”

                                    c.         Therefore, Psalms 95 is not about entering Canaan

                                                (1)       It is using the rebellion and the wilderness wandering as an example

                                                (2)       But it has another rest in mind for the application

                        6.         Also note that since David said, “Today” that again we cannot be discussing the weekly observance of the Sabbath since it doesn’t deal with a single day

            D.        Are we in that rest already?

                        1.         In cannot be something in this world

                                    a.         God rested from his creation on the seventh day - Genesis 2:1-3

                                    b.         He did not take up the work of creating again on the eight day or any day following. The creation was finished on the sixth day

                                    c.         Therefore, in a true sense we are living in God’s rest right now.

                        2.         But since God speaks of not entering His rest at a later time, then this world is not what God had in mind.

IV.      Christians have not yet entered that rest

            A.        The Hebrews writer isn’t saying that Christians keep the weekly Sabbaths

            B.        The writer is saying there is still a rest awaiting Christians in the future

                        1.         Christians don’t have it yet. It remains in their future.

                        2.         That is why the writer is warning them to remain diligent, lest they fail to enter the rest like the Israelites failed to enter their rest - Hebrews 4:11

            C.        In the Greek, “enter” is something in the future

                        1.         There is a single rest that is in each Christian’s future which he must work diligently in order to enter into it

                        2.         It should be clear that the Hebrew writer is not talking about next Saturday.

V.        There is a rest promised

            A.        Emphasis is put on the fact that God has promised a rest

            B.        It is a promise that gives each Christian hope - I Timothy 4:8

                        1.         A promise of eternal life to come

            C.        A promise of an eternal inheritance - Hebrews 9:15

            D.        A promise of new heavens and a new earth - II Peter 3:13

            E.        In other words, the rest we are longing for is our home in heaven - Revelation 14:13

            F.        Will you be entering that rest?