Question:

In Hebrews chapter 4, where it talks about the Sabbath and all, if I'm right, the reason for the Sabbath is represent Christ. It foreshadows Christ's kingdom that He is making for us with God, hence our rest or God's rest. It's a place, not a age, as others would claim. I got all the verses, but I was wondering about your take on it.


Answer:

The context for this section actually begins in Hebrews 3:7 where the write quotes a passage from Psalms 95 and then delivers an extensive commentary on the passage that goes to Hebrews 4:13.

The writer shows that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness because of their unbelief which led to their disobedience. The conclusion was "To whom did he swear that they wouldn't enter into his rest, but to those who were disobedient? We see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:18-19).

The writer then makes a parallel to the Christian's life. If God was willing and able to block the Israelites from entering into the promised rest, then God can do the same to the Christian. "Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest" (Hebrew 4:1). The Bible long spoke of rest from the troubles of this world. David in his distress said, "So I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest" (Psalm 55:6). And such a rest is promised to us after our life's work is ended. "Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them"" (Revelation 14:13).

The writer further proves that God was not speaking of the Sabbath day. "For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest."" (Hebrews 4:3-5). The argument is that God could not have been referring to a past rest, such as when he rested from Creation because he referred to something in the future. Nor could he have been referring to the Sabbath day rests because they had been observing the Sabbath day since the law was given. It may be a type or foreshadowing of the rest God has in mind, but it is not the actual rest itself. Nor could this refer to entering Canaan because Psalm 95 was written hundreds of years after Canaan was conquered. "For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:8-9). Thus the conclusion is that God is referring to something that still remains in the future.

The Sabbitarians argue that the rest must be Christians keeping the Sabbath. But such doesn't match the passage. The writer of Hebrews is speaking of a single rest that remains in the future. If early Christians had kept the Sabbath (and they did not -- Colossians 2:16-17) it would have been spoken of as already obtained and it would have been spoken of in plurality and not a single rest. Finally, the Sabbath keeping of the Old Testament was something people chose to keep. The rest spoken of here is something God would deny access to based on a person's obedience. "Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11).

God's rest comes after our work is done. "For he who has entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from his" (Hebrews 4:10). It is not a rest here on earth where we continue to labor. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). And we can see such a rest granted to those who have labored for the Lord. "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed" (Revelation 6:9-11).

The Christian's Sabbath is not a weekly observance of a holiday established under the Law of Moses for the Israelites. Our Sabbath rest comes after our work is done, when we obtain our heavenly home. "There will be no curse any more. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night, and they need no lamp light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever" (Revelation 22:3-5).