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Hebrews 4:1-10  The Promise of Rest

REST: The basic idea is that of ceasing from work or from any kind of action, labor, or exertion. It means the end of trying to please God by our feeble, fleshly works. Rest involves obtaining freedom from whatever worries or disturbs you; freedom from guilt over sin. It means that for the remainder of our lives and for all eternity we can have full, satisfying, peaceful rest in perfect relationship and fellowship with God. This is what God offers every person on His terms, based on His condition, found only in Christ.


REST – equivalent to the Hebrew word noah (Heb. 4:1); “rest from weariness” (Matt. 11:28); “relaxation” (2 Thess. 1:7); a Sabbath rest, a rest from all work (Heb. 4:9); repose, cessation of motion, and peaceful restoration.

  • It is the rest provided by God; having a true peace of mind and contentment; a cessation of war, a time of peace; a close harmony and fellowship with their Lord

Considering the entire history of humanity from DAY ONE, Rest is the anticipated return to what we originally lost: Genesis 3:16–19

  • Only Christians will ever return to the original REST that is available to a life that is not cursed by sin

The “rest” in the Hebrews 4 is related to the Sabbath rest of God (Heb. 4:3–4); closely related to salvation.

  • It is a spiritual reality that is achieved by turning from our own empty works; trusting in the finished work of Christ

A quick look at the passage:

  • Hebrews 4:1 The “promise” in question is REST. To “come short” means “lest you think you have come too late to enter into the rest of God”
  • Hebrews 4:2 “not being mixed with faith” tells us that mere knowledge is not enough (“even the demons believe and tremble”); You have to have saving faith
  • Hebrews 4:3–5 Those who truly believe and exercise faith in Christ will enter the rest that God has planned, established, promised and secured from the day He finished Creation and rested Himself.
  • Hebrews 4:6–7 The opportunity to enter God’s rest remains open; It is not yet too late as long as you are still hearing this or reading God’s Word; TODAY…  the author urges an immediate, positive response. URGENCY… now is the time
  • Hebrews 4:8–10 introduces “rest” meaning “Sabbath rest” to give us a reference, a definition and example that is unchanging and understandable; draws the readers’ attention back to the “seventh day” mentioned in v. 4
  • Jesus is better, Jesus is greater, Jesus has replaced the old… that is the continued and foundational message of Hebrews…

Where did the idea, and example of REST begin?

Genesis 2:1–3 God has finished His work and if you want to enter into the finished work of God it’s available by faith.

  • God’s rest began after His creation.
  • Adam and Eve had no anxieties, no worries, complete freedom to fellowship with God while living in God’s rest.
  • What’s always the condition for God’s rest? Faith, belief.
  • REST sums up the history of the Bible and the history of man…. Salvation, the life, work and sacrifice of Christ leads to the restoration of REST as defined and modeled by God when He rested after Creation, and the perfect fellowship and harmony of Adam and Eve with God before they sinned.

The Biblical aspects of REST

  • The human desire for spiritual rest – Lamentations 5:19–22; Psalm 55:4–8; Lamentations 3:25–26; 1 Timothy 2:2
  • Spiritual rest is to be found in God alone – Exodus 33:14; Psalm 23:2; Psalm 62:5–8; Isaiah 26:3–4; John 14:27; Matthew 11:28–30;
  • God promises his people spiritual rest – Hebrews 4:9; Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 32:17–18; Psalm 116:7; Psalm 131:1–3; Isaiah 30:15; Jeremiah 17:7–8; John 14:1
  • Spiritual rest is not for the wicked… no true rest for those who deny God, or seek rest from any other source but God – Psalm 1:4–5; Psalm 112:10; Ecclesiastes 2:23; Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:20–21
  • Unbelief forfeits rest. That’s the basic principle of this whole passage. Nobody experiences God’s rest apart from faith… FAITH is the key to entering into eternal rest.
  • Biblical REST: a new relationship to God where man can depend on God for support, for health, for power, for security, for peace, for freedom from guilt, for everything he needs; a new relationship which man is confident and God holds his life in an eternal trust… free from what disturbs us, sin gone, cessation from works and legalism

“The need for God’s rest is urgent. A person should diligently, with intense purpose and concern, secure it. It is not that he can work his way to salvation, but that he should diligently seek to enter God’s rest by faith—lest he, like the Israelites in the wilderness, lose the opportunity. God cannot be trifled with.”—John MacArthur

  • Have you entered into God’s rest through faith?
  • Or are you trying to be saved by your own self-effort?
  • What evidence would you give to support your answer?
  • Think of someone you know who has heard the message of the gospel but has not yet entered God’s rest.
  • How can you encourage them to trust fully in Jesus? What would this message of rest and TODAY mean to them?
  • What examples from God’s Word could you point to as you urge him or her to take this step?

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