There is a Sabbath rest that remains for those who seek it. The Hebrews writer coaxes the Jewish Christians back from the brink of throwing away their salvation in Christ. Their error of turning back to the Mosaic Law and the Sabbath indicates a primary error which would hinder them from entering the eternal rest with God. They had not been paying attention to the Gospel preached to them.
“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.” – Heb. 2:1
The Israelites had the good news preached to them but it did not profit or benefit them because they did not unite the hearing with faith, Heb. 4:2. God knew their disobedient and obstinate spirits which led them to turn away from Him.
“8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, 9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. 10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’; 11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’” – Heb. 3:8-9,10-11.
God promised Israel rest, but not just rest from its enemies. God had in mind the eternal rest which even Joshua did not give, Joshua 21:43-45. “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.” But despite the many blessings and patience of God, Israel rebelled against God. Israel rebelled against His Word.
In his admonition, the Hebrews writer shows a number of things that set the Christian apart from those who did not enter God’s rest. Christians revere God, Heb. 4:1. They tremble at the Word of God. Christians hear and put their faith in it to do it. It is those who truly believe that enter His rest, Heb. 4:3. Christians love God and obey His commandments. Israel didn’t enter because of disobedience, Heb. 4:6. Unlike Israel which stiffened its neck, Christians keep their hearts tender and receptive to the will of God. Will we learn from Israels’ mistakes? “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Entering His reward is not for the uncommitted. With reverence and love for God, Christians remain diligent to enter heaven.
“12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” – Heb. 4:12,13
I have often wondered about those who challenge the Word of God. Sometimes they avoid it and refuse to hear what it says. What makes some people attack the Bible which they claim not to believe? Christians are harmless to them. Christians might hand out a tract or might ask for a time to study. But beyond that, Christians are no real bother. But still many attack and try to silence the Word of God. Why do you suppose? I think the reason is because God’s Word is penetrating them to their core and makes them uncomfortable. The Hebrews writer says for Christians to pay closer attention to what you have heard. Accept the investigative power of God’s Word. Embrace the thorough inventory which it takes of your heart. Let God’s Word permeate your being and let God do His Work in you. Israel plugged its ears and covered its eyes to hide from God. But we know it is not possible. “All things are open and laid bare” to the eyes of Jesus Christ and He knows if we are diligently seeking His rest.
Hope of Heaven
“Perfect” might not be what you think.