Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
The definitive truth is that there is a rest for those who are the people of God.
I Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Those that perished in the wilderness did so because they rejected God’s provisions for rest.
Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
God is clear that His Word is truth. Those who reject His Word, whether Jew or Gentile, choose not to be His people. He does not make any exceptions. He has shown every generation what is required. At one point He even sent His only begotten Son to walk amongst the people and teach them the truth. Many rejected Him as well. Jesus Christ not only taught the truth, but He laid down His life that all might be saved.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
As we see in verse 10, those who have entered into God’s rest are no longer working to enter into rest. Again God referred back to His “rest” at the end of Creation week to show what the “rest” of the saved looks like. God did not create anything else after day 6. Everything was made in 6 days. God did not have to go back and adjust anything. There was nothing missing in what He had done. After Creation was complete, God taught man the truth about Himself and showed man how to know His blessings. God warned man prior to the fall of the disaster he would face if he chose not to believe in God.
In verse 11 we are challenged to “labour” to enter into God’s rest. The word translated as “labour” speaks of “diligence or making haste.” The person who is going to enter into God’s rest cannot take a passive approach to life. The attitude that God knows everything and there is nothing I can do about it is contrary to “labouring”. Abel laboured to enter into God’s rest. He trusted in God and he brought a sacrifice that was acceptable to God because he had God’s rest already. He was not buying favour with God. He was responding to God’s mercy and grace by showing gratitude and worship to the true God. That was his pattern. He did not compartmentalize his life into segments where he would worship God with a sacrifice and then go and do as he pleased after that.
Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Abel was described as a righteous man by Jesus Christ. He had entered into God’s rest. That is the rest that God provides for every person. Those who enter into His rest do so on His righteous terms.
Cain is an example of those who choose not to follow God’s terms, but still want rest. Cain had his own idea of what rest should look like. He learned that he could not rest, but rather chose to live in bondage to self and sin. The same is true for all who ignore or reject God’s way.
Noah laboured to enter into God’s rest. He did not get saved by building the ark. He was already trusting in God and thus he chose to obey God in the building of the ark according to God’s instructions.
Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
Noah walked with God. He was diligent and he hasted to act upon what he knew was true. He knew God’s rest, even as he was busy building that Ark. This “rest” that God speaks of is not an absence of activity. It is an absence of working to enter God’s “rest”. It is “labouring” in those things that accompany God’s “rest”.
The danger God reminds us of in verse 11 is that of unbelief. If God says something once, it is important . When God says something more than once, He is reminding us of how quickly we choose to ignore what He has said. He has spoken of hard-heartedness already. That is a problem we as people have. It is part of the sin nature. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He gave us His Word and He addressed every argument that lost people could make. He refutes every false teaching there is. He exposes the lies of man’s imaginations. He makes it so obvious that He is true and right. He is just in declaring:
Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalm 53:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
There is no valid reason to reject God. There certainly is no ground for denying anything He claims. The danger that God is warning us of in Hebrews 4 is the danger of procrastination. The longer the sinner entertains his excuses for not believing the truth, the more engrained the sinner becomes in his foolish arguments. We can see all around us how easy it is for people to convince themselves that wrong is right. We can see that we as people are much quicker to believe a lie, than we are to believe the truth. Jesus warned:
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The danger we face is that we do not define a lie the way God does. God has only two categories: truth and lies. There is nothing in-between. He tells us clearly in John 8:44 that the devil is the father of lies.
In verse 11, God warns of falling away. The word translated as “fall” means: “to descend from a higher place to a lower, or to prostrate ones self before”. God shows us that anything that is not of Him is a lie. Throughout the Bible God shows us of the many different ways that people have fallen. Adam fell. In Genesis 4 we see that Cain and his descendants all fell. In Genesis 6 we see that the vast majority of mankind fell. We can go on and on. Many avoided God’s rest, and in the book of Hebrews God is continuing to urge the readers not to miss out on God’s rest. That includes us today. A person cannot earn God’s salvation. A person must come to God and believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.
The Bible shows us that no one that ever chose to enter into God’s rest, was disappointed. Some remained as babes rather than growing as they ought to. God addressed that as well in the book of Hebrews. He wants all to be saved, and He wants all those who are saved to grow in Him.
It all begins by entering into His “rest”.
The danger is not to enter into God’s “rest”. To reject God out of hand and insist that He must conform to my finite understanding is the danger. That is what Cain tried to do. It did not work for him and it did not work for the majority of the nation of Israel that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. It is not working for the nation of Israel today and it is not working for the Gentile world either. Those who will humble themselves and turn to God and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation will be saved. Man can do that because God is good and shows Himself to be THE ONE we can trust completely.