Hebrews 4:6-11

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

BELIEF ADMITS ONE INTO GOD’S REST

INTRODUCTION:

 

Chapter 4 continues the section begun in chapter 3 which teaches that Christ is worthy of more glory than Moses. It is seen here that unbelief prevents one from entering God’s rest; whereas, belief admits one into God’s rest (vv. 1-10). Therefore, believers ought to labor to enter God’s rest (vv. 11-13).

 

In this message, we will limit our study to verses 6-11.

 

Remember that Hebrews was written to Jews who were professing salvation, some of whom were contemplating abandoning Christianity and returning to Judaism because they were thinking that Christianity was not all that they had expected it to be. Remember that genuinely saved people would never abandon Christianity to return to Judaism; but those who were still unsaved, although professing to be saved, might actually turn their backs on Christianity and abandon it.

We have already seen in verses 1-5–

      A.  Because of what happened to Israel as a result of their unbelief, professing Christians should beware – 4:1

 

      B.  Those living in New Testament times are contrasted with those who died in Old Testament times as a result of the provocation – 4:2

 

      C.  Just as God entered His rest when He finished the work of creation, believers enter their rest when they trust Christ as Savior and are no longer seeking to earn their way to heaven – 4:3-5

We see that –

    I.     AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME TO ENTER GOD’S REST STILL EXISTS – 4:6

 

Hebrews 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.

 

In verse 6 the conclusion of the matter is drawn. According to verse 1, a promise of entering into His rest has been left us.

 

Seeing means since or because.

 

Therefore introduces an inference in the sense of then, accordingly, consequently, or so.

 

It remaineth suggests that there is still an opportunity.

 

It is it remains; and its present tense indicates something that is available right now, something which still remains.

 

What remains is that some must enter therein, i.e. that some are to enter into it, meaning (there is still an opportunity) that some are to enter God’s rest.

 

Some is indefinite, and must enter is are to come in or are to go in.

 

Therein is into it and implies into God’s rest.

 

They to whom it was first preached refers to those in verse 2 unto whom the gospel was preached at the time of the exodus and prior to the provocation.

 

First suggests formerly, earlier, previously, beforehand, or in former times.

 

They to whom it was first preached means they who were formerly (or previously) evangelized.

 

Entered not in is did not go in, did not come in, or did not enter.

 

Because of unbelief indicates the reason they were not able to enter God’s rest. It is literally because of disobedience, but in Christian thought the supreme act of disobedience is disbelief in the gospel. Hence, it is frequently translated unbelief in the New Testament. The point of verse 6 is that there are some who must enter God’s rest and that the ones who had that first opportunity, i.e. at the time of the exodus, failed to enter God’s rest.

 

Verse 9 draws the conclusion for the reader: there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

We also see that –

  II.     THE READERS ARE ADMONISHED NOT TO HARDEN THEIR HEARTS – 4:7

 

Hebrews 4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

 

Verse 7 is written to remind the readers that there is still an opportunity to be saved and that the time to be saved is now.

 

Again is once more.

 

He limiteth is He determines, He appoints, He fixes, or He sets and is used in the sense of He delimits.

 

He is God the Father.

 

A certain day is an indefinite time, but He specifies it as being To day.

 

Saying in David is a reference to Psalms 95 .

 

Whereas in 3:7 it is the Holy Ghost that said this, now it is said in David.

 

In other words, it is said by means of David or in the Book of Psalms of which David was the principle writer.

 

If it is to be understood in the sense of by means of David, then David is being identified here as the human author of Psalms 95 , while the Holy Spirit is the divine author.

 

If, however, it is intended to refer to the Book of Psalms of which David was the principal human writer, then the Holy Spirit is regarded as the divine author of the Book of Psalms.

 

In either event, the writer’s statements in Hebrews 3:7 and 4:7 regarding the authorship of Scripture indicate that the Holy Spirit is the divine author and that He used a human writer to write the book.

 

What is said is, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

 

After so long a time is inserted into the quotation by the writer of Hebrews following the first to day, thereby indicating that to day was still in existence several hundred years after the time of the provocation.

 

The date of the provocation was approximately 1444 B.C., and Psalms 95 was apparently written during the lifetime of David who reigned for 40 years from around 1010 B.C. to 970 B.C.

 

Thus, the period of the provocation was about 450 years before David wrote Psalms 95 referring to to day.

 

After so long a time refers to the period of time that elapsed between the statement which God made in Numbers 14 that the unbelieving Israelites would not enter His rest and the writing of Psalms 95 , which occurred during David’s lifetime.

 

So long a time is so great a time.

 

As it is said also refers to Psalms 95 .

 

Then the writer begins the quotation a second time, To day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, indicating that he is extracting the word To day from this quotation and emphasizing its meaning.

 

By doing so, the writer is stating that God’s invitation to enter His rest by believing the gospel is still open today. One never knows, however, when tomorrow may come when it will be everlastingly too late and God’s heavenly rest permanently missed.

 

If you will hear his voice is a condition which is possible.

 

Harden not suggests do not even begin to harden or never harden. Its tense suggests that an action which has not yet begun is to be stopped in its very beginning. It is never to be allowed to happen. It is referring to the readers of Hebrews.

 

What they (i.e. the readers of Hebrews) were not to begin to harden or never to harden is your hearts. They were never even to begin to turn a deaf ear to the gospel, thereby, refusing to hear it.

Next, we see that –

 III.     SINCE GOD DID NOT GIVE REST AT THE TIME OF THE PROVOCATION, THERE MUST BE ANOTHER REST TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD – 4:8-9

 

Hebrews 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

 

Hence, when David could say To day nearly 450 years after the incident of the provocation, it is clear that God did not give His rest at the time of the provocation; and since God did not give rest at that time, it is clear that there must be another rest to the people of God.

 

This rest is still available for the people of God, and this is the point of verse 8.

 

For is explanatory in the sense of now, but it may be emphatic in the sense of certainly or indeed.

 

If Jesus had given them rest is a contrary-to-fact condition. For sake of discussion, if Jesus had given them rest is assumed to be false; and it is false. He did not give them rest.

 

Jesus refers to Joshua rather than to Jesus Christ. The Hebrew name Joshua is identical to the Greek name Jesus. The translators have simply used the Greek spelling of the Hebrew name. Thus, the writer is saying that when Joshua led the nation of Israel into the promised land, he did not give the Israelites the rest to which David is referring in Psalms 95 .

 

Had given them rest is had brought them to a place of rest.

 

Then would he not afterward have spoken of another day is the conclusion of this contrary-to-fact condition. Inasmuch as the condition is assumed to be false, so is the conclusion. He did afterward speak of another day.

 

He refers to David or perhaps to God speaking through David.

 

Then would he not afterward have spoken of indicates continuing action in past time. It is understood in the sense he would not afterward be speaking of. He would not be speaking (in the time of the writing of Psalms 95 and again whenever this was read in past time). It would have been unnecessary.

 

Afterward is after this, i.e. after this day of rest which these unbelieving Israelites had missed.

 

Another day is another day (of the same kind).

 

Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God is literally a rest to the people of God, therefore, remains.

 

Therefore is a word which, when used at the beginning of a sentence, means so, as a result, or consequently.

 

What remains is a rest.

 

This, however, is a different term for rest than has been used thus far. It means in particular a Sabbath rest, suggesting the rest on the seventh day as God rested on the seventh day. It suggests the rest that God personally experienced, which would be an ideal, heavenly, personal, and eternal rest.

 

To implies for, and the people of God are those who have believed the gospel.

In addition, we see that –

 IV.     THE ONE WHO HAS ENTERED GOD’S REST HAS CEASED FROM HIS OWN WORKS – 4:10

 

Hebrews 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

 

For indicates that verse 10 is given in explanation of verse 9 and is used in the sense of now.

 

He that is entered is the one who entered and refers to the believer.

 

Into his rest is into His place of rest, and his is best understood as referring to God the Father.

 

He refers to he that entered and is he himself. This phrase is used as an intensive to bring out the parallel between the believer who has entered God’s rest and God’s entering His own rest.

 

Also suggests in addition to. Just as God entered His rest, so this person also enters God’s rest.

 

Hath ceased is has rested and emphasizes the result of an action which occurred in the past. It is the same term used of God in verse 4, where it was translated did rest.

 

What he rested from was his own works, which is literally from his works. In the Greek text this is using the same language that is found in Hebrews 4:4 , which says,

 

Hebrews 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

 

All in verse 4 is omitted in verse 10. Inasmuch as he has ceased from his own works, he is no longer attempting to enter heaven by virtue of his good works. He has rested because he has trusted Christ as his Savior.

 

As God did from his is a reminder of verse 4 that God rested on the seventh day from all His works.

 

As is just as indeed.

 

From his is from His own and implies from His own works, where his refers to God.

Finally, we see that –

   V.     THE READERS ARE URGED TO MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ENTER GOD’S REST – 4:11

 

Whereas in verses 1-10 belief admits one into God’s rest while unbelief prevents one from entering God’s rest, the readers are exhorted in verses 11-13 to labor to enter God’s rest.

 

The exhortation is found in verse 11, and the instruction why they should labor to enter God’s rest is found in verses 12-13. We will consider verse 11 in this message and verses 12-13 in our next message on Hebrews.

 

Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

 

Let us labour is an exhortation which means let us be zealous, let us be eager, let us take pains, or let us make every effort. It is the same word translated study in II Timothy 2:15 .

 

II Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

It is also translated give diligence in II Peter 1:10 .

 

II Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.

 

The noun form of this same word is translated diligence in Hebrews 6:11 .

 

Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.

 

There is no hint here that one may earn his salvation by working for it. The idea is that each one must make every effort to make sure that he has actually entered this rest.

 

Therefore draws an inference from verses 1-10 and is used in the sense of then, accordingly, consequently, or so.

 

What each person should be making every effort to do is to enter into that rest or to go into that place of rest.

 

It refers to that rest which remains to the people of God in verse 9. The fact that the readers are exhorted to enter into that rest implies that entrance into that rest is possible. It also suggests that some may be on the outside of that rest and looking in. However, this is not true for the believer. He has already entered that rest.

 

Thus, this exhortation implies that professing believers should make certain that they are genuinely born again with their sins washed in the blood of Christ.

 

The reason they should labour to enter into that rest is introduced by the word lest, which introduces a negative purpose clause.

 

It means in order that . . . not or for the purpose that . . . not.

 

Any man is simply any, anyone, anybody, someone, or somebody.

 

Fall is the same word translated fell in Hebrews 3:17 which says,

 

Hebrews 3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

 

The people at the time of the provocation fell physically in the wilderness when their carcasses fell to the ground as they died.

 

The Israelites involved in the Exodus did not believe God’s word and did not enter His rest as a result.

 

The readers of Hebrews should not fall into the same example or pattern of unbelief, which is exactly what they would be doing if they were to abandon Christ and return to Judaism.

 

Instead, they should take God at His word and press on in Christ laboring to enter God’s heavenly rest. They need to make certain they are genuinely saved because their opportunity to be saved will someday be over.

 

It does not mean that they might lose their salvation; it means that the opportunity to be saved will eventually end for those who have not yet trusted Christ as Savior. It will then be too late for them to be saved.

 

After the same example is in the same example, in the same pattern, within the same pattern, or within the same example.

 

It is in particular an example of unbelief. The term for unbelief is the term for disobedience. In Christian thought, the supreme act of disobedience is a disbelief in the gospel. Consequently, this word is often used in the New Testament in the sense of unbelief as it is in this verse.

 

It is a reminder of the evil heart of unbelief referred to in Hebrews 3:12 .

 

Their sin of unbelief will eventually result in their spending eternity in hell if they do not get saved before they die.

CONCLUSION:

 

Be certain that you have entered God’s rest by trusting Christ as your personal Savior from sin and its consequences.