Last time, we looked at the beginning of the Hebrews writer’s exhortation not to harden our hearts to the Gospel using the story recounted in Psalm 95 of the Israelites’ failure to believe God’s promise to Abraham, and obey His command to go up from Egypt to conquer the promised land. We saw that it was their lack of faith that prevented them from entering into God’s promised rest. The writer then compared them with those who hear the Gospel of Jesus, but do not believe it.
Come to Me Those Who Are Weary
The writer now continues his discussion of God’s promised rest.
3For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:“So I swore in My wrath,‘They shall not enter My rest,'” [Psalm 95:11]although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For 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”;[Genesis 2:2] 5and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” [Psalm 95:11][Hebrews 4:3-5 – NKJV ]
1Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”2And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the LORD. 3I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them. 4I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. 5And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.'” 9So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage. [Exodus 6:1-9 – NKJV]
27My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30I and My Father are one.”31Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”33The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” [John 10:27-33 – NKJV]
27All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:27-30 – NKJV]
9When 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. 10And 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?” 11Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest [ἀναπαύω anapauō] 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 – NKJV]
12Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.13Then 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 [ἀναπαύω anapauō] from their labors, and their works follow them.” [Revelation 14:12-13 – NKJV]
8“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. [Exodus 20:8-11 – NKJV]
21So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.22And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers (about 4 quarts) for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.'” 24So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. (as there had been on other days when they gathered more than they needed for the day) 25Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”27Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. 28And the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? 29See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30So the people rested on the seventh day. [Exodus 16:21-30 – NKJV]
23Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”25But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?” [1 Samuel 21]
27And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” [Mark 2:23-28 – NKJV]
6Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, (God’s rest) and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:“Today, if you will hear His voice,Do not harden your hearts.” [Hebrews 4:6-7 – NKJV]
31“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’37“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’41“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’44“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” [Matthew 25:31-46 – NKJV]
8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. [Ephesians 2:8-10 – NKJV]But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. [James 2:18 – NKJV]15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Therefore by their fruits you will know them. [Matthew 7:15-20 – NKJV]
10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [John 1:10-13 – NKJV]
7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He (God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within the Church of Jesus Christ) who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. (at the rapture of the Church) 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. [2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 – NKJV]
7Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. [John 10:7-10 – NKJV]
For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” [Isaiah 49:8]
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [2 Corinthians 6:2 – NKJV]
8For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.11Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. [Hebrews 4:8-11 – NKJV]
For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. [Hebrews 4:8 – KJV]
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. [Hebrews 4:8 – NLT]For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. [Hebrews 4:8 – NIV]For if Joshua had given them rest, God (Greek – he) would not have spoken of another day later on. [Hebrews 4:8 – ESV]For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. [Hebrews 4:8 – CSB]For if Joshua (Greek – Jesus) had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. [Hebrews 4:8 – NASB]
- Is the writer talking about Jesus of Nazareth or Joshua son of Nun in this verse?
- Is the writer asking whether “he” (either Jesus or Joshua) would have spoken of another day, or stating bluntly that “he” did?
- Who is it that the writer says (or asks) spoke of another day – Joshua or God?
- To where in the Word of God is the Hebrews writer referring?
In the Greek a question mark is only implied, but not stated. You assume it is a statement unless you have a compelling reason to consider it to be a question. In this case there is no reason to infer a question, so it should be taken as a statement. But if you’ll notice, even the KJV doesn’t render it as a question, because there is no question mark in the KJV. This isn’t really a Greek question, it is an English one. In the old English they would make a statement like “would he not” to express an emphatic “he would not.” In modern English we don’t use that expression, thus, all the modern translations, including NKJV, correctly render it as “he would not.” But the KJV was correct, and didn’t contain a question mark. It’s just outdated, like me. 😉 [Dave Rolph – Senior Pastor Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills]
14“Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! 15And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” [Joshua 24:14-15 – NKJV]
1There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.2The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,The Spirit of counsel and might,The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.3His delight is in the fear of the LORD,And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;4But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.5Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,And faithfulness the belt of His waist.6“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;And a little child shall lead them.7The cow and the bear shall graze;Their young ones shall lie down together;And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.8The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORDAs the waters cover the sea.10“And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,Who shall stand as a banner to the people;For the Gentiles shall seek Him,And His resting place shall be glorious.”11It shall come to pass in that dayThat the Lord shall set His hand again the second timeTo recover the remnant of His people who are left,From Assyria and Egypt,From Pathros and Cush,From Elam and Shinar,From Hamath and the islands of the sea.12He will set up a banner for the nations,And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,And gather together the dispersed of JudahFrom the four corners of the earth.13Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart,And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off;Ephraim shall not envy Judah,And Judah shall not harass Ephraim.14But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west;Together they shall plunder the people of the East;They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab;And the people of Ammon shall obey them.15The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt;With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River,And strike it in the seven streams,And make men cross over dryshod.16There will be a highway for the remnant of His peopleWho will be left from Assyria,As it was for IsraelIn the day that he came up from the land of Egypt. [Isaiah 11 – NKJV]
As we have seen, the promised rest into which the Hebrews writer urges us to enter isn’t peaceful life in the land of promise that the Israelites have yet to attain. Nor is it the Sabbath day of rest ordained by God in the law. Certainly, it is not any earthly blessing to be attained through any good work of our own. It is the perfect rest found only through trusting in Jesus – that perfect rest into which our LORD Himself has entered through His suffering, death, and resurrection in our behalf. It is the peace with God and eternal rest spoken of by the prophet Isaiah in the prophecy we just read. It is the rest promised by Jesus in His own words…
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [Matthew 11:28 – NKJV]
In summing up this magnificent exhortation, for Christ followers not to fall into the unbelief and mistrust of God that the Israelite wanderers did, the writer urges us to be diligent to enter into His promised rest and not to forsake our blessing of peace with God through disobedience. What then must we do to assure ourselves of His promised rest? The first and key step is to come to Jesus through belief in His Gospel just as the Hebrews writer will later exhort us…
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. [Hebrews 11:6 – NKJV]
Then, having entered into the promise of His rest, we must nurture our relationship with Him as the Apostle Peter exhorts us…
5But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [2 Peter 1:5-8 – NKJV]
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. [Philippians 2:13 – NKJV]
A Michtam of David.1Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.2O my soul, you have said to the LORD,“You are my Lord,“My goodness is nothing apart from You.”3As for the saints who are on the earth,“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”4Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,Nor take up their names on my lips.5O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;You maintain my lot.6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;Yes, I have a good inheritance.7I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel;My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.8I have set the LORD always before me;Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;My flesh also will rest in hope.10For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.11You will show me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy;At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. [Psalm 16 – NKJV]
Next time, God willing, we will take up a study of some of the most well-known passages in all the Word of God as we consider the life found in the Word of God, and Jesus’ role as our great High Priest.