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Hebrews 4:9-11 NET

Consequently, a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God. 10 For the one who enters God’s rest has also rested from his works, just as God did from his own works. 11 Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.

What is "God's rest"? (v10)

What effort must one make to enter that rest? (v11)

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  • The captivity in Babylon lasted 70 years, which corresponded to missed sabbaths for the land. Wouldn’t our rest, in one way or another, also have something to do with the sabbath? Dec 14, 2020 at 22:48
  • Constantthin: At the end of each of the six figurative days we read the expression "And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." (Gen. Vs1:23, 31) However, on the 7th day, we read: " Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." (Gen 2:3) Paul urges Christians to try and enter this day of rest:"Thus we must make every effort to enter that rest" Also read John 5:16-17 Thus, Jesus implied that as regards the earth, God’s great Sabbath day of rest, the seventh day, had not ended in his day. Dec 15, 2020 at 20:14
  • Jesus, and other people like Martha’s sister Mary, seem to be fasting frequently. John 4, for instance speaks about a tired Jesus, weary of being without food, staying put at the well, And Mary is often seen sitting, presumably tired due to fasting. Could it have been on the Sabbath they were fasting? As an anti-thesis to the reason for the Babylon punishment. Dec 15, 2020 at 23:02
  • God gave Sabbath laws to the Jews, the Bible also speaks of a different kind of sabbath that Christians are to keep, verse 4:9 (read Hebr chap 3and 4 More than 4,000 years after the seventh day, or God’s rest day, commenced, Paul indicated that it was still in progress. At Hebr. 4:1-11 he referred to the earlier words of David (Ps 95:7, 8, 11) and to Genesis 2:2 and urged: " Therefore let’s make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience." Heb4:11 NASB biblegateway.com/passage/… Dec 16, 2020 at 17:43

4 Answers 4

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The "rest" spoken of in Hebrews chapter 4 is God's particular rest for his children who will enter into glory. Ch.2 vs.10 introduces the concept of the Son of God "bringing many sons unto glory". He delivers from the fear of death, and from bondage, so that those "who are partakers of the heavenly calling" (ch.3.vs.1) have the belief that enables entrance into God's "rest". All of chapter 3 shows that it was unbelief that prevented most Israelites from entering into God's rest, i.e. entering in to the promised land. This is used as a parallel for Christians to grasp how belief is key to entering into God's rest, which has moved on from living on an earthly parcel of land to being in glory - heaven.

Chapter 4 enlarges on this. You ask particularly about verses 9-11 which clearly show that the topic has moved on from anything earthly to that which is spiritual. Rest is given by Christ Jesus, to those who believe in his finished work of redemption, that it now applies to them who believe only in him (Luke 24:21). Thus they can "cease from their own works". Their own works can never earn them redemption, or glory, or peace. Christ redeems spiritual Israel, and they know it. That is how he gives peace, but not as the world gives peace (John 14:27 & 16:33). But if they rest by faith in the peace that Christ gives, they experience spiritual rest even now, for their hearts are no longer troubled while on Earth. They will experience peaceful rest supremely when they enter into heaven where all striving has ended, as stated here:

"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus... Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." Revelation 14:12-13

The answer to how one enters into that rest is in verses 2 and 3:

"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [the gospel]. For we which have believed do enter into that rest." Hebrews 4:2-3 - emphasis mine

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The whole chapter expresses the need to abandon works with a view to earning salvation. Beginning with a story about OT peoples who had opportunity to enter a physical rest - via the Sabbath and the promised Land, the same principle plays out in NT with the Spirit of God now active in His people, and a focus on Jesus, instead of law. The preceding chapters speak of the centrality of Jesus and his role as High priest, his sacrifice and the benefits that flow from God's loving plan

let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it... because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest

and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, (and disbelief)

10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

11Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 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.

No one can stand by keeping a law - God's word sees deeper within us than we do in our inflated and deceived view of ourselves as being somehow good enough. Jesus has accomplished all necessary for true life and in that life - rest - trust - peace - assurance...

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This has nothing to do with a 'day' or a 'Sabbath'. These are the shadows of what was always coming - true life only through Jesus the Christ with the Father. The Sabbath was a time of rest every week - God offers through Christ a rest that is permanent and everlasting - only by GRACE. (not by works as they are part of the law - the law and sin bring death)

What effort must one make to enter that rest?

To believe, to trust, to obey - not the law per se, but God's spirit dwelling in us as a deposit only in this life - trusting in what Jesus accomplished on the cross and the resounding victory won for all people.

It might be summed up by - 'seek first the kingdom'. Which is to do as Jesus always did - even at great cost and anguish, to put God's will before his own. Then, the rest will be ours forever.

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  • user48152: A very good answer,( read my comments to costantthin ) And I ask you: "What was the purpose of the seventh day, and when will that purpose be fully realized?"Genesis 2:3 explains: "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it He rested from all His work which God had created and made."The purpose is for the earth to be inhabited by obedient men and women who will take care of it and all life upon it. (Gen. 1:28) It is toward the realization of that purpose that both God and Jesus Christ, the “Lord of the sabbath,” have “kept working until now.” (Matt. 12:8) Dec 15, 2020 at 20:36
  • user48152 Christ's Law, the "Law of Liberty" (not the Law of Moses) is comprised of several essential factors including: 1) belief in Christ, 2) repentance, 3) confession, 4) baptism, and 5) sustained obedience to God. That last point includes worship consisting of prayer, communion, songs, and biblically-sound studying and teaching. Belief is a work (Jn. 6:29), confession is a work (Matt. 10:32), and repentance is a work (Acts 26:20). It is vital to understand that faith w/o works is dead (Jas. 2:26). The "rest" we enter into, our sabbath is, indeed, eternal rest with God in heaven.
    – Xeno
    May 4, 2021 at 5:53
  • Yes, but you are over reaching with 'works'. We are by NO means saved by works, but we are not saved without them either - but the former is foremost. The rest is because we are not striving to accomplish anymore - this victory over sin is won, we already share in that and so we rest in Christ and the works are a consequence of our salvation and newly forming life.
    – Steve
    May 4, 2021 at 5:58
  • I fully agree with everything you said about our "rest." But we differ in our definition of "faith". Again, faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:26). Indeed, James devotes the entire 2nd-half of his Letter to works: "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?... Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself" (Jas. 2:14,17). Those are not my words. Allow me to ask: What do you mean by "but the former is foremost"? Former what?
    – Xeno
    May 4, 2021 at 6:04
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    agreed - hence my statement - we are not saved without them either! they go hand in hand, but keeping a law or marking some kind of discipline as a credit to ourselves amounts to nothing - but may even detract from God's saving work in Christ.
    – Steve
    May 4, 2021 at 6:08
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I think people blow the works part out of context when Hebrews clearly specifies which work in particular is no longer needed: the sin offering. The work of sacrificing a lamb, calf, goat, bull, etc. is no longer needed, nor is the offering of loaves. These were only effective for the purification of the flesh, or the external. But with Christ, the greater thing is done. He is the way and the ultimate sacrifice for sin. His work helps purify our hearts and minds as we submit, believe, and walk in obedience. So we no longer need to do the work of giving a priest the fatted lamb or goat or bull or money to gain forgiveness for our sins. That is the work of the law that no longer applies. As are the hundreds of laws of Jewish culture. What still remains are God's laws, which as part of the new covenant, have been placed in our minds and written on our hearts by God himself. The work needed now is to study those laws and obey them. There are still laws. There is still work required as works are demonstrations/realizations/proof of our faith, and without faith, we can't please God. Our works do not cleanse our sins. The blood and body of Christ did that already. The works we do in response to that is the work of obeying the laws that God has put in our minds and written on our hearts.

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The following are excerpts from an essay entitled: The children of the Most High

As we have seen, the wisdom of God provides a way back into fellowship with the Godhead, if a believer should temporarily fall from grace and into sin. This ‘Way’, of course, is through the precious Blood of the Lamb. However, the precious Blood, truly wonderful and efficacious as it is, is not God’s answer to the problem of sin and sinning for the Christian, it is an ‘Emergency Remedy’, as it were; not a solution in itself and not something that was intended to be availed of on a regular basis. God, through Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, had devised a more permanent and drastic answer to the problem of sin, something even more wonderful and far-reaching in its outworking than the Blood of the Lamb. For in His Son at Calvary He had laid the axe to the Root of the Tree and had hewn it down. The wages of sin is death. Therefore, upon Jesus Christ as the Last Adam, Judgement was made and sentence was passed. Upon the spotless Lamb of God, having been made in the sight of God on the Cross the very embodiment of the indwelling law of sin and death that first Adam passed on to every one of his descendants, God poured out His wrath and smote him, executing him by crucifixion and so made a thorough end of him, thereby forever depriving satan of his stranglehold of strength and power over humankind.

Remaining in the epistle to the Hebrews we find, in chapters three and four, both a mysterious exhortation and a solemn warning. The exhortation is that we Christians of the New Covenant should ‘labour’, as the AV translates the Greek word, to enter into the ‘Rest’ of God. The warning, should we fail to enter into this Rest, refers back to the fate of the children of Israel who, as punishment, were condemned to wander forty years in the wilderness, because after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt they provoked God to anger when they refused to enter the Land promised to their Fathers by the Lord. We are further exhorted that when we hear His voice we are not to harden our hearts against it as they did in ‘the Provocation’; viz. we are not to ignore it or pretend that we haven’t heard it, or put it on the ‘back burner’, as it were, and address it some other time. No, we are to listen carefully to what is being said, and faithfully obey. David, in Psalm ninety five, refers back to the Provocation and the withheld ‘Rest’ of God, saying, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart as in the provocation and the day of temptation in the wilderness. ‘Today’, says David. The writer to the Hebrews takes up the same cry, Today! The invitation still stands, today. Israel refused the invitation to enter in to the Rest of God through disobedience and unbelief; nevertheless it is still open now, literally to this very day, for any Christian who will accept it.
…these Types speak fundamentally of Jesus Christ embodying or representing our Old Man or Old Adam and being executed by God at Calvary in order that Salvation and freedom by a ‘new and living Way’ for all men and women everywhere, might be provided through His death. The Red Sea miracle of Exodus chapter fourteen is the most detailed of the Types, and so for the present purpose in hand, we shall focus our attention there. Pharaoh and his armies represent bitter slave-labour in Egypt, also referred to in Scripture as ‘The House of Bondage’. The Red Sea represents Jesus. Moses is commanded to lift up the Rod of God (the same Rod that became a serpent and ‘swallowed up’ the serpents of Pharaoh at his court) and to stretch forth his hand over the sea. The waters are parted (Jesus is smote by the hand of God/crucified) thereby making a way of escape through the parted waters of the sea from the king of Egypt and his armies. When Israel is safe from re-enslavement the enemy and all his host, assaying to pursue them, are taken to death (in the Crucified One) as the waters return to their place and close over their heads, thus graphically illustrating for us that the entire model or principle of the slave-system under Pharaoh and his taskmasters, who made God’s firstborn son serve with rigour and hard bondage in Egypt, is utterly destroyed. Amen. This is why, and rightly so, a literal ‘song and dance’ as recorded in the following chapter is made of this demonstration of the power and might of God unto deliverance, although sadly, the people of God would forget this outstanding miracle many times in succeeding generations.

Rest - Heb. נוּחַ: (NUACH) to cease from labour, to abide, to settle down: This Word is used many times in connection with the settlement of the Promised Land by Israel. A study of the word, in particular its use in the book of Joshua, is recommended to the serious Bible student. What then, is this Rest? Many commentators will interpret the Christians’ coming into God’s Rest as not having to earn His favour by the performance of good works. New Testament doctrine is clear on this teaching, so that we find in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter two, for instance, that we are saved by the grace of God through faith alone and not by works. His Galatian letter reinforces this wonderful, but simple truth. Others will point to our long hoped for eternal rest in heaven after we have put off this earthly tabernacle, although this writer has very grave doubts about New Jerusalem saints idly twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do in the New Creation. Yet others will say that because of the connection in the exhortation with the seventh day of creation when God ended all His works and rested from them, that as did the Jews of the Old Covenant, we also, as Christians of the New should observe the Sabbath day as a day of rest, as commanded in the Law. Once more, the major problem with all of these interpretations is that they are unrelated to the actual context of the exhortation, which specifically concerns the deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt, and their outright refusal to enter the Promised Land. These two factors are crucial to the understanding of what this ‘Rest’ of God actually is. In the fourth chapter of the Hebrew letter, verse nine, a Greek word is used that is unique to the New Testament Scriptures in that it is used only once. The word is ‘Sabbatismos’ (Gk. σαββατισμός) which means ‘a Sabbath keeping’. Both David and the writer to the Hebrews are emphatic that Joshua did not fully succeed in his mission to lead the people to go in and possess the Land. Therefore, there remaineth a Rest, a Sabbath Keeping to the people of God; to us, to you and I. The writer uses this unique word, found just once in the NT here in this place because he wishes to emphasise the fact that this is a unique Sabbath Keeping, something very different from an ordinary Sabbath day. It is a Rest that is not intermittent or dependent on special days. He would have us to understand this Rest to be a unique, uninterrupted, perpetual spiritual abiding in God, since it is in this exceptional and continuous manner connected to when He Himself rested after His works and labours on the seventh day of Creation. On that seventh day God entered in to complete cessation or termination of activity or works, as far as creation was concerned.

Most Christians would say, without a second thought perhaps, that satan is the arch-enemy of mankind. It is what we are taught from our Christian infancy. Yes, he is a tempter and a deceiver, he is our enemy. But in a very real sense habitual, deep-seated sin is the true Enemy of mankind. Sin is what darkens, defiles, corrupts, and twists the souls of men and women until they are fit for nothing but destruction in the eyes of a holy and righteous God. A time came in the life of Paul when, having been brought by God’s Law to the end of himself, to the realisation that he was an incorrigible slave to unrighteous thinking and behaviour, even to the point of the persecution and murder of innocent people, he gave vent to an anguished eruption of frustration and despair crying, ‘…who shall deliver me from this body of death?’ For he had come to understand, that the body, with all its members, is the uncontrollable playground of sin for the unregenerate man.

To Subdue - Heb. נִכְבְּשָׁ֖ה (KABASH) to set in order; reduce to order; to tread upon; to bring into subjection: This Hebrew word is used often in connection with Israel’s coming into possession of the Land. Again, a study of the word in this context will yield rewards.

With the first stage of deliverance effectively accomplished, settlement in The Promised Land of Canaan was intended by God to complete and enhance His son’s newly-won freedom. However, the Land must first be purged of its existing inhabitants. In the sight of God the Land was unclean. It was polluted due to the heathen practises of the Canaanite tribes that infested it. These were the enemies of Israel. They were wild, savage and deadly. There could be no compromise, no covenant made with these fierce tribes and their filthy cultures. They must be driven out, their molten images and their altars destroyed, and the Land cleansed and subdued. The Lord God had assured Israel with solemn promises that He would be with him, that He would go before him in such a mighty way that no nation would be able to stand before him and Israel would possess their land. These nations were greater and mightier than Israel, but he was not to be afraid. God was with him and He would give him Rest from all his enemies.

…and so it had been for the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. They had taken possession of the land and done whatsoever they had pleased, until they had soiled it and dirtied it and sullied it with child-sacrifice and sexual promiscuity and perversion, and with ritualistic devotions to foul, demonic gods. These tribes represent ‘the flesh’, the medium through which man is tempted and by which sin is manifested, and as stated above, it is the indulgence in habitual sin, through the weakness of the flesh, that pollutes the souls (land) of men and women. When considering these particular aspects of the finished work of the Cross, we do so need to bear in mind that, as Paul declares in the Eighth of Romans, the intention of God for the Christian, is that ‘…we should be conformed to the image of His Son.’ But this cannot even begin to gradually take place until habitual yielding to fleshly passions and lusts is brought under control and subdued.

         Because the Law of Sin and Death reigns supremely in the spirit of an unregenerate man, that spirit is dead and the soul/Land/man himself has become polluted and corrupted by the ‘Canaanite tribes’ that have been allowed to infest him through the constant yielding of the body and the mind to sin via the works of his flesh. It may in time, become obvious to the man that he cannot control these passions and desires, but the true extent of their control over him, the fact that he is an absolute slave to them, will not fully dawn on him until he is confronted with the laws of a righteous and holy God, as with the apostle Paul. Except for extremely serious cases, where, for instance, a man might seek psychiatric help, or tragically even commit suicide, most folk will learn to live with themselves and find a multitude of ways to justify or rationalise their actions and so come to a truce with their consciences, reasoning that they are no better, or worse, than anyone else. These ‘tribes’ are present in the makeup of a person in various degrees, depending on the personal inclinations of the individual, and take many shapes and forms and mould the personality of a man  or woman. The soul guided by the spirit of a man ought to be the gatekeeper as to what is allowed to affect it through the mediums of the body and the mind; however, because the unregenerate spirit is in bondage to the old man, or ‘Law of Sin and Death’, that position is reversed and the mediums of the body and the mind or, ‘the flesh’, has become the gatekeeper of the soul and what it receives. And, of course, the flesh is wide open to embrace whatever sinful temptations may present themselves, to which, with regard to unregenerate folk in particular, they habitually yield, thus relentlessly polluting that soul/person and the personality, which is, of course, the physical expression of the soul. However, when the spirit of a man is resurrected to Life by the Spirit of God and the consequent crucifixion of the ‘Old Man’ becomes, by revelation of God, a reality, the soul and the mind, and the body are brought back to their intended respective positions. The Holy Spirit Himself, having now become One with the spirit of the man and reigning supreme, the man is now in possession of, or in control of, his own soul (in other words in possession of, or in control of himself) and is thereby enabled to bring his mind and body, his flesh, into subjection to his will as and when he so desires.

In the Old Testament the subduing of the (Promised) Land by Israel under the leadership of Joshua, represents a son of God whose spiritual eyes have been opened to perceive and understand, that because Jesus Christ, at Calvary, in the sight of God, was made the personification of the principle, or Law, of Sin and Death that had held him captive against his will, he now has full control of his hitherto uncontrollable flesh with its lusts and unlawful cravings. His personal ‘Old Man’ has been taken to permanent death in ‘Christ Crucified, the power of God and the wisdom of God’ and he has been made free, as promised by the Lord Jesus in the eighth chapter of John’s gospel, and borne witness to by the apostle Paul in the Eighth of Romans, verse two, as correctly translated in the AV, as opposed to set free, found in many modern versions of the Bible, which phrase has connotations that suggest a temporary or uncertain period of freedom before possible recapture whereas made free implies for the former slave a new, definite and continuous state or manner of being. Made free then, to desire to do the will of God and serve Him without hindrance. His inward man is now at Rest in the Sabbatismos of the Lord, having ceased from his own frustrating and fruitless labours/works in attempting to subdue or bring his flesh into subjection to his spirit by his own strength, and has thereby found rest for his soul; again, as promised by the Lord Jesus in the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.

Nowhere in Scripture is there to be found an exhortation to seek New Birth, only outright assertions of fact, flatly stated by the Lord Jesus to Nicodemus in the third of John’s Gospel. But here, in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews we have an exhortation for every truly born from above Christian to seek out and enter into a permanent, continuing inward or spiritual Sabbath, today. Let us labour, therefore, if we would enter (from the Wilderness of Incompletion) into His Rest, and remember, as we do so, that God is faithful to His word and is ‘…a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him’. The book of Proverbs, the Wisdom of Solomon, throughout the first nine chapters insists over and again that we get understanding. The apostle Paul exhorts that in understanding we be men, not children or babes in Christ. In other words, with regard to these matters our attitude must not be that of mere passing consideration. We must earnestly seek God in prayer and through the Word, that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened so that we might know exactly what He has accomplished for us through Jesus Christ with regard to the weakness of our flesh and our susceptibility to sin. So that we may cease from our own works and marvel at the power and wisdom of Almighty God and give Him all the glory as we, and as did Israel as the waters parted, ‘Stand still and see the Salvation of the Lord…’

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