Hebrews 4: God’s Perfect Rest

To the unbelieving Jews, what was the meaning of the word “salvation”?

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Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, we should be concerned that none of us fall short of the promise of eternal rest in Christ Jesus.
King James
Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

What might have been the difference between the Jewish concept of “eternal rest” and what the writer of Hebrews knew to be true?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, we should be concerned that none of us fall short of the promise of eternal rest in Christ Jesus.
King James
Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

What is the difference between hearing and believing?

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Matthew 7:24 “Everyone who not only hears my words but also puts them into practice is like a wise man who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on solid rock.”
Hebrews 4:2–3 The good news was preached to others, just as it was preached to us, but they missed the benefit because they didn’t embrace the truth, believing. The believers experience rest and peace, knowing that everything is going to be all right, but the unbelievers never will, for God swore in disgust that they would miss out, even though the promise was made available from the beginning.
James 2:14 My friends, what good is a declaration of faith if you don’t have the actions that show you really believe? Can words alone save you?
King James
Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Hebrews 4:2–3 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 it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

What are the best times for a person to rest?

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Hebrews 4:4 We know the place where Scripture says, on the seventh day God rested, having completed all his work.
King James
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.

Why did God rest on the seventh day?

Author’s Thoughts
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Hebrews 4:4 We know the place where Scripture says, on the seventh day God rested, having completed all his work.
King James
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.

How would you describe God’s “place of rest”?

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Philippians 4:6–7 You don’t have to worry about anything. In prayer and praise, express your desire to God, surrendering to his will and his peace, which the world cannot understand, will bring calm reassurance through Christ Jesus that everything will be all right.
Hebrews 4:5 But in another place God says they will never enter my place of rest.
Revelation 4:8 Each of the four beasts had six wings and eyes fully seeing everything inside and out. Night and day they never sleep but keep saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.
King James
Philippians 4:6–7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Revelation 4:8 And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

How does a person enter God’s rest?

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Isaiah 26:3 The Lord gives perfect peace to those who keep their minds fixed upon him, who completely trust him.
Philippians 4:6–7 You don’t have to worry about anything. In prayer and praise, express your desire to God, surrendering to his will and his peace, which the world cannot understand, will bring calm reassurance through Christ Jesus that everything will be all right.
Hebrews 4:6 Those who first heard the message would not believe and enter his rest, so God’s promise remains to be fulfilled in us.
King James
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Philippians 4:6–7 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
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:

If people weren’t listening, why didn’t God speak louder?

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Isaiah 28:11–12 With baby talk and simple language, God will speak to his people. “Here is a restful place,” God said. “Let the weary come and be refreshed.” But the people wouldn’t listen.
Mark 4:34 No one heard him speak without some kind of story. In private, he explained everything to his followers.
Hebrews 4:7 God kept making his promise known, later saying through David’s psalm, “Listen to God today. Don’t turn a deaf ear.”
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t slow in keeping his promise, not like some people think. He is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, giving time for everyone to repent.
King James
Isaiah 28:11–12 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
Mark 4:34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
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.
2 Peter 3:9 he Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

If we have not yet experienced God’s rest, how can we know what it is like?

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Psalm 34:8 Taste the Lord’s goodness and you will want more. In all things, trust him, and you will be blessed.
Hebrews 4:8–9 If Joshua had given them rest in his day, then God would not have made the same promise later. So there remains a rest that God’s people have not yet experienced.
King James
Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Hebrews 4:8–9 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

What does it mean to “cease from our own works”?

Author’s Thoughts
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Hebrews 4:10–11 One day we will cease from our own works just as God did on the seventh day. Strive for that place of rest by being fully obedient to whatever God would have you do.
King James
Hebrews 4:10–11 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

If God’s word can penetrate to the core of our being, why doesn’t it always happen?

Author’s Thoughts
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Hebrews 4:12 The word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than a double-edged sword, cutting through vain beliefs and misconceptions to the hidden truth at the core of our being, reaching our thoughts and motives.
King James
Hebrews 4:12 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.

If people can’t hide from God, why do they try?

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Psalm 139:8 If I go to the farthest region of space and beyond, you are there. If I am laid to rest in the deepest grave, you are there.
Hebrews 4:13 No creature is hidden from God’s presence, but God sees everyone as if they were naked, unable to conceal who they really are.
King James
Psalm 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
Hebrews 4:13 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.

With Jesus as our High Priest, we are given a wonderful relationship with God. Why is our testimony important?

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Matthew 10:32–33 “If anyone publicly acknowledges me before men, I will publicly acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. But anyone who denies me before men I will deny before my Father in Heaven.”
Romans 10:8–9 What did Moses say? You already know what God wants. His word is in your heart, on the tip of your tongue, waiting to be followed if you would just do it. I am giving you a choice, and your response determines whether my word will be a blessing or a curse. Go ahead. Speak the truth with your mouth, and trust in your heart the words and deeds of Jesus Christ, which show the value of our total commitment to please God, since God raised him from the dead. Do this, and you will be saved.
Hebrews 4:14 Since Jesus the Son of God is our great High Priest with access to God in the heavens, we should be strong in our testimony concerning him.
Revelation 12:10–11 A loud voice from Heaven shouted, “Salvation and power has come through God’s dominion and Christ’s authority. Satan, who has been accusing the people day and night, is now cast down. The people have overcome Satan by the sacrifice of the Lamb, by giving their testimonies, and by complete surrender to God’s will, even unto death.”
King James
Matthew 10:32–33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Romans 10:8–9 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Revelation 12:10–11 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

How are we helped by knowing that God understands us?

Author’s Thoughts
God knows us better than we know ourselves.
As a kid, I was told I was smart, and maybe I was—for my age, that is. I knew what I wanted. My dad knew what I needed, so he often didn’t give me what I wanted. He always gave me something better, which was sometimes to say no.
Twenty years later, I had learned so much that I was overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know. What I wanted more than anything was to hear and follow the Lord. Since my dad had the same passion, what I wanted became what he wanted.
Sometimes we shared insights about God for hours that seemed like minutes. I saw on his bookshelf a worn-out copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. “I need to buy that book,” I said. He insisted that I take his copy and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
If that was true for my father who loved me, how much more must our heavenly Father want what’s best for us.
God has unlimited resources.
Daddy could only give me a book from his shelf. He couldn’t give me what he didn’t have. I wonder, if he had been a rich man, if he would have spoiled me by giving me the things I wanted instead of the guidance that I needed.
God and my father had one thing in common: their knowledge, love, and gifts were limited by what they had. Since God created and owns all things, he must use a fabulous amount of wisdom and restraint to keep from spoiling his kids.
If that’s true, then the only way I can get everything I want is to only want what he wants.
I’m convinced that what he wants has to be the best for me, so I’m working hard to let go and accept his provision.
In ancient times, boldness could be fatal.
After I heard a radio sermon saying we should “come boldly to God’s throne,” I wondered what those words really meant.
Today, a janitor might approach the company president with a need, but two thousand years ago, peasants did only what they were told. They were shunned by the upper class and were never allowed to invite themselves to see the king.
In the reign of Xerxes, not even the queen could approach the king uninvited. When the Jews were about to be destroyed, Esther prayed and fasted from food and water for three days before risking her life to see the king (Esther 4:16).
Being bold doesn’t mean we get what we want.
“Coming boldly before the throne” doesn’t mean I can stake my claim and get what I want. Some people believe that, but it’s dangerous to be given what God doesn’t want. Just ask Balaam, who was given permission to go but made God angry when he went and faced an angel ready to kill him (Numbers 22:20–23).
I heard one preacher say, “Come to God with his Word,” as if our interpretation of Scripture can be used as leverage to get what we want. I can’t go that direction, which explains why most of my prayer time is spent asking what God wants.
We get to come boldly before God to find out what he wants.
When I saw a tool in my dad’s shed, I realized how that would help my work outside, keeping the lawn groomed. That tool immediately became mine. He insisted.
Because I have a heavenly Father who has boundless love for me, whose resources never run out, I can freely express my desires. And after that, I can choose to be delighted with whatever his response is, whether it is yes, no, or maybe later.
Author’s Paraphrase
Hebrews 4:15–16 Our High Priest is easily touched with the feeling of our infirmities, because he was tested in every area just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, we can boldly approach God with our needs, receiving mercy and unmerited favor.
King James
Hebrews 4:15–16 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.