Hebrews 4:1-5
Heb 4:1 (KJB)
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.
(Mat 11:28 KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Israel’s unbelief in the wilderness was a warning to all that we should not come short of the rest of God. The writer to the Hebrews was making sure that those who read this inspired epistle would want to make sure that they were not following in the footsteps of those who came out of Egypt. The rest which was promised to the Israelites in the wilderness was typifying Heaven. It would have been a temporal rest because nothing on or of this earth is permanent. The “rest” in Hebrews 4:1 is speaking not of a temporal rest in some land but the permanent rest of God which is found in the Gospel. He is making sure that those Hebrews who are being tempted to either stay with the law or revert to the law understand that the real rest of God lies in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and not the law, which Israel failed to keep, which would have been well known and understood in the Hebrew community. Attempting to keep the law makes one come short of the promises of grace and all one has to do is come a little bit short and that would be like missing it by a hundred miles.
Heb 4:2 (KJB)
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.
Now the writer gives a comparison of the two groups of people who had the Gospel preached to them. The Israelites in the wilderness had the good news preached to them that they were freed from the bondage of slavery and they would be led to the promised land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This good news did them no good because it fell on spiritually deaf ears. Physical hearing of the word of God does no good if it falls on the ears of the spiritually deaf. (Mat 11:15 KJV) He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11:15 gives a very common sentence given by the Lord Jesus Christ. Now everyone has ears but what ears is He speaking about? The ears He is speaking about are the ears which have been redeemed. Those who are saved and have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them will be given spiritual ears to hear the Gospel. (1 Cor 2:14 KJV) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. This is why the unsaved man cannot understand the things of God because they require spiritual ears. The Israelites did not have spiritual ears and as a result they interpreted things only according to the flesh. In essence, God was outside their realm of understanding because they were unable to spiritually discern. If one is unsaved, they will not have faith, since faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Gal 5:22 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Heb 4:3 (KJB)
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.
Although - And yet
The verse is teaching us that those who have believed, the saved in Christ, have entered into God’s eternal rest. (John 10:9 KJV) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. Those who have become saved will continually be fed upon the pastures of Christ. We will come to Christ in faith and we will go out to perform the works of a saved person. This is the rest of the believer in that we are always secure in Christ. In Hebrews 3:11 and this verse, the Greek is exactly the same, however, in 3:11 the context speaks of Israel not entering into the promised land because of unbelief. On the other side of the understanding of this phrase, God has sworn that because of unbelief they would not enter in but here we are seeing that the subject has turned to the Gospel of Grace. There are always two sides to every oath. If one swears to uphold the law, then he is also swearing that he will not disobey the law. I believe we are seeing the other side of God’s oath. Those who believe in Christ will enter into His rest because of belief. Now He speaks of the works which were finished from the foundation of the world. When we see the word “from” it speaks of “from the time of creation.” When we see the word “before” in conjunction with “foundation” it speaks about “in eternity.” There are two works in view. When God was speaking about the unbelief in the nation of Israel, He was speaking concerning the land of promise which they were to inhabit. He had this plan already from the foundation of the world. Then the second and most important meaning deals with salvation. In principle, the Lord Jesus Christ was slain from the foundation of the world for the sins of His people. Christ’s sacrifice was planned back in eternity but did not become effective until Adam and Eve sinned, and then the sacrifice of Christ, even though in principle at that time, was now able to cover every one that God had named in the Lamb‘s Book of Life for salvation. Then at a future time Christ came on the scene and became sin laden with the sins of His people on Calvary, thus completing God’s salvation plan and now the only thing left till the end of time is to bring all the Elect to salvation.
Heb 4:4 (KJB)
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.
God rested the seventh day from all His work in creating the heavens and the earth. The seventh day rest looked forward to the time when Christ would effect salvation for all His Elect thus granting them an eternal rest in the Lord. As God rested from his works, the believers also rest from their works. The rest here is not after salvation where we just throw on a long white robe and wait for the Lord to return, but the rest is from attempting to work for salvation. Many in the world think they can work for salvation but the reality is they cannot and those who have become saved, no longer make any more attempts to work for salvation since they have it by grace and therefore they rest as God did.
Heb 4:5 (KJB)
And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
If you notice there is a new view. God now speaks of this rest as “my rest.” The Israelites in the wilderness could not enter into God’s rest because of their unbelief. On the other hand, those who have been given salvation enter in because of belief. It really boils down to the question of grace versus law. Israel disobeyed God’s law in the wilderness but Christ fulfilled the demands of that law resulting in granting salvation to His children and with salvation comes the ability to believe. It is always salvation first and then belief. In the New Testament, “believe” is a verb denoting work, so a person cannot believe in Christ on their own to gain salvation. Whether it is belief or if it is some type of church works program, they are still works and no one can obtain salvation by works. When Christ grants a person salvation, then they have the ability to believe and can do all spiritually based works but these works are a result of salvation and for salvation.