The logical development of the key ideas in Hebrews 4 becomes particularly evident when reading Hebrews 4:8-11. Joshua did not give Israel rest. Consequently, since God is no liar, there must be another “rest” that remains for the people of God. This group is not made up exclusively of Jewish believers. It includes all those who have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior.
Read Galatians 3:26-29 and note the characteristics of God’s post-cross covenant people. What does it mean that there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free man, neither male nor female in the context in which Paul is writing?
At times, Hebrews 4 has been used to emphasize the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, while others have used it to challenge the validity of this Sabbath rest, in light of the fact that there is another (end-time) rest. Neither position reflects the biblical text well. Instead, the text suggests that the end-time focus on God’s special rest has been present since Creation and that the celebration of Sabbath rest offers a small, weekly taste of that end-time rest. Indeed, for the Jews the Sabbath has been understood to be a small precursor of the “olam haba” (“the world to come”).
The Sabbath-like rest that remains for the people of God, echoing God’s rest on the first Sabbath in earth’s history, means that we can cease from our own works and trust Him to fulfill His promise of salvation for us.
Contrary to arguments of some interpreters, the context does not support the suggestion that the Sabbath commandment had been fulfilled in the rest of salvation that Christ brought, making it unnecessary for Christians to obey it. The ultimate rest we are promised through what Christ had done for us does not replace the biblical seventh-day Sabbath; on the contrary, it enhances it.
In a world that highly values self-made people, hard work, and go-getters, resting in Jesus and trusting that His grace is sufficient to save and transform us is truly countercultural.
|How can you help others find rest in Jesus when they think that their sins have been too grievous, that their hearts cannot be changed, and that their cases are truly hopeless? What biblical reference would you share with them?|