Read Hebrews 4:4-8. What is the meaning of entering rest “today” in connection with keeping the Sabbath?
The unbelief of the desert generation prevented them from entering into the rest God promised. But God kept urging His people to enter this rest and not to harden their hearts. Paul repeats several times that God’s promise “remains” (Hebrews 4:1, Hebrews 4:6, Hebrews 4:9, NKJV). He uses the Greek verbs kataleipo and apoleipo, emphasizing that “the promise of entering his [God’s] rest still stands” (Hebrews 4:1, ESV).
The fact that the invitation to enter this rest was repeated in the time of David (Hebrews 4:6-7, referring to Psalm 95) implied both that the promise had not been claimed and that it was still available. In fact, Paul suggests that the experience of true Sabbath rest has been available since the time of Creation (Hebrews 4:3-4).
God invites us “today” to enter into His rest. “Today” is a crucial concept throughout Scripture. When Moses renewed Israel’s covenant with God at the border of the Promised Land, he emphasized the importance of “today” (Deuteronomy 5:3, compare Deuteronomy 4:8, Deuteronomy 6:6, etc.). It was a moment of reflection to recognize God’s faithfulness (Deuteronomy 11:2-7) and a time of decision to obey the Lord (Deuteronomy 5:1-3). Similarly, Joshua called on the people of his time to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15, NKJV).
In the same way, “today” is a time of decision for us, a time of opportunity, as well as danger, as it has always been for God’s people (See 2 Corinthians 6:2). “Today” appears five times in Hebrews Chapters 3 and 4. It emphasizes the importance of listening to God’s voice (Hebrews 3:7, Hebrews 3:15; Hebrews 4:7) because failing to listen and believe God’s word leads to disobedience and the hardening of our hearts. It could even delay our entrance into the heavenly Canaan, just as it kept the wilderness generation from entering the earthly Canaan.
But Jesus has defeated our enemies (Hebrews 2:14-16) and inaugurated a new covenant (Hebrews Chapters 8-10). Thus, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:14-16). The appeal “today” invites us to recognize that God has been faithful to us and has provided us with every reason to accept His invitation right away without delay.
|What spiritual decisions must you make “today,” that is, not put off for another time? What have been your past experiences when you have delayed doing what you knew God would have you do right away?|