Hebrews 4:2 – 13 Finding True Rest in the Spirit One Day at a Time
Hebrews 4:2 – 11
A lifestyle of faith and obedience leads to true rest and abundant living. The material world may contribute to our physical wellbeing, but only through the Spirit can we find true rest. Amidst the daily grind and stress of work, today’s passage teaches us that we could experience a life of freedom and significance immediately through the Spirit. Nevertheless, there remains a final rest for every believer when he accomplishes God’s calling for his life.
2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
The good news is the gospel of blessing and glory realized in Christ. The gospel promises freedom from the curses of sickness, poverty and sorrow; it also promises eternal glory and honor in heaven. In the days of Moses, God promised them a land filled with milk and honey where they would dwell in prosperity and safety. Even though the people believed the word and followed Moses out of Egypt, but they did not complete the journey into the Promised Land. Even as they were attracted by the prospect of a better life, but they were not prepared to live a life of faith and obedience. Because of their disobedience, the word of promise did not benefit them; for the entire generation perished in the desert. Similarly, many attracted by the promise of prosperity and blessings committed themselves to be baptized in Jesus’ name. But they were unprepared to leave their lifestyle of fleshly desires. Hence, they cannot experience the blessed life that was preached to them.
3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
The text is clear that not all who initially responded to the promise eventually entered that rest, but only those who believed (who has faith and obedience) will enter: For we who have believed enter that rest. In Moses’ generation, only Caleb and Joshua exercised faith and entered the Promised Land.
The text further explains the meaning of faith with respect to the first Sabbath rest. Sabbath rest represents abundant living in God’s kingdom where there is peace, health, prosperity, honor and glory. The rest that was intended for men since the first Sabbath rest must be appropriated by continual faith and obedience. Although God and Adam were the first to enjoy that rest: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works, then the question remains: if God has already instituted rest for humanity, why did God say, “They shall not enter My rest”? It is because men did not continue to obey God’s commands in faith and obedience. Nevertheless, the invitation to enter into rest by faith remains open to all men today as evident in David’s psalm (Psalm 95:7) many generations after Adam: “Today,” saying through David after so long a time…”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
The text again substantiates the necessity for faith by citing Israel’s failure to obtain rest through the reign of Joshua. Even though Joshua has conquered much land, Israel continued to experience perpetual upheavals and oppressions. And David (generations after Joshua) continued to speak about a future rest that will come: So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; a rest that comes from faith and obedience through a Spirit-filled life.
10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
One experiences rest only after accomplishing what God has commanded him to do: one who has entered His rest has himself also rested (ceased) from his works. God Himself sets the example and rested only after He has completed His works of creation: rested from his works. Therefore, each believer must be diligent to accomplish God’s commands for each day so that he may enter into rest. And eventually he will come to fulfill his life calling and enter into the final rest of glory and honor in heaven.
You can obtain the complete rest of God today. Many are satisfied with a shower of provision from God but have never experienced true rest. Many churchgoers are excessively concerned over their material needs, they supposed rest could only come if they got all their physical needs met and problems solved. Such are incessantly preoccupied about their jobs, their needs and the cares of life. Moses’ generation was obsessed with their material needs and missed out on the true rest of faith and obedience. Even as they were enjoying the daily provisions of food, water, shed from the heat and light by night, but they were never contented. However, God’s promise of rest is not found in our material possessions, but spiritual rest in the peace, joy and righteousness of the Holy Spirit. Many people developed a pattern of complaining all the time; they are never satisfied or fulfilled no matter how blessed they are.
Once, a friend of mine kept complaining that he never had a job. But once he got a job, he again complained that he never had a car. But once he got a car, he whined that he never had a girlfriend. But once he got married, he complained about his wife and the lack of progress in his career. One day, in a bid to move forward quickly, he made a rash decision that left him broke. My friend’s bid to enter into rest did not materialize because he did know believe that rest can only be obtained by faith. When we walk in faith aided by the Spirit, God gives us immediate rest regardless of our circumstances.
If we put our focus in walking in obedience and be filled with the Spirit daily, we will find true rest. Many became disillusioned in the pursuit of material possessions supposing riches may bring them security and rest. However, Proverbs 10:22 says, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.” There are those who possess much wealth but were restless, and frequently pierced by many sorrows and infirmities. Material things sustain our physical body, but they do not contribute to our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Many supposed by their wealth, they could command respect from people but they later realized that people are more envious of their fortunes than being respectful. Emotional and spiritual wellbeing come from relationship with God and with a gracious community. Despite the abundance in the material world with its natural resources, men could not find rest in it. Joshua conquered much land, but Israel still could not find enduring peace and prosperity in it. However, if we have faith in God and walk in the Spirit by obeying His instructions, we will find true rest.
True rest comes from the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is food for abundant living. A person filled with the Spirit will produce in him love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Abundant life starts from man’s inner world and works itself outward into his body and eventually into his environment. In other words, a Spirit-filled person will be healthy, and he will also have sufficient to provide for himself as well as for others. Therefore, the believer must above all find true rest and freedom in his inner world. The source of rest is in the truth of the Word and the Spirit. By meditating on the Word, he derives truth and wisdom for living. In fellowshipping and communion with the Spirit, he derives the fruit of the Spirit to impact the world around him. The text says, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” Sabbath rest involves communing with God in the context of a godly community. Communion with God as a community is a prerequisite to Sabbath rest.
There is a final rest of glory and honor that comes from accomplishing our divine calling. Our daily rest in the Spirit must eventually lead us to that final rest in heaven. Many churchgoers were preoccupied with the festivities and celebrations of the Spirit supposing that as the ultimate purpose of the Christian life; they supposed the chief goal of life is to enjoy God and live off the goodness of the land. However, there remains a divine calling every believer must accomplish in his lifetime. Christ’s life goal is to offer Himself as a sacrifice at the cross. Paul’s life goal is to go to Jerusalem to preach the gospel and be martyred there. Therefore, every believer must seek to understand God’s calling for him and to accomplish it so that he may enter into that final rest – glory and honor in heaven. The text defines this final rest as one who has completed his works: For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested (ceased) from his works. The Christian life is likened to a train system with interconnected networks. The believer’s life purpose is to get from where he is to his final destination. Some may dance along the ride being preoccupied with singing and some may be indulging in less joyous activities. What is important is for each individual to get to his destination regardless of what he does while in the train; he must make the right decisions in navigating the system and not be distracted or sidetracked while en route.
- Are you accustomed to solving problems in a bid to obtain peace? The peace of the Spirit cannot be influenced or affected by external circumstances. There is rest when you hear God’s instructions and walk in it. Therefore, we must spend more time discerning God’s voice being filled with His Spirit, and less time thinking of solutions to solve our problems.
- Are you busy enjoying the good things in life or are you occupied with building God’s kingdom of the future? Although it is hypothetically possible to build God’s kingdom and at the same time enjoy life. But if we must make a choice, which would you choose? As evident in Christ’s life, we must be prepared to make sacrifices in order to accomplish our calling.
Dear Lord, I endeavor to live a life that is like Christ’s. Impress upon me deeply my calling and life direction on a moment-by-moment basis. Amidst my problems, help me to find rest, peace and assurance through your Word and in your Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.