Before we quote this portion, it is good to know that it is vitally connected with Hebrews 3:7-19 where Israel’s journey to the Promised Land is mentioned. God promised His people “rest” in Canaan and yet many died in the wilderness instead of entering into God’s rest in Canaan. Why? Verses 18-19 provide the answer, “And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Now let’s look briefly at our portion, using the New American Standard Bible in our meditations.

Hebrews 4:1-2 reads, “Therefore let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 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.” Israel had the “good news” of REST in the land of Canaan preached to them and the majority didn’t profit from it because they did NOT believe it. Today there is a promise in the gospel of Jesus Christ of entering into God’s “eternal REST in heaven,” but those who do NOT believe will never enter in.

Verse 3 goes on to say, “For we who have believed enter that rest.”  Is this not plain and simple? Only believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ will enter God’s eternal rest. As one has said, “Faith is the key that opens the door.”

Verses 4-5 states, “For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest’.” The thought in this passage seems to be that God Himself “rested” after His work of creation was completed BUT that is NOT the “rest” into which we will enter for THAT REST was marred by sin.

Verses 6-8 tell us, “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, 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.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.” These are, perhaps, the most difficult verses in our portion. I believe they are meant to show us that even after Israel failed, in the wilderness, to enter God’s rest because of unbelief, God still offered His people rest in the days of King David. One might say, “But didn’t some enter into the land with Joshua and as a result enter into God’s rest?” No, “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day.” They DID enter into the land, but they NOT enter into rest! Think of the conflict and sufferings they experienced in Canaan; this was NOT the “rest” God had in mind for them.

Verse 9 states emphatically, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” This is the REAL REST that God intends for ALL HIS PEOPLE. It is His “eternal rest” that all His blood-bought saints, whether on earth or in heaven, will enjoy. Because sin will be absent then, nothing will disturb this blessed REST. God and man will share in it forever and ever!

Verse 10 adds another thought, “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” When we enter God’s rest, ALL OUR LABORS WILL CEASE! We saw that God rested from His labors on the Sabbath Day; we will rest from ours too.

Verse 11 reminds us, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Make sure you are not like the Israelites who failed to enter in because of unbelief, which is “disobeying the gospel” that God commands you to believe.  (182.6)  (DO)