STUDY Hebrews 4:1-11
(click here for notes)
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value ot them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
"So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' "
And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."
It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:
"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (NIV)
Promise of Rest Still Stands
The author of Hebrews has just warned the Hebrew Christians against unbelief by reminding them of the Israelites' rebellion in the desert and of the psalmist's warning to the nation of Israel. He has pointed out that ancient Israel did not enter their promised rest because of disobedience and unbelief, and he reminds them that Today is still the day of grace and opportunity to believe. "Therefore," he says in v. 4:1, "since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it."
1. What was the rest God promised to the Israelites when they entered the Promised Land? (see Joshua 1:13; Deut. 3:20; 2 Sam. 7:1,11; 2 Kings 5:4)
2. What will our lives look like if we fall short of God's rest? (Hebrews 12:15; 3:12; Gal. 5:4; Romans 3:28; 2 Peter 3:17; Deut. 29:18)
3. What must we do to enter God's rest? (1 Thess. 2:13; Deut. 1:34,35)
Hebrews 4:3 continues with this enigmatic statement, "And yet his work had been finished since the creation of the world."
1. What work of God was finished at the creation of the world? (Gen. 2:2,3; Rev. 13:8; 17:8)
2. When God says throughout the Bible (Deut. 1:34,35; Psalm 95:11; Hebrews 3:11; 4:3) "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest,' " about whom and about what rest is he talking? (see Hebrews 3:18,19)
"Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Todayas was said before: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts' "
1. How did God initially mark the completion of his work? (v. 4; Gen. 2:2,3; Ex. 20:11)
2. When did God first require a Sabbath rest as part of a covenant obligation for his people? (Nehemiah 9:13,14; Ex. 20:8-11)
3. What is significant about the fact that God talks about unbelievers by saying, "They shall never enter MY rest" instead of "They shall never enter THEIR rest"?
4. What did Jesus say about entering rest? (Matthew 11:28; Ex. 33:14; John 7:37)
"Sabbath" is a word derived from Hebrew meaning "to desist" or "to cease".
1. Many of us were taught that the Sabbath was a memorial of creation. In light of Genesis 2:2,3; Rev. 13:8, and Rev. 17:8 (see above), what was God really asking the Israelites to honor when he gave them the fourth commandment?
2. How is Jesus the source of God's rest? (Matt. 11:28; 26:28; Hebrews 10:11-14)
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests form his own work, just as God did from his," say verses 9 and 10.
1. How do we enter God's Sabbath-rest? (see verses 2,3,7)
2. From what work do we rest when we enter God's rest? (see Rev. 14:13; Zec. 4:6; Eph. 2:8-10; Gal. 2:15,16; 3:2, 10)
3. How does living after Jesus' death and resurrection enable us to enter God's Sabbath rest more completely than the Israelites could? (Hebrews 10:8-18; John 7:37-39; Acts 1:4,5; 2:1-4; John 17:20-26)
4. Verse 11 warns us against failing to enter God's rest because of disobedience. What disobedience would keep us from that rest?
1. How has your understanding of Sabbath rest changed?
2. Has Sabbath rest changed or affected your life? How?
3. How does your experience of Sabbath clash with that of other Christians?
4. Has Sabbath rest put you at odds with those you love? How?
1. Have you entered God's rest?
2. Are there certain "pockets" or areas in your life which are not "at rest" which God is trying to bring to your attention?
3. What deep wound or resentment have you walled of in a secret place of your heart where it has been unable to experience the healing of God's salvation grace?
4. What memory or reality do you fear to face directly because of the possible pain or loss that might result?
5. Ask God to show you what you need to know and remember. Ask him to heal those split-off, damaged places inside you with his love and his rest. As him to integrate those healed places into your life so you can live fully in the peace and rest of his completed salvation.
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised November 26, 2000.