Today‟s Text Hebrews 4:1-13
Picking up where we left off last week, the author continues his discussion of that rest which the
people of Israel largely did not enter because of their disbelief. In this section, our author expands this
thought by explaining that receiving good news is simply not enough; we must combine it with enough
faith to live out what we have received. Not to do so will result in our deaths in the desert.
4:1-2 Verse 1 introduces a new thought to the discourse from the previous chapter by bringing to our
attention that the eternal rest lost to all but two of the Israelites who were saved out of Egypt is still
available to us. This thought will be more fully developed beginning in verse three. The second part of
this verse contains an interesting turn of phrase that continues the warning found in the previous chapter.
The word that the NIV renders “be carful” is phobeo from which our English word “phobia” comes. As
you know a person having a “phobia” is someone who holds something in great fear, and the Greek word
means “to fear”. It is odd that the NIV here translates it as “be careful” for the one and only time. Thus,
we can conclude that the author is telling us that we should fear falling short of the rest! Verse two goes
on the reveal that we as well as the Israelites have received the “gospel”… interesting. The Greek word
translated here is not the usual word for Gospel, but rather it is literally good news; in this case the good
news of God‟s rest. They had the news, in fact it derives from God‟s promise to Abraham that though
him all nations would be blessed, and since the people in the desert were aware of this, they had the
good news… as do we. The difference (hopefully) is that they had received the news but had not
accompanied it with the requisite faith to faithfully follow God.
4:3 We, like the Israelites are in the process of entering into God‟s rest. Also like the Israelites, we
are expected to remain faithful to God until the very end; then rest. You may recall from our study of the
second that our entrance into that rest is completed by the process of death, burial and resurrection, just
like that of Christ. Consequently, we must not fall away.
4:5-7 It really starts to get interesting here. The author continues to discuss the illustration from Psalm
95, going all the way back to Genesis to show where this rest began: God completed all of His work and
then rested… this is the rest we are to enter. Please take notice that when God rested on the seventh
day, He was not doing so because of any law, but rather it was because His work was finished. This is
to say that He had completed His purpose of creating Man in His image… and entering into fellowship
(relationship + purpose) with him. God‟s eternal rest is the culmination of fellowship with Man. Israel fell
short, will we? Verse seven nails this point down. Quoting again from Psalm 95, the author points out
that centuries after the episode in the desert, through David, God made quite clear that the offer of rest
was still open
4:8-11 Verse 8 documents that entering the Land was not the rest! Entering the Land was a mere
shadow of the full reality which came through Jesus Christ; it is clearly not the Land Promise. We then go
on to repeat that there is still a Sabbath rest for the people of God, but it is clearly not the shadow of the
Old Testament Sabbath, but rather it is the reality of the grace of Christ and our hope for eternal life.
4:12-13 Verse 12 should be committed to memory. These verses reinforce the idea that we need
to be fearful of missing out on God‟s rest. You cannot fool God! You may convince me that you are a
great, devoted and selfless Christian… but God knows your heart and sees you in secret: there is no
fooling Him. We must devote ourselves to be His fervent and sincere disciples, willing to give everything
in His service, and serving in a manner pleasing to Him. Unbelief and rebellion is out of the question