Correspondence: Understanding Hebrews 4:1-2

Hebrews 4:1‑2  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Question: How are we to understand Hebrews 4:1, 2, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it”? M. J.
Answer: The subject in Hebrews 3:7-4:11 is the rest of God, and who will enter into it. This rest is future. It is not like Matthew 11:28-30, which presents two different kinds of rest, namely: 1. The laboring and heavy-laden ones are invited to come to Jesus, and He says, “I will give you rest.” Here the soul ceases to labor, for the finished work is complete that puts away the heavy burden, and gives present rest. The Lord Jesus gives the rest to those who come to Him, and He gives also the knowledge of the Father. Those who come and trust in the Saviour are God’s children.
“Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Here we find that the second rest is walking in the steps of Jesus, doing the Father’s will. It is only on these conditions that we can enjoy it, and this rest is also for the present.
The rest in Hebrews is future. Notice, it is His rest—God’s rest. These Hebrews were professing Christians (3:1), but no one could say they were all real. They are looked at in the wilderness, and if they hold fast their confidence steadfast unto the end, that will prove their reality (3:6, 14).
We see in John’s Gospel that if they have eternal life, they cannot lose it (John 5:24). So to warn them and stir them up from settling down into the world as if this were their rest, the Apostle gives such verses as Hebrews 3:7, 8, 12; 4:1, 2, 11 and Israel’s example of unbelief.
A Christian might get so far down as to say, “I am no Christian,” but could a Christian say, “Jesus is no Saviour”?
Moses, Joshua and David did not bring them into the rest; this is proved by the quotations. And as Israel’s faith was tested, so theirs would be, and they are told to labor to enter into that rest, lest any man, fall after the same example of unbelief (ver. 11). It is not laboring to save themselves, but it is laboring in fellowship with God against the evils of an ungodly world. It is only the real believers who shall enter that rest, and the Apostle had confidence that they were real (6:9).
God’s rest looks forward to the eternal state when
“All taint of sin shall be removed,
All evil done away;
And we shall dwell with God’s Beloved,
Through God’s eternal day.”
Paul and all the saints who have died, have entered into their own rest, as God did into His when He finished creation, but the rest of God has not come yet. Such verses as 1 Corinthians 15:24, 28; Hebrews 12:26, 27; 2 Peter 3:12, 13; Revelation 21:1-4, allude to that time.
Again we notice that each epistle has its own view point and line of teaching. In Hebrews we are passing through the wilderness, and it is profession that is considered. Only the real believers will enter into the rest of God.
“A blessed rest remains for us, in which our hearts will repose in the presence of God, where nothing will trouble the perfection of our rest; where God will rest in the perfection of the blessing He has bestowed on His people” (Synopsis).