Hebrews 4:3-5 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Hebrews 4:3
  • Hebrews 4:4
  • Hebrews 4:5

Faith and obedience will allow us to enter God’s rest. God rested on the seventh day when he finished His works, this is a picture of our opportunity.

Paul is not asking his audience to place their initial faith in God that results in justification in His presence, he is asking that they persevere and continue having faith in God in their daily walk. We initially place our faith in God and are justified in His presence (saved from Hell to Heaven) and then we have the opportunity to continue placing our faith in God daily, and be saved from our sin nature, which leads to obedience.

When we begin to trust God for our justification, it does not mean we will automatically continue being obedient. Having faith and being obedient requires us to choose to do so. Paul quotes Psalm 95, which says God swore that those who do not continue in faith will not enter His rest. This rest refers to our inheritance believers. On the seventh day of creation, after God was done with all of his work, he rested. He rested because the works were finished [after] the foundation of the world. In order for us to receive the promised inheritance we who have believed enter that rest and must work in faith until the job is finished. Paul has clearly lived an obedient life since he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, but includes himself as not having finished his work. Believers’ work is finished whenever God decides to take us home to be with him. Until then we are to continue to walk in faith and obedience.

Our opportunity to rest refers to our chance to receive our inheritance when we complete the work God gave us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says that God actually prepared specific works for us to walk in, even before we were born. Each one of us has a different job assigned, and God promises an amazing reward if we will walk in the works He prepared for us. The Israelites of the Old Testament’s completed job, their rest, was to enter and possess the Promised Land. The first generation missed out on this reward because they did not have faith in God’s promise (3:16-19) and chose to focus on the difficulties rather than believe in God’s provision. Our rest is the opportunity to receive a heavenly inheritance, which we can also miss out on if we lack faith in God’s promises and refuse to face the difficulties of life with obedience.

Paul compares God’s rest on the seventh day to the opportunity we have to rest. God rested on the seventh day after He had completed His work (Genesis 2:2). Similarly, once we complete our works (our time on earth) as a faithful servant of God, we can then enter God’s rest. The first generation of Israelites did not finish their works, they gave up on entering the Promised Land and as a result did not gain or posses their inheritance, God swore that they would not enter His rest. If we do not persevere until our assigned job is completed, we will also lose our rest (inheritance).

Biblical Text:
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.”

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