Many people want to know God’s blessings in life. Many people want to find true life and joy. But far too few are willing to put their trust in God in order to obtain these things.
And that’s the problem that the writer of Hebrews addresses in this chapter. He talks about a day of “rest” that comes from God. And there’s a three-fold meaning to that. One is the rest of no longer trying to work to gain our salvation, and simply putting our faith in Christ.
The writer says in chapter 4,
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. (9-10)
Here we see the true meaning of the Sabbath day as pictured in the Old Testament. God gave the Jews a picture of the true joy and contentment that comes from trusting in him. Once a week, they would not work or labor, trusting God to provide for their needs. And in doing so, they found rest and peace from all their labor.
In the same way, when we put our trust in God and Christ’s work on the cross, we find rest from all our efforts to save ourselves and we find peace with God.
Secondly, we find peace and rest in our daily lives. Though we may have troubles, because we trust in God, we don’t panic or live in anxiety. Rather, we rest in the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension. (Philippians 4:7)
And finally, the day will come when we will truly rest. All the struggles and trials of life will be over and we will see Jesus face to face.
This was a rest that another “Jesus” couldn’t provide. It may surprise you to know that Jesus and Joshua are the same name in Greek. And while most modern Bibles translate Hebrews 4:8 “Joshua”, the name is exactly the same one used for “Jesus.” The translators used “Joshua” to avoid confusion.
What did Joshua do? He provided rest in the sense that he brought the people into the land God promised them. But their rest was never complete there. Why? Because they failed to trust God. When things got tough in their battles against the inhabitants there, they gave up and settled for what they had conquered.
And so for the Jews and for all people today, there remains a day of rest that will come only when we fully put our trust in God.
But as I mentioned before, the problem is too few do. We see this all the way back in Egypt where the Israelite slaves labored for years. They longed for rest. They longed for salvation. They longed for true joy and life.
Moses promised that God would give it to them, and they followed him. But from the very beginning, you could see that they were lacking in faith. You see it when Pharaoh made them work harder because of his confrontation with Moses. You see it at the Red Sea when they were trapped by Pharaoh’s army. You see it in the desert when they longed for food and water. And you see it when they refused to enter the land God had promised because they feared the inhabitants.
They said they wanted life and joy. They said they wanted rest and the blessings of God. But ultimately, they never believed. As a result, they never did enter the land. They all died in the desert. It was their children that entered, and again, even their children never entered into true rest because of their unbelief.
That’s what the writer of Hebrews was warning against. There were many Jews among his readers that heard the message of the gospel, and like the Israelites coming out of Egypt, were drawn by it. But they never really believed and fell away. (4:2) And the writer warns them time and again, “Don’t be like them. If you do, will never enter God’s rest. You’ll never find true life.” (4:11)
How about you? Do you want to find life and joy. Do you want to know God’s blessing in your life? Then you need to trust God and his Word. It is God’s word that will test where your heart really is, and if you truly trust God. And it is by his word that God will judge you. (4:12-13)
What will he find when he does?