Although we cannot be together please take time to discuss these questions as a family and/or with a group of people. We would encourage you to discuss in groups through the use of video chat. It is important that we continue to have fellowship especially during a time like this.
1) Are you sure you will enter into the rest of heaven? Why or why not?
2) How does this passage change the way you read the Old Testament story of Israel? Can you see how the Old Testament is relevant to you today?
3) How does Hebrews 4 help you see that effort and striving are good and necessary parts of the Christian life? In what ways can you fight for your faith today?
Scripture: Hebrews 4:1-11
I. What is the rest God offers to His people?
A. Originally, God’s promised rest referred to the Promised Land of Canaan. In Hebrews 4:7-11, the author quotes from King David’s words in Psalm 95:7-11. And in Psalm 95 David was giving a history lesson. The lesson was from the days of the great Jewish heroes Moses and Joshua. God judged rebellious Israelites for their hardened hearts (verse 7), and they were not allowed to enter the good Promised Land of Canaan. This Promised Land of Canaan is a picture of the ultimate Promised Land and of the ultimate rest that Jesus could provide: heaven.
B. The rest that the writer of Hebrews is referring to in Heb. 4:1 is obviously not the Promised Land of Canaan. It must be a different rest that he wants his Christian readers to enter. And it is in fact a greater rest that he is offering to his readers. This greater rest is revealed in verse 8: “if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.” If you want to enter into the Promised Land of heaven, you need a second Joshua to lead you there. You need Jesus. The Hebrew name Joshua in Greek is Jesus. Jesus then is the greater Joshua.
II. What is this rest like?
A. This is another way of asking, “What is heaven going to be like?” Heaven is going to be joining God in His heavenly Sabbath. We read in Hebrews 4:4: “For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.’” God rested from His work in the sense that He was finished with the work of creation. The work of creation was done. So, God rested from His work. In the same way that God has rested from His work, when we join God in heaven we also will rest from our work. Look at verse 9-10.
B. When we get to heaven, we will rest from the trials of this life here on earth. There will be no more pain in heaven. There will be only joy. Revelation 21:3-4: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”
III. How do we enter this rest?
A. This is the most important question you could ever ask yourself, “How do I enter into the rest of heaven?” The first answer might surprise you. Fear. See verse 1. The people in Moses’ and Joshua’s day heard the good news about the Promised Land (vs. 6). But they disobeyed God and did not enter. Be afraid that the same thing might happen to you. The second answer of how we enter into the rest of heaven is through faith (vs. 2-3). You need faith that Jesus died for you. The third answer of how to make sure that we will enter into the rest of heaven is to fight. Verse 11: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Striving involves energy and effort. We know that we are not saved by our good works but only by the work of Jesus on the cross. That is entirely true. But although we are not saved by our efforts, the Christian life still involves effort.
Application: Keep your eyes on the finish line of the rest of heaven when you get weary.
Sources: The letter to the Hebrews Commentaries on Hebrews by Thomas Schreiner and Raymond Brown Bible study by Michael Kruger