A Better Rest in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:7–4:11)

The first eleven verses of Hebrews 4 are about a new and better kind of rest that God gives those who believe Him, who take Him at his word, and who have the kind of faith it takes to enjoy God';s salvation. This passage is a continuation of the latter parts of Hebrews 3, which recount the tragedy of the deaths of untold thousands of Israelites in the desert outside the Promised Land of Canaan. They died there, the writer tells us, because they “rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice” (Hebrews 3:16). In this passage, the Hebrew believers are warned and encouraged to continue on in their faith so that they could enter into a much better rest even than the one the people of Israel missed out on because of their unbelief and rebellion. (See Chapter 6.)

When the writer of Hebrews wrote, “So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,';” he was quoting Psalm 95:11, which refers to the generation of Israelites who, because of their unbelief and rebellion, died in the wilderness without seeing the Promised Land.

Hebrews 4:1–2 says, “God';s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news — that God has prepared this rest — has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn';t share the faith of those who listened to God.” But there is one condition for entering into this rest, the better rest in Jesus Christ: We have to believe! (Hebrews 4:3).

The writer of Hebrews tells us, “So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God';s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world” (Hebrews 4:9–10). This is a different rest, a better rest, because it is an everlasting rest. It is the rest Jesus gives us that allows us to cease from all work when it comes to earning our salvation, and it is the rest we have in knowing that we don';t need to rely on our own strength to live the lives God wants us to live.

Study Questions

What does the writer of Hebrews tell us is God';s reaction to unbelief?

What is the condition we must meet before we can enter into and enjoy God';s perfect rest?

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