Reading through the Bible together
Hebrews 4 contains two exhortations for us, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” (v. 11) and “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace…” (4:16).
True rest is something difficult for us to attain. It implies at least two things: (1) that the work has been done and (2) that we have made perfect provision for the future. While it is true that we may take some days off from work or some vacations in order to “rest,” who of us can really say that he has finished his work and has made perfect provision? This is why God does not invite us simply to rest, but to enter His rest (4:1–11). It is a rest of grace where we enjoy freely something that belongs only to God.
Verses 1–5 argue that Israel did not enter that rest when they entered Canaan because the true rest can be entered only through faith. It refers not to a land but to the rest God entered at creation Sabbath when he finished his work and made perfect provision for us.
Verses 6–11 argue that this rest is available today through faith. Verse 9 describes it as a Sabbath rest because every Sabbath through faith God’s perfect work and perfect provision for us becomes ours. We did not work for it. We did not gain it. It is a rest of grace accepted through faith.
Verses 14–16 invite us to approach God at the heavenly sanctuary. This is not a second invitation but the same as in the previous verses because in the Old Testament the temple is also called God’s rest (2 Chr 6:41; Isa 66:1; Ps 95). Yes, when we worship God, we leave behind our half-finished jobs and, at best, our partial provisions for the future and enter God’s perfect work and perfect provision through faith. It is, again, a rest of grace.
We don’t need to wait until next Sabbath to enter that rest. The rest of grace is available “today,” through faith, to those who believe and fully trust in Him.
Felix H. Cortez
Andrews University Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary