“Pursuing God’s Rest” (Hebrews 4:1-13)

by Jan 3, 2021Sermons0 comments

This morning we’re returning to our study in the book of Hebrews and we’ll be considering Hebrews 4:1-13. So, if you if you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with me to that passage right now. Hear now the word of the Lord from Hebrews 4:1-13 as always, I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version.

4 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, 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 somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:1-13, ESV

This is the word of the Lord. For many of us, and I would suspect for many of our neighbors, we tend to have an uneasy relationship I think with rest. Statistically there was a study that was conducted a few years ago that found 55 percent of Americans, more than half, didn’t take advantage of all of the paid time off they could have used in a given year. That amounted to something like 65 and a half billion dollars effectively left on the table when the whole pot of unused time off was considered together among Americans. Then in another separate study on another rest related issue, it was found that 36 percent of Americans just don’t get enough sleep in a given night.

Now, leaving aside the variety of reasons that probably account for those two statistics, it would seem that statistically speaking rest is elusive for many Americans. Statistics aside, I know that many of us have experienced that rest problem too, even if we’re among the minority of those in America who happen to use all of our paid time off in a given year. How many of us have returned from a week off or a week of vacation if only to remark or at least think in our minds, “Boy I need a vacation from that vacation?” How many of us, even if we take physical time away from work, just can’t seem to shake the demands of work even if those demands are only self-imposed demands? Where we just can’t seem to shut off our minds from thinking about work. I’m sure many of us can agree then based on our own experience that rest is very often elusive.

In the Bible we find that, particularly among the wilderness generation, rest was elusive for them too. Recall that after God delivered his people out of slavery and captivity in Egypt, all the way back in the book of Exodus, he held out for them the promise of rest in Canaan. Yet as we saw last week, and we’re reminded, that promise of rest eluded so many among the wilderness generation because of unbelief. In the words of Hebrews 3:19, they, the wilderness generation, were largely unable to enter into God’s rest in Canaan because of unbelief.

If you remember last week that the vast majority of those who left Egypt and started out. Well, 602,548 eventually fell dead in the desert. They didn’t reach God’s promised rest in Canaan and the reason for that was because of their sin, rebellion, and hardness of heart. For them that promised rest in Canaan was ultimately elusive.

For us this historical example of the wilderness generation, an example that we find pronounced in the book of Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers, is once again the basis for our author’s appeal to you and me to not let God’s promised rest elude us. To even as many of us find, I think, rest to be such an elusive concept in our own lives, more elusive than we’d like.

The exhortation of our passage is, don’t miss out on God’s better rest, the rest that’s held out for us in Jesus Christ. Instead aim for that better rest, labor for that better rest, pursue above all the various kinds of rest that we could pursue in our lives, God’s rest.

That’s our big idea this morning. Pursue God’s rest above every other kind of rest that we could pursue in this life, pursue God’s rest. To give us a roadmap for where we’re going three points.

1. A Parallel Predicament
2. A Promised Rest
3. A Powerful Word

A Parallel Predicament

First, a parallel predicament. Now you may remember, if you were with us last week, that that when we studied Hebrews 3:7-19, the passage that precedes the one we’re looking at this morning. We saw how our situation in the New Covenant church, at several points, parallels that of the wilderness generation.

The wilderness generation, I’ve used that term a number of times and if you weren’t with us, to remind us of what the wilderness generation was, the wilderness generation were those people of Israel that God delivered out of Egypt, led into the wilderness, but because of their sin and rebellion died in the wilderness. For 40 years they spent time in the wilderness before the second generation was able to enter into the Land of Promise.

We mentioned last week that at several points our situation parallels their situation. So, what are some of those parallels? To remind us well for one thing, just as the wilderness generation was in the wilderness, so too we talked about last week how the Christian life is often imaged in the Scripture as a wilderness sojourn or pilgrimage too, where we’re making our way towards our celestial homeland in Jesus Christ.

Additionally, just as the wilderness generation was hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, well so too we can be deceived in our own sin. Just as the wilderness generation anticipated a future rest in the land of promise, so too we in the New Covenant church anticipate a future heavenly rest. We’ll talk about the character of that future heavenly rest in our second point.

So, with some of these parallels between us and them in mind, when we come to verse 2 in our passage, we learn of yet one more parallel between their situation and ours. In verse 2 we read,

2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. Hebrews 4:2, ESV

Now literally the Greek tells us that they in the Old Covenant were gospelized, they were evangelized. That’s the Greek word behind good news. Just as they had been gospelized in their context, so too we have been gospelized. We’ve heard the good news of the gospel in our own context too. To qualify that statement for a moment, the comparison here between them and us as it relates to what we have heard doesn’t imply that the message we’ve heard is identical in every respect. After all the wilderness generation, for them Jesus Christ hadn’t come at that point, he was only held out for them in promises, and prophecies, and sacrifices, and especially in the blood of the sacrificial lamb that was spread on the lintel and doorposts of their homes back in Egypt on the night on which they made their great trek out of Egypt into the wilderness.

All of those means were instituted in the Old Covenant church to build up the faith of the wilderness generation in the promised messiah to come. Yet for us in the New Covenant we see not the promised Christ or the prophesied Christ, and the elaborate trappings of the Old Covenant bloody sacrificial system. We look upon the resurrected and ascended Christ in the simple and ordinary means like the preached word and in sacraments, things like bread and wine.

While the church of the Old Testament, including the wilderness generation, then looked forward to Christ crucified, we look back upon Christ crucified who’s now resurrected and ascended and reigning in the heavenly places. Yet even with these important distinctions in view, our author can still say as he tells us in verse 2, that both of us received the good news.

Good news came to them and good news has come to us. Just as they had the responsibility in light of what they heard to respond in faith, well so too that’s our responsibility to what we’ve heard, to respond in faith. However, here’s the problem, the wilderness generation, as we learned last week, they heard the good news in many ways and in many forms. Yet according to verse 2, the message they heard did not benefit them because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

Now this is admittedly somewhat of an oddly worded verse, but what it probably has in view is the failure among most within the wilderness generation to respond to God’s word with the same faith that other people in the wilderness generation responded to God’s word, with people like Joshua and Caleb.

In other words, it’s not only that the majority of the wilderness generation disbelieved and disobeyed God’s word, that was in itself bad enough, but it’s also that they disbelieved and disobeyed God’s word. In a context where there were in fact some, a few mind you, but some who exercise genuine saving and justifying faith.

Bear in mind that all the wilderness generation all 602,548, who came out of Egypt in the original exodus, all of them received the exact same benefits. All of them experienced the great deliverance out of Egypt, all of them participated in the covenant ratifying ceremony at Mount Sinai in Exodus 20. They all receive the miraculous provisions of bread and water along the way.

Yet the majority of those in the wilderness generation who received all of these gracious things were you not united in faith with those among the covenant community who actually did respond in faith. For the author of Hebrews, this predicament among the wilderness generation is an example and more than that it’s a warning to you and me.

Again, among the wilderness generation there were members of the covenant community, people like Joshua and Caleb and later people like Phineas. Those who trusted in the Lord, who leaned on his promises, and who weren’t continually looking back towards Egypt for what they lacked in the wilderness but were instead looking forward to the promised rest in Canaan.

Yet among the wheat, to borrow language from Jesus’s parable, among the wheat of people like Joshua, Caleb and the like were also plenty of weeds. People who may have received the same external benefits, but who didn’t share in the same faith.

Unfortunately, brothers and sisters, the same predicament hangs over the church today. Know that there are great advantages in being part of the body and hearing the word preached and partaking of bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper and partaking of fellowship as well. Yet if we’re really not united with those in the church by a true and vibrant, living, justifying faith in the promises of God, well then, we’ll find ourselves in the same position as the more than six hundred thousand found themselves who ended up dead in the wilderness and failed to enter God’s rest.

In short, this is a warning not to allow external church membership, as beneficial and as critical and as indispensable as that is, prevent us from responding individually and personally to what you have heard in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In my church experience, and nearly every church I’ve been in, there have always been people in the church whose ministries and whose lives have been exemplary. People who I’ve really come to admire in a whole number of ways, and I’m sure the same can be said of you too. As we admire the various ministries and lives of godly people in the church, do we also share in the same faith that animates their lives and ministries? Do you respond to what you’ve heard in the same way that those people who you admire in the church are responding to what they’re hearing? Friends, the way we respond to the good news that we’ve heard individually and personally determines whether or not we’ll also enjoy the promised future rest held out for us in Jesus Christ.

Now that our author has pressed each of us individually and personally in this covenant community to respond by faith to what we’ve heard, then he next moves on and tells us a little bit about the promised future rest that will one day enjoy should we respond to faith in the present and persevere by faith along the way.

A Promised Rest

Now notice that when we turn to the end of verse three, our author begins to unpack for us the character of this promised rest that we anticipate in the Christian life. It’s a promised rest that awaits all of those who respond in faith to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, if the promise of entering God’s rest is a promise that still stands today, according to verse one that means it’s still a promise that awaits ultimate fulfillment and realization in our lives.

Well, the obvious implication then is that this rest our promised rest has to be something different than a physical plot of land somewhere in Canaan. After all Joshua led the second generation of Israelites into Canaan after 40 years and after the first generation fell dead in the wilderness. So, the promise of entering into Canaan had already been fulfilled well in advance of when Hebrews was written in the first century A.D. So, the rest we anticipate, if this is a promise that still stands today, has to be something different than that, something different than a physical plot of land somewhere in the Middle East.

Yet the first thing that we read about this rest in verse 3 may initially appear to have little or nothing to do with the rest that we look forward to because our author begins to describe for us the rest that God himself entered into after creation. Notice in verses three through four that our author briefly transitions, and he looks back to the book of Genesis.

Specifically, he looks back to Genesis 2:2, where we learn that after God created the world in six days and said it was very good, then on the seventh day he rested from all the work that he had done. God completed all he had to complete in creation. There was no work of creation undone that had to be done, and so as a result God rested.

I’m sure many of you know that creation account and what’s articulated for us there. Yet the question that remains then is what does God’s rest, important as it is, have anything to do with our rest, our promised rest?

Well notice in verses 8, we learn some of the answers of this. We learn that this rest, God’s rest, is important because God’s Sabbath rest was ultimately the rest that the people of Israel in the Old Testament anticipated too. In other words, though the wilderness generation looked forward to the promise of rest in the land of Canaan, that was never meant to be the final answer. We see this explicitly in verse 8 where we read,

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. Hebrews 4:8, ESV

Now the implication of that is that Joshua had in fact not given them rest. Yes of course it’s true that he may have led the people of Israel into the land of Canaan ,but Canaan was never meant to be the final resting place for the people of Israel. They may have built houses and eventually built a temple in Canaan, but Canaan was always just a picture or a type of a future better heavenly rest with God.

This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, if it did, to any of the readers of Hebrews in the first century A.D. Nor should this come as a surprise to us. Guess what, the patriarchs, people like Abraham and Isaac and Jacob all the way back in the beginning of Genesis, they understood this too. In fact, later in Hebrews chapter 11 our author is going to tell us that the patriarchs didn’t look forward to an earthly country or an earthly city to be the final answer. No, instead we learned in Hebrews 11 they were looking forward, through and through, to a heavenly city.

They were looking forward to something far greater than just a plot of land somewhere, they looked forward to participating one day at the end of the age in God’s Sabbath rest. The rest that God has been in ever since the creation of the world. They looked forward to participating in that one day themselves. Friends this is the promised rest that we anticipate too. It’s a rest from all the toil and burdens that we carry with us in our wilderness sojourn and this life under the sun. It’s a rest that’s permanent and eternal. It’s a Sabbath rest where we join in with God to do what we were created and designed to do, that is worship the Lord in communion and perfect fellowship for all eternity.

This is a rest, a promised rest, that’s made possible for us to one day enter into because of Jesus Christ our Lord, who when he ascended on high, entered into that Sabbath rest too. Notice again in verse 8 we read explicitly that Joshua he was unable to give the people of Israel this kind of rest, and yet Joshua’s namesake Jesus Christ does. Understand that in the New Testament the name Jesus, when we encounter it, is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew name for Joshua.

When we read in verse 8 the name Joshua, if we were to take a look at the Greek underneath this, we would see that actually this is the same Greek name that everywhere else in the New Testament is translated as Jesus. I even think the King James Version translates this in verse 8 as Jesus not Joshua. I don’t think the King James Version is right on that point, but all of that illustrates the fact that when we read about the historical Joshua and all about what he did, well we can’t help but also think about Jesus Christ. There’s a tight connection between those names where as soon as we start talking about Joshua, we can’t help but think about the better Joshua, Jesus Christ. After all, while Joshua couldn’t deliver his people the rest that they really desired, the rest that they really need.

Well, Jesus Christ gives us a taste of that rest today. Bear in mind in the Gospel of John, what were Jesus’ final words as he hung on the cross getting ready to die? Well, he declared it is finished and, in that declaration, Jesus signaled that all the work necessary for our redemption was finished, just as God finished all the work necessary for creation and rested. Jesus finished 2000 years ago all the work necessary for our redemption and then 40 days later he entered into God’s Sabbath rest, the same Sabbath rest that we look forward to. He entered into it so that we could one day follow in his reign.

Our hope of an eternal heavenly rest is bound up through and through in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Such that even today when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, Jesus himself promises that we will find rest for our souls in Christ. Only through faith in Christ do we find relief from the burden of the guilt of our sin, as that sin is placed upon Jesus and we receive in turn his perfect record of righteousness. So, when God looks upon us, he would see Jesus Christ and we would live. In Christ, and only through faith in Christ, do we have hope that this promised Sabbath rest with God will be our inheritance too.

A Powerful Word

So then with that future hope in mind, that the character of that future hope shapes a little bit what do we do in the meantime. What do we do in the meantime as we look forward to the promise of entering God’s Sabbath rest? Well, this leads to our final point where we’re exhorted to hear and heed in the present God’s powerful word.

Look with me again at verses 11 through 13 and let me read it.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:1-13, ESV

Now recall again that our author’s goal throughout all of Hebrews, and especially in this passage, is for his Christian readers, including you and me, to persevere in the Christian life. To keep pressing forward until we reach our promised heavenly rest, held out for us at the end of our sojourn. To reach that end in the future, well God graciously provides his church with his powerful word in the presence so that we would strive not according to our own wisdom, but we would strive according to the promises and commands found in God’s powerful word.

What’s interesting about the metaphor that our author uses to describe the word of God is that he calls the word of God a sword. Now that’s not an uncommon metaphor, we find that metaphor elsewhere in the New Testament too. Yet we might miss the fact, because this is such a popular verse that we come back to over and over and read again and again, we might miss the fact that our author here is associating something that brings life and perseverance with a sword. After all we don’t think about life and perseverance, we don’t associate being penetrated with a sword with life and perseverance. We associate being penetrated with a sword with death.

That’s usually something that we don’t associate with life and yet when the word of God penetrates us, well it helps us put to death things that we have to put to death. It helps us put to death our sin nature and the unbelief that grips our hearts so that we could truly live in the present and eventually enter into God’s rest in the future. In other words, God’s word is a sword that works in us and on us for our ultimate good, when we receive it as we should by faith.

So, let’s look real briefly at what our author tells us about the word and the effect it has when it penetrates us for our good. First, we learn that this is God’s living and active word, just as the content of the word is living and active. David’s words in Psalm 95 that are cited again and again in our passage were just as relevant and just as alive 3,000 years ago as they were 2,000 years ago when Hebrews is written, as they are today.

So too when we receive God’s word, the spirit also works on our hearts and minds to bring us alive too. Then we learn that God’s word also penetrates to the division between the soul and spirit, of joints and marrow. In doing so it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The word, in other words, is the most ableist of heart surgeons. It’s able to get into the most remote recesses of our heart to make sense of things that we would otherwise be incapable of making sense of. It provides us with the kind of self-knowledge that no self-help book could hope to achieve.

Then finally we learned that God’s word exposes us before God. We read it again in verse 13,

13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:13, ESV

Now in case you’re interested, there’s a vigorous debate out there in the literature about what this word we have translated in the ESV “exposed” really gets at. All are agreed that this is a metaphor that has something to do with the throat, but that’s where agreement ends. Some see in this a reference to a wrestling move, and I won’t demonstrate that up here, but a wrestling move where the throat was held back by an opponent. Others see in this in this word “exposed” a metaphor to a sacrificial victim, where a sacrificial victim’s neck was held back to do, well you can imagine to do what with.

Whatever we make of this metaphor, the point seems to be that the word of God leaves us vulnerable. Just as having your neck held back in a precarious position puts you in a quite a vulnerable position, well so too when the word of God pierces us it leaves us vulnerable and exposed. It exposes the things that we really love. It doesn’t let us lie to ourselves, nor to God, about the conditions of our heart. Understandably that might seem somewhat intimidating when we think about all the various ways that the word of God pierces us and exposes us. Yet when we receive it by faith and we let the word of God cut into us like a warm knife through butter, well God’s word works upon us for our ultimate good. When we receive it by faith it becomes for us and for our salvation, paradoxically, a life-giving weapon.

Yet by the same token, it’s also true that if we fail to take the word of God seriously, if we fail to hear it and heed it for what it is, it’s still a sword. The nature of what this is doesn’t change regardless of our response to it, but in that case rather than penetrating us to bring about life it will be a sword that penetrates us to judge us and condemn us in our sin.

Now last week you may remember that we saw one of the primary Old Testament stories that lies behind this section of Hebrews. Hebrews chapter 3 and 4 is the story out of Numbers 14. I know some of you might not have been here last week, so to review real quickly; in Numbers 14 we heard the story of the 12 spies. God and Moses had sent 12 spies into the land of Canaan to spy it out and then they returned. When they returned, they gave their report and as a result of their report while the whole camp of the Israelites erupted in rebellion against the Lord and against Moses. In view of that the Lord issued his judgment that none of those among the first generation of the Israelites would be able to enter into the land of Canaan, instead they would fall dead in the wilderness for 40 years.

In the aftermath of that judgment that the Lord pronounces upon his people in Numbers 14, well we find that the people of Israel are somewhat distressed by God’s judgment that he just issued. They were all the while looking back to Egypt hoping to return back to Egypt, but when God issues his judgment, and he says you’re going to fall dead in the wilderness. Well, they immediately reverse course, and they begin saying that we’re going to go into the promised land anyway, we’re going to go take Canaan by force. When they attempt to do that, which they do, God judges them for doing that. We read explicitly in Numbers 14 that when they do that they were driven back by the sword of the Amalekites and the Canaanites.

In view of that story, again a story that so permeates Hebrews 3-4, it’s no coincidence why God’s word here is referred to as a sword. Because if we fail to listen to God’s word, we’ll be in the same place as the wilderness generation was, it’ll be a sort of judgment that condemns us in our sins so that we never reach the promised rest held out for us.

I like the way John Calvin describes this point. Calvin uses the metaphor of the word of God as a hammer. A hammer that hits away at us in order to bring about life and to mold and to shape us. Then he mentions that unfortunately, some among God’s covenant people have hearts like an anvil. If you don’t know what an anvil is, an anvil is one of those big metal things that Wiley Coyote always tries to drop on the roadrunner. The point of that metaphor is that when the hammer strikes an anvil, it doesn’t matter how powerful that hammer is, the anvil is always going to repel the hammer, time after time, without making a dent in the anvil once.

So let me ask you this, is your heart more like an anvil? Is it staunchly resistant to what God’s word proclaims, at every turn ready to fight against God’s word or to cherry-pick what we like from it while leaving away the rest? Or do you receive the word of God, the entirety of it, as we should by faith?

Brothers and sisters know that as we labor by faith, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, to enter God’s Sabbath rest in the future, which all of God’s elect most certainly will, there is a powerful word. The word of God given to us for our sanctification in the present, so listen to that word. Let the word of God be as a knife that peels back the layers of our heart to expose sin, as painful as that might be at times, to drive us to repentance and then to drive us to faith in Jesus Christ.


So in view of these things, how should we pursue this rest today? Well, let me leave us with two applications.

1. The first is this; keep the Sabbath. Again, bear in mind how our future heavenly rest is described in our passage, it’s not just a generic rest, it’s described as a Sabbath rest. A rest that God first entered into after his work of creation, when after laboring for six days he rested on the seventh. Now it’s true that for us this Sabbath rest that we look forward to is something that’s entirely future. We rest in Jesus in present, yes, but we haven’t yet entered into this future Sabbath rest described in our passage.

Yet there’s also a sense in which we receive a foretaste of this future eternal Sabbath rest when we’re commanded to observe the fourth commandment, that is to keep the Sabbath Day holy. Friends, on the Sabbath we get to lay aside the laborers that that naturally occupy us every other day of the week and come before the Lord in the context of the church and do what we were created to do, what we get to do for all eternity. That is commune and worship and fellowship with the Lord.

I think New Testament scholar Ryan McGraw is right when he says that on the Sabbath Day God has commanded us to spend the whole day in heaven, so to speak. Understand that the weekly Sabbath is intended to be a picture, an incomplete picture yes, but still a picture of heaven. A picture of what real, true, rejuvenating rest, that we so often find fleeting in our lives, really looks like.

The Sabbath isn’t merely a time for us to set aside our labors and it’s not as if we stop working and we cease from all work during the day. No, it’s a day for us to set aside our weekly labor so that we can be preoccupied with another work, that is the work of worship worshiping the Lord. It’s a day for us, an invitation for us, to set aside those things that naturally occupy us every other day of the week so that we can come into the Lord’s presence as his body and worship him in spirit and in truth.

There are many other things that could occupy us on this day, other good things, entertaining things that we could enjoy, but because this day primarily pictures the heavenly Sabbath rest that we will one day enter into, make worship on this day a priority. Make fellowship with the body a priority. Prioritize those things that help us appreciate the picture of heaven that this day is intended to be. So that’s the first application, keep the Sabbath.

2. Second application is this receive what you have heard by faith. Once again there is a future heavenly Sabbath rest held out for us a promise that should we persevere in Jesus Christ, which God’s elect most certainly will do. We’ll also participate one day in God’s rest, but until we get there, until we finish our course, have you received what you have heard in the present by faith? Understand that nothing less than justifying faith in Jesus Christ will do.

So, what does that involve? I’ve used this term justifying faith or saving faith a couple times in the sermon. What is that? What does that involve? What does that mean?

Well, the Bible teaches us that saving faith or justifying faith consists in three things. First it requires that we know the claims of the gospel, after all we can’t believe in that which we do not know. Second it requires that we also affirm or assent to those claims as true. Yet, as James tells us, even the demons do that. Even the demons know the gospel claims and even the demons assent to those claims as true. So, third saving faith also requires that we trust, that we rest the entirety of our lives on the only person who can ultimately give us rest, on Jesus Christ our Lord.

So let me ask you this, do you know what the gospel claims? It claims that we’re dead in our sins and trespasses and that apart from being found in Jesus Christ, and him alone, we too will fall dead in the wilderness just like the wilderness generation. Do you believe those claims? Do you receive those claims as true? Then more than that, are you resting on the person and work of Jesus Christ in the present? Perhaps as a good litmus test that we would all do well to ask ourselves is whether or not we have a healthy fear?

We’re commanded in verse one of chapter four, “let us fear”, which is a command to take these things seriously. Take the matter of God’s holiness seriously. Take his word seriously. Take the issue of human sin and rebellion seriously. Take the matter of perseverance in the Christian life seriously. Do you take those things seriously and does the quality of your life reflect that you do?

Friends while rest can so easily slip from the from our grasp in this life, keep your eyes fixed on the only one who can give us true rejuvenating rest in the future, Jesus Christ. He who offers us rest now and who holds out for us the promise of an eternal Sabbath heavenly rest in the future.

Let me pray. Gracious Heavenly Father, we pray that as we continue our wilderness sojourn in this life under the sun, that we would continue to receive your word for what it is, not the words of men, but the words of the Lord. We pray that as we sit under your word that your word would penetrate us. That it would help us, through your Spirit, put to death the sin that so easily entangles us and to revive us again and again and again. Also remind us of the promises held forth in the gospel of Jesus Christ that promised, principally, that in the new heavens and the new earth we will have a Sabbath rest, where with resurrected bodies we worship the Lord in the fellowship of the saints for all eternity. We pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.