This thread is meant to have an serious and in depth discussion about Hebrews 4 and its meaning.
Hebrews 4 is an important chapter with many lessons for Christian today. Here is what can be gleaned from this Scripture
1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
This is a reference to the eternal rest of God, who has finished both
His creative and redemptive works. Believers have been given a promise to enter into His rest, and this would be a reference to this promise and invitation of Christ in Mt 11:28-30: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
This is a rest of the soul which rests in the perfection of Christ and His finished work. But since this was addressed to Jewish believers who were vacillating between Moses and Christ, Paul warned them that some might come short of it if they did not rest in Christ alone.
2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
The Gospel was preached to the Israelites in many ways, including the Passover Lamb and the Brazen Serpent. For OT saints believing in God and believing on God was sufficient for justification. But that pillar of cloud was Christ, and so was that Rock from which the water gushed out. So the Gospel was preached to them in many ways and at different times. But as we know from Scripture, the majority of the Israelites never fully trusted God, nor obeyed Him fully. So they perished in the wilderness, other than Joshua and Caleb from that generation.
3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Genuine believers rest totally on the perfection of Christ and His finished work in His death, burial, and resurrection. So here Paul refers to the rest of God after creation as well as the rest of God after the redemptive work of Christ. We are justified by grace through faith, and not by works of righteousness which we have done.
4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
This is a reference to Genesis 1 & 2 as well as Exodus 20. Since God cannot be “tired” as men are tired and weary, His rest was a CESSATION of creative activity.
5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
God desires sinners to enter into His rest and have fellowship with Him. This is only possible when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and then walk “in the Light” (or walk in the Spirit). Christians who sin and do not deal with their sins forefeit fellowship with God, and their souls are restless.
6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
So while the Gospel was preached to the Israelites in the wilderness, few entered into God’s rest because of their own unbelief. Therefore now Paul is speaking to redeemed Jews and urging them that there is a rest into which they must enter through faith.
7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Now Paul is telling these believers to respond to the convicting of the Holy Spirit after they hear this message, and to trust in Christ totally, not return to the works of the Law in order to be justified. They are not to harden their hearts when they hear the truth. And this is also a warning to us. Many Christians harden their hearts against the truth for one reason or another.
8 For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
Joshua brought the new generation of Israelites into Canaan, but they did not rest in God and in faith. They did not believe God even after He gave them victory after victory, and they did not totally drive out their enemies. Thus we read in Judges that they went into idolatry again and again, and paid for it.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
This was addressed to the Jewish believers to whom this epistle was written, but it also applies to us. Every generation of Christians must rest in Christ, and Christ alone. Therefore there “remaineth” a rest to the people of God. If you are not resting totally in Christ for your salvation and sanctification, you have not entered into His rest.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
The Christian who has truly entered into the rest of God will never try to earn God’s approval through his own works. Instead He will do the good works which the Holy Spirit produces in him.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
The use of the word “labour” here means let us strive to remain at rest in and through Christ, not depend upon ourselves, but on the Holy Spirit both to will and to do of His good pleasure. So while we “work out our salvation” through obedience and good works, we keep in mind that it is God working in and through us. This is what is means to walk by faith.
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
This is somewhat of a digression, but it brings us back to the necessity of having the Bible search our hearts and minds constantly to see whether we are walking in faith and in the Spirit, or walking in unbelief and in the flesh.
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
This again looks like a digression, but one of the most important facts for a Christian to maintain his rest in Christ is to remember that he has a High Priest in Heaven, who is no less than Jesus, the Son of God. Therefore there is no need to waver under any circumstances, and instead we are to hold fast to our conviction that Christ is our Sufficiency.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
This tells us that Jesus understands what every believer goes through when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. He Himself was tempted in all points, “yet without sin”. This is important since the sin nature was absent from Christ’s humanity. He could not sin, He would not sin, and He did not sin. But He understand how believers are assaulted with temptations. Yet, they can be overcomers, since “faith is the victory” over sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
This is telling us that when we are tempted and sin, we must come to God’s throne of grace in order (1) to obtain mercy through confession of sins and repentance, and (2) to obtain grace from God to help us in our time of need, when assaulted by the Devil and his evil angels, who would drive us to sin and unbelief.