A Sabbath Rest

September 14, 2014

Hebrews 4:4-11

Paul's Job

  1. An appeal to the supremacy of Jesus Christ and his worship in the new church erected by him based solely on the authority of the scriptures.
  2. The book deals with Jesus' superior testimony of God as a prophet, Jesus superior obedience to the angels and to Moses, the superiority of Christ as the captain of our salvation, and the superority of the covenant the Christ inagurated over and against the old covenant.
  3. The subject in this section is the superior Sabbath rest that we find in Christ compared to the Sabbath rest of old.

It is utterly impossible that, in things concerning religion and the worship of God, we can ever be engaged in a cause attended with more difficulties, and liable to more specious opposition, than that was which our apostle was now in the management of. He had the practice and profession of the church, continued from the first foundation of it, resolved into the authority of God himself as to its institution, and attended with his acceptation of the worshippers in all ages, with other seeming disadvantages, and prejudices innumerable, to contend withal; yet this he undertakes on the sole authority of the Scriptures, and testimonies to his purpose thence taken, and gloriously accomplished his design.

  1. He does this by showing the Jews that there is a rest of God that remains which is not the rest of the 7th day, nor the rest of Canaan, but another rest that the first are typical of.

God's Rest

  1. There is no true rest for the soul but only in Jesus Christ.
    1. God himself rests in nothing else, and in his rest alone can we find rest. It is in vain for us to seek for rest in anything but that wherein God rests.
      1. Note in our passages how God invites us and commands us to enter into his rest. If it is any other rest you are entering into but resting in Jesus Christ you are not entering with him into his rest.
    2. It is Christ alone, as declared in the gospel, in whom God rests, and in whom our souls may find rest. It is surely, therefore, our wisdom, in our inquest after rest,—which, whether we take notice of it or no, is the main design of our lives, in all that we project or execute,—not to take up in any thing beneath him or without him. He that rests in the world, or rests in himself, or rests in his own righteousness, or rests even in God’s ordinances, will never come to rest until he be deprived of all expectation from them and confidence in them.
  2. This rest God intends for his church to have now in this age
    1. Look at the use of the word "today" throughout the passage.
    2. Jesus Christ is given to the world that we might find our rest in him. This starts now. Is he your rest? Have you come unto him weak and weary and found your rest in him.
    3. Matthew 11:28 28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ESV How many pretend to an interest in this gospel church-state, who plainly, openly, and visibly seek after their rest in other things,—many in their own duties, most in their lusts and the pleasures of the world! Did Christ come, think you, to give you rest in your lusts, in your sins, in your pleasures? God forbid; he came to give you rest from these things in himself; which alone is the rest preached unto you

The Day of Rest

  1. Now, since the 7th day of creation there has been a day of rest to be enjoyed and celebrated by man.
  2. 2 reasons for this day:
    1. A pledge of God's rest. (A sign, a seal, a token)
    2. A means of entering God's rest.
  3. This day we refer to as the Sabbath. But we also use the word Sabbath to refer to God's resting, and our spiritual rest as well.

The word, then, doth not precisely intend either a day of rest or a spiritual rest, but the whole of our rest in God with respect unto his, and that day that is the token thereof comprised therein

  1. Entering into God's rest is an entering into his worship. God rests in the knowledge that he has put his glory on display for creation to see and thus he rests. Man enters God's rest by entering into this satisfaction at the manifestation of his glory. Rest is worship. Also remember that God further rests in his people thus resting.
    1. there is no foundation for any Sabbath but in the rest of God
  2. All of this is what we mean by Sabbath, and all of this then is what we celebrate on the Sabbath.

The pattern

  1. Void and formless, a howling waste
  2. God works
    1. God creates
    2. God crowns and perfects
  3. God rests
  4. God grants us his rest and a day of rest as a pledge and means of that rest

The pattern applied

  1. Creation:
    1. God works to create the world
      1. This both in the moment of creation as well as in the six days of creation.
    2. God rests saying, "It was very good" and takes his refreshment (Ex 31:17)
    3. God gives man the Sabbath as a pledge and means of resting. Man is to rest in the Sabbath and man is to remember God's rest in the Sabbath, and to look forward to a future state of further sharing in God's rest.
  2. Exodus:
    1. God works to rescue his people from Egypt
      1. To follow the pattern we see God's original work of salvation from Egypt in the plagues of Egypt and the perfecting and crowning his people in his leading them to the promised land.
    2. God rests from his work
      1. Psalm 132:8 8Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. ESV
    3. God gives man the promised land as a pledge and means of resting like he rests
  3. New creation
    1. Jesus works to rescue his people from sin, death, and the devil
    2. Jesus rests from his work entering into his glory
    3. Jesus gives man a new day of rest as a pledge and means of resting like he rests.
    4. Yet there is a break in the pattern
      1. Christ's work of crowning and perfecting his church goes on in his offices of prophet, priest, and king as he teaches his church, intercedes for his church, and rules over his church bringing all his own safe into glory.
      2. Of old our work preceded our rest, now our rest precedes our work.

Jesus' work and rest seen where?

  1. Verse 10
  2. Most expositors generally apply these words unto believers
    1. Do believers rest from their works?
      1. how can they be said to rest from these works as God rested from his own?
      2. for God so rested from his as to take the greatest delight and satisfaction in them, to be refreshed by them
      3. He so rested from them as that he rested in them, and blessed them, and blessed and sanctified the time wherein they were finished
      4. But now, if those mentioned be the works here intended, men cannot so rest from them as God did from his; but they cease from them with a detestation of them as far as they are sinful, and joy for their deliverance from them as far as they are sorrowful. Now, this is not to rest as God rested
    2. For
      1. The conjunction γάρ, “for,” which introduceth this assertion, manifests that the apostle in these words gives an account whence it is that there is a new sabbatism remaining for the people of God. He had proved before that there could be no such rest but what was founded in the works of God, and his rest that ensued thereon. Such a foundation therefore, he saith, this new rest must have; and it hath it. Now this is, and must be, in the works and rest of him by whom the church was built, that is Christ, who is God, as it is expressly argued, chap. 3:3, 4.
      2. For as that rest which all the world was to observe was founded in his works and rest who built or made the world and all things in it; so the rest of the church of the gospel is to be founded in his works and rest by whom the church itself was built, that is Jesus Christ; for he, on the account of his works and rest, is also Lord of the Sabbath, to abrogate one day of rest and to institute another.
    3. Change of voice
      1. The apostle here changeth the manner of his expression; from the plural absolutely, “We who believe,” or virtually in the name of a multitude, “the people of God,” into that which is absolutely singular
      2. For he that is entered into his rest KJV
      3. My rest changes to his rest, but throughout the chapter it is the rest of God

The verses

  1. vs 3:
    1. There remains a rest that believers enter into
    2. Proved by immediate contraries
    3. Isn't it strange that there is a rest, which must flow from a work of God (to follow the pattern), yet God's works have been finished from the foundation of the earth.
      1. In other words there is a new rest that does not proceed from God's work of creation and so it must flow from a new work of God as will be seen in verse 10.
  2. vs 4 & 5:
    1. These verses continue down the former line of reasoning. The 7th day rest cannot be the rest whereof the Psalmist speaks. It is a remaining rest, a further rest, a rest that the 7th day rest points to.
  3. vs 6-7:
    1. Further proves that there is yet a remaining entrance into a rest of God
    2. Note the use of the words "remains" "failed" "today" and "so long afterward"
  4. vs 8
    1. Continues to point out the time at which these words were spoken
      1. This shows that the rest spoken of in Psalms could not have been granted in the time of Joshua
    2. God did not rest absolutely in the 7th day, nor in the land of Canaan. Nor were the people to look for their absolute rest in that wherein God did not rest absolutely. They had no other end nor use, but only to teach them to look out after and to prepare for that rest which was promised from of old; so that Joshua did not give them real rest, but only that which was a typical instruction for that season in what was to come
  5. vs 9
    1. A conclusion, "so then" "as a result of what comes before" "in conclusion to these things"
    2. There remains a Sabbath rest, there remains a Sabbatism, there remains a day of rest.
    3. Thus, then, “there remaineth a rest” (or “Sabbath-keeping”) “for the people of God.”
    4. Side point: The Advance of the gospel
      1. Believers under the new testament have lost nothing, no privilege that was enjoyed by them under the old.
        1. The whole gospel is an amplification of divine spiritual grace and favour to God’s people.
      2. And is it possible that any man should be a loser by the coming of Christ, or by his own coming unto Christ?
      3. The state of sin under the law is a state of all labour, and no rest; for “there is no peace,” or rest, “to the wicked,” saith God, Isa. 57:21. The future state of glory is all of rest,—all rest. The present state of believing and obedience is a mixed state,—partly of labour, partly of rest: of labour in ourselves, in the world, against sin, under affliction and persecution; of rest in Christ, in his love, in his worship, and grace. And these things have a great mutual respect unto one another. Our labour makes our rest sweet, and our rest makes our labour easy. So is God pleased to fill us, and exercise us; all to prepare us duly for eternal rest with himself.
  6. vs 10
    1. “There remaineth a sabbatism now for the people of God, for Christ is entered into his rest.”
    2. A cessation from his works; he hungered no more, was tempted no more, in a word, died no more. 2. A satisfaction in his works and the product of them. This Christ had in his; whence he says, upon a view of their effects, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage,” Ps. 16:6.
    3. The whole church, all the duties, worship, and privileges of it, are founded in the person, authority, and actions of Jesus Christ.

The rest of God in Christ

  1. Come unto me ...
  2. Don't find your rest in the world, find your rest in him.