The Rest of God

July 13, 2014
Hebrews 4:1-3

The Big Picture of God's Rest and Ours

  1. Matthew 13:52 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” ESV
  2. God had rest in himself before creation
  3. The glory of the spring is best shown in the fullness of the stream.
  4. God created out of his fullness and when it was good in manifesting his glory he rested
  5. God rescued his people from Egypt and when he had fully rescued them into the land of rest he rested.
    1. He rested for his people were safe
    2. He rested in that there was nothing left to do.
    3. He rested because his glory had been displayed as the redeemer of his people
    4. He rested in the worship of his people
    5. Can you see the inter-relatedness of the rest?
      1. God, who in himself has rest, acts into the world in order to declare his rest by sharing his rest with a people that are brought into that rest (he does this by rescuing his people from their lack of rest), in this people God does rest and those people then rest in him, which all the more declares of God's glory as the originator of that rest so much so that God again rests in that glory that he receives which was his original design in the creation of that state of rest.
      2. God gets all the glory and the creation gets all the benefit of that glory.
      3. God's design was to manifest and put on display his own glory. Them worshipping him therein was his rest.
      4. To put his glory on display he rescued his people until there was no more need of work. And so he rested from his finished work.
      5. This rescued and redeemed people saw the greatness and glory of God and worshiped him in entering into the land of his rest, specifically the worship and fellowship with God therein, this was the peoples rest,
      6. And this further was the rest of God in his people who were worshipping him in entering into the rest provided for them
  6. Yet there remains a greater Egypt a greater Exodus and a greater Promised Land of Rest for the people of God to enter into.
    1. The goal and design of God since the foundation of the world was not original creation nor was it to rescue his people from Egypt. It was more.
    2. The goal and design of God has been the proclaiming of his glory through the rescuing of his people from sin and fallenness
    3. This is the story of the church ...
  7. So there remains a rest for us to enter into. This is the design of these verses under consideration to show that there is a rest for us to enter into today.

Structure 1st pass

  1. Vs 1: There is a promisestill standing left unto us of entering into the rest of God
  2. This, therefore, we ought to take heed that we come not short of by unbelief
  3. Vs 2: The means of entering into this rest is by belief, or being united by faith.
  4. Vs 3: Objection: what is that to us:
    1. The rest of the land of Canaan is long past we missed it. The rest of the 7th day, we observe every week. Neither of these has much to do with us. Why do you labor the point? It is to no purpose to press us to enter into rest today.
    2. But says the apostle, ‘These things belong unto you in a special way; for the things treated of in the psalm are a prophetical direction designed for your use in your present condition.’
  5. Vs 3: There remains yet another rest for the people of God
    1. This he proves, that there is a spiritual rest yet remaining for believers, which we are called and obliged to seek an entrance into.
    2. He does this by a process of elimination
      1. vs 3: New rest
      2. 3-5 Rest after creation
      3. 6-7 Rest of Canaan under Moses
      4. 7-8 Rest of Canaan under Joshua
      5. 9 Another Rest
      6. 10 A rest answerable to God's rest
  6. This, in general, is the design and method of the apostle’s discourse in this place.
  7. If you get lost in this sermon, here is what I'd like you to come back to. Think of God, infinitely happy in himself. The Father relating to and loving the Son and the Son being with and loving the Father, all wrapped up in perfect contentedness and hapiness for all eternity not lacking anything but only eternally at peace and rest, bliss and happiness. Out of this fullness God pours out into creation that he migh rest in his being thus glorified. Now, God wants you to enter into that state with him and believers do so by faith in the promises.
    1. It is not any specific rest, but the rest that all the specific rests point to, it is God's rest.

Exegetical 2nd pass

  1. Therefore - skim
  2. While the promise still stands - skim
  3. Let us fear - skim
  4. Good news ... just as
    1. How is it that the good news was preached to us just as to them?


  1. "For good news came to us just as to them" “For we were evangelized, even as they were.”
    1. The assertion is that the gospel was preached to both us and them and that in like manner.
  2. How was the gospel of Christ preached unto them who lived so far before Christ?
    1. The first promise of the gospel did not come with Christ's birth.
      1. Genesis 3:15 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” ESV
      2. As soon as sin entered the world, so did the promise of the gospel.
      3. as to the substance of it, the gospel is “that which was from the beginning,” 1 John 1:1. It is the first great original transaction of God with sinners, from the foundation of the world. Now, upon the day of the finishing the world, or of completing the fabric of it, upon the entrance of sin, the promise of Christ was given,—namely, “That the seed of the woman should break the serpent’s head,” Gen. 3:15. This, then, having been given out and established, “from the very beginning of the world,” this was the rise of the gospel, which ever since hath been the ground, rule, and measure of all God’s transactions with the children of men. It appears, then, that from first to last the gospel is, and ever was, the only way of coming unto God
    2. Abraham
      1. We see the same gospel given unto Abraham. (There is only one gospel)
      2. The promise made unto Abraham contained the substance of the gospel
        1. We saw this in the account of the smoking pot and the flaming torch Gen 15:17
      3. Galatians 3:13–14 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. ESV
      4. Galatians 3:8 8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” ESV
      5. Galatians 3:16 16Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. ESV
        1. The promise to Abraham is about Christ primarily
      6. Now, there are other promises mixed in with this gospel promise as well, such as inheriting the land of Canaan
      7. The promise of entering into Canaan, and the rest of God therein, is mixed into the promise of the coming Messiah, and hence the entering into the land is a special way of preaching and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, the one who is to come.
        1. Therefore, when they refused to enter into God's rest, they were refusing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this is why it was such a rejection of God to refuse to enter the land.
        2. How can this be so? 2 Reasons:
          1. Because entering into the land was the great visible sign of God's faithfulness to the whole covenant made to Abraham. Because by the land of Canaan, and the rest of God therein, not so much the place, country, or soil, was intended or considered, as the worship of God in his ordinances and institutions therein solemnly to be observed. And by these ordinances, or through faith in the use of them, they were led unto a participation of the benefits of the promise of the gospel.
            1. Entering into Canaan was supposed to be an entering into the worship of God.
            2. Spirit and Truth
            3. For we have a fuller revealing of the gospel thoug it is the same gospel
    3. The same gospel as we have received, they received too. It is not a typical gospel, as some speak, that the apostle intends, nor yet a mere institution of types; but the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was in the substance of it proposed unto them in the promise; the entering into the land of Canaan being the especial instance wherein their faith was to be tried.
      1. Observe, none of us know wherein we will be tried.
        1. Abraham with Isaac, Jews with Canaan, Pharisees with Christ, Ananias and his wife Sapphira
        2. It comes like a thief in the night, so be prepared always.
  3. How unto us.
    1. Now that we see how the good news came to them, how has it come to us?
    2. "For good news came to us just as to them"
      1. We have received the gospel many ways, but this phrase just as seems to imply something special
    3. Remember this was written originally to the Hebrews, so the "us" is the Hebrews.
      1. He reminds them that they had a promise given unto them of entering into the rest of God, which because of unbelief they came short of, and perished under his displeasure.
    4. Now they might reply, ‘What does that have to do with us, can we reject that promise made so long ago?
      1. For good news came to us just as to them
      2. Hebrews 4:7 7again 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.” ESV

Not United in Faith

  1. Given that the Jews of old received the same gospel, did it benifit them?
    1. No, it: "did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened"
  2. 2 options of united (or mixed) with faith.
    1. Option 1:
      1. Everyone should have joined with, united with, those heard the message and believed it.
      2. If we take this meaning then the whole congregation sinned in not joining with those who remained constant in the faith of the promise of God, namely Caleb and Joshua. They sinned in that they would not join themselves unto them, nor unite with them in that profession of faith and obedience which they made. Neither their number nor their agreement among themselves could free them from schism, sin, and punishment. They would not unite themselves unto those two persons who abode in the truth, and so perished under the indignation of God thereon.
      3. We are called as they were to unite with those who believe the promises of God not those who doubt. This remains true even when those who disbelieve are in the majority.
      4. In the majority would have been elders, teachers, and so on, in the minority, 2 lone witnesses, yet the church is called to join with the remnant, no matter how small.
    2. Option 2:
      1. Join with the substance of what is to be believed (next week) The sum is, spiritual truths, being savingly believed, are united with that faith which receives them,—so incorporated with it as that they come to be realized in the soul, and to be turned into the principle of that new nature whereby we live to God. Want hereof is charged on the people to whom the gospel was declared in the wilderness. The word which they heard was not so really and savingly received by faith as to be incorporated therewith, and to become in them a living principle enabling and strengthening them unto obedience. They tasted sometimes a little sweetness in it, but took it not down to digest it

We who believe enter

  1. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ”
  2. Proof via the contrary

Revisit structure 3rd pass

  1. You're probably lost at this point. Take a step back and see the forest instead of any one tree.
  2. 2 Immediate proofs: 1) Just as 2) Denying the contrary

Verse 3

  1. He foresees an objection
  2. 3 things
    1. Just as
    2. A proof: As he said in his wrath
    3. A full confirmation of his assertion
  3. Old and new
    1. A master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.
    2. There is nothing older than this
    3. There is nothing more pervasive than this
    4. They all point to the rest we have in the Gospel. Not heaven, not the Sabbath, not Canaan.
    5. A new and living way has opened up that we might enter. We who believe enter.

The word expresseth a present act, as a fruit, effect, or consequent of believing. That it is which in a spiritual way answers unto the Israelites entering into the land of Canaan under the conduct of Joshua.

  1. into that rest
  2. This rest, then, we say, firstly and principally, is that spiritual rest of God, which believers obtain an entrance into by Jesus Christ, in the faith and worship of the gospel, and is not to be restrained unto their eternal rest in heaven. ...


  1. We have spoken of the rest in general, now what is that rest specifically?

There is a spiritual rest for the people of God that answers unto the rest of Canaan.

  1. This is not the rest of heaven
    1. Design of the book is not about the superiority of heaven to the law but about about the superiority of Christ to the law. Hence Christ must offer us a comperable yet superior rest to the one offered by the land of Canaan.
    2. It is in this world
      1. "For we who have believed enter that rest"
    3. It is available to us today
      1. Hebrews 4:7 7again 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.” ESV
    4. It comes to us through the gospel
      1. The rest comes to us through the preaching of the gospel being believed.
      2. This is a rest given by the gospel, it is a rest with God that we get when we believe his promises by faith.
  2. It is the rest of God
    1. 7th Day
      1. We 1st see God resting in Gen 2
      2. God rested after creation on the 7th day
      3. So when he had finished his works in the creation of the world, he saw that they were “good,”—that is, that they answered his greatness, wisdom, and power; and he rested
      4. Exodus 31:16–17 16Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’ ” ESV
      5. on the seventh day God rested, and was refreshed;” which expresseth the complacency be had in his works
      6. Here is our 1st hint and testimony of what the rest of God is:
        1. God rested in the knowledge of how his glory was on display in creation.
        2. God rested from his work
        3. The land had rest itself as it was made good.
    2. God rested upon coming into the promised land. And reaffirms the 7th day honoring of this rest.
      1. Psalm 132:13–15 13For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: 14“This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. 15I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. ESV
    3. All of these "rests" of God are pointing us to something. What is it? What is the rest of God that all of these are pointing us towards.
  3. It is the rest of God in himself and especially in his Son as the radience of the glory of God. God rests ultimately and absolutely in Christ as exhibited in the gospel. Christ is he in whom the Soul of God delights in^Isa 42:1^ in whom God is well pleased^Mat 3:17^.
    1. Isaiah 42:1 1Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. ESV
    2. Matthew 3:17 17and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” ESV
    3. Proverbs 8:30 30then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, ESV
    4. This spirals to infinity: God rests in Christ, Christ rests in God. In which words the infinite, intimate affection and mutual satisfaction between the Father and the Son are expressed The full satisfaction of the mind of God, with that delight and rest which answer the propensity of the affections towards a most suitable object, is intended in them.
    5. Why is God so pleased with his Son?
      1. Jesus Christ shines forth the glory of God. Do you want to know who God is? Look at Jesus who is the radiance of the glory of God.
      2. Jesus shows the holiness of God. Look at Christ following the law.
      3. Jesus shows the mercy of God. Look at Jesus with the woman caught in adultery or with the woman by the well.
      4. Jesus shows the long-suffering of God. How many times has Jesus forgiven you for the exact same sin over and over again. You cannot wear out the patience of God by sinning.
      5. Jesus shows the love of God. Look at Jesus loving you while you were yet a sinner.
      6. Above all of this, the cross of Jesus is lifted up as declaring exactly who God is. God is the God who throws would throw himself willingly into the greatest harm imaginable to save those he loves. There is no cost to high for God when it comes to loving his people. This is who God is and we know it because Jesus has made it know to us. And because of this we will spend all eternity worshipping the Lamb who was slain.
    6. All other rests were partial. But now, in the person of Christ, the author of the gospel, who is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” God doth absolutely and ultimately rest
      1. Colossians 1:19 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, ESV
      2. Colossians 2:9 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, ESV
      3. 1 Timothy 3:16 16Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. ESV
      4. Therefore God rests
      5. How?... Works. Knowledge.
  4. It is this rest that we get to be wrapped up into.
    1. Because of what Christ did, we can have peace with God.
    2. Because of what Christ did, God is at rest in us.
      1. He takes his good pleasure in us!
      2. Through Christ God rests in his love towards believers. In Christ we have become his delight and his soul is well satisfied in us Gen 8:21.
        1. Genesis 8:21–22 21And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ESV
          1. When did God make the Nohaic Covenant, when he smelled the pleasing aroma and was satisfied in his heart.
        2. 2 Corinthians 2:1a 15For we are the aroma of Christ to God
        3. Zephaniah 3:17 17The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. ESV
      3. God has rest in a man
  5. What is the result of all of this?
    1. Peace with God
      1. Acts 13:38–39 38Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. ESV This now is enjoyed by believers, and it consists in that justification from sin which by the law of Moses could not be attained. This, with its proper evangelical consequents, is the foundation of this rest.
    2. Freedom from servile worship
      1. Galatians 4:1 1I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, ESV
      2. Galatians 4:3–5 3In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. ESV
      3. Galatians 4:7 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ESV The Son making of us free, we are free indeed; and do, by the Spirit of that Son, receive spiritual liberty, boldness, enlargedness of mind, and plainness of speech, in crying “Abba, Father.”
    3. Freedom from the law of Moses for righteousness
      1. Ephesians 2:14–15 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, ESV
    4. Freedom to worship
      1. There is in all men, before the coming of the gospel, a want of an acquiescency and satisfaction in God.
      2. This is produced by the corrupt principle and power of sin, which having turned off the soul from God, causeth it to wander in endless vanities, and to pursue various lusts and pleasures, seeking after rest which always flies from it.
      3. This makes them “like a troubled sea, which cannot rest.”
      4. Romans 7:6 6But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. ESV The duty of worship is not grievous, but easy gentle rational and suited unto the principles of the new nature. This believers have in their observance of gospel-worship. They do not only receive the Spirit of Christ, fitting and enabling their persons for this work in general, but they have continual additions of spiritual strength, or supplies of the Spirit, for and unto every special duty. Hence have they great peace, ease, and rest, in the whole course of it.
      5. This worship he will neither add to, nor alter, nor take from; but this is his rest and his habitation amongst men for ever. He is pleased and satisfied with it by Christ.
    5. Freedom to enter into the presence of God
      1. we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus
      2. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace
      3. Revelation 21:3 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. ESV

Rest Verses

  1. 1 Kings 8:56a 56“Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise,
  2. Psalm 23:2 2He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. ESV
  3. Psalm 132:8 8Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. ESV
  4. Psalm 132:13–14 13For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: 14“This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
  5. Psalm 116:7 7Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. ESV
  6. Isaiah 11:6–10 6The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
  7. Isaiah 30:15a 15For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
  8. Jeremiah 6:16 16Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
  9. Isaiah 55:1–2 1“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
  10. Matthew 11:28–30 28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ESV
  11. Revelation 22:17 17The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. ESV
  12. Come enter into the rest of God.