7/31/11 Hebrews 4:1-11
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
CALM FOR CHAOTIC LIFE
This section of Hebrews is complicated. It uses different meanings for the word “rest” that can be confusing. The main way this chapter uses “rest” is as the final destiny of resettlement in the land in which God had promised Jesus would be born a Jew. It was a down payment on the final Savior-promise.
What does it mean to fall short of God’s rest (4:1)?
The generation that escaped Egyptian slavery missed out on the rest-promise from God. They didn’t trust God’s rescue plan. The majority didn’t share the faith of Joshua and Caleb when it came to the point of entering the land of Canaan (Numbers 14). That’s why they disobeyed His orders. The next generation finally did resettle. During the 430 years of Israel’s slavery, pagan peoples had populated and improved the land. They had built houses, planted vineyards and orchards, and tamed the wilderness. Yet their culture was more and more about pushing the envelope on morality. As they arrived in Canaan, Israel became God’s tool to punish the sin of these indigenous people. Israel also would confiscate wealth it had not earned. The people would sit under trees they had not planted and drink wine made from grapevines they had not cultivated. They would come into a land where the work had been done—and they would rest.
Why might readers think God had already kept His end of the rest-bargain to Jews?
Since Israel under Moses, with all their advantages, failed to enter the rest, Christians better not think it will be a breeze for them. They better be careful not to be careless.
What’s the rest God’s talking about – the promised land? Sunday off? Heaven? God’s forgiveness?
What gospel did the Old Testament people of Israel hear (4:2)?
Like Israel of old, God used Jesus to rescue you and I. He annulled sin’s consequences in our lives. This is our Promised Land – our ultimate, internal rest. We enjoy the benefits of what Jesus did in our place. We don’t have to carve out a bare living in the wilderness. Christians personalize the hard work Jesus did as our substitute to free us.
What work are we supposed to rest from (4:3,10)?
This section uses “rest” a second way. It refers to God’s own rest at the end of Creation. Jewish teachers had noted a fascinating feature in the Genesis account. For each of the first six days, it refers to “evening and morning.” There was a clear beginning and end. The seventh day doesn’t have that kind of boundary. Rabbis took this to mean that God’s rest has no end. After He wrapped up originating the universe, God didn’t retire. He’s busy with other work since then. Strikingly, God invites people to take part in His rest (4:5). He doesn’t want us to retire from the struggle to live for Him. All th pressure of trying hard to gain His favor is gone.
How must we be different than Old Testament Israel if we want to take advantage of the rest God promises (4:2-3)?
There’s a third kind of rest in this section. It’s the future rest that all believers will enjoy with God. God will share the ultimate rest with all His people. All our efforts and struggles will be over (Rev. 14:13).
What’s the response God’s looking for to His warnings in 4:1 and 4:11?
“Joshua” and “Jesus” are the same name. “Joshua” is Hebrew, and “Jesus” is Greek. Perhaps 4:8-9 is pointing to the first Joshua to contrast the greater accomplishments of his later namesake.
Isn’t it a contradiction to “make every effort to enter that rest” (4:11)?
The rest God gives can relieve us of nervousness, tenseness, and other physical problems. This comes from depending on the promises God has made. Others may promise happiness, wealth, and health in this life. The Bible does not. The rest God promises is spiritual, not physical.
What efforts (4:11) can help you utilize God’s rest (Matt. 11:28-30; John 6:27-29)?
Joshua led God’s people into the land God promised them. The Holy Land was not a nirvana. That slice of real estate was full of war, temptation, and, ultimately, for too many, rejection of God. Still, God gave the rest He promised – in Jesus. He helps us relax under the pressures of life today.
1. How would you explain to a non-Christian the rest God gives?
2. What situations today might make this kind of discussion helpful?
3. How does this section connect to Matthew 11:25-30? What’s the connection to Joshua 23:1-11?