Most of the Israelites who left Egypt with Moses died in the wilderness before they came to the Land of Promise. They did not enter in because of UNBELIEF. They did not believe God; they did not trust His promises, power, or providence. This example is given by Paul to show the evil nature of unbelief and TO WARN US who profess faith in Christ (Heb. 3:12-13).
(Vs. 1) "Let us therefore fear." This is not a fear that the grace, goodness, and righteousness of Christ shall fail or desert us; but it is a cautious fear and a watchfulness over our own faith in Him (II Cor. 13:5; II Peter 1:10). This promise of rest which we have in Christ is two-fold:
1. THERE IS THE PRESENT REST WE HAVE IN CHRIST (Matt. 11:28; Heb. 4:10). We are free from the bondage of fear, from the yoke of ceremonialism and works. We rest in His love, righteousness, and acceptance.
2. THERE IS THE FUTURE, ETERNAL REST OF HEAVEN! When we enter that land, we will be eternally free from all temptation, doubt, fear, and sin (Rev. 21:1-5).
With so much at stake, we should be wholeheartedly dedicated to seeking the Lord in saving faith (Phil. 3:8-11).
(Vs. 2) The gospel of Christ has been preached to us (the gospel of grace, not of works; the gospel of God's SonHis deity, His perfect obedience, His substitutionary atonement, His resurrection and intercession; how that in Christ the law of God is honored and the justice of God is satisfied, (Rom. 3: 25-26). BUT THIS GOSPEL OF CHRIST WAS PREACHED TO THEM ALSOby type, promise, sacrifice, and example. It did them no good. It did not save them nor profit them BECAUSE THEY DID NOT BELIEVE GOD! Abraham believed God (Rom. 4:20-25). "The Just shall live by FAITH."
(Vs. 3) We who have believed on Christ and who have received Him do now enter into rest. This is SPIRITUAL REST rest from salvation by works, from the burden of the law, and from all toil and labor to gain life. It is an enjoyment of inward peace and rest, notwithstanding trials, toils, labors, and temptations. We have spiritual ease and comfort in Christ, our Lord. ONLY BELIEVERS enjoy this rest. God has sworn that those who believe shall not perish (Rom. 5:1; Rom. 8:1, 33-35).
Paul begins here to describe this spiritual rest we have in Christ by removing all other rests mentioned in Scripture.
(Vs. 3-4) The "rest" which believers now enjoy in Christ is NOT THE REST OF GOD following the creation of the world. God made the worlds in six days and rested from the works of creation, not the works of providence; for in them He works even now!
(Vs. 5) Another rest is Canaan or TYPICAL REST. The unbelieving Jews did not enter into Canaan but turned around and wandered in the wilderness until they died.
(Vs. 6) Some did enter in and must enter into the typical rest, although those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of their unbelief. JOSHUA DID LEAD A PEOPLE INTO CANAAN! The type must be fulfilled, and Canaan must be inhabited by the people of God.
(Vs. 7) God set a day when men would by faith enter into this true rest which He promised. It is the gospel dispensation! Today is the day of salvation; NOW is the accepted time. It is NO LONGER A TYPICAL REST, but a possession.
(Vs. 8) Joshua brought them into a land of rest where they had rest for a while from their temporal enemies and where they enjoyed for a season the blessings of God. But this was not that true spiritual rest in Christ, or God would not have spoken of another day.
(Vs. 9) The people whom God hath chosen, for whom Christ died, and who believe on Him do enter into a spiritual rest. Heaven is but a perfection and a continuation of what He begins in our hearts when He brings us to faith (John 6:37-40).
(Vs. 10) Paul speaks here of CHRIST. Christ had a work to do in preaching the gospel and in obtaining the salvation and redemption of His people. This work was given to Him and He finished it. He ceased from these works never to do them again, He is seated, having entered His rest, as God ceased from the works of creation when He had finished them. It does no violence to the Word to apply this to the believer who ceases from a works' religion and by faith rests in Christ.
(Vs. 11) Let us strive by faith (seeking the Lord and looking only to Him) to enter with Him into THAT REST. "'Tis done, the great transaction's done; I am my Lord's, and He is mine." This rest, peace, and joy in Christ is not full for many of us. We enter more and more by faith, prayer, hearing the Word, and attendance on the ordinances of Christ.