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A Sabbath Rest

Hebrews 4:9 (ESV) … “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God...”

Hebrews 4:9–10. These two verses provide a conclusion (v. 9) and the explanation of the conclusion (v. 10). Then introduces the conclusion: God’s people enjoyed a rest patterned after God’s own rest on the seventh day. Sabbath-rest is a new word, appearing only here in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews may have coined the word to express the special significance which he wanted to communicate. God’s people will share in God’s own rest. Those who enjoy this rest will be believers, those who have approached God through Jesus Christ.

Just what kind of rest can believers enjoy? When do they enjoy it—now, at death, or in the resurrection? This rest is not merely the entrance into Canaan. It is a present experience with Christ in which the Lord provides his presence, peace, and joy to replace the labor and heavy burdens of life (Matt. 11:28–30).

God’s own rest (see 4:4) becomes the pattern of the rest of the believer. God’s rest involved the completion of his work and not mere cessation of activity. Believers have become complete in Christ (Col. 2:10), and they can live in the light of a fulfilled relationship to Jesus as their exalted head.

The work from which believers have rested is perhaps a reference to the minute details of Jewish sacrificial ritual and purifying washings. Concern about these insignificant details was unnecessary. Christ’s full work on the cross made it possible for believers to trust him instead of their own works.

When do we begin to enjoy this rest? We can live in those blessings here and now by faith. However, our present enjoyment of these blessings is not the whole story. We will receive more at the time of the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23).

Let us summarize an involved idea: The writer of Hebrews called his readers to faith in Jesus and the enjoyment of the blessings which accompany that faith. Through faith in Jesus, believers today enjoy peace, joy, and fellowship with the living Lord as a part of their rest in him. This foretaste, which we now enjoy, will become a complete, unclouded experience of bliss at the time of the return of Jesus and the resurrection. As believers we can say, “Hallelujah!”[1]

[1] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 70–71). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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