Since therefore it remains for some to enter [His rest], and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again 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.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. Hebrews 4:6–11, ESV
“There remains a Sabbath for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.” This is a summary of the gospel. We can know rest for our souls, rest from the labor of trying and failing to please God, by entering into God’s rest through faith in Jesus Christ who accomplished salvation by His labor. He died, rose again, and sat down at the right hand of the Father. He rested. Only as we rest in Him can we know rest.
That sounds pretty easy for us. But then the author proceeds to tell us that we need to “strive to enter that rest” so none of us falls like Israel fell. Are we to be a resting people who are confident in the work of Jesus or a striving people trying to gain a place in that finished work?
What we have in this passage is an already-not-yet view of our rest. We can rest from our labors of trying to please God by our good works. These were futile labors that never brought rest. We can rest by faith in Christ, trusting that His labor accomplished what ours never could. Even so, we live in a world that is not at rest. And we in our souls are not yet at rest in this fallen world. We wait for our ultimate rest at Christ’s coming and our glorification. While already resting in what Jesus has done, we strive to enter into our final rest. We pursue what is not yet, serving the Lord with the end in mind. We won’t fall short of this promised eternal rest (Christ takes us all the way there), but we continue to strive for it because we have not yet reached it. Being in Christ motivates us to pursue what will surely be ours.
These pandemic days are a good setting in which to consider his passage. Much about these days serves to remind us that we have not yet reached our eternal rest. We are resting in Jesus and His finished work, but we are not fools. This is not glory. The battle rages on. So we strive toward the goal of eternal rest.
Take courage! Someday this struggle will be over: faith will be made sight and we will rest.
Until that day, I am praying for you.