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Hebrews 4:1b-5

Victor M. Eskew




A.  The section begins and ends with “let us” exhortations.

1.    Let us therefore fear… (Heb. 4:1).

2.    Let us labour therefore… (Heb. 4:11).


B.   The word “rest” is the key word in this text.

1.    It is used nine (9) times in this section (Heb. 4:1, 3(2), 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 11).

2.    Definitions:

a.    katapausis

1)     Strong (2663):  reposing down, that is, (by Hebraism) abode

2)    Thayer:  a resting place, metaphysically the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended.

b.    Sabbatismos

1)     Strong (4520):  the repose of Christianity (as a type of heaven)

2)    Thayer:  the blessed rest from toils and troubles looked for in the age to come by the true worshippers of Christ and for Christians


C.  There are three rests mentioned in this section:

1.    God’s resting on the seventh day (Heb. 4:4)


For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.


2.    The rest of Canaan (Heb. 4:8)


For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.


3.    The heavenly rest for the Christian (Heb. 4:9)


There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.


D.  Some important facts about our rest:

1.    It involves fear (Heb. 4:1).

2.    It is promised (Heb. 4:1).

3.    It is “his,” God’s, rest (Heb. 4:1).

4.    One can come short of the rest (Heb. 4:1).

5.    It involves belief (Heb. 4:3).

6.    It remains to be entered into (Heb. 4:6, 9).

7.    When one rests, he ceases from his works (Heb. 4:10).

8.    One must labor to enter into rest (Heb. 4:11).


E.   Outline


                                         i.    THE EXHORTATION (Heb. 4:1-2)

                                        ii.    THE EXAMPLES (Heb. 4:3-10)

                                       iii.    THE EFFORT (Heb. 4:11)


I.         REST INVOLVES FEAR (Heb. 4:1)




…lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest…


A.  Promise:

1.    Strong (1860):  assent or pledge; especially a divine assurance of good

2.    Thayer:  announcement, a praise given, promised good or blessing

3.    Vine:  an undertaking to do or give something


B.   Jesus promised it in John 14:1-3


Let not your heart be troubled:  ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.


C.  Referred to by other names:

1.    Promise of eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15)

2.    Eternal life (I John 2:25)


D.  What is so significant about this promise is its certainty.

1.    God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2).


In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.


2.    God is not like man (II Pet. 3:9),.


The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness…


III.      THE REST IS GOD’S REST (Heb. 4:1)


…of entering into his rest…


A.  God planned the rest.


B.   God prepared the rest.


C.  God places the qualifications on the rest.


D.  NOTE:  Since He is God, can you imagine what “His rest” must be like?



A.  Fall short:

1.    Strong (5302):  to fall short (be deficient)

2.    Thayer:  to be left behind in the race and so fail to reach the goal, to fall short of the end…to fail to become a partaker


B.   Example:  When blizzard conditions hit mountainous regions, campers are told not to leave their tents.  On one occasion, a hiker thought he heard another hiker leave his tent.  This man decided to go out after him.  He became lost in the blizzard.  He wandered for hours in the blind conditions.  The next morning, he was found a few feet from his tent.  He had come short of safety.


C.  Bible examples of those who came short.

1.    Saul came short.

2.    Judas came short.

3.    The Israelites came short (See Num. 12:16; 13:2; 14:10; 14:40-45).


D.  “Many a man has failed to reach some specific goal for the simple reason that he gave up too soon….How tragic it would be to spend a lifetime in service and devotion and then give up just short of the goal…” (Wacaster, 136).


V.        REST INVOLVES BELIEF (Heb. 4:3)


For we which have believed do enter into rest…


A.  Definition

1.    (4100):  to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, person or thing…by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being) to Christ

2.    Thayer:  …used in the New Testament of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of the soul; to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something:  saving faith


B.   Notice the contrasting words of Hebrews 4:6b.


…and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.


1.    Two positions are found among the Israelites when they were offered the land of Canaan.

a.    Unbelief

1)     Numbers 13:31


But the men that went up with him, said, We be not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.




2)    Numbers 14:2-4


And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron:  and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt!  Or would God that we had died in the wilderness!  And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey?  Were it not better for us to return into Egypt?  And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.


3)     The qualities of unbelief:

a)    Murmuring against God’s leaders

b)    Defeat;  wishing they had died in Egypt or the wilderness

c)    Blaming God

d)    Longing for the evil from which they came

e)    New leader desired that would do as the multitudes desire

b.    Belief

1)     Caleb (Num. 13:30)


And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.


2)    Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:7-9)


And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding and good land.  If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.  Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us:  their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us:  fear them not.


3)     Qualities of belief:

a)    Action:  Let us go up at once, and possess it

b)    Positive:  we are well able to overcome it

c)    Looking at the prize

d)    Dependency on the Lord (2 times)

e)    No rebellion

f)     No fear (2 times)