“For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: ‘So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:3).
The passage quoted above marks the second time in twelve verses that our author has referenced Psalm 95:11. Those twelve verses span Hebrews 3:11-4:3 and serve to remind us that an attitude of unbelief can be very costly. We can illustrate that cost with a look at the fourteenth chapter of the Biblical book of Numbers and the account that is cited for us in Psalm 95:11.
While “unbelief” may seem rather harmless, consider how that internal attitude worked to negatively influence the people of ancient Israel. For instance, it was unbelief that led to…
- Unwarranted criticism (Numbers 14:2).
- The insinuation that God was acting with an inappropriate motive (Numbers 14:3).
- A defeatist attitude (Numbers 14:3).
- A campaign to retreat in disgrace (Numbers 14:4).
- An attack upon those who rejected a similar attitude of unbelief (Numbers 14:10).
- A change of external behavior but no change of internal attitude (Numbers 14:39-44).
So, this attitude of unbelief prevented these individuals from receiving the good things that God had prepared for them “from the foundation of the world.” It also led them to take actions that were self-destructive and harmful to others. Their example differs greatly from the one given to us in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, a portion of Scripture that illustrates a far better path: “love… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
“For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this place: ‘They shall not enter My rest'” (Hebrews 4:4-5).
The word “rest” often conveys the idea of sleep, or the opportunity to take a break when we are tired. So why would this passage tell us that God “rested” from His creative work on the seventh day when He is someone who never gets tired or needs to rest?
Well, the idea of “rest” means “to desist from labor” when used in this context. (1) In other words, God rested from His creative labor on the seventh day. This does not mean that God became tired and sought to take a hiatus; instead, He simply ceased from any further creative activity. This pattern offers us a model to follow by separating each week into a seven-day period, with the final day set aside as a time of rest.
(1) H7673 sabat https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h7673/kjv/wlc/0-1/