There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
This is a key verse in our understanding of rest. The term Sabbath-rest is a very interesting one. It’s the Greek word Sabbatismos. This tense of the word Sabbath means the principle behind the Sabbath.
To put it in English terms the writer is talking about the concept of Sabbathism. So what this verse says is that carried over from the Old Covenant, into the New, is the principle if Sabbathism, not necessarily the observance of the Sabbath day itself. This is only referring to the concept behind it.
The reason is that anyone who enters God’s rest must do so exactly like God did. The believer must, by faith, settle down off of his own works. Think about this. God is still resting – but has He stopped acting? Absolutely not! The Lord continues to respond, yet He remains at rest.
This is the same for us. We know that the outcome has already been decided. We don’t know how God will bring it all about, only that He will. Therefore, we are not working to bring about a desired result.
Our only responsibility is to respond to God correctly. It’s this calling that’s the hard part of our walk with God. Israel was never able to attain to this.
So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Believe it or not, we’re actually talking about power. When the Scripture says that they were not able to enter this rest, it uses the Greek word dunamis. This verse literally says that they did not have the power to enter. It takes the power of God to enter this rest.
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
As I said, our response to God is the hard part. This verse makes that very clear. The Greek word that it uses means to be diligent, prompt, and quick. It’s going to require you to put forth some effort to enter God’s rest; it doesn’t just happen by accident.
Otherwise, as this passage warns, you will fall into the same pattern of apathy that hurt the Israelites. We will lose out because we get apathetic about the Lord’s rest. The writer now makes the reason for this abundantly clear.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The key to this passage of Scripture is the first word, for. This verse contains the reason why we must make every effort to enter God’s rest that He has so graciously provided for His people. So often this verse is read as a “stand-alone” reference.
This was not written merely to give us some information about the Word of God. It’s the main reason why we must enter into the Lord’s rest.
In my next post I’ll finish this series by showing how the Word of God and resting in the Lord are related.
Question: How does trusting God’s Word cause you to rest in Him?
© Nick Zaccardi 2015