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Let us therefore fear. God's promises are conditional. A rest is promised, but we must take heed that we do not come short of it by failing to keep the conditions.
For unto us was the gospel preached. We have the promises of the gospel, but they had the promises of an earthly land of rest preached to them. They broke the covenant on which the promises were based.
The word preached did not profit them. The reason was that it was not received in unfaltering faith. Hence they did not obey it. So unbelief would make the gospel to us of none effect.
For we which have believed. Believers in Christ enter into rest; have the hope of the promised rest. To have the rest is conditioned upon a trusting faith.
If they shall enter into my rest. Rather, "They shall not, etc." See Revision. It is the same quotation that is found in Heb 3:11. The argument is that the Israelites were excluded from God's rest, and hence it follows that some others must enter in, since the rest has not been prepared in vain.
Although the works were finished. Though God completed his work in six days and rested the seventh, a type of the rest to be given to his saints, yet keeping the Sabbath is not entering into that rest.
He spake in a certain place. In Gen 2:2. There it is stated that "God rested on the seventh day from all his works." The Sabbath rest was therefore established long before Israel was denied entrance into the rest. Hence it is not the rest.
In this place again. In Psa 95:11, which declares that Israel should not enter into God's rest. Though Israel had kept the rest of the Sabbath, they had not entered into God's rest, as this language shows. The rest of the Sabbath is not then the promised rest, nor is Canaan below, from which nearly all Israel was once excluded, because David exhorts the people, though in Canaan, to enter into the rest.
Seeing . . . that some must enter. Since God has a rest for his people, and it is not made in vain, there must be some who enter therein. Those to whom it was first offered entered not because of their unbelief. Hence it remaineth to all who, like Joshua and Caleb, have faith.
Again he limiteth a certain day. The thought is that there is a day of opportunity. If that day is passed by, the opportunity is gone. The word of the Lord is, To-day if, etc.
For if Jesus. "Joshua" in the Revision. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Joshua. Joshua led Israel over the Jordan into Canaan, but that did not give them complete rest. If that had been true, David would not have exhorted them to seek to enter into rest. Five hundred years after they entered Canaan this exhortation is given in the 95th Psalm.
There remaineth therefore a rest. Since God has a rest for his people, and neither the Sabbath nor Canaan is the rest, these being only types of that rest, a rest remaineth to the people of God.
For he that is entered into his rest. When God rested on the Sabbath, the type of the true rest, his works ceased. So when our rest comes, weary toil, trials and sufferings will be over.
Let us labor therefore. Since this glorious rest, the heavenly rest, remains for faithful believers, we should seek to enter upon it, and especially take heed that we do not come short through unbelieving disobedience as did Israel.
For the word of God. The Israelites came short because they refused to hear the word of the Lord. If we could enter in, we must take heed to the word. It is living and active (Revision), sharper than any two-edged sword. Cutting keenly and in all directions.
Dividing of soul and spirit. It not only gives life, but slays, as was the case with the Israelites who fell in the wilderness, and pierces to the soul and spirit. It reaches the very fountains of life.
A discerner of the thoughts. It lays bare the thoughts and the intentions.
Neither is there any creature. In Christ appears the Word in personal form, while in the gospel we have his spoken word. Here the reference is to the personal Word. Every creature is manifest before him, and all our deeds and thoughts are open to his eyes.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest. As has been shown Our high priest now makes intercession in the true Holy of Holies.
For we have not a high priest, etc. A high priest must be in sympathy with those for whom he ministers. Christ, who took upon himself our infirmities, is such a high priest. He was tried and tempted as man, but remained sinless.
Let us therefore come boldly. Because our high priest can be touched by our infirmities.
The throne of grace. The Jewish high priest interceded before the mercy-seat. We may come boldly to the mercy-seat, knowing that our loving Elder Brother is our high priest in the heavens. Hence we may always have confidence when we ask for grace to help in time of need.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Hebrews 4". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany