A Short Study of Hebrews 4:3
“For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”
The apostle asserts that “we which have believed do enter into rest.” It is a rest that was pictured and typified by several things in the Old Testament.
THE ENTRANCE OF THE JEWS INTO THE LAND OF CANAAN WAS TYPICAL OF THE BELIEVER’S ENTRANCE INTO REST IN CHRIST.
We sometimes think of Canaan as a type of heaven, but that is not accurate. Canaan is typical of the believer’s entrance into a state of grace in this world. In heaven there will be no Hivites and Jebusites to be driven out, but here there are (Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:14-23). Moses, who represented the law, could not bring Israel into Canaan. Only Joshua, who pictures Christ Jesus, could do that, because we are saved by grace in Christ, not by legal works (Romans 3:19-20). The reason many perished in the wilderness and failed to enter the land of rest was unbelief (Hebrews 4:2). Even so, the only reason many who hear the gospel today perish under the wrath of God is their own unbelief (Mark 16:15-16; John 3:36).
THE KEEPING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT SABBATH PORTRAYED THE BELIEVER’S ENTRANCE INTO REST (Hebrews 4:3-4; Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8-11).
We do not, and must not, observe any legal sabbath days in this dispensation of grace (Colossians 2:16). We keep the sabbath spiritually, by faith in Christ. This spiritual sabbath of rest is what the Old Testament sabbath days portrayed. To keep the sabbath is to cease from work, totally. When sinners come to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ they cease from their own works, they cease working for acceptance with God. The weekly sabbath portrayed the beginning of the life of faith (Matthew 11:28).
Salvation is rest!
THE SABBATICAL YEAR PICTURED THE LIFE OF FAITH (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:2-7; Deuteronomy 15:1-11; Deuteronomy 31:10-13).
Though they claimed to do so, I do not recall reading anywhere that the Jews ever once obeyed this law. But God gave it as a perfect picture of the life of faith in Christ. Every seventh year the Jews were required to let their land rest. They were to eat only that which grew of itself, without toil. They were to do no work for twelve months, consecrating themselves entirely to the worship and service of God. That is the life of faith. We live upon a work done in the past (Hebrews 4:3), consecrating ourselves to God (Romans 12:1-2), and refuse to return to our own works (Galatians 5:1-4).
By D. Fortner