CHRISTIANS! SEEK THE REST OF GOD IN HIS MILLENNIAL KINGDOM.
[HEBREWS chapters 3 and 4]
In the beginning of chapter three of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul addresses Christians as "Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling." Now the Gospel recognizes no holy brethren, but those who are sanctified by the belief of the truth: 5: 10; 13: 24. Nor are any accounted to be receivers of God’s holy call, but such as believe: Rom. 1: 6; 8: 28; 1 Cor. 1: 2-24, 26; Eph. 1: 18. As men of faith the Hebrew Christians are called to consider Jesus as "the apostle and high priest." Jesus then was confessed by these as their atoning high priest,* and that in the face of enemies and blasphemers, who caused them trouble and loss. Hence he names their faith a "confession."
[* As this point is being doubted or denied by many, I enter
into it more fully in this note. The [Book of] Hebrews is
addressed to [regenerate] believers only;
as is apparent from both negative and positive proofs. (1) It is proved negatively,
because there is not in the Epistle the call to entire repentance and faith,
which characterize apostolic addresses to unbelievers: Acts 2: 38-40; 3: 19; 13: 38, 39; Matt. 3: 2; 4: 17. (2) It is proved
positively, because they are described as believers.
"For we believers
are entering into the rest:" 4: 3. "We are ... of them that believe to the saving of the soul:" 10: 39. "We might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us;" 6: 18. Here Paul* associates them with himself. They had forgiveness of sins. "When He had by himself purged our sins:"1:3. Contrast this with
the position of
[* The writer of the epistle is anonymous.]
[They are exhorted to duties proper to believers only: to be
diligent, watchful, bearers of good fruit; patient to the end, (4: 14; 6: 9-20,) and to exhort one
13; 10: 25; 13: 22. They are bid run the race
they had begun, imitating Christ, and laying aside all weights: 12: 1. The writer covets their prayers for himself: 13: 18. For some more
instances in which the inspired writer of the Epistle associates those to whom
he was writing as standing on the same ground of faith with himself, see 2: 3; 6: 20; 7: 14;
11: 40; 13: 20. The typical position he
gives them is not that of
had accepted "the heavenly calling,"
and hereby were placed in contrast to
But now God is calling His people, by His Son who has ascended, and speaks from heaven: 4: 14; 12: 25. He calls them to be strangers and pilgrims here; burying them to earth in baptism, but giving them also therein (in figure) a new hope in [the first] resurrection. Their country, city, name, and substance are heavenly: 11: 16; 10: 34; 22: 23. They are Abraham’s heavenly seed like the stars; and the gifts of power which signalized the profession of old were heavenly: 6: 4. God invites us to His [millennial] Kingdom and glory; and Paul calls the first resurrection "the hope of our calling:" 1Thess. 2: 12; Rev. 20: 4, 6; Phil. 3: 14; Eph. 1: 18.
apostle notices, in the second verse of the
chapter before us, that ‘Jesus, the apostle of our
calling,’ answers to Moses, and "is"*
faithful to him that appointed him, as Moses also was
in all his house." The house of God
in Moses’ day was
[* Our translators in rendering it "was" have darkened the sense. Jesus is our high priest in resurrection: 8: 4. He became our apostle in resurrection also. Not till then did He call us from heaven.]
But Jesus is far superior to Moses in His Person: as the Creator of all things. Moses was but a servant in God’s house: Christ stands as a Son over it.
"Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
apostle is here comparing the conduct of
What is our hope, "the hope of our calling"? It is but one; though called, in the wisdom of God, by not a few names: Eph. 4: 4. It is sometimes described as ‘the rest’ of God, sometimes as ‘the kingdom of God,’ sometimes as ‘the future age,’ ‘the first resurrection,’ ‘the resurrection of the just,’ ‘the return of Christ,’ ‘the glory of God,’ ‘the prize of our high calling from above:" Eph. 1: 9, 10, 18; Heb. 2: 5; 1: 6, 8, 13; 10: 25, 37; 2: 6, 8; Psa. 8; Psa. 110; Rom. 5: 2; 1 John 3: 1-3; 1 Pet. 1: 13; Luke 20: 35, 36; 14: 14.
To THIS rest and glory Jesus, our Lord risen from the dead, calls us. "He that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father:" Rev. 2: 26, 27. Here is the saint’s association with Jesus in His Millennial Kingdom, under condition, as in Hebrews. "To Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with my Father on His throne:" Rev. 3: 21.
first the confidence of this blessed hope, and its bold assertion before men
was strong in the Christians among the Hebrews. They sold houses and
lands, expecting the Lord’s speedy advent. But time sped on, and the Lord
came not; persecutions long and heavy befell them; and hope flagged and
waned. The confidence of it before God, the confession of it before men,
diminished. Some were almost ready to surrender it altogether. In
this they were like
this is our warning. The disciples of the
The apostle [Writer] proceeds to quote from the 95 th Psalm, as giving to believers in our day Christ’s call to partake in His kingdom and glory.
"Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith,) ‘To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore was I grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart: and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest.’ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;" verse 7-12.
The opening words of the quotation have much force. "The Holy Ghost saith" - We should have expected the past tense. - ‘The Holy Spirit by David said.’ But no! This is the very point the apostle [Writer] designs to let us know, that the passage he is citing applies fully to Christians of this dispensation [of ‘to-day’]. It is the Holy Ghost addressing the men of "To-day," - calling them to be obedient while the day lasts.
The [Holy] Spirit is speaking to God’s people who are under the conduct of Jesus - His house. For there are two great divisions of God’s people; those of the Old Testament, and those of the New. Now, as in their blessings, their responsibilities, their tendencies, and reward, they resemble one another, they can both be addressed in similar language by the Most High. Is not the [Holy] Spirit speaking to God’s people? What says the previous part of this verse of the 95th Psalm? "For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."
Who is it that teaches them? The Holy Ghost! An idea seems to have entered many minds, that the descent of the Holy Spirit has set Christians free from the teaching of Jesus; as if that were merely elementary! Now it is true that the Holy Spirit was to teach many things to the disciples, which, before our Lord’s departure from the earth they could not bear. The discovery of the [Gentiles in the] Church as the body of Christ was new. But the teaching of the [Holy] Spirit in reference to the coming kingdom has not altered, so far as I can perceive, the previous instructions of Jesus to his heavenly people. The witness of the Spirit here runs precisely along the same line as our Lord’s in the Gospels. Matt. 6: 33; Luke 12: 31, 46-48.
"To-day, IF YE WILL HEAR HIS VOICE."
To whose voice are we to listen?
The context clearly shows. This passage is adduced, to teach us our duty in reference to Jesus, as the Great Leader of the people of God, who is conducting them onward to His REST. As the voice of Moses was to be listened to by those who wished to enter the earthly rest; so is the voice of Jesus, by those who own Him as the Leader of the heavenly calling. His words point out the way. Are the words of this Psalm in force in reference to us? "Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my words shall not pass away." During what day is He to be listened to? Some would make His words applicable to a ‘Jewish remnant’ of a future day. The [Holy] Spirit says, they belong to the heavenly people of do-day.
One of the spiritual dangers of our time is the setting aside of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels, as if unsuited to believers of ‘the Church.’ This is a fatal idea, which will lead on to increasing evil, even to the denying the Lordship of Jesus, and His right to command His people. On this point, then, I propose, - as the danger is imminent, - to state pretty fully the testimony of Scripture.
What says the Gospel of Matthew? That, as soon as Jesus submitted to baptism, in token of His accepting the call to the kingdom which was given by John Baptist, the heavens were opened, the Spirit descended on Him as a dove, and the voice of the Father proclaimed Him His well-beloved Son, in whim He was well pleased. Here the whole Trinity is seen together in its harmony of testimony. Speedily afterward the Saviour delivers the Sermon on the Mount, and discovers at some length who of His disciples shall partake of the millennial kingdom. He sets aside the standard of Moses, introducing a far higher one: Matt. 5: 20-48.
He proclaims Himself the Judge of those who shall enter the kingdom in the day to come. He assures us, that those who neglect or disobey these instructions of his are disobeying also "the will of his Father who is in heaven:" 7: 24, 21.
But some will reply, - ‘We are not to seek the kingdom: we are in the kingdom already. What says Col. 1: 12, 13?’
you now, then, I ask, sitting down with Abraham Isaac and Jacob, and all the
prophets in the
After Jesus’ resurrection, when He tells of the message to be borne to all the Gentiles, and of the holy name of Father, Son, and Spirit, into which the receivers of the truth were to be immersed, He describes the doctrines to be inculcated upon His disciples thus - "Teaching them to observe whatsoever I command you:" 28: 19, 20. "Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Luke 6: 46. Has the [Holy] Spirit’s descent done away with Jesus’ Lordship?
Does the Gospel of John set the matter on any different foundation?
By no means. Jesus, both to the multitudes and to the disciples affirms, that all His words were taught by the Father, as well as the works which were done by Him: 12: 49; 14: 10. Assembled with the apostles, after Judas had gone out, He as their recognized "Lord and Teacher," instructs them as to their future course, and hopes: 13: 13, 14. He then utters His new command, that they should love one another, 13: 34; 15: 12. If they loved Him, they were to give the proof of it by obeying His commands: 14: 15, 21-24. "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you:" 15: 14. Is not this decisive? Has the descent of the Holy Ghost loosed the bonds of friendship with Jesus? It is the characteristic of His sheep that they listen to His voice, and own no other: 10: 3, 4, 27. Was this spoken to Jewish sheep alone? The Holy Ghost’s testimony meets this also. Jesus says, of the other sheep whom the Saviour would bring, that "they shall hear His voice:" 16. "Every one that is of the truth hears (Christ’s) voice:" 18: 37. The promised Spirit of truth sent from the Father through Christ’s word, was at His coming to bring "all things to (their) remembrance, whatsoever I have said:" 14: 26; 17: 8.
At Pentecost the Spirit of the Father and of the Son descends in power; and the apostles speak as inspired by Him. What then says Peter, after the Church has begun? That Jesus was the prophet like Moses, foretold in the book of God. "Him shall ye hear IN ALL THINGS, whatsoever he shall say unto you:" Acts 3: 22.* Baptism was the token of burial to Moses, that they might be free to listen, in new life, to Jesus.
[* The words "unto the fathers," after "Moses said," are probably not genuine.]
What says Peter to Gentiles? That Jesus is the appointed judge of the living and the dead. He commands them too, in the name of Jesus, to be baptized: Acts 10. Thus He sanctions the application to them of all Jesus’ other commands.
says Paul? He is arrested by the risen Jesus speaking from
on high; from Him he receives command and commission. By Him Ananias is sent to the troubled penitent, and baptism
is commanded : Acts
9. Paul preaching afterwards at
Finally, the Saviour presents to John, as His most precious gift, the Apocalypse. He addresses seven of His churches. He speaks to them all as their Lord and Master, (3: 8, 10,) whose praise it is to observe His teaching. Moreover the burden of each of His addresses is directed by the Spirit to every one who has an ear: 2: 7, etc.*
[* I give some more texts for those who would study the matter further. Rom. 6: 16; 2 Cor. 13: 3; Col. 3: 16; Eph. 4: 20, 21; 5: 1, 23; Gal. 6: 2; 1 Tim. 6: 3; 2 Peter 3: 2; 2: 19-21; 1 John 2: 3-8, 14; 3: 22-24; 4: 21; 5: 2, 3; 2 John 5: 6; Heb. 1: 2, 4; 3: 7, 15, 16; 4: 2, 7; 5: 9; 12: 22-24.]
The passage above quoted from the 95th Psalm recites the grounds on which the Lord at length sware against His ransomed ones, that they should not enter the land. They provoked Him ten times; till at length, His sentence, never to be recalled, went forth. But this applies, - as the Holy Spirit says, - in its full force to US.
Suppose a doctor to undertake a cure of a difficult and dangerous case of disease. He sees the sick man, carefully examines him, lays down strict rules for diet, confines him to his chamber, save at a stated hour in the middle of the day; sends him medicine, and as he is poor, continually supplies him from his own table with necessaries. But the patient is refractory: dislikes the bitter draughts, finds the restraint irksome, takes the things he is forbidden, eats unripe fruit, sits up late at night, and drinks occasionally of spirits and water, which are specially forbidden. In place of being thankful, he complains, as if his doctor were only doing what he does on purpose to annoy him. When his kind physician at length bids him go out for a long walk, because of his great improvement, he flatly refuses. ‘He should catch his death of cold; the doctor only ordered it with a view to kill him!’ Would you wonder if the kind physician said at length - ‘I wash my hands of the case: he will die, and that soon!’
Like this was the case of Hebrew Christians; and of many [regenerate]
believers now. God was calling them out from old and earthly blessings,
lest they should obtain their portion here and now. He was leading them through trials here to a desire for the kingdom to
come, and a fitness for it. He called them to follow in the footsteps
of His Son; to part for His sake with their good names, their lands and houses,
their temple and festivals, and their earthly
Lord grant us not to resemble
12. "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God."
the words "brethren," and "take heed lest there be in any of you"
unbelief, it is clear, that Christians are intended. Could
there be any doubt, whether there was unbelief universally in
But how is it possible that [regenerate] believers should be in danger of "an evil heart of unbelief"?
This is the outlet of escape, by which [multitudes of real] Christians have hitherto avoided the forceful thrusts of the word of God. But the shield is easily pierced. The example which the apostle [Writer] has cited, supplies the answer.
The answer then is – ‘With general faith there may be, there oft is, SPECIAL unbelief.’ It will not be doubted, that the eleven apostles were men of faith: men of faith to the saving of the soul. And yet they are rebuked for unbelief and hardness of heart by Jesus! "They, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen [after His resurrection] by her [Mary Magdalene] believed not. "After he had appeared in another form unto two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue; neither believed they them. Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen:" Mark 16: 11-14. THAT is God’s preface to the message of the Gospel, sent to the world by the eleven! (See verses 15-18.)
But when they had reached the land at Kadesh-Barnea, and were bidden by God to go in, they refused through unbelief. So Moses declares. Their faith failed on this point. "Then I said unto you - ‘Dread not, nor be afraid of them.’ (the Canaanites and giants.) Yet, in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God:" Deut. 1: 29, 32.
In John the Baptist we see a real faith shaken, but restored by the Saviour’s exhortation: Matt. 11: 1-15.
special unbelief has eaten into the hearts of multitudes of true Christians.
They believe for [eternal] salvation. But they will not
believe the testimony concerning Christ’s
Who is "the living God" from whom we are warned not to swerve in heart? Christ! It was to prepare us for this, that the apostle had declared of Jesus, that as the Builder of all all things He was superior to Moses, being indeed Almighty God: verse 4. Jesus proclaimed himself to be "Resurrection and Life:" John 11. "Ye killed," says Peter, "the Prince of Life." The Son of God is He to whose voice we are to listen. Turning away from His words is turning from the Lord of life: 1: 1. He it is, by whom the recompense, whether to obedience or disobedience, is to be rendered. "For we know who said - ‘Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.’ And again, ‘The Lord shall judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God:" 10: 30, 31. Now the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son: John 5.
same conclusion follows from the general range of the chapter. Jesus is our
Apostle and Leader, as Moses was apostle and leader of God’s
ancient people. "Go and
gather the elders of
there was another occasion, still more critical, on which the eye of the
inspired writer is here fixed. At Kadesh the people believe the unfaithful spies’ report, that the land was too difficult to be won. They weep in unbelief. They murmur
against Moses and Aaron. ‘Why had they brought them
out?’ They blaspheme
Jehovah himself. All His previous
mercies were only a trick, to lead them into battle with the Canaanites, in
order to destroy them! "Were it not better
for us to return into
Now Jesus is not only a man, but the living God; He answers both to Moses and Jehovah. To disbelieve His voice is to depart in heart from the living God.
13. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘To-day;’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
arises another proof, that [regenerate] believers are addressed in this
epistle. Exhortation, as far as owned of God, can only spring from
faith: 2 Cor. 4: 13.
How can one persuade me to seek that in which he himself has no faith?
Exhortation is a something that demands spiritual life in the exhorter, and
supposes the person to be a believer:
Exhortation in God’s appointed remedy against the danger spoken of in the preceding verse. To exhortation belong two parts: the cheering onward by a view of the glory exhibited, an appeal to keep up hope, a setting forth of the aide afforded to attain it, and of its nearness: and the warning, by a presentation of the sad results of the loss of the prize proposed.
is manifested to us in the example to which the apostle is referring.* As soon as the ten spies have given a statement
of the difficulties to be overcome in entering the land, Caleb stills the
people before Moses, and says, "Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to
overcome it:" 13: 30.
Again, when the people in their unbelief are murmuring against Moses and
against God, "Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the
son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched
the land, rent their clothes. And they spake unto all the company of the
[* We see the ruinous results of the exhortation given by unbelief to turn from faith’s hope, in Num. 14: 3, 4.]
Now the same danger threatens US. There is great peril of hardening the
heart, by refusing any word of God. The Lord appeals to us believers by
invitations to His [Millennial] Kingdom and glory, and by descriptions of its
blessedness. But we may shut up our heart by despising
that period of reward, just as
Before the threatenings of God the soul of the believer ought to soften. But you may hear upon occasion even a believer say - ‘I care not! Don’t think to frighten me with your threats!’ This is to harden the heart.
Against the promises and threats of the living God sin interposes its deceits - ‘These threats don’t apply to you; they are Jewish: they are for mere professors.’ ‘There are so many who are walking in the same way with you; fear not! So many cannot be smitten!’ ‘How can you be responsible, if you have not grace enough given you?’ And so on. Very many [regenerate] believers accept these teachings, to their present and future loss.
Against all these the Holy Ghost lifts up His word of exhortation to believers - "Be NOT DECEIVED; God cannot be mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap:" Gal. 6: 7. "Know ye not that unrighteous persons [and some of you are unrighteous, for ye do wrong and defraud, and that your brethren,] SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD, BE NOT DECEIVED:" 1 Cor. 6: 8-11; Rev. 2: 10, 25-27; 3: 4, 5, 11; 2 John 8; Matt. 6: 33.
long is this weapon of exhortation to be plied? Day by day, as long as
this present [evil]
age lasts. "While it is called to-day,"
Satan is the Tempter at large; the world and the flesh are strong against the
14. "For we have become associates of the Christ,* if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end." [See Greek]
The received rendering, "We are made partakers of Christ," darkens the sense. The apostle is referring back to a previous occurrence of the word in this Epistle. "Unto the Son he saith, - Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou lovedst righteousness, and hatedst iniquity: wherefore, O God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Here is the same word. While Jesus as God has no fellow or associate, as the Son of Man and the Christ He has. In the Psalm from which this citation is taken, we have a view of Him coming to earth as King of glory. He rides on the white horse; His enemies are destroyed under His arrows of wrath. As the King He sets up righteousness. The queen is presented to Him: the hour of glory and power is come. But He comes not alone; He rides among His "fellows," in the glory. Here we see another view of Rev. 19: 11. The Word of God comes forth from heaven as King of kings: He is attended by armies of His friends; the chosen, called, and faithful. Then comes the slaughter of His foes; and the setting up of His Millennial Kingdom: Rev. 19: 20.
the apostle then is teaching is this - ‘We are the riders attendant on the
triumphant King seen in Psalm 45 - under
condition of our retaining to the end our special faith in the Saviour
as the Lord of the age to come. We shall partake of the
glory laid up for "the Christ," if
we fail not.’ For the
Fail not to notice, believer, how potent an aid is given to this truth, by perceiving that Jesus Himself takes this kingdom on the ground of faithfulness, obedience, and suffering. "Thou lovedst [during thy life as man] righteousness, and hatedst iniquity, THEREFORE O God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Is it any wonder, therefore, if the same principle be brought to bear upon His associates in the glory? What says Phil. 3: 5-11? "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. WHEREFORE God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those in earth, and those under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Here again the Scripture testifies, that Jesus takes His [millennial] kingdom as the result of obedient humility and suffering. In the next chapter too, we have Paul stating how earnest was the wish of his heart, that by treading the same road with the Christ he might attain to a part in that first resurrection of glory.
"We became associates of the Christ." When? When we believed. "IF WE hold fast." Many refuse to confess the conditional promises set before believers, though they are not few. Believer, harden not your heart, by denying them! *
[* The writer has published a paper containing thirty-eight ‘ifs’ of the New Testament appertaining to regenerate believers.]
"For IF we became fellow-plants in the likeness of His
death, why, we shall also be of the [first] resurrection:"
"if" then supposes possible loss of the association in the glory with Jesus in
Paul desires to keep up to their early height of faith, hope, and love, those whom he now addresses. If they would but hold steadfast to the end "the beginning of their confidence." They would assuredly be fellows of Messiah in His Kingdom of glory. How bright was their faith at first! House and land weighed against the hopes of the coming kingdom were nought. They sold them, brought the money to apostles; gave it away. See also Heb. 6: 9-12.
we not see the same thing in the history which the Holy Ghost has set as the
mirror to reflect the matter to us?
15. "While it is said, ‘To-day if ye shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.’"
This takes up the question which is stated naturally by the previous verse. - ‘You say, we are to be steadfast to the end. When is the end?’ We answer, when ‘this day’ is concluded. When God no longer calls our time ‘to-day.’ For there are two great days named in God’s word - ‘this day,’ and ‘that day.’ As long as this day of temptation, toil, and war continues, we must be on our guard. ‘That day’ alters all: and Christ is coming [back to this earth] to introduce it.
It is now the time during which the door into millennial glory is open; the time also, when there is danger of hardening the heart, of provoking God, and being excluded the kingdom. As long as ‘to-day’ lasts, our duty is to listen to Christ the speaker from heaven: Heb. 12: 19-25. ‘Look to Christ,’ is one excellent direction. But "look to yourselves," is another of similar excellency: 2 John 8; Rev. 3: 11.
16. "For who when they heard, did
provoke? Why, was it not all that came out of
[* The reading this verse as a question, as well as the two following ones, has the sanction of almost all critics, both of ancient and modern times. The present rendering clogs the apostle’s argument.]
"But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest? But to the disobedient? So we see they could not enter in because of unbelief."
In the answer to these questions lies the whole force of the appeal. ‘Who provoked Jehovah?’ Was it the Egyptians? Was it the Amorites? ‘Who grieved Him? Against whom did He sware?’
Against His own ransomed ones! Those it was, who provoked and grieved Him! The whole congregation of those whom in His grace and
power He led out of
It was not the ignorant heathen. It was those who had heard His voice speaking in terrible majesty out of the fire and cloud of Sinai: Deut. 4: 33; 5: 23. This the Lord notices in His sentence of exclusion. "Because all those men which have seen my glory and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not harkened to my voice, surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers; neither shall any of them that provoked me see it, but my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit* with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whither he went; and his seed shall possess it:" Num. 14: 22-24.
[* Here is what I believe is the
meaning of the salvation of the spirit, which Paul refers to in his
first epistle to the Corinthians: “Deliver such a one
unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved
the day of the Lord Jesus:” (1
Cor. 5: 5).
This text does not teach that “the wicked man” (verse 13),
(who was regenerate ‘brother’ within
These are God’s words sworn by Himself. Thus there are two oaths, seemingly contrary, yet both upheld by God.
There is the oath of entrance
for the obedient and the young of
[*Our translators have omitted the article; - "the many."]
was a provoking thing to Jehovah, that
Our responsibility to Christ turns upon our hearing His words: then He looks for our doing them. "Whoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them" - shall be, in the day to come, accounted wise. But he that heareth and doeth not, shall be esteemed foolish. For, "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth* the will of my Father in heaven:" Matt. 7: 21. He who would enter the glory must listen to the commands of the Guide to it.
[* The good works of regenerate
believers, demanded by Christ for entrance into ‘the
kingdom of the heavens,’ prove to us (in this context) that the kingdom
be eternal: it is an “age-lasting”
kingdom upon this earth, attained only be those whom Christ will
deem to be “considered worthy of taking part in”
(Luke 20: 35). See also Matt. 5:
20 for the standard of personal righteousness required for
entrance: and 2 Tim. 6: 12, where the Greek
word translated “eternal,” should be translated
We don’t “fight the good fight of the faith”
or “take hold” of something which we already
have received by the grace of God as a “free gift”!
(Rom. 6: 23, R.V.) That is, eternal life (with God) in
In verse 18, the oath of God goes forth against the disobedient. In verse 19, the apostle derives for us the lesson, that unbelief was the cause of their exclusion. What do we learn thence? That unbelief in the heart is the cause of disobedience in the conduct. God regards both: but it was only when the evil appeared in action that He passed sentence. Entire unbelief excludes from eternal life: Acts 13: 46. Partial unbelief, with its accompanying disobedience, excludes from the [millennial] kingdom of reward: Psa. 106: 12, 24, 26.
4: 1. "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should think he has come too late for it."
the peculiarity of the sentence,"Let US fear, lest a promise being left US of entering
into His rest, any of YOU should think." What does the change of pronouns teach?
That Paul was in no danger of believing
that the rest of God was finished. But there was danger
even to Paul and the believers of
reader will observe, that I have here given a
different rendering from that of the Authorized Version. My reasons are, that the usual translation stands in the way of the
apostle’s argument. Is the danger to the Christians only that of seeming
to lose the rest?* Nay,
the example of warning shows, that, as the loss was actual on
[* If any will retain the Authorized Version’s rendering then the danger will be, the being left behind at the rapture of the ready Christian, and the passing through the Great Tribulation.]
With the sanction of many critics, then, I render it - "lest any of you should think* that he has come too late for it." Here every word retains its force; and is most suitable to the context. The second verb signifies to come short of a thing - which may be either in regard of time or place. Here it is taken as coming short in respect of time: as in Heb. 2: 3, (LXX,) and Matt. 25: 11. To this it may be added, that the subsequent context proves this to the meaning, as we shall see. Also the fact, that the verb is in the perfect tense: the force of which is lost in our translation.
[* For this sense of the Greek word … see Heb. 10: 29; Phil. 3: 4; James 4: 5.]
Greatly did Paul [the Writer of Hebrews] value the glory of the kingdom. For it as the prize of his heavenly calling he earnestly sought. Jesus commends those who with zeal were seeking it: bids us to do so. But he knew full well, that this hope of our calling might soon drop out of view; and would be easily set aside in the minds of some, by the very first objection which suggested itself. Now, the readiest of these, and the most forcible, was the one which the Holy Ghost singles out for refutation. - ‘O Paul, how can you attach any force to such an argument as that? ‘God’s rest was over ages ago!’ It is this deceit of the Enemy, then, which he [the Holy Spirit] sets himself to expose. That this was the choice weapon of the Old Adversary against the doctrine of the Millennium, so forcible as that in its effects upon the [regenerate] believers, is proved for us again in 2 Tim. 2. After Paul has stated the terms of entrance into the future kingdom, and their sure subsistence and execution in the day to come, in spite of man’s unbelief, (8-13) he adds, that two leaders of false doctrine had affirmed, that the (first) resurrection was already past.* Thus the faith of some in the Christian’s great hope was lost. But with God its reality abode, unchangeable as before: 17, 18.
[* And this same false teaching is what is happening today amongst regenerate believers who do not believe in the intermediate state and place of the souls of the dead in Hades – the waiting-place of the dead before their resurrection, (Matt. 16: 18; Rev. 6: 9-11). Multitudes of regenerate believers teach and believe that they ascend into heaven at the time of death! If that is true, then there would be no need for a resurrection of the dead! If the time of Death is the time of Resurrection, then, who would be in the least concerned about any “better resurrection” of reward? Heb. 11: 35; Luke 14: 14; 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11; Rev. 20: 4-6. Is the animating ‘spirit’, which returns to God at the time of death, the man? No it is not. It is what gives life to body and soul, (Luke 8: 55; Job 34: 14, 15; James 2: 26.) Is the ‘body,’ that decomposes at the time of death, the man? No it is not, for the bodies of believers were eaten by wild beasts in the Roman amphitheatres; and Jacob believed Joseph’s body had been ‘devoured’ by a wild beast (Gen. 37: 32). Is the ‘soul’ the man? Yes. The soul is the man for this is what the Word of God teaches: “thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades:” (Psa. 16: 10; Acts 2: 27, 31). Is this intermediate place of the dead in Heaven? No it is not; those in Hades need to wait for ‘the resurrection of the dead’ before they can ascend into heaven: and Resurrection reunites everything that Death has separated. As Death separates spirit, body and soul; Resurrection will reunite them. Therefore, all who teach contrary to what the Word of God teaches us concerning Resurrection: “Have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already and overthrow the faith of some:” (2 Tim. 18, R.V.) If this fundamental doctrine of Scripture was fully understood by the people of God today, then there would be a realisation of how important it is to attain that resurrection of which Paul speaks of in his letter “to all the saints in Christ Jesus … at Philippi” (Phil. 1:1; 3: 10-14.).]
In consequence of his fear for the Hebrew Christians therefore, lest this sheet-anchor of the vessels of faith amidst the storms of life should be stolen, he proceeds to prove, that God’s rest is not past; and therefore that we do well to seek it.
"The promise is left us." Its
force is not exhausted: the day of seeking for a part in it is still running
on. Let none, then, be seduced from pursuit of this glorious object by this
wile of the enemy. The
4:2. "For to us has the good news been brought, as well as to them; but the word of the report * [* See Greek.] did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
‘Gospel’ here spoken of is not the
tidings of [eternal]
salvation by the blood of the Son of God; but the good news of God’s rest;
or (as it is called in Matthew), "the gospel of
the kingdom," which is indeed the basis of that evangelist’s
history: 4: 28; 9: 35; 5: 7. But lest any should think that this
kingdom of God is Jewish and earthly only; peculiar to the ministry of our
Lord and the ‘Jewish’ apostles; let him observe, that it is quite as
habitually proclaimed by Paul, as was "the gospel
of the grace of God." How clearly the [Holy] Spirit of God foresaw this refuge of unbelief, and
has given witness against it in Paul’s last address to the elders of
Holy Ghost here supposes, that the rest proclaimed
of old is the same that is now offered to us. But this many
Christians have contradicted. They hold that the rest supposed in the
Psalms was only the enjoyment of the earthly Canaan under Moses; and therefore,
that Paul, in applying the word to Christians, is either mistaken, or else using
allegory. This idea however would destroy the argument. We must
then insist upon what is necessary to uphold the inspired argumentation.
Thence it will follow, that the rest of God is His future millennial kingdom
of glory; of which both the worthies of the Old Testament and those of Christ’s
heavenly people will alike partake. Hence
"The word of the report did not profit them."
is a reference back to
Here we see Satan’s two pleas against the rest of God; which have so constantly been successful in the souls of most. (1) ‘There is no such kingdom of millennial glory as you talk about. ‘Tis all your imagination!’ That is deceit the first. (2) ‘There is indeed, we allow, but it is so beset by obstacles within and without; it demands such strictness of life, it sets up so lofty a standard, that we cannot enter. We have given up all hope of it! Perhaps a favoured few of the heroes and martyrs of the Christian faith may enter; but it is useless for us to attempt it!’
two forms of unbelief in God’s testimony we see in the history which is given
us to exhibit it. At Kadesh the rebellion of
4:3 "For we believers are entering into the rest,* [*See Greek.] as he said - ‘So I sware in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest:’ although the works from the foundation of the world were finished."
The differences of rendering in this verse are important. Our translators, who were no millenarians, saw only in this argument of the apostle’s, the proof of the present rest of all believers in the work of Christ: and hence they have missed the sense; and obscured by their translation a passage difficult enough in itself.
They render the word -"Do enter." This is one form of the present, which we may call the customary present. They have also omitted the article before ‘rest.’* But the word here is really a ‘prospective present;’ as in the Saviour’s words - ‘I am going to prepare a place for you.’ "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
[* “The definite article, the, is in the Greek permitted where the English refuses it. Thus the Greek says Abraham begat the Isaac. But the rendering Abraham begat Isaac, is not a true account of the matter, since the very next word, Isaac begat the Jacob, has not the article. It is fair neither to Author nor to reader, not to apprize the reader that of the two Isaacs side by side one has the article, and the other has not. Unfair to the Author, since Matthew (not to say the Holy Spirit Himself), like any serious writer, may be presumed to have had a reason for such marked distinction. Unfair to the reader, since he has a right to know that in the original a bell as it were is rung to attract his attention. Here, forsooth, GIVE HEED, READER, Article here, no article there: a distinction, and it is for thee to find wherein it is.”]
course of the argument requires this. Paul is proving that ‘the rest’ of
which the Psalm speaks is yet future; and that we are not come
too late to partake of it. Unbelievers are excluded.
Unbelief was the principle of loss on their part. But we are believers;
we have long been so. (Aorist participle.) We
then have in us the principle needed to gain the rest in question.
Believers are on their way to this rest of God’s promising: and none but
they. Faith is an indispensable
condition to its attainment. Only those who have come out of
To show what is ‘the rest’ of which he is speaking, that rest towards which believers in Jesus as our Leader are tending, he quotes again the words of the Psalm - "So I sware in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest." Then He adds - "Although the works from the foundation of the world had been finished." This is the order of the Greek, and it is the best. It gives us a clear view of the course of the inspired argument. It is as if the apostle said - ‘I grant you, that God’s work of the six days of creation is over, and also the rest of the seventh day. That rest, I own, is past. But the Psalm speaks of new "works" of God, and of a new "rest." "They saw my works." "They shall not enter into my rest." Here then is God even now at work; for His rest is not yet come. But we are invited to it. God’s future rest supposes His present work. But His creation-work and creation-rest of the seventh day are past. This then is another work of another character: it is redemption-work, tending on to redemption-rest. It is needed; because God’s old rest in creation was broken by Satan’s and man’s sin. And there can be no true rest in sin. The redeemed by Christ, the better Conductor, are being led onward to a redemption-rest in resurrection. Out of God’s new and better work is to spring (when it is accomplished) a new and better rest. A rest, better in its nature; longer in its duration.
Thus God’s present work is fashioned after the pattern of the former. It is clear then, - as the adversative conjunction ‘although’ proves, - that the apostle is not speaking of a past rest of God, or of a present rest enjoyed by believers, but of God’s present work, and of the future repose to which He is inviting us. Paul is battling against that deceit which nullifies the promise - ‘Do not disquiet yourself in vain: that rest was over long, long ago!’
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.’” 5. "And in this place again - ‘If they shall enter into my rest.’"
first time that the rest of God is spoken of is, after His six days work of
creation was finished. We are, I own, long too late to participate in
that! Nor is the rest the
observance of the Sabbath, as was given to
(1) But the future rest is arranged after the pattern of God’s earlier one, as to time. God wrought six days; rested the seventh. Since that time God’s redemption-work has been going on; and now, each of God’s working days consists of a thousand years. The rest is to be a "great" day of a thousand years: 2 Pet. 3. This is the Millennium, or the seventh thousand of years. It was to this distribution of time that the many sevens of the Law looked onward: the seventh day, the seventh month, the seventh year, and the seven times seventh year. (2) The past rest of the creation-sabbath was God’s rest. From the similarity of expression between Genesis 2 and the Psalm, we conclude, that there will be a real likeness in the things described by God in nearly the same words. He ceased to create, after the six days were complete. So God shall cease to redeem, after His six great days are over.*
[* If God will not redeem any during the Millennium; what then would be the purpose of the Jews evangelizing the other nations during that time? It would be better to have written:- 'God shall cease to redeem, after His seven great days are over.' This would then take us to eight day -the time of the resurrection of all the dead, the Great White Throne Judgment, and ‘a new heavens and a new earth’.]
(3) The creation-sabbath was God’s rest, in relation to His feelings. He enjoyed the rest of satisfaction in His works, as He contemplated them all, and beheld them very good.
The future rest also is to be God’s rest, and His satisfaction in redemption-work complete. Creation as at first made could offer no resistance to His will. But out of His moral creation strife and trouble have arisen, which His redemption-work only partially undoes at present. Christ can rest in His redeemed people only in so far as they are obedient to His words: as long as they rest in Him. Will Christ be satisfied with all His people when He returns, and brings them into judgment? By no means! Many walk, not by faith, but by sight. This was the danger of old. "Now the just by faith shall live; but if he draw back, my soul hath no pleasure in him:" * Heb. 10: 38.
[* This is the order of the Greek. There is no ‘any man’ in the original.]
With Jesus, God was ever well pleased; and He thrice expressed His admiration: Matt. 3: 17; 12: 18; 17: 15. But with the majority of Israel God was not well pleased: the proof being, their destruction in the desert: 1 Cor. 10: 5. The apostle therefore directs us how to please God: Heb. 13: 16; Col. 3: 20; Phil. 4: 18. He teaches us, by his own example, to seek to please Christ: 2 Cor. 5: 9. And in this epistle to the Hebrews, he encourages us by the example of Enoch, who as diligently serving God was rewarded; by a sudden rapture escaping death.
4th and 5th
verses, then of the chapter before us exhibit side by side the past
and the future rests. "God did rest" on the one.
"If they shall enter into my rest,"
bespeaks the other as yet to come. None
of mankind enjoyed with God the creation-sabbath. But many shall enjoy
with God the future sabbath; although, as presented in
the Psalm, we find only the negative view. We are called on to be fellow-workers
with God in His redemption-work, that we may be fellow-resters
with Him in redemption-rest: 2 Cor. 6: 1; Rom. 16: 3, 9, 21; 1 Cor.
3: 9; John 4: 36. None will partake of God’s millennial
rest, but those on whom He can look with complacency, as obedient. Great
will be the glory and joy of those permitted to enter. Great
the sorrow of those [regenerate believers] being excluded, as disobedient and unbelieving.
"His rest shall be glory:" Isa. 11: 10. (Heb.) The body redeemed,
no less than the soul! Death swallowed up in victory! The Lord we
serve the manifested King of kings!
6, 7. "Seeing therefore, it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom the good news was first brought entered not in because of disobedience, He again defines a certain day, saying in David, - ‘To-day,’ - after so long a time, as it has been before said, *[Critt. Edd.] ‘To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’"
The apostle is still engaged in proving, that the invitation into God’s future rest is still by God’s authority proclaimed. The promise has never been exhausted. The ‘remaineth’ of this verse takes up the word "a promise being left us" of verse 1; and "there remaineth a rest" of verse 9. The passage cited from the 95th Psalm tells only of the rejecting of some from entering that rest. But God’s designs cannot be frustrated: and on the accomplishment of His promises, He must enjoy the rest of satisfaction. This passage is greatly illustrated by our Lord’s parable of the Wedding Garment. Those first bidden refuse to assemble to enjoy the king’s royal supper. Thereupon the monarch issues a second invitation, in order that the hall may be furnished with guests. The refusal of those first invited shall not bring to nought the royal banquet. Others shall enter, if the first refuse it. The oath of threat excludes some; but it proves the feast is not yet come. Hence the call to listen to God’s voice, to obey, and not provoke Him, still holds good: for the banquet has not yet taken place. It is only as yet the invitation to the guests, their robing, and assembling. The feast cannot begin, till all the guests are seated.
are instructed in the reason of this rejection of
Whether we are to regard verses seven and eight as a parenthesis or not, depends on the sense we give to "Again."
(1) Is it a detached word? Does it notify the introduction of a new branch of the argument? If so, we must regard these two verses as parenthetic.
(2) Or does it qualify the word ‘limiteth’? "He a second time defines," (or limits.) This is, I believe, the true meaning. It falls in best with the previous words - "those to first proclaimed;" and "He would not afterward have spoken of another day."
There are then two days contemplated by God in this connection. The first was that under Moses - which he calls "the day of temptation in the wilderness": 3: 8. It was the forty years’ duration, after which Joshua led the people into the land. But now long after Joshua’s day, and so late as David’s, God speaks of "another day." Is it the period of patience to last for them? No! God is defining another day. It embraces the present season: for it is called ‘To-day.’
Of what character is the day thus defined?
Is it the day of labour? Or is it the day of rest?
It is the day of labour, of the listening to God’s voice, of the invitation to the rest, of fear and carefulness against provoking God. In proof of this, the apostle cites again the words of the Psalm - ‘To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ In the day which is to follow - the blessed day of rest - there will be an end to the toils, and the cares and dangers of the wilderness. But now God is still working, and calls on His people - ‘Son, work to-day in my vineyard.’ Those who thus work with Him will rest with Him, when the limits of this day of toil and conflict are past, and the day of repose and of victory is come.
Thus also our Lord in His closing words to each of the churches uses the present tense - "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches."*
[* Here behold a proof of the error of supposing that these churches belong to the terrible future day of wrath.]
8. "For if Joshua (marg.) had given them rest, then would he not have spoken of another day after these things."
words answer an objection which would naturally occur to the mind of a Jew - ‘It is true, that the generation of the disobedient was cut
off in the desert; but it is certain also, that their descendants were
introduced into the land by Joshua the son of Nun. And the Scripture
expressly says, that Joshua gave them rest’.
"And the Lord gave them rest round
about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers:" Josh. 21: 44. Joshua also owns it.
"Now the Lord hath given rest unto
your brethren as He promised them:" 22:
4. And again - "And the land had rest
from war:" 24: 15. Moreover God gave to David and to Solomon his
son the rest He had promised. Of David it is said - "The Lord had given him rest
round about from all his enemies:" 2
Sam. 7: 1. Solomon could say, "Now
the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, there is
neither adversary nor evil occurrent:" 1 Kings 5: 4. And again - "Blessed be the Lord that hath given rest unto His
How are we to reply hereto?
If the rest of God were
As then the day of labour and trial precedes the day of rest, and as David by inspiration proclaimed it in his time to be still the day of trial, it is clear, that, neither Joshua’s day, his own day, or that of Solomon his son, introduced the promised repose. God speaks of the rest in David’s day as yet future. "If they shall enter into my rest." When once the rest is come, there will be no warning of danger, no invitation to seek to enter. After God’s repose in redemption is come, there will be no further day of trial and suffering to encounter. The Millennial Day of repose runs into the eternal rest. "He would not have spoken of another day after these things"* - the labour, and the rest.
[*Better so rendered, than more indefinitely -"afterward."]
(Greek ‘Jesus’) the son of Nun led God’s
ancient people into the place of earthly repose; and after some years of conflict,
the land had rest from war. But
Jesus the Son of God has to lead the heavenly people into the rest of the heavenly country, and the loftier department of God’s kingdom in resurrection. All through this ‘evil day’ it is a time of conflict for the heavenly people of God. While Satan is at large in heavenly places, our warfare cannot cease; nor our need of vigilance, and of the armour of God: Eph. 6.
9. "There remaineth therefore a sabbath-rest for the people of God."
is the conclusion from the previous argument. Paul had stated in the
first verse the danger of losing the rest, from supposing it had long been
fulfilled. He set himself therefore to prove, that it was not the
seventh-day rest of creation which was in question; nor the peaceful enjoyment
God’s limiting the call to carefulness and attention during this day, tells us, that the rest is to come tomorrow. This day is the day of labour: "that day" the day of recompence. "I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." "There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day:" 2 Tim. 2: 12; 4: 8.
But the apostle suddenly changes the term he has hitherto used. If we must trust critics, the apostle coined it to suit the occasion. He desired to connect the coming rest of God with his past rest. His past rest was the rest of the first sabbath, or seventh day of the world. He wrought six days; He rested the seventh. The rest of God’s people is likewise the world’s great sabbath day, the day of the seventh thousand of years. The new rest is to be after the pattern of the old, in regard of time. It was with this view that God signalized so oft the seventh period under the law. The seventh year was to be peculiarly one of rest.
"And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in
the fruits thereof: but the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still;
that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the
field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and
with thy oliveyard:" Ex. 23: 10, 11. "And the Lord spake unto Moses in
Mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of
seven times seventh year was the year of jubilee, the year of restoration
of all heritages to their former condition. And God promised,
that if obedient,
sabbath to come will introduce rest in all its
forms. (1) The wilderness was to
"Already ye are full, ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us; and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place, And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we intreat: we are made the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day:" 1 Cor. 4: 8-13.
Until God rests from redemption-work His redeemed will not be able to rest; and to seek it here below is evil. This was the Jew’s stumbling block. When Jesus had healed the impotent man on the Jew’s day of rest, and was accused of a breach of the sabbath, the Saviour replied in effect, that He as the Son of God could not rest in them, or their sabbath of law; that his Father had been working ever since the Fall to bring in a new rest; and He, as the Son of God sympathizing with His Father’s plans, could but work too. This made matters much worse in their view; for they saw dimly, that their Jewish rest, enforced of law, was rejected. Their sabbath left the palsied man powerless still; and left them condemned and under the curse. The Father and the Son therefore are together working in grace, to bring in a better rest than law can bestow.
sabbath-rest is for the "people of God."
Who are they?
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of
Abraham’s seed is twofold; the seed of his flesh, and the children of his faith. Hence the Lord several times promises him two posterities; one of the earth, the other, to people the heaven. "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore:" Gen. 22: 17. Those in the flesh shall inherit the promised land of earth; those risen from the dead shall inhabit the heaven, as the stars fixed there in brightness.
two people of God will both enjoy the millennial rest, or the
kingdom of the Christ. It is necessary to the completeness of the rest,
that there be a perfect king; as the scripture notes,
that the absence of such a ruler was the occasion of the rise and progress of a
variety of evils. And the
[* The “us” refers to the regenerate of “today”, and the “they” refers to Israel of old; and the “better thing” is the kingdom with the curse lifted off the land after both are “made perfect.” That is, after the worthies of old, together with the worthies of “today” are resurrected or rapt at the Second Advent of Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 4: 17; Rev. 3: 21, 22.]
This verse seems to be a justification of the employment of the term ‘sabbatism’ in the previous one. In this verse we return to the previous word used for ‘rest.’ The future rest will be the enterers a rest like God’s.
But the principle is generally stated, and is applicable to both rests, - the present rest, and the future one. It is singularly expressed in two points. Though the apostle had affirmed, that the future sabbath-rest was designed for a multitude, - "the people of God," - yet he puts the entrance in the singular - "He that entered." He uses the Greek indefinite tenses in expressing both the entrance and the rest. "He that entered rested," instead of "They who enter will rest," as might naturally have been expected.
Why is this?
I think, because the apostle wished to express the principle in such a general way, as to allow it to receive a threefold application: to (1) Christ, (2) to His people now, and (3) to the people of God, when possessing the kingdom hereafter.
1. The primary reference, If I mistake not, is to the Lord Jesus. Moses went up the Mount of God, hoping to effect atonement with Jehovah for the sin of the calf: Ex. 32: 30. But the attempt is refused: all he can obtain is the deferring of the vengeance due to it. Moreover, when Moses at last ascends the mount, it is with his obedience rejected, to die. Not so with our Lord. His great work of obedience and of atonement is completely wrought; and the Father in it fully satisfied, has called His Son to rest at the top of the Mount. The great foundations of redemption are laid in that work accepted. "When He had Himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." The priests of Aaron’s race had again and again to stand and offer the same imperfect sacrifices, incapable of taking away sins. But Jesus, after His one sacrifice, has for a continuance sat down, till His enemies become His footstool: 10: 11-14; 8: 1, 2. Jesus, the living God, after completing this redemption-work, has for ever ceased from it, as He did from creation-work. In this work the Father rests in full complacency.
In this Christ’s work of perfection the Christian also rests. In this
work he is justified and accepted, and finds peace within, and peace with
God. Those under law are seeking justification, and have no peace: for
the curse is upon their disobedience, for which they can make no atonement: Rom. 9: 30; 10: 4. Hence the apostle warns
all at the close, against falling back to Moses and law; for that is
perdition. "For our God is
consuming fire;" as He showed by the glory which encircled
hope of entering the future rest turns on our entering into present rest in
Christ’s past work of salvation.
The same principle applies also to the millennial rest. God is now enjoying present rest in His Son’s work. But He is about to provide a future rest; a rest both external and internal, in redemption completed. As God is at work in redemption still, we too [who are regenerate] are to be co-workers with Him. To rest now from the work assigned us would be wrong. "Occupy till I come." To rest in the present evil world, or in the state of the Church, would be a mistake. Paul rebukes Corinthian Christians for attempting to rule and rest now: 1 Cor. 4.
But the day is coming when God will rest in redemption accomplished, and cease from its labour. Then too the Christian will cease from labour, and enjoy the work of God fulfilled, and will have (in measure) joy in his own work accepted by Christ: 2 Tim. 4; Matt. 25.
Further, after this season of trial and labour are over, no such period of strife and danger will again occur. At the close of the thousand years all is wound up, and fixed in its perfection.
Thus the Christian is a paradox. He rests, for God is resting: he labours, for God is labouring. He finds joy in redemption thus far complete: he sighs for "the adoption, to wit the redemption of the body." It was like this with the typical people of old. They in one view enjoyed rest. There was no more lashes to suffer; no more rigorous toil of brick-making: Psa. 81: 6; Deut. 4: 20. But they had not yet come to the rest and the inheritance which God had provided for them. He who enters into God’s present rest is admitted into the kingdom in mystery. But only the partakers of the resurrection will enter the kingdom in manifestation of glory.
11. "let us labour (be diligent) therefore to enter into that rest, lest any fall after the same example of disobedience."*
Here is the general conclusion. We are to use our diligence to obtain an entrance into the rest. Therefore it is not ours already by faith. "Let us labour." It is something common to Paul with every believer. Our diligence may be shown in two ways: negatively, by removing what would hinder: positively, by using what would promote so glorious an end. Opposite dangers fence the way: you may lose it through the presumption which imagines you cannot lose it; or through the despair which says - ‘I will not seek: ‘tis hopeless!’
us labour to enter "that rest." One rest is already attained
Christ by faith: Matt. 11: 28. But
there is another, a rest whose futurity the apostle has proved. God bids you
be diligent to win [attain –‘gain by effort’] that distant one. Work with God, that with Him you may rest.
are to work towards this. They
alone can attain it. Jesus has
shown the way open to this glory, both by example and precept: Heb. 1: 9; Luke 14: 10;
Let us "seek to enter." By these words it is connected with ‘the kingdom of God,’ or ‘the kingdom of heaven,’ in which Jesus directly and indirectly teaches us to seek a portion: Matt. 5: 20; 6: 33; 7: 21; 18: 3; 19: 23; Mk, 10: 15; John 3: 5.
This word - "Let us seek to enter," stands linked with "let us fear," "Let us labour ... lest any fall."
any sin like the tribes in the desert, they will
experience like treatment from the Most High. It was disobedience which
drew forth the excluding oath of God. It is the disobedience of partial
unbelief which may exclude the [regenerate] believer still. The exit
May we turn aside this appeal with a - ‘That’s Jewish’? Nay! This same call of God, this same warning, is found both in the Gospels, Epistles, and Revelation.
1. Jesus calls us to ‘seek first
2. The same teaching is given from another point of view in Rom. 2: 4-16, where the Christian is instructed to seek for glory by patient continuance in well doing.
The same call is given in various ways in 1
Corinthians. Now it is set forth as ‘the prize’:
now we are deterred from evil by fear of the loss of this rest: 3: 6. In
chapters nine and ten the seeking of
God’s rest, backed by the same example of the exclusion of
4. In Philippians, third chapter, Paul tells us of his earnest desire and effort to obtain a part in the select resurrection from among the dead. Also by the [Holy] Spirit he calls on all who are perfect [mature] to follow him in this object of persuit. He points out also to us Jesus as having previously passed this way, and the glory bestowed on Him in consequence: Phil. 2.
5. In Paul’s last epistle the same subject is presented from another point of view. The reign of Christ is conditional on suffering with HIM. While some were pushing aside the first resurrection, which is really the Christian’s hope, believers were not to be discouraged; for God’s foundation in election, and His superstructure in the call for holiness, remain firm: 2 Tim. 2: 10-21.
If then the reader be a believer yet un-baptised, I would beg him to obey at once that command, as his first step of obedience. Let him fear the threat that stands against
God’s disobedient children: John 3: 5;
12. "For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto the eye of him with whom we have to do, (or, ‘to whom is our account.’)"
The apostle would elevate our thoughts about the Scripture. Many suppose it is a ‘dead letter,’ past, and done with, without application to us!
Out of this low view of the Word of God springs the disobedience to it against which we are here warned. The Word is Christ’s voice, the call of the Captain [Commander – in - Chief] who would lead us to this [future] rest. The Word is not a ‘dead letter;’ ‘tis a ‘living Word. It searches the heart, the motives, the intentions. It should prepare us for the day of judgment before Christ; for to Him is our account.
The day is at hand! The Lord grant the writer and reader to meet in the rest that remaineth for the people of God!