Introduction: How would you define rest? Is it sleeping? Laying on the beach? Watching television? What about a rest from being worried? A rest from fear? I think the Bible has a definition of rest that is largely different from our popular notions about rest. Because Hebrews describes this rest, let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1.         Entering Into Rest

  1.         Read Hebrews 3:7-11. What is the key to entering into God’s rest? (Not hardening our hearts. Not rebelling. Not testing God. Not going astray.)

  1.         How different is this from our concepts of rest?

  1.         Have you gone on vacations or trips where you might have “gone astray,” “rebelled,” or “tested God?”  Did you still consider that vacation a “rest?”

  1.         Read Hebrews 3:15-19. What rest does this event reference? (This is the promise of entering into Canaan. This discussion is about the Hebrews who left slavery in Egypt and were headed to the promised land in Canaan.)

  1.         Would leaving slavery and moving to a great land be rest according our typical way of defining rest? (Certainly not being a slave anymore would fit the modern view of rest.)

  1.         Focus on Hebrews 3:19. What specifically prevented the Hebrews from entering into God’s rest? (Unbelief.)

  1.         Unbelief in what? What do you understand that to mean? (It refers to their relationship with God. They have hardened their heart with respect to God. They don’t trust Him. They don’t believe Him.)

  1.         Defining Rest

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:1-2. The verses we just read in Hebrews 3 refer to those who left Egypt. Has the audience changed here? Are we now being addressed? (Yes. Notice the phrase “for good news came to us just as to them.”)

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:3-5. When Hebrews refers to “my rest,” and God’s rest, is it literally talking about God resting? (Yes. Notice the reference to Creation and God resting.)

  1.         Read Genesis 2:2. Hebrews 4:4 essentially says, “I remember somewhere in the Bible about God resting.” Is this the text the writer of Hebrews remembers?

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:6 and look back at Hebrews 4:4. The “rest” picture is getting clearer. God’s rest is defined as His rest on Sabbath after the Creation and our ability to enter into a Sabbath rest like Jesus did. Does this fit popular notions of rest? (Yes! Not having to go to work is rest. Not working at home is rest.)

  1.         What does disbelief and hardened hearts have to do with the Sabbath rest? (If you did not believe in a Creator God you would not accept the foundation for the Sabbath. If you did not trust that God would care for you even if you did not work on Saturday, you would feel that you needed to work.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:7-9. In line with our discussion so far, what rest did Joshua give God’s people? (He was the leader who brought them into Canaan, the promised land.)

  1.         Consider the odd time reference. We have been speaking of the Sabbath day rest and the rest of entering Canaan. How can Hebrews 4:8 refer to God speaking of “another day later on?” The Fourth Commandment (Sabbath commandment) was given before the people entered Canaan!

  1.         What is this “another day” of rest spoken of later? (This must refer to the rest that Jesus has given us through His life, death, and resurrection.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:10. What are the “works” from which we are resting? (Trying to earn our own salvation!)

  1.         Let’s stop a moment and look at all of this globally. We have the rest of entering into Canaan. We have God’s rest after the Creation. We have the weekly Sabbath rest. We also have the rest of righteousness by faith alone. What is the common element in all four of these? (We trust God! We believe God. We follow God.)

  1.         I’ve often heard people claim that keeping the Saturday Sabbath is “legalism.” It shows that we believe in salvation by our works. How does what we have discussed so far refute that charge? (It is just the opposite. Observing the Sabbath confirms our trust in God as our Creator and Redeemer. It is the mark of our faith and trust in Jesus.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:11. Does this show that everything I just wrote is wrong? How can faith and trust be consistent with the command that we “strive to enter that rest?” How can it point to “disobedience” as the problem? (If you have had a difficult situation, you understand this completely. At times it is hard to simply trust God. When the monsters enter your life, simple faith is a challenge.)

  1.         Notice again the last half of Hebrews 4:11. This really promotes works, right? It speaks of “disobedience!” (Read Numbers 14:11. God describes the disobedience not in terms of failing to keep specific rules or commands, but rather a lack of belief (trust) in God in the face of all of the miracles He has done for His people.)

  1.         Read Mark 1:14-15. What is Jesus asking the people to do when He says, “repent and believe in the gospel?” (He is asking them to change their mind about how we are saved. He is asking them to enter into the rest of salvation by faith alone and to leave a system of righteousness by works.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:12-13. What is being “exposed?” What is being cut open? (Our true attitude towards God.)

  1.         How hard is it for you to trust God? (I was asking myself the other day what God would say about me. I decided He would say that I was dependable. Whatever my gospel-related task, I do it.  I don’t say I’m burned out, I just do it. Can you see how my answer is upside down? My primary thought is that God trusts me, not that I trust Him. I need to repent.)

  1.         The Solution

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:14. What should be our confession? (That we trust God completely.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:15. Why is it such a great idea that Jesus is our High Priest? (He understands our weakness. He understands our failure of faith and trust.)

  1.         Read Hebrews 4:16. What is the great good news? (That we can, with confidence, draw close to God. He will show us mercy and He will supply us with grace when we face times of need.)

  1.         Do you believe this? Do you trust God completely?

  1.         Friend, can you see the picture of the true Sabbath rest offered by God?  We lay down our claims to goodness, and we rest in His righteousness. Will you repent, right now, and by the power of the Holy Spirit lay your complete trust and faith in Jesus?

  1.         Next week: Jesus the Faithful Priest.