“Let Us Enter God’s Rest”

One of the best known and most loved portions of the epistle to the Hebrews is chapter 11 where we find what is often called the “Hall of Fame of Faith.” The writer gives these examples of men and women who believed God and were faithful to the end of their lives in order to encourage his readers to keep the faith. The recipients of the epistle were Jews who had believed in Jesus but were in danger of departing form Christ and returning to life and faith under the Old Covenant.
In chapter 3, the author introduces the negative example set by the generation of Israelites whom God delivered from Egypt and led to the border of the land He had promised them. Though they had seen God’s miraculous works for forty years they failed to believe He could now bring them safely into the Promised Land. Because of their unbelief and rebellion, God swore that they would not enter His “rest” in the land He had promised them.
The meaning of the term “rest” is not exhausted in the “rest” which was available to Israel in the Promised Land but is typical of the rest of salvation we now experience in Christ, and of the ultimate rest we await in the eternal kingdom of God (12:28), and New Jerusalem (12:22). Even Abraham’s sights were not ultimately set on Canaan but he looked for that city whose builder and maker is God (11:10). Since the promise of rest was not exhausted in Canaan, the writer indicates that there remains a promise of rest (4:1). The generation delivered from Egypt failed to enter it (3:16-19, but we must be diligent to enter that rest lest we fall according to their example of disobedience (4:11). Unlike them, may “we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.”