Heb 4:1-11 What are the 4 “rests” referred to in these verses? See Heb 4:1,6,4,9. What rest is the author concerned that his readers will come short of, and how are the other 3 rests he mentions related to it? See Rom 15:4. What does it mean to “rest”? Note: in Hebrew, the verb “to rest” (shabat) used in Gen 2:2-3 that the author quotes in Heb 4:4 is the verbal form of “Sabbath” that means not primarily to rest but to cease or desist, as it is most frequently translated in the rest of the Bible (see for example Gen 8:22, Ex 12:15 (note here that “remove leaven” is literally to “cause leaven to cease”; see NASB text note); only 7 of the 67 times it is used does the NASB translate it as “rest”, and then only in reference to the Sabbath). Think: does God grow weary that He needs to rest? Cf. Is 40:28.
Thus a “Sabbath” is a ceasing from work, and “to sabbath” or “to keep sabbath” is to cease from work; the result of ceasing from physical work is physical rest, and the result of ceasing from spiritual work is spiritual rest. On what day did the Lord command Israel to keep sabbath from their physical labors, and why? See Ex 20:8-11. Did the Lord bless the Sabbath day and make it holy to the Jews because it was on the seventh day, or was the seventh day holy because it was a sabbath? Cf. Gen 2:2-3.
Note: Every covenant is marked by a sign as an abiding reminder of the covenant; as the wedding ring is the sign of the modern marriage covenant, so was the seventh day Sabbath the sign of the Mosaic covenant: Exo 31:12-17, Eze 20:10-12, 18-20; what does this teach us about the central importance of the Sabbath to the Jews, as well as the importance of the “Sabbath rest” it typifies for us as Christians?
For what reason does Deut 5:15 say that God commanded the Jews to observe the Sabbath? Of what was the Jew’s bondage in Egypt a type? See Rom 7:14. Wherein is found the bondage of sin? See Rom 4:15, 5:13, 7:7-9, 1 Cor 15:56, Gal 4:1-5, 8-11, 5:1, Acts 15:10.
Consider a faithful Jew with a sincere faith and a pure heart and a good conscience who toiled throughout the week, week after week, under the yoke of the law as the manifold complexities of life repeatedly chafed his sinful nature; what was the physical rest that resulted from ceasing from his physical labors on the Sabbath day meant to teach him as he recalled on that day how the Lord had delivered him “by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm” from his slavery in the land of Egypt? See Lev 26:13, Mat 11:28-30, Luk 11:46. For what was the Sabbath day of physical rest to prepare him? See Heb 4:9, Gal 3:22-25. From what “works” (Heb 4:10) must one cease to enter into the Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God (Heb 4:9)? See Rom 3:28, Eph 2:8-9, 2 Tim 1:9, Tit 3:5.
Note: Only when we cease and desist from trying to earn our salvation through the works of our hands can we enter into the Sabbath rest of the Lord; what is necessary for one to lay down the works of his hands in order to do so? See Gal 2:20, Rev 14:13, and consider on what day the Lord was crucified and then “rested” in the grave. By what means only is our old man of sin “crucified with Christ, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom 6:6)? See Heb 4:3.
Many Christians (based on Roman Catholic doctrine) believe that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath; what’s wrong with this understanding? Read Isa 58:13-14; is the sabbath rest that we as Christians are to enter into by being united with Christ in His death, and honor by desisting from our own ways, seeking our own pleasure, and speaking our own word just one day a week, or is it the 24/7 Today of our salvation the author refers to in Hebrews 3 and 4? Did Christians in the early church gather for worship on the first day of the week because the Roman Catholic Church declared Sunday to be the Christian Sabbath and a holy day of obligation? Note: Christians all over the Roman Empire were gathering for worship on Sunday hundreds of years before the church in Rome had any influence or power over other Christians in the Empire.
Why did Christians come to honor the first day of the week as “the Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10) and gather for fellowship and to worship God on that day? See Lk 24:1-2. Did Paul consider it wrong to gather for fellowship, teaching and worship on the first day of the week? See Acts 20:6-7. Would he have supposed that because he met with other Christians on that day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection he was observing the Jewish Sabbath? Is the day of the week that one meets with other believers what determines if one has kept sabbath? I.e., if one meets for prayer with other believers on Wednesday has he kept sabbath by doing so? Has one necessarily kept sabbath just because he attends church or synagogue on Saturday morning instead of Sunday morning? If during the week one is unable to meet with other believers has he thereby failed to keep sabbath? Would gathering together on the first day of the week to break bread and worship God have negated or in any way taken the place of the seventh day sabbath requirement in the Law of Moses? Since Sunday is clearly not the seventh day Sabbath aren’t Christians who do not observe that day just as guilty of violating the Ten Commandments as if they had murdered someone? See James 2:10.
Click Here For the Continuation of This Study: What about the seventh day Sabbath? If Christians believe it is still right to have no other gods before the Lord, to make no idols, to not take the name of the Lord in vain, to honor one’s father and our mother, to not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or covet, how can they dismiss the 4th commandment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy? Is the seventh day Sabbath still binding today?
Note: See Part 2 of this study here.
1. See Gen 9:12-13 for the sign of God’s covenant with Noah, 17:11 for the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, 31:44-48, 51-52 for the sign of the covenant between Jacob and Laban, and Col 2:11-12 for the sign of the new covenant.↩
2. Cf. chapter 9 of Ignatius of Antioch’s Epistle to the Magnesians, c. 101 a.d., “After the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days of the week.” (Ignatius lived c. 37-111 a.d. and was Bishop of Antioch from 68 a.d. until he was arrested, taken to Rome, and martyred.)↩
3. Note: Some have argued that to worship on Sunday is “the mark of the beast”. But Paul worshiped on Sunday as Acts 20:6-7 indicate. Consider also that if it was not the practice of the early church at that time (c. 56 a.d.) to gather together on the first day of the week, why would Paul have waited until the day before he was to depart to break bread and offer a prolonged message that lasted until daylight (see Acts 20:11) when he had already been in Troas for almost a week and it would have been so much more convenient to do so the day before, which was the Sabbath?↩