â€œThere remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.â€ (Hebrews 4:9-10)
This is an important New Testament affirmation that Godâ€™s work of creation was â€œfinished from the foundation of the worldâ€ (Hebrews 4:3). The reference is to Genesis 2:1-3, where the writer has told us that God had â€œrested from all his work which God created and made,â€ thus completely denying the contention of theistic evolutionists that the processes of â€œcreationâ€ (that is, evolution) are still going on.
In addition, it makes a significant comparison between the believerâ€™s rest and Godâ€™s rest. The word â€œrestâ€ here is not the usual word for â€œrestâ€ and is used only this once in the New Testament. It means, literally, â€œsabbath rest,â€ or â€œkeeping of the Sabbath.â€ In the context of chapters 2 and 3 of Hebrews, the concept of rest is being expounded with several meanings. The original warning was in Psalm 95:11, where it referred both to the Israelites entering into the promised land under Joshua and to Godâ€™s own rest after His work of creation. Psalm 95 is repeatedly quoted in Hebrews, where other meanings are also implied: the keeping of a weekly Sabbath in commemoration of Godâ€™s rest after creation; the promised future rest to the world and its believing inhabitantsâ€”possibly in the millennium but certainly in the new earth; and the believerâ€™s present spiritual rest after he puts his faith in Christ, no longer trusting in his works for salvation.
With such a rich investiture of meaning in the fact of Godâ€™s past rest and the promise of ourÂ futureÂ rest, it is appropriate that there should be a perpetual weekly commemoration and expression of faith in that rest in every generation, until its ultimate fulfillment in the eternal rest in the New Jerusalem.
In the meantime, we are urged to â€œlabourâ€ to â€œenter into that restâ€ (Hebrews 4:11). HMM