Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
We saw previously that the Israelites did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief, or a lack of faith. The author of Hebrews then warns us against falling into the same trap. Interestingly, we are told that the Israelites had the gospel preached to them. In other words, they had the same opportunity to believe God that we have. We are wise to receive God’s word with faith.
The focus of Hebrews four is the concept of rest and how it applies to New Covenant believers. In order to truly understand this, we need to stretch our minds around verses three and four in today’s passage. In those verses, we are told that God’s “works were finished from the foundation of the world” and that He “rested on the seventh day from all His works.” This is an important concept that isn’t easy to grasp with our finite minds, but it is valuable to make the effort. There are keys here about how God’s Kingdom works.
Jesus said in John 5:17 that “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” Now, if God rested from all his works, what’s going on here?
In our passage from Hebrews today, the word “works” is a noun in the both English and the original Greek. In John 5:17, “working” is a verb (also in both languages). Think of it this way: God’s occupation (noun) of creating is complete, but He’s still busy (verb). We also have to keep in mind that our linear understanding of how and when things happen is limited to time and space. God is not.
1 Peter 1:20 explains that Jesus was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” In God’s occupation of creating, He took care of everything that we would need, including establishing that Jesus would be our Savior. Ephesians 1:4 says that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Here again, we see something established way back during God’s occupation of creating. Yet we are just now experiencing it.
Isaiah 46:10 says that God “declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, things that are not yet done.” It helps me to think of it this way: In God’s creative occupation, He provided everything that we would ever need in eternity and is unpacking it for us in time and space.
Where am I going with this? Well, if we believe that God is having to strive to play catch-up when we face a challenge, or that He is behind the curve in responding to the devil’s carnage here on earth, then how could we rest? Braving grace is very difficult if we think we have to just hope that God will come through. However, if God has finished His creative occupation, then we have a different expectation. We approach life from the framework that everything that we need has been provided already. When a problem presents itself, we don’t have to hope that God is formulating a plan to solve it. We operate with the courageous faith that His solution has been in place from the foundation of the world and that He is busy leading us to the prepared victory. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says that He always leads us in triumph in Christ Jesus.
This is why we can truly rest. If God knows the end from the beginning, then He can’t be surprised and there is no problem that lacks a solution. There is no sin that doesn’t have a salvation solution, no sickness that doesn’t have a healing solution, no lack that doesn’t have a provision solution, and no death that doesn’t have a life solution. It’s all one solution – Jesus, foreordained from the foundation of the world.