|Hebrews 4:2-3 |
2 For the gospel was preached to us, as well as to them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
3 For we who have believed do enter into rest, as he said, "As I have sworn in my wrath, they will not enter into my rest;"2 although the [God's] works were finished from the foundation of the world [and the rest was available].
2 For we who have believed do enter into rest. As the Lord removes your desires for the world, you rest from pursuing the world with an increasing taste of the rest. But until the end of the journey, when your carnal mind has been destroyed, when you no longer worry and think, when you no longer follow your own will at all to dead works, and when you no longer fight lusts, pride, anger; until then you have not truly entered the rest. To enter the rest is to be free from all sin and be at peace with your evil, carnal mind stopped; instead your thoughts come from God, your words to be spoken are supplied by God, and your works to be performed are ordered by God — and God supplies you with the energy to perform his commanded works, which are to His glory and your great joy.
I swore in my wrath they shall not enter my rest. Note! The New King James, the New International, the Amplified, and the New American Standard, all have it as quoted here, (click to see); the King James has it wrong as if they shall enter into my rest.
The Jews who left Egypt with Moses were supposed to conquer and destroy all the inhabitants of the promise land; then they were to rest, enjoying their inheritance in safety. But when the scouts reported that there were giants in the land, the Jews became afraid and refused to cross the river to conquer the land that God had promised them, and for which he had promised to fight along side with them. So God became angry with them and swore that none of them would ever enter the rest of the safe inheritance of the promise land; that no one over twenty years of age would enter the promise land to live. They were sentenced to wander in the desert for 40 years and until they had all died; and then their children would enter. All the scouts were then killed by God, except Caleb and Joshua who were the only scouts that pleaded with the Jews to enter Canaan and believe God. Num 14:27-35.
This is the rest that God swore none would enter because they didn't believe in his promise to them. Note! They believed in God because they had seen his many miracles in the desert, including the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the Egyptian army, heard his voice from the fire, seen him provide water from a rock, etc., but they didn't believe God's promise that they would conquer all the mighty men they had seen with God's fighting for them.
How does this apply to us! You cannot just believe in God; you must believe enough to obey what he commands. Jer 7:23. You must hope in his promises with the true hope, the hope that purifies. You must believe that God can conquer and destroy the works of the devil, the sin in you. 1 John 3:8. You must listen to His voice and obey it; today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.
Today, we have the equivalent of a spiritual rest which is a glorious rest; the rest is to sit down in Christ, free from sin, and sanctified from evil, free from our own dead works; instead we are shown and energized what to do and told what to say by God, so that all our words and deeds are pure, virtuous, perfect, and righteous. However, for this to happen, you must believe the promises of the rest from God. You must believe it is possible, and you must hope for it, and you must seek it, and you (with God doing 90% of the fighting) must battle your enemies of sin through repentance on the cross, to ever be freed from sin and enjoy the inheritance of the rest in safety, having been sanctified. This is accomplished by listening to his voice and obeying it. Paul said, we who have believed, do enter the rest — obviously, not at the beginning of believing, but at the end of belief's journey of obedience. Oh Christendom! Do not be at ease in your sins, thinking only belief in Jesus is necessary: Arise and depart, for this is not your rest. Because it is defiled, it will destroy you, yes, with utter destruction. Mic 2:10. Therefore let us diligently labor with every effort to enter into that rest, lest any man fall from the same kind of unbelief [and resulting disobedience]. Heb 4:11.
Isaac Penington, an early Quaker who dwelled in the kingdom, writes of this sitting down in Christ at rest in The Holy Truth and People Defended :
For none sit down in that full rest, before and without consideration of works of righteousness wrought by them. For that great judgment is a time of rendering to every man according to his works. Rest is the reward of the traveler, and his travels are not despised, but considered in his reward. Mark; everyone that improved the talent, had a reward from his lord. "And come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you: for I was an hungered, and you gave me meat," etc. Mat. 25. And the apostle is of the same mind with Christ, when he said, "It is a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you, and to you rest," etc. 2 Thes 1:6-7. So that persons do not sit down in eternal blessedness in Christ, before or without consideration of any works wrought by them.
And then for sitting down in an heavenly, divine state of righteousness, rest, and peace in him here; it is a glorious state to be traveled to. There must be a translating out of the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of the dear Son first. The kingdom must first have come, and the soul prepared to enter into it, at the gate which the Spirit opens to him in the way of the gospel. For it is one thing to know somewhat of Christ, and to begin to become a disciple; and another thing to learn of him so to deny a man's own wisdom and will, as to come to receive and be born of what is true and living of him; and to learn to wait correctly for the opening of the gate, and entering into the kingdom and land of life, and to be prepared to sit down with him.
For there is a state of discipleship, by which a man hardly knows a settlement, so much as how to watch with Christ rightly and constantly; but it is a great matter to be able to dwell and abide with Him [Christ]. None can do this, but he that can dwell with devouring fire and everlasting burnings for the pure word of life is a fire, and he that sits down in the heavenly place in him, must sit down in that fire.
A note to preachers: Twelve men, heads of their tribes, were sent by God to scout the promise land. All of them, except Caleb and Joshua, told the people that enemies were too strong to be conquered; God killed them all by plague soon after. Beware that you are not telling your followers that they cannot conquer sin, even with Jesus Christ doing 90% of the fight, or you too will be destroyed — if not sooner, certainly later.