Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 4

Rest and work

Hebrews 4:10-11

Nobody can rest while he is still working. In order to rest, a person must stop his own activities. Even God did that after he created the world (Genesis 2:2). So it is clear that people must do it too.

The people whom Moses led did not obey God. That was why they could not enter God’s rest. They did not do what God wanted. They constantly did whatever they themselves wanted to do. They were acting as their own masters. So they would not trust God. And they could not rest in their relationship with him. They always had their own work to do.

Sometimes people try to please God by the works that they do. But nobody can earn a right relationship with God by their own works. God wants to give us that right relationship as a free gift.

However, it is for the person who trusts God. It is not for the person that works (Romans 3:27-28).

The people whom Moses led were not trying to please God by their works. They were trying to control God. Their desire was to please themselves. They tried to force God to do what they wanted. We can see that their attitude was evil.

Some Bible translations say in Hebrews 4:11 that we should ‘strive’ to receive God’s rest. To ‘strive’ means to struggle, or to work hard. And some translations tell us to ‘make every effort’. These translations seem wrong. They do not agree with Hebrews 4:10, which tells us to stop our own works.

The original word here means ‘to go quickly’. It is what Paul asks Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 4:21. It also means ‘to be eager’ or ‘to be careful’. We should want to receive God’s rest (a relationship with God) without delay. We should be eager to receive it. We should be careful to have the right attitudes so that we shall receive it. These meanings agree better with the rest of the passage.

Next part: God’s word tests us (Hebrews 4:12)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.