Rest for God's People
From Gospel Translations
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).
- Hebrews 4:9–10
In Hebrews 4, the author tells us about the Sabbath rest that is yet to come for the people of God. Israel’s rest in Canaan was only a type of the rest to come (v.8). The Sabbath to come is none other than the Sabbath that God has enjoyed since He finished creation (v. 5).
We are told that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (v. 9). But what will this final Sabbath rest be like? Certainly it will not be a time of inactivity. God is only resting from the works of creation, He is not completely inactive. He is still active in the works of providence, judgment, and grace. Since we know that our final rest will be like God’s rest, we will also actively labor during our final Sabbath. Our labor then will be an eternity of service and worship to our King, only the labor of our earthly trials will cease.
How do we know that the labor of the Sabbath will be the labor of worship and service? The answer is to be found in Hebrews 4:10. There we are told that those who enter God’s rest also rest from their works just like God does from His. When we finally enter God’s Sabbath rest, we will rest from our work in the same manner that God rests from His. John Owen points out that though our rest will involve rest from sin, this is not what the author of Hebrews has in mind primarily when he says our rest will be like the rest of God. Indeed, it cannot be since God, being sinless, never needs to rest from sin. When God rests, He delights in Himself and in His work (Gen. 1:31). His work of creation displays His glory (Ps. 19), and He delights in His own glory most of all (Isa. 48:11). Though God is not presently inactive, He is resting in His work of creation for His own glory and as an example to us.
If the fullness of God’s rest means that God delights in Himself and His work, then those who enter God’s rest will delight in God and His work. When the fullness of God’s rest is finally applied to us, we will delight only in Him and in nothing else. We will also delight in the work He has done and nothing else.
We have entered God’s rest through faith in Christ, but we do not yet enjoy all its fullness. Our sin hinders us from enjoying God above all else. But the Lord has promised to eliminate the presence of sin and bring us into full enjoyment of God and His rest.
Just like the possession of Canaan, the weekly Sabbath is a type of the rest to come. As we set aside time weekly to enjoy the Lord by worshiping Him, we anticipate the eternal Sabbath worship to come. When you go to church on Sunday, remember that your worship is only a foretaste of the worship to come.
Passages for Further Study
2 Cor. 3:17–18