Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
How calm and beautiful to the servant of God is the close of a Sabbath day! It has, if he has used it aright, helped to allay all his cares and soothe all his woes; to brighten earth by the reflection of heaven. How endearing and animating, then, the blessed link, that knits the passing Sabbath of earth with the interminable Sabbath of heaven! — that makes the best and brightest day in the seven, to be to the child of God at once the pledge and the antepast of the everlasting "rest that remaineth for the people of God!"
I. "Let us labour to enter into that rest"; FOR LABOUR IS NEEDFUL, IF WE WOULD ENTER. Most true it is, that eternal life is from first to last " the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Death we win — it is the wages of our service; life we receive — it is the free boon of boundless grace. Purchased, but by the blood of God; given to us "without money and without price." But it is not less true, that though it be the gift of God, it is given to us in order to, and in connection with, toil, struggle, self-denial, self-subjugation, a warfare unremitting, a perpetual maintenance of " the good fight of faith, against the flesh, the world, and the devil." We see, in the history of God's saints in every age, that to enter the glorious "rest " was a task of stupendous difficulty — was a pursuit for unremitting earnestness and energy — and called for and cost them all their devoted powers. Says not the Scripture everywhere the same? " Strive," said the Saviour — agonise — "to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
II. We must "labour to enter into that rest," because IF WE FAIL OF THAT REST, WE FAIL OF ALL REST FOR EVER.
III. "Let us labour to enter into that rest"; for IT IS WORTH OUR UTMOST LABOUR. It was beautifully said by a heathen wise man, that the noblest thing on earth is a noble object nobly pursued. That man, in his sentiment, was "not far from the kingdom of God." Oh! had he possessed the lamp that lights us, to reveal to him the glories prepared for them that love God, he would have seen at once, that the only noble object for immortal, responsible, rational man — the only noble object to be nobly pursued, in faith, in love, in self-denial, in holiness, in obedience, in patience, in indomitable resolution — is the kingdom of God's dear Son.
IV. "Let us labour, therefore, to enter into that rest"; for EVEN HERE HOW MUCH OF THIS REST MAY BE OURS, WHILE WE TOIL AND TRAVEL AND CONFLICT BELOW! The apostle beautifully says in the preceding context, "We which have believed do enter into rest." There are first-fruits brought from heaven to the wilderness, as there were first-fruits brought from Canaan to the desert.
V. "Let us, therefore, labour to enter into that rest"; for our LABOUR IS " NOT IN VAIN IN THE LORD." In this race none fails through inveterate ignorance, if that ignorance be not of choice and of obstinacy; none comes short through want of talent or opportunity or advantage, if he makes the most of such as God gives him; none fails because of extremity of poverty or misery or desolation of earthly circumstances; none comes short because there was not mercy in God, there was not efficacy in the blood of Christ, there was not freeness and fulness in the Spirit of grace, there was not room in heaven, there was not amplitude in the gospel of peace. Every man that fails and comes short, "cannot enter in because of unbelief"; because he " would not come to Christ that he might have life," or, coming to Christ, he would not have life in the way of ,'working out his own salvation with fear and trembling, because it was God that worked in him to will and to do of His good pleasure."
(H. Stowell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.