Hebrews 4:10
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. We have already spoken of the rest which is the present privilege of the Christian: "We which have believed do enter into that rest." But that does not satisfy all our desire and aspiration. We crave a deeper, fuller, more perfect rest than we enjoy here. The higher life at present is one of intense and, at times, almost painful longing. Without the prospect of something better than our present best, our life would not be satisfactory. "There remaineth therefore a rest [a keeping of sabbath] for the people of God." This rest which is reserved is richer, fuller, more glorious than that which is at present realized. The words used to express them suggest this. The chief meaning of κατάπαυσις (ver. 3) is cessation, as from work, pain, etc. The rest which it indicates is mainly negative. But σαββατισμὸς (ver. 9) indicates a sabbath festal celebration, a holy keeping of sabbath; it comprises the rest of ver. 3 and considerably more. Let us consider what this sabbath rest which remains for the people of God consists in.

I. IN THE ABSENCE OF ALL THOSE DISTURBING INFLUENCES WHICH CHARACTERIZE OUR PRESENT STATE. This is the negative aspect of the rest, or what we shall rest from.

1. Rest from the struggle against sin. The people of God in heaven are more than conquerors over sin and Satan "through him that loved' them. The great tempter, and solicitation to sin, will be entirely and eternally excluded from that bright and blessed world. "There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth," etc.

2. Rest from suffering, both physical and mental. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more" (Revelation 7:16, 17). "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick." "And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes," etc. (Revelation 21:4).

3. Rest from the mystery and burden of life. In our present state there are seasons of darkness and perplexity when trust and hope in God involve painful effort to some souls. Such efforts will not be demanded in the blessed hereafter. Much that to us is now obscure will then be perfectly clear. The pure light of eternity will chase away the grim shadows of time; and what is to us unknown in heaven will awaken neither dread nor doubt.

4. Rest from toilsome, anxious, discouraging labor. No more men and women and children compelled to labor on long after their physical powers are tired out. No more forcing of the brain to continued effort when it already aches wearily by reason of its toils. No further summons to works of social or moral amelioration, which must be prosecuted despite difficulty, discouragement, opposition, and seeming failure. The sabbath rest which remaineth for the people of God precludes all these things.

II. IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL THE HARMONIOUS AND BLESSED CONDITIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH OUR NATURE CRAVES. This is the positive aspect of our rest, or what we shall rest in.

1. In the conformity of our character to that of God. Purity is peace. Holiness is rest. The perfectly holy is the infinitely and ever-blessed God. The saints in heaven "have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Nor is their holiness the mere negation of moral evil, but a positive and active condition of their being. Their thoughts, sympathies, aspirations, services, are all true and pure and benevolent. They are spiritually transformed into the image of the Lord. And in this there is rest and blessedness. "I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."

2. In the progress of our being towards God. Stagnation is not rest. Stationariness is not rest; it is stillness, inaction, but not rest. But harmonious growth is both restful and joyous. One of the constituents of the future rest of the good is growth - growth in mind and heart and spirit, in thought, and affection, and reverence, and holy action. In endless approximation to the infinitely Holy One will man find the rest and perfection of his being.

3. In the continuous service of God. As this rest is a "keeping of sabbath," it cannot mean a complete cessation of activity. Inactivity is not rest. "Sloth yieldeth not happiness; the bliss of a spirit is action;'

"An angel's wing would droop if long at rest,
And God himself, inactive, were no longer blest" So we read of the bright future that "his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face." "They are before the throne of God; and they serve him day and night in his temple." T. Aquinas speaks of this service as videre, amare, et laudare. But it must not be limited to these exercises. Enough for us to know that there will be services for us to render - continuous services, blessed services, and all of them in the service of our God. The rest and joy of this service will appear if we consider:

(1) Its inspiration. Love to God is the impulse of every action, and transforms every duty into a delight.

(2) Its nature. Every service will be sacred. The spirit in which it is done will make all the work religious, worshipful.

(3) Its conditions. Freedom from all obstruction, from all restraint, and from all fatigue.

4. In conscious and continuous communion with God. "He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, their God, And they shall see his face." "We shall see him even as he is." All the redeemed in heaven are through Christ perfectly one with God in sympathies, purposes, principles, and joys. God alone can satisfy them. In him they rest with deepest, holiest blessedness. They are "forever with the Lord." "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." This rest is "reserved for the people of God." Only the sincere and hearty believers in Jesus Christ will ever enter upon it. The character of the rest is conclusive as to this question. To experience the perfect rest of the glorious future we must first experience the spiritual rest which is available unto us at present. - W.J.







He that is entered into His rest.
We lose much of the meaning of this passage by our superficial habit of transferring it to a future state. The ground of the mistake is in the misinterpretation of the word "remaineth"; which is taken to point to the "rest," after the sorrows of this life are all done with. Of course there is such a rest; but the truth taught here is that faith, and not death, is the gate to participation in Christ's rest; that the rest remained over after Moses and Judaism, but came into possession under and by Christ.

I. THE DIVINE REST. It is the deep tranquillity of a nature self-sufficing in its infinite beauty, calm in its everlasting strength, placid in its deepest joy, still in its mightiest energy, loving without passion, willing without decision or change, acting without effort, quiet, and moving everything; making all things new, and itself everlasting; creating, and knowing no diminution by the act; annihilating, and knowing no loss though the universe were barren and unpeopled. God is, God is everywhere, God is everywhere the same, God is everywhere the same infinite, God is everywhere the same infinite love and the same infinite self-sufficiency; therefore His very Being is rest. And yet that image that rises before us, statuesque, still in its placid tranquillity, is not repellent nor cold, is no dead marble likeness of life. God is changeless and ever tranquil, and yet He loves — wills — acts. Mystery of mysteries, passing all understanding! Then there is the other thought which perhaps comes more markedly out in the passage before us — that of a rest which is God's tranquil ceasing from His work, because God has perfected His work. Still further: this Divine tranquillity — inseparable from the Divine nature, the token of the sufficiency and completeness of the Divine work — is also a rest that is full of work. God rests, and in His rest, up to the present hour and for ever, God works. And, in like manner, Christ's work of redemption, finished upon the Cross, is perpetually going on. Christ's glorious repose is full of energy for His people. He intercedes above. He works on them. He works through them, He works for them.

II. THE REST OF GOD AND OF CHRIST IS THE PATTERN OF WHAT OUR EARTHLY LIFE MAY BECOME. We cannot possess that changeless tranquillity which knows no variations of purpose or of desire, but we can possess the stable repose of that fixed nature which knows one object, and one alone. We cannot possess that energy which, after all work, is fresh and unbroken; but we can possess that tranquillity which in all toil is not troubled, and after all work is ready for double service. We cannot possess that unwavering fire of a Divine nature which burns in love without flickering, which knows without learning, which wills without irresolution and without the act of decision; but we can come to love deeply, tranquilly, perpetually, we can come to know without questioning, without doubts, without darkness, in firm confidence of stable assurance, and so know with something like the knowledge of Him who knows things as they are; and we can come to will and resolve so strongly, so fixedly, so wisely, that there shall be no change of purpose, nor any vacillation of desire. In these ways, in shadow and copy, we can be like even the apparently incommunicable tranquillity which, like an atmosphere that knows no tempests, belongs to and encircles the throne of God. But, still further: Faith, which is the means of entering into rest, will — if only you cherish it — make your life no unworthy resemblance of His who, triumphant above, works for us, and, working for us, rests from all His toil. Trust Christi is the teaching here.

III. THIS DIVINE REST IS A PROPHECY OF WHAT OUR HEAVENLY LIFE SHALL SURELY BE. There is a basis of likeness between the Christian life on earth and the Christian life in heaven, so great as that the blessings which are predicated of the one belong to the other. Only here they are in blossom, sickly, often, putting out very feeble shoots and tendrils; and yonder transplanted into their right soil, and in their native air with heaven's sun upon them, they burst into richer beauty, and bring forth fruits of immortal life. The heaven of all spiritual natures is not idleness, Man's delight is activity. The loving heart's delight is obedience. The saved heart's delight is grateful service. The joys of heaven are not the joys of passive contemplation, of dreamy remembrance, of perfect repose; but they are described thus, "They rest not day nor night." "His servants serve Him, and see His face." Yes, heaven is perfect "rest." God be thanked for all the depth of unspeakable sweetness which lies in that one little word, to the ears of all the weary and the heavy laden.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. THE PERSONS — "The people of God."

1. He purchased them.

2. He has prepared them.

3. He has watched over and guarded them.

4. They have been enlightened.

II. THE PROMISE — "There remaineth a rest."

1. Already in existence.

2. Not yet manifested.

III. THE EXPECTATION — "Rest."

1. Chiefly negative. Denoting an absence of what is painful, laborious, disagreeable.

2. Not necessarily inaction. The brain-toiler rests in taking manual exercise. The muscle-worker rests in reading and writing. The teacher rests in games, such as cricket, &c. So the Christian shall not fear the toils of earth in the occupation of heaven.

3. Blessed. The absence of all evil will give opportunity for the exercise of all that is good.

(Homilist.)

The one want of our nature is rest. We want it in each part of our nature. The body wants rest. Toil, toil of hand and foot and brain, demands alternations of rest, if it is not to kill. The mind wants rest. The thinking, understanding, reasoning, reflecting mind. And certainly the soul wants it. That wonderful, that immortal thing within each of us — which we can distinguish not only from the material body, but even from the thinking mind — that soul which comes straight to each man from his God, and (strange to add) must return straight out of this life to the God who gave it — the soul has its toils and its journeyings and its wearinesses — distinguishable easily from a mere earthly solicitude on the one side, and from a mere intellectual unrest on the other. The soul is worn and weary for want of some rest of its own in a strong, delightful, imperishable heart of Love! In their different ways all are seeking rest. Oh, it is a sorrowful thought, when you are thrown into the midst of a multitude, gathered for business, for amusement, even for worship, how few, how very few, of all these have yet found their rest! One is heaping up riches, ignorant who shall gather, knowing only this, that he can carry nothing away with him when he dieth! But he wants rest, and partly he puts out of sight the sordidness and the shortlivedness of this particular rest; and partly, with his eyes open, he says, Twenty years, or twenty hours, or even so base a rest, are better than none! And so he goes after this. Another, far higher and nobler in his aspiration, cannot live without affection. That, he sees, is rest, could he but have it — could he but know indeed what it is! And then, eluded and baffled, at last desperate, in this pursuit of his rest, he falls into evil courses, and would fain fill himself with such husks of love as swine scarcely eat! Rest in the rest of God. "My rest," God says in the 95th Psalm, and speaks of man entering it. This rest, the context tells us, is partly present, partly future.

1. There is a present rest in the rest of God. That can only be found in an entire, absolute trust in the atonement, made once for all upon the cross of Jesus. Once apprehend that, and then there will enter your soul a peace and a rest indeed passing all understanding. You will work afterwards as never before, because you will work from, not for acceptance, because in working you will be resting. You will count all your work as needing, yet having, forgiveness.

2. From this soul's rest there is but one step into the saint's rest — into that calm, that reposeful existence which lies beyond death for such as shall be counted worthy. Not entirely separate, as some would represent, from the life that is now, and from the stage of present action; for if we rest not now, in God's sense of resting, from sin, from self, from vanity, from feverish haste, from human praise, in the sense of our littleness and of God's might, of our sinfulness and of Christ's atonement, we shall never rest then where God is all in all: not entirely separate from earth — for, after all, heaven is but the Spirit's presence, is bur the consciousness of God as our God, is but the love of Christ filling and constraining; and where these are below, there is heaven begun — not entirely separate, yet severed from the life that now is, even for the chief of saints, by two definite differences — by the removal of this body of earth now enchaining the soul, and by the experience of that nearer, more direct communion, of which it is written that there they shall see God.

(Dean Vaughan.)

The writer makes a distinction between soul and spirit in ver. 12. Your soul is you, the part that thinks, wills, reasons, loves, forms plans, purposes, the age, the I life. Beyond that, deeper, deeper down, is the spirit, the part that holds fellowship with God. God consciousness. Good people, converted people, regenerated people, live too much from the soul centre, self-consciousness, and in proportion to our doing this we lose God's rest. As "I" comes in, rest goes out and restlessness enters.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

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