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Hebrews 4:9

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

There, remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God - It was not,

  1. The rest of the Sabbath; it was not,
  • The rest in the promised land,
  • for the psalmist wrote long after the days of Joshua; therefore there is another rest, a state of blessedness, for the people of God; and this is the Gospel, the blessings it procures and communicates, and the eternal glory which it prepares for, and has promised to, genuine believers.

    There are two words in this chapter which we indifferently translate rest, καταπαυσις and σαββατισμος· he first signifying a cessation from labor, so that the weary body is rested and refreshed; the second meaning, not only a rest from labor, but a religious rest; sabbatismus, a rest of a sacred kind, of which both soul and body partake. This is true, whether we understand the rest as referring to Gospel blessings, or to eternal felicity, or to both.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    There remaineth, therefore, a rest - This is the conclusion to which the apostle comes. The meaning is this, that according to the Scriptures there is “now” a promise of rest made to the people of God. It did not pertain merely to those who were called to go to the promised land, nor to those who lived in the time of David, but it is “still” true that the promise of rest pertains to “all” the people of God of every generation. The “reasoning” by which the apostle comes to this conclusion is briefly this:

    (1)That there was a “rest” - called “the rest of God” - spoken of in the earliest period of the world - implying that God meant that it should be enjoyed.

    (2)that the Israelites, to whom the promise was made, failed of obtaining what was promised by their unbelief.

    (3)that God intended that “some” should enter into his rest - since it would not be provided in vain.

    (4)that long after the Israelites had fallen in the wilderness, we find the same reference to a rest which David in his time exhorts those whom he addressed to endeavor to obtain.

    (5)that if all that had been meant by the word “rest,” and by the promise, had been accomplished when Joshua conducted the Israelites to the land of Canaan, we should not have heard another day spoken of when it was possible to forfeit that rest by unbelief.

    It followed, therefore, that there was something besides that; something that pertained to all the people of God to which the name rest might still be given, and which they were exhorted still to obtain. The word “rest” in this verse - σαββατισμὸς sabbatismos- “Sabbatism,” in the margin is rendered “keeping of a Sabbath.” It is a different word from σάββατον sabbaton- “the Sabbath;” and it occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and is not found in the Septuagint. It properly means “a keeping Sabbath” from σαββατίζω sabbatizō- “to keep Sabbath.” This word, not used in the New Testament, occurs frequently in the Septuagint; Exodus 16:30; Leviticus 23:32; Leviticus 26:35; 2 Chronicles 36:21; and in 3Esdr. 1:58; Hebrews 4:4, note), and of which that was the type and emblem. There will be “employment” there, but it will be without fatigue; there will be the occupation of the mind, and of whatever powers we may possess, but without weariness. Here we are often worn down and exhausted. The body sinks under continued toil, and fails into the grave. There the slave will rest from his toil; the man here oppressed and broken down by anxious care will cease from his labors. We know but little of heaven; but we know that a large part of what now oppresses and crushes the frame will not exist there. Slavery will be unknown; the anxious care for support will be unknown, and all the exhaustion which proceeds from the love of gain, and from ambition, will be unknown. In the wearisome toils of life, then, let us look forward to the “rest” that remains in heaven, and as the laborer looks to the shades of the evening, or to the Sabbath as a period of rest, so let us look to heaven as the place of eternal repose.

    (2) heaven will be like a Sabbath. The best description of it is to say it is “an eternal Sabbath.” Take the Sabbath on earth when best observed, and extend the idea to eternity, and let there be separated all idea of imperfection from its observance, and that would be heaven. The Sabbath is holy; so is heaven. It is a period of worship; so is heaven. It is for praise and for the contemplation of heavenly truth; so is heaven. The Sabbath is appointed that we may lay aside worldly cares and anxieties for a little season here; heaven that we may lay them aside forever.

    (3) the Sabbath here should be like heaven. It is designed to be its type and emblem. So far as the circumstances of the case will allow, it should be just like heaven. There should be the same employments; the same joys; the same communion with God. One of the best rules for employing the Sabbath aright is, to think what heaven will be, and then to endeavor to spend it in the same way. One day in seven at least should remind us of what heaven is to be; and that day may be, and should be, the most happy of the seven.

    (4) they who do not love the Sabbath on earth, are not prepared for heaven. If it is to them a day of tediousness; if its hours move heavily; if they have no delight in its sacred employments, what would an eternity of such days be? How would they be passed? Nothing can be clearer than that if we have no such happiness in a season of holy rest, and in holy employments here, we are wholly unprepared for heaven. To the Christian it is the subject of the highest joy in anticipation that heaven is to be “one long unbroken” sabbath - an eternity of successive Sabbath hours. But what to a sinner could be a more repulsive and gloomy prospect than such an eternal Sabbath?

    (5) if this be so, then what a melancholy view is furnished as to the actual preparation of the great mass of people for heaven! How is the Sabbath now spent? In idleness; in business; in traveling; in hunting and fishing; in light reading and conversation; in sleep; in visiting; in riding, walking, lounging, “ennui;” - in revelry and dissipation; in any and every way “except the right way;” in every way except in holy communion with God. What would the race be if once transported to heaven as they are! What a prospect would it be to this multitude to have to spend “an eternity” which would be but a prolongation of the Sabbath of holiness!

    (6) let those who love the Sabbath rejoice in the prospect of eternal rest in heaven. In our labor let us look to that world where wearisome toil is unknown; in our afflictions, let us look to that world where tears never fall; and when our hearts are pained by the violation of the Sabbath all around us, let us look to that blessed world where such violation will cease forever. It is not far distant. A few steps will bring us there. Of any Christian it may be said that perhaps his next Sabbath will be spent in heaven - near the throne of God.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The privileges we have under the gospel, are greater than any had under the law of Moses, though the same gospel for substance was preached under both Testaments. There have been in all ages many unprofitable hearers; and unbelief is at the root of all unfruitfulness under the word. Faith in the hearer is the life of the word. But it is a painful consequence of partial neglect, and of a loose and wavering profession, that they often cause men to seem to come short. Let us then give diligence, that we may have a clear entrance into the kingdom of God. As God finished his work, and then rested from it, so he will cause those who believe, to finish their work, and then to enjoy their rest. It is evident, that there is a more spiritual and excellent sabbath remaining for the people of God, than that of the seventh day, or that into which Joshua led the Jews. This rest is, a rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state. And a rest in glory, where the people of God shall enjoy the end of their faith, and the object of all their desires. The rest, or sabbatism, which is the subject of the apostle's reasoning, and as to which he concludes that it remains to be enjoyed, is undoubtedly the heavenly rest, which remains to the people of God, and is opposed to a state of labour and trouble in this world. It is the rest they shall obtain when the Lord Jesus shall appear from heaven. But those who do not believe, shall never enter into this spiritual rest, either of grace here or glory hereafter. God has always declared man's rest to be in him, and his love to be the only real happiness of the soul; and faith in his promises, through his Son, to be the only way of entering that rest.
    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 928

    3. See EGW on John 1:14. 7BC 928.1

    6. See EGW on ch. 4:14; Revelation 3:3. 7BC 928.2

    12 (ch. 11:6). No Encouragement Given for Unbelief—There is no encouragement given for unbelief. The Lord manifests His grace and His power over and over again, and this should teach us that it is always profitable under all circumstances to cherish faith, to talk faith, to act faith. We are not to have our hearts and hands weakened by allowing the suggestions of suspicious minds to plant in our hearts the seeds of doubt and distrust [Hebrews 3:12 quoted] (Letter 97, 1898). 7BC 928.3

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3 (EGW), 1164

    Now is the time of trial, of test, of proving. Those who like Saul, will persist in having their own way, will suffer as he did, loss of honor, and finally the loss of the soul (Letter 13, 1892). 3BC 1164.1

    26. The Law of Kindness on Your Lips—The Lord will help every one of us where we need help the most in the grand work of overcoming and conquering self. Let the law of kindness be upon your lips and the oil of grace in your heart. This will produce wonderful results. You will be tender, sympathetic, courteous. You need all these graces. The Holy Spirit must be received and brought into your character; then it will be as holy fire, giving forth incense which will rise up to God, not from lips that condemn, but as a healer of the souls of men. Your countenance will express the image of the divine. No sharp, critical, blunt, or severe words should be spoken. This is common fire, and must be left out of all our councils and intercourse with our brethren. God requires every soul in His service to kindle their censers from the coals of sacred fire. The common, severe, harsh words that come from your lips so readily must be withheld, and the Spirit of God speak through the human agent. By beholding the character of Christ you will become changed into His likeness. The grace of Christ alone can change your heart and then you will reflect the image of the Lord Jesus. God calls upon us to be like Him,—pure, holy, and undefiled. We are to bear the divine image (Letter 84, 1899). 3BC 1164.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 155

    I saw how little the Pattern was studied, how little exalted before them. How little do the young suffer, or deny self, for their religion! To sacrifice is scarcely thought of among them. They entirely fail of imitating the Pattern in this respect. I saw that the language of their lives is: Self must be gratified, pride must be indulged. They forget the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief. The sufferings of Jesus in Gethsemane, His sweating as it were great drops of blood in the garden, the platted crown of thorns that pierced His holy brow, do not move them. They have become benumbed. Their sensibilities are blunted, and they have lost all sense of the great sacrifice made for them. They can sit and listen to the story of the cross, hear how the cruel nails were driven through the hands and feet of the Son of God, and it does not stir the depths of the soul. 1T 155.1

    Said the angel: “If such should be ushered into the city of God, and told that all its rich beauty and glory was theirs to enjoy eternally, they would have no sense of how dearly that inheritance was purchased for them. They would never realize the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. They have not drunk of the cup, nor been baptized with the baptism. Heaven would be marred if such should dwell there. Those only who have partaken of the sufferings of the Son of God, and have come up through great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, can enjoy the indescribable glory and unsurpassed beauty of heaven.” 1T 155.2

    The want of this necessary preparation will shut out the greater portion of young professors, for they will not labor earnestly and zealously enough to obtain that rest that remains for the people of God. They will not honestly confess their sins, that they may be pardoned and blotted out. These sins in a short time will be revealed in just their enormity. God's eye does not slumber. He knows every sin that is hidden from mortal eye. The guilty know just what sins to confess that their souls may be clean before God. Jesus is now giving them opportunity to confess, to repent in deep humility, and purify their lives by obeying and living out the truth. Now is the time for wrongs to be righted and sins to be confessed, or they will appear before the sinner in the day of God's wrath. 1T 155.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 253

    The want of this necessary preparation will shut out the greatest portion of the young professors, for they will not labor earnestly and zealously enough to obtain that rest that remains for the people of God. They will not honestly confess their sins, that they may be pardoned and blotted out. These sins in a short time will be revealed in just their enormity. God's eye does not slumber. He knows every sin that is hidden from mortal eye. The guilty know just what sins to confess, that their souls may be clean before God. 2SG 253.1

    I saw that Jesus was now giving them opportunity to confess, to repent in deep humility, and purify their lives by obeying and living out the truth. I saw that now was the time for wrongs to be righted, sins to be confessed, or appear before the sinner in the day of God's wrath. 2SG 253.2

    I saw that parents generally put too much confidence in their children, and often when their parents are confiding in them, they are in concealed iniquity. Parents, watch over your children with a jealous care. Exhort, reprove, counsel them when you rise up, and when you sit down; when you go out, and when you come in; “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little.” Subdue your children when they are young. With many parents this has been sadly neglected. 2SG 253.3

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