Online Bible Commentary
A Little Now, or a Lot Later
Hebrews 4:6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (NIV)
The Book of Hebrews is divided into two main subjects. The first part refers to the superiority of Christ (1:1-10:18) and the second part refers to exhortations to obedient living (10:19-13:25). Previously in this letter we have seen that Christ is superior to the prophets, the angels, mankind, and Moses. Now in this passage we see Christ’s superiority to Joshua, the one who led the Hebrews into the Promised Land.
This chapter has focused on the rest that God offers. God continues to offer rest to mankind even up to the present day. He Himself rested after the six day creation. He then offered His rest in the Promised Land to those Hebrews of the exodus from slavery in Egypt. And He offers His rest in Heaven to all who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
And so the gate to Heaven is open, and “some will enter that rest” (v. 6a). The Hebrews of the exodus were not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of their disobedience (v. 6b). However, their descendants were allowed to enter the rest of the Promise Land, being led by Joshua and Caleb, the only two of the older generation who had remained faithful to God (Jos. 21:43-44).
After the disobedience of the Hebrews of the exodus, God offers another day of rest, “calling it Today” (v. 7a), referring to salvation. His warning to the Hebrews, and to all people, is “do not harden your hearts” towards Jesus, the Messiah (v. 7b), a quote from David (Ps. 95:11). The message is to respond to “His voice”, the call of Jesus.
Joshua gave the Hebrews rest in the Promised Land (v. 8a), but Jesus had a better plan. God spoke about it later in the time of David (v. 8b). The Promised Land of Heaven was better than the Promised Land of Canaan. In Canaan, the Hebrews still had to fight for their land, and their way of life. They still suffered from sin, sickness, and sorrow. Heaven is much better. Christ’s plan was superior to Joshua’s plan.
The Promised Land in Heaven is called the “Sabbath-rest” (v. 9a), the ultimate rest. It is for “the people of God” (v. 9b). When God’s people enter Heaven, they enter “God’s rest” (v. 10a), resting from their work on earth, just as God rested on the seventh day, after completing the work of the creation (v. 10b).
The writer appeals to the Hebrews to whom this letter is written, and to us, to “make every effort to enter that rest” (v. 11a), “so that no one will fall” (v. 11b) to “disobedience” like the Hebrews of the exodus. In the final two verses of this passage, the writer speaks to this “disobedience”.
The Bible detects our disobedience. It points out our sin. The Bible is “living and active” (v. 12a), meaning it is constantly relative and powerful. The Bible is cutting, “sharper than a double-edged sword” (v. 12b).
The Bible is “dividing” (v. 12c), it pierces our “soul and spirit”, and our “joints and marrow” (v.12d). Our soul is everything we are, our being, our personality. Our spirit encompasses our soul, and takes both parts to Heaven when our body dies. Joints connect bones, just as our soul connects our body to us. Marrow is hidden in the bone and is the lifeblood of the bone, just as our spirit is hidden in the body and is the lifeblood of the body.
The Bible “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (v. 12e). The Bible reveals our sin, which is one reason why some do not read it. They do not want to do things God’s way. They want to run their own lives. Even so, they cannot hide from God. Nothing “is hidden from God's sight” (v. 13a). He sees “everything”, and we all “must give account” to Him some day (v. 13b). Even if we ignore Him our whole life, we will not be able to in the end. It’s like ignoring our car. The man in the old oil change commercial said “we can pay a little now or pay a lot later”. Except in this case the lot later is everything, our eternal life in Heaven.