1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
This chapter shows that believers today can claim God’s promises and enter into the “rest” that Jesus provides.
The “therefore” draws an inference from the lesson of chapter 3. It should follow that Christians take a warning from the failure of Israel in not claiming the promises of God. This introduces the application for the Christian to enter God’s rest.
since a promise remains [still stands] of entering His rest,
The idea of God’s “promise” is prominent in Hebrews (He 6:12-17; 8:6; 10:23, 36; 11:9-17, 39-40). The various synonyms occur 12 times in Hebrews 3 and 4.
Hebrews 4:10 defines the nature of the “rest” promised in this chapter. It is something that God fully accomplished by His grace toward believers. “Rest” for the New Testament believer is different than for the Old Testament believer. Believers in the church age do not have to work for their rest; it has been accomplished for them.
There is a new set of promises that are different from Israel’s. The offer of rest was not limited to the Exodus generation but was offered both to David’s generation and the generation of hundreds of years later in the first century.
God’s “promise” of entering His rest still stands even after the failure of others. This chapter emphasizes the idea that God’s rest is still extant (He 4:1, 6, 9, 11).
Note that God’s presence was revealed in the Garden of Eden, and then in the tabernacle, and then in the land itself and in Solomon’s temple. In each of these situations, worship of God was jeopardized by disobedience to God’s covenant. Adam was excluded from the garden. Most of Israel including Moses and Aaron were prohibited from entering the land. This did not affect their salvation but their privilege of fellowship with God (He 4:4). This was a warning to believers who were beginning to retrogress into Judaism.
let us fear [be careful] lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
The “fear” here is objective apprehension, not subjective dread or trepidation. They were to come to fear that they had “come short” of God’s rest. The idea is that they were to be on their guard against spiritual failure. Some of the readers of Hebrews deemed that they had missed God’s promise of rest. That conclusion was not right because God’s promise was still available to them.
God’s rest remains open to His people today.
Just as Israel missed the earthly Promised Land, so believers today can fail to claim God’s promises for them by faith.
“Rest” is the privilege to enter the blessing of worshiping God in His presence (Ex 33:14). God’s presence is the source of rest (Ps 95:2). The Christian can jeopardize his entering into this rest by hardening of his heart.
God’s rest is not limited to time or space. His resting place is based on Christ seated in the heavenly sanctuary (He 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2) where He Himself is in the presence of God. Christians today can draw on God’s life-sustaining presence mediated by Christ as their High Priest.