Psalm 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
What a blessing it is for the children of God to walk with Jesus day by day, to live in continual fellowship with Him, trusting in Him for their every care and need. What a privilege to know this Shepherd as our personal Saviour. We need never fear when we remember that Jesus is always with us. He continually makes us to lie down in green pastures and is ever leading us beside still waters. The perfect peace and rest He provides is more than we could ever imagine. This psalm gives us a beautiful picture of what it is to rest content in the Saviour, our Shepherd. That is a privilege only His children can claim. Exodus 33:14 And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
Are you trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation? Are you resting in the complete forgiveness and cleansing He has provided for whosoever will come to Him? Are you finished with your own toiling and labouring to earn God’s approval? Through His death on Calvary, and the shedding of His blood for our sins, He has done all that is needed to save your soul. Through His physical resurrection, He proved that He had the power to save you from sin, death, and the grave. Have you trusted in Jesus’ finished work on the cross? His death paid the full penalty needed to reconcile you to the Heavenly Father, if you will receive His gift of salvation by faith. Let His precious blood wash your sins away.
If you have trusted in Jesus to save you, are you now resting in Him day by day? Do you have peace and joy in your Christian walk, or do you feel like you are spinning on a roller coaster ride, one day up the next day down? Is victory a foreign concept to you? It doesn’t have to be! Daily victory is a result of faith, of spending time with the Lord in prayer and in reading His Word. We also need to be regularly attending a church where the Word of God is clearly preached and taught, where we will be fed spiritually and equipped in our service for the Shepherd. Song of Solomon 1:7 Tell me, O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of Thy companions?
Like Israel, we can forfeit our daily victory through lack of trust in the Saviour, and the perfect rest He gives.
When Israel was traveling through the wilderness, twelve men were sent to spy out Canaan. The land was abundant and fruitful. Truly it was a land of milk and honey, where the grapes of Eshcol grew so big that one cluster needed two men to carry it! God had given them the land, but they needed to trust Him to fight the battles for them. Ten of the spies discouraged the Israelites from claiming victory, and therefore they refused to enter the promised land. As a result, they were chastised by spending forty years wandering in the wilderness, a barren land of unrest and strife.
Here is what the Lord Himself (through Paul) had to say about their wanderings in Hebrews 3:7-19:
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear His voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
We see that of the whole nation of Israel, only two men (of all those 20 years old and upward) were able to enter into the promised land. These two were Joshua and Caleb; all the rest of the nation died in their wilderness wanderings, without ever seeing the land of rest and promise. They lost out on the victory through unbelief! They would not trust the Lord to give them the victory over their enemies. Even so today, you and I can miss out on the blessings of God, miss out on the victorious life, because of a lack of faith, a lack of trust in what the Lord has said. Unbelief is sin! And we don’t need to give in to it! We just need the simple faith of a child which believes simply because their parent has spoken. Our Heavenly Father has spoken clearly in His Word. Let’s claim His promises and believe Him, not our feelings or our reasonings. God said it, that settles it!
The Greek word for “believed not” in Hebrews 3:18 is Strong’s #544, which means “to disbelieve (willfully and perversely)”. It was a choice on the part of the Israelites to not believe, to perversely refuse to believe God’s promised rest of victory. We encounter a different form of that word (Strong’s # 543, “unbelief”) in chapter four verses 6 and 11 (see below). Will we choose to rebel and be unbelieving like the Israelites, or will we choose in simple faith to trust and believe what the Lord has said in His Word? How many times have we as Christians refused to believe that the Lord knows what is best for us? When we choose to “believe not” that Jesus will give us the power we need to overcome sin and bondage in our own lives, and we refuse the cleansing touch He offers, we are, in effect, rebelling (though we don’t like to think of our unbelief in that way) against Him. We know that the change would be uncomfortable, and we prefer to avoid the discomfort of striving against sin. In our compromise, we let sin gradually take over, and thus lose the victory that the Lord has promised to give us, if we will only walk by faith. 1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Hebrews 4:1-11 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
There are three types of rest promised in Hebrews four, and sometimes there is confusion when this chapter is not rightly divided. The main emphasis of chapters three and four is the rest of victory, and the loss of that rest through unbelief and disobedience.
The first rest is the rest of salvation. We find this mentioned in verse 10. For he that is entered into His* rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. *Commentators seem divided as to whose rest is specifically in view here: either the believer's rest from his own works (in regards to salvation - rest from our own works, rest from striving to earn God’s approval through our own “righteousness”), or entering into Christ's rest through faith in His finished work on the cross. Basically, they both amount to the same thing, and are merely two sides of the same coin; Biblically, we quit striving to work our way toward Heaven when we truly rest in Christ's finished work. I have already covered this in my first study on rest – And I Will Give You Rest (The Rest Of Salvation). Matthew 11:28 Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Another rest mentioned in this passage is the rest of Heaven. This is the believers’ eternal home, where all sin is vanquished and there is perfect peace and joy. Here there is no more striving against the world, the flesh, and the devil; our own sinful nature has been removed forever (do I hear an Amen?), and we have finished whatever service the Lord has planned for us in this earthly life. This is the rest referred to in verse 9: There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. This is a promised rest that is not conditioned on anything we can do or have done, except for our personal faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. It is not a rest we can earn (or even forfeit), but the end result of the first rest – the perfection (completion) of our salvation. Revelation 14:13 says And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. At the end of a long day of working in the field of this sin-cursed world, this is the rest from our toil and labour.
The third rest (and the overall theme of Hebrews 3:7-4:11) is the rest of victory in Jesus Christ – rest for our souls. It is a rest conditioned upon our daily trust in the Lord, and our walk by faith. Notice that four times in this chapter, Paul says, “Let us …” (Verses 1, 11, 14, 16) He is speaking to professing Christians here and stating that there is a rest that we can come short of. (This is not the rest of salvation – though the unsaved can forfeit that through willful rejection of the only Saviour.) In verse three, he states that “we which have believed do enter into rest”, but the others did not. So this rest is a rest promised to believers.
This rest for our souls is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe the King James Bible is accurate when it states the name “Jesus” in Hebrews 4:8. While it is true that Joshua (a type of Jesus) led the Israelites into the promised land, and they had victory over the enemies when they trusted fully in the Lord, it was not Joshua who spoke through King David in Psalm 95 (which Paul quotes from in Hebrews chapters three and four). Hebrews 4:7-8 says Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day. If Jesus had given the Israelites the rest mentioned in this passage of Scripture (spiritual rest, the rest of victory) when they entered Canaan, then He would not have promised rest almost five hundred years later through this Psalm of David. As we will see in this study, this promised rest is much more than a relief from physical enemies, but is in fact a spiritual rest, a rest of victory through abiding in Christ.
Over and over again, reference is made to Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. They were promised the land; the Lord said He would fight their battles for them and give them the victory over the inhabitants of Canaan; but they refused to believe Him. In the book of Joshua and Judges, we see this rest pictured. After God’s people had crossed the Jordan River, they were faced with the Canaanites (and other ungodly nations), which the Lord told them to wipe out because of their wickedness and abominations. When the Israelites did exactly as the Lord commanded them to do, they had victory upon victory with little or no loss of life. The Lord fought their battles as He promised He would.
Joshua 21:44 And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
1 Kings 8:56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto His people Israel, according to all that He promised: there hath not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised by the hand of Moses His servant.
But there were times that God’s people did not wipe out their enemies, they did not follow God’s instructions, they did not deal with sin in the camp, and the results were grievous and many lives were lost.
The Bible is a book full of examples to learn from and be admonished of. (See Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) Israel’s crossing of the Jordan and entering the promised land represents the life of a believer after he/she comes to Christ for salvation. (I challenge you to read the books of Joshua and Judges again – especially Judges 1-2, praying for wisdom and examining them it in the light of the following comments.) As they dealt with their sin and compromise and completely followed the Lord’s instructions in His Word, the Lord gave them complete and utter victory over their enemies – the world, the flesh, and the devil. BUT when they chose not to fight against their enemies – to drive them out of the land, and chose the path of carnal peace and compromise, they suffered severe defeat. These nations that they did not conquer became thorns in their sides (See Joshua 23:8-13 and Judges 2:2-3), and snares unto them. Likewise, when we refuse to deal completely with the sins in our lives, eventually those same sins will become thorns in our sides and snares to our spiritual lives. We will reap what we sow. If we sow sin (by walking according to the flesh), we will reap a harvest of sorrow and tears; but if we sow righteousness (by walking according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God), we will reap a harvest of blessings and victory. (See also Hosea 8:7) (For a further look into this spiritual conflict, contrast Joshua chapter 7 with chapter 14. Also 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-13; with 17:14-18; 19:47. The issue here is faith versus unbelief.)
In 1 John 5:13 it says, These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. It used to puzzle me to see the same phrase repeated in the same verse, until I learned what it meant to “believe on” Jesus Christ. To “believe on” is to put your trust, your dependence on something, to commit yourself to it. First, we need to believe on Jesus for salvation, then, secondly, we need to believe on Him for our daily walk. We need to depend on Him for victory. The just shall live by faith is a phrase that is repeated three times in the New Testament. (See Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38) Our Heavenly Father didn’t just intend us to be saved by faith, but also to live our whole Christian lives by faith! The last quote was just before the great Faith Chapter – Hebrews 11. There we have examples of believers throughout history who have lived (and died) in victory they received through faith. Will you be one of them?
Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. The word for labour means "to use speed, i.e. to make effort, be prompt or earnest; be diligent." Paul (and the Holy Spirit) are exhorting us to earnestly strive for victory in Christ, to be diligent to ensure that we do not lose this victory through our willful unbelief, through our lack of trust in the Lord. How do we achieve or maintain this victory? The next five verses give us three things to continue in, three things that are so essential if we are to be victorious, three things that will enable us to abide in the rest of victory that Jesus Christ offers to the child of God:
1) Stay continually in the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is interesting to note that right after we are given the command to enter into His rest, we are reminded of the means to do so: it is the Word of God that gives us the faith we are to walk by (Romans 10:17), teaches us how we are to live and please the Lord day by day, and, like a mirror, shows us what we are like in God's sight and what we should be like. When the Holy Spirit reveals to us what we need to change in our lives, let us seek His wisdom and His strength to do so. (See James 1:22-25) Let us take and apply what God's Word teaches us, and stand where His Word commands us to.
2) Look continually to Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:13-15 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us remember that Jesus can sympathize with us in all our infirmities. He was tempted in all points as we are, yet He never gave in to sin; therefore He is the only person who can truly understand our weaknesses and struggles, and can give us victory over all of them! He can give us the strength and faith to overcome the spiritual battles in our lives! Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. (See also Proverbs 5:21 and Psalms 139:23-24)
3) Pray continually, and come continually to the throne of grace. Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. When we sin, and lose the victory through our unbelief, we need God's mercy (that is God withholding what we do deserve) - we need His forgiveness and cleansing daily. (See Lamentations 3:22-23; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9) Then we need the Lord's grace (that is Him freely giving us what we don't deserve) - to regain the victory, to retake the land that we have let the Canaanites conquer in our lives.
This is a day by day, moment by moment, battle!
The Greek word for "help" in verse 16 (quoted above) literally means "to run to the cry". When we earnestly cry out in prayer, Jesus will run to our cry and give us the victory. He has promised to give us all the help we need when we look to Him in faith.
Are there sins in your life that the Lord has given you clear guidance on how to overcome? Are you trusting Jesus for the grace and strength you need to be victorious over these specific sins, and to flee temptation? Some verses that will help you are: 1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Deuteronomy 33:25. We must remember that spiritual victory only comes through Jesus – not through any type of man-made philosophies, not psychology nor psychiatry, but only through faith and trust in His Word! If you don’t read and study the Bible, your faith will not grow. (See Romans 10:17) Get in the Book! Then claim the promises you find. Learn from the examples you see. And trust the Lord daily for the rest of victory!
1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place.
Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
Matthew 11:29-30 Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
Psalm 116:7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
All The Way My Saviour Leads Me
(Lyrics: Fanny Crosby)
All the way my Savior leads me
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
Hebrews 4:1 "Let us therefore fear" coming short of this promised rest of victory in Christ.
Hebrews 4:11 "Let us labour" to enter into this rest through faith.
Hebrews 4:14 "Let us hold fast our profession."
Hebrews 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace."
Study written August 2nd, 2002
By Jerry Bouey
Eagle's Wings Ministries
Part One of the Study On Rest:
And I Will Give You Rest - The Rest Of Salvation
For a more in-depth look at the type described in the study above
(portraying the Promised Land as the land of victory and the Canaanites as our besetting sins):
Conquering The Canaanites In Your Life
The Christian Counter