1. TRUE DIVINE REST
a. Which rest is Paul talking about in Hebrews 4? Hebrews 4:1.
“Rest is found when all self-justification, all reasoning from a selfish standpoint, is put away. Entire self-surrender, an acceptance of His ways, is the secret of perfect rest in His love. . . . Do just what He has told you to do, and be assured that God will do all that He has said He would do. . . . Have you come to Him, renouncing all your makeshifts, all your unbelief, all your self-righteousness? Come just as you are, weak, helpless, and ready to die.
“What is the ‘rest’ promised?—It is the consciousness that God is true, that He never disappoints the one who comes to Him. His pardon is full and free, and His acceptance means rest to the soul, rest in His love.”—Our High Calling, p. 97.
b. Why doesn’t the gospel produce the expected result in some people? Hebrews 4:2, 6; Romans 9:30–32.
“Unless we mix faith with our hearing of the Word, unless we receive the truths we hear as a message from heaven, to be carefully studied, to be eaten by the soul and assimilated into the spiritual life, we lose the impression of the Spirit of God. We do not understand by experience what it means to find rest by receiving the divine assurances of the Word.”—The Upward Look, p. 75.
2. ENTERING INTO GOD’S REST
a. When do we really enjoy God’s divine rest? Hebrews 4:3 (first part). Describe the relationship between the seventh-day Sabbath and this divine rest. Hebrews 4:4.
“Because He had rested upon the Sabbath, ‘God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it’—set it apart for a holy use. He gave it to Adam as a day of rest. It was a memorial of the work of creation, and thus a sign of God’s power and His love.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 281.
“No other institution which was committed to the Jews tended so fully to distinguish them from surrounding nations as did the Sabbath. God designed that its observance should designate them as His worshipers. It was to be a token of their separation from idolatry, and their connection with the true God. But in order to keep the Sabbath holy, men must themselves be holy. Through faith they must become partakers of the righteousness of Christ. When the command was given to Israel, ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,’ the Lord said also to them, ‘Ye shall be holy men unto Me.’ Exodus 20:8; 22:31. Only thus could the Sabbath distinguish Israel as the worshipers of God.
“As the Jews departed from God, and failed to make the righteousness of Christ their own by faith, the Sabbath lost its significance to them. Satan was seeking to exalt himself and to draw men away from Christ, and he worked to pervert the Sabbath, because it is the sign of the power of Christ. The Jewish leaders accomplished the will of Satan by surrounding God’s rest day with burdensome requirements. In the days of Christ the Sabbath had become so perverted that its observance reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary men rather than the character of the loving heavenly Father. The rabbis virtually represented God as giving laws which it was impossible for men to obey. They led the people to look upon God as a tyrant, and to think that the observance of the Sabbath, as He required it, made men hardhearted and cruel. It was the work of Christ to clear away these misconceptions. Although the rabbis followed Him with merciless hostility, He did not even appear to conform to their requirements, but went straight forward, keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God.”—Ibid., pp. 283, 284.
“The demands upon God are even greater upon the Sabbath than upon other days. His people then leave their usual employment, and spend the time in meditation and worship. They ask more favors of Him on the Sabbath than upon other days. They demand His special attention. They crave His choicest blessings. God does not wait for the Sabbath to pass before He grants these requests.”—Ibid., p. 207.
3. LABOR AND REST
a. What kind of labor should we develop before finding the promised rest? Hebrews 4:9, 11.
“[Hebrews 4:9, 11 quoted.] The rest here spoken of is the rest of grace, obtained by following the prescription, Labor diligently. Those who learn of Jesus His meekness and lowliness find rest in the experience of practicing His lessons. It is not in indolence, in selfish ease and pleasure-seeking, that rest is obtained. Those who are unwilling to give the Lord faithful, earnest, loving service will not find spiritual rest in this life or in the life to come. Only from earnest labor comes peace and joy in the Holy Spirit—happiness on earth and glory hereafter.
“Let us therefore labor. Speak often words that will be a strength and an inspiration to those who hear. We are altogether too indifferent in regard to one another. We forget that our fellow laborers are often in need of words of hope and cheer. When one is in trouble, call upon him and speak comforting words to him. This is true friendship.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 928.
b. What happens with our own works when we find rest in the Lord? Hebrews 4:10; Exodus 20:10; Isaiah 58:13; Romans 14:23 (last part).
“God made man in His own image and then gave him an example of observing the seventh day, which He sanctified and made holy. He designed that upon that day man should worship Him and engage in no secular pursuits. No one who disregards the fourth commandment, after becoming enlightened concerning the claims of the Sabbath, can be held guiltless in the sight of God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 247.
c. What kind of works are in harmony with the Sabbath rest? Isaiah 58:6–8.
“Jesus stated to [the rabbis] that the work of relieving the afflicted was in harmony with the Sabbath law. . . .
“He will not be held guiltless who neglects to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. God’s holy rest day was made for man, and acts of mercy are in perfect harmony with its intent. God does not desire His creatures to suffer an hour’s pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 206, 207.
4. THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD
a. How powerful is the Word of God? Psalm 33:6, 9; Hebrews 4:12.
“There is a point beyond which human effort is in vain. While we are to preach the word, we can not impart the power that will quicken the soul, and cause righteousness and praise to spring forth. In the preaching of the word there must be the working of an agency beyond any human power. Only through the divine Spirit will the word be living and powerful to renew the soul unto eternal life. This is what Christ tried to impress upon His disciples. He taught that it was nothing they possessed in themselves which would give success to their labors, but that it is the miracle-working power of God which gives efficiency to His own word.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 63, 64.
b. How deep are we known before God? Hebrews 4:13; Ecclesiastes 12:14.
“It is for the eternal interest of every one to search his own heart, and to improve every God-given faculty. Let all remember that there is not a motive in the heart of any man that the Lord does not clearly see. The motives of each one are weighed as carefully as if the destiny of the human agent depended upon this one result. We need a connection with divine power, that we may have an increase of clear light and an understanding of how to reason from cause to effect. We need to have the powers of the understanding cultivated, by our being partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Let each one consider carefully the solemn truth, God in heaven is true, and there is not a design, however intricate, nor a motive, however carefully hidden, that He does not clearly understand. He reads the secret devisings of every heart. Men may plan out crooked actions for the future, thinking that God does not understand; but in that great day when the books are opened, and every man is judged by the things written in the books, those actions will appear as they are.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 3, p. 1160.
“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.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 156.
5. MERCY AND GRACE IN TIME OF NEED
a. Who only can be our advocate before the Father and why? Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:14; 7:25; 1 John 2:1, 2.
“As a priest, Christ is now set down with the Father in His throne. Upon the throne with the eternal, self-existent One, is He who ‘hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:4), who ‘was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15).”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 69.
“You have not a difficulty that did not press with equal weight upon [Jesus], not a sorrow that His heart has not experienced. His feelings could be hurt with neglect, with indifference of professed friends, as easily as yours. Is your path thorny? Christ’s was so in a tenfold sense. Are you distressed? So was He.”—Our High Calling, p. 59.
b. What do we find in the heavenly sanctuary to help us in our times of need? Hebrews 4:15, 16.
“In the most holy place is His law, the great rule of right by which all mankind are tested. The ark that enshrines the tables of the law is covered with the mercy seat, before which Christ pleads His blood in the sinner’s behalf. Thus is represented the union of justice and mercy in the plan of human redemption.”—The Great Controversy, p. 415.
“Christ offered up His broken body to purchase back God’s heritage, to give man another trial. . . . By His spotless life, His obedience, His death on the cross of Calvary, Christ interceded for the lost race. And now, not as a mere petitioner does the Captain of our salvation intercede for us, but as a conqueror claiming His victory. His offering is complete, and as our intercessor He executes His self-appointed work, holding before God the censer containing His own spotless merits and the prayers, confessions, and thanksgiving of His people. Perfumed with the fragrance of His righteousness, these ascend to God as a sweet savor. The offering is wholly acceptable, and pardon covers all transgression.”—That I May Know Him, p. 74.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Describe what it means to enter into God’s rest.
2. What is uniquely special about God’s rest on the seventh-day Sabbath?
3. When resting in the Lord, how do we change?
4. Explain the powerful depth of God’s Word in the Christian life.
5. Why can we be so very thankful for Christ’s ministry in heaven?