I received a question from J. I thought I would post the answer here and then others could benefit from my response.
Here’s the question: I was reading Hebrews 4 where is says how Gods work was done and rested on the 7th day. And it encourages us to be diligent to come to that rest.
I have always been confused on the 7th day of “rest” remember it and keep it holy. Could this possibly mean continue to work until we enter the Rest meaning presence with God in heaven? Not saying that it is wrong to rest, but I have always had a hard time thinking that God wants us to rest one day a week and that being holy. Yes church meeting is a necessity but isn’t the presence of God in heave more Holy and more restful.
Am I way off or is this something worth looking more into?
Thanks for the question. That’s a great question. I will try to break it down in a straightforward way then I’ll explain. The rest that we are to strive for is the eschatological rest. That means, that we are to strive for that goal when we will be in heaven with God. More specifically, we are to strive for the new creation. The kingdom of God.
“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” (Hebrews 4:1 ESV)
This tells us of a rest that is promised and this promise still remains. Yet not all of the Church will achieve that rest (should seem to have failed to reach it). In the Old Testament, those who didn’t enter it, failed to do so because of their disobedience “and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,” (Hebrews 4:6ESV)
Therefore, those who have not responded to the Gospel are exhorted to respond today ““Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”” (Hebrews 4:7 ESV)
Those who didn’t enter the rest, failed to do so because of their disobedience. This disobedience is a moral disobedience to God’s law. Therefore the work or the striving we are to do is to be obedient. Not to labor in the vocational sense, but to labor in the spiritual sense. To grow in holiness. It would be contrary to the message of Hebrews to speak about how our labors contribute to our inheritance of the eschatological rest.
But there is a sense, where the writer is calling for a rest from works that is similar to the rest that God took after creating everything, “for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:9–10 ESV) This appears to be referring to a total fulfillment. A day when we have entered that heavenly rest perfectly. I think this is the case because God’s rest is not pictured as something we arrive at this side of heaven. Rather God’s rest has been entered by some, but they are those who have died. 11 then says, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11 ESV) It references the rest it just described and brings the command back to the present state. It is as if the writer is saying, “That rest I just described, let us work for that!”
Regarding your question on the 7th day and rest.
Yes, the Sabbath is a rest we take from our vocations. And even the Sabbath is a type or “picture “ of the eschatological rest we will receive in heaven. Sunday is a picture of the community we will have, it is a picture of the life we will live and it is a picture of what we will be doing. Therefore, in one sense we can think of Sunday as a day like all the others. Meaning, Sunday doesn’t ooze out special blessings just because it’s Sunday. But Sunday is also unique. Meaning it isn’t Tuesday. It is a holy day because God has set is apart for his people to rest, but not just rest and lay around grassy hills, rest and be now like it will be in heaven. We will be loving each other, be a holy people that have been redeemed by Jesus and we will all be worshipping the holy triune God. Hope that helps.