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The Promised Sabbath Rest The Promised Sabbath Rest

The Promised Sabbath Rest


Many people joke that they need a vacation after their vacation! They arrive home, weary from the exhaustion and challenge of travel—but instead of much-needed rest, they are met with a yard needing attention, an air conditioner needing repair, and grocery shopping needing done. The hoped-for rest still lies in the future.

That experience of realizing that a future rest is yet to come is the main theme of our Scripture reading for today. Although the Israelites entered the land of Canaan under Joshua, and some seemed to attain the promised rest, Scripture would continue to speak of another rest promised even “Today” (v. 7; Psalm 95). As the author of Hebrews says, “If Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later of another day” (v. 8).

The point is that the true promised rest was not the earthly land of Canaan but the heavenly rest of God, which is mentioned in Genesis 2:3. Accordingly, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (vv. 9–10). We continue to look forward to that promise of entering a heavenly rest (v. 1).

Although Israel failed through disobedience, Scripture urges us, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience” (v. 11). Attention to God’s Word is the key, a Word that is “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword” (v. 12). It can pierce our thoughts and penetrate our hearts, a description equally true of God’s penetrating knowledge of all creatures. One day, all will stand before the God “to whom we must give account” (v. 13). How will we respond to His Word while it is still “Today” (v. 7)?

Pray with Us

Tens of thousands of readers spend time in God’s Word each month with Today in the Word. Pray that this community will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and be blessed by their study of Scripture.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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