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Fear and diligence go together.   Hebrews, 4:1 - 4:11 have fear and diligence as ‘bookends.’  The first words are, “Therefore, let us fear, lest . . .” (4:1) and the beginning of 4:11 is “Let us therefore be diligent . . .”  Both drive the believer.  The writer commands the believer to fear falling away (4:1), and commands the believer to alleviate that fear by being diligent to enter God’s rest (4:11).  For the writer of Hebrews, sluggishness in the Christian life is a warning sign.  The writer does not make the usual distinction between those who are in the church and those who are out of it.  He makes the distinction between those people who are in the congregation and obey the voice of God through the Scripture, and those who are in the same congregation hearing the same words (4:2), but disobey it (4:6).  Both hear the Word of God, but one obeys and the other hardens (4:7).  The one who obeys enters His rest, the other does not.  Being diligent to enter His rest (4:11) goes hand in hand with being diligent to obey God’s voice through the Scripture.

What is God’s ‘rest’?  The word ‘rest’ occurs more in this section than anywhere in Scripture.  The meaning of God’s ‘rest’ arises because the writer has referenced Psalm 95:11 where God says, “They shall not enter My rest.”  In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the noun ‘rest’ in Psalm 95:11 comes from the same form as the verb “God rested on the Seventh Day” in Genesis 2:2.  Therefore, the writer of Hebrews equates the rest that occurs in Psalm 95 with the resting of God on the 7th day of Creation.  This connection is significant, and the writer puts the two verses side by side in 4:4 and 4:5 so that the readers can see that he is equating two.  When God rested on the 7th Day (Genesis 2:2), He rested because everything was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31) and there was nothing more He could do to improve upon what He had just created.  Therefore, God stopped.  God’s rest on the 7th Day was a rest of perfection.  Although man and his Fall ruined that perfection, God is bringing all of the redeemed back into a state of spiritual and physical perfection through the Gospel.  Therefore, the writer’s point is that although Psalm 95 is referencing the generation of Israelites in the wilderness, those who fall away from God in disobedience miss out not on the promise of the Land (4:8), but the promise of salvation and eternal perfection through the Gospel.  Those who reject God reap horrible temporal and eternal consequences.

Through diligence, the believer should make sure of his calling.  Entering into God’s glory and perfection is still possible through the Gospel (4:9).  The writer of Hebrews is not the only one who exhorts believers to bolster their faith through diligence.  Peter writes: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10).  Faith, obedience, diligence, fruitfulness, fear of falling away, assurance and safety build upon one another in the Christian life.

Build faith, assurance & fruitfulness – diligently obey God’s voice in Scripture!