Hebrews 4:8

Friday, 28 September 2018

For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. Hebrews 4:8

The author speaks now of Joshua son of Nun who succeeded Moses, and who led Israel across the Jordan and into Canaan. There was a rest promised to Israel which was not attained, despite their having entered the Promised Land. Scripture does speak of entering Canaan as a type of rest several times. The Lord promised rest to Moses in Exodus 33:14. Moses spoke of the prospects of rest in Deuteronomy 3:20 and 12:9 as well. And then in Joshua 23:1 it says –

“Now it came to pass, a long time after the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old, advanced in age.”

However, this cannot be the state of rest spoken of in the psalm. Rather, it was merely a lesser type of rest. There was a more full and blessed rest which was still anticipated – the “rest” of God. This is evident because the author has spoken of it in exactly those terms already, and now he says, “For if Joshua had given them rest.” The implication is that through Joshua’s leadership, the promised rest had not been attained. Entering and possessing the land of Canaan is not all that encompasses the thought of “God’s rest.” Because of this, the verse continues with, “then He.”

The “He” here is speaking of the Lord. The author is referring to the words of the psalm again which said, “Today.” If the full and complete promise of rest had been attained at the time of Joshua, the psalmist would have no basis for saying, “Today,” and then saying of those in the past that “They shall not enter My rest.” That they did not enter into the Lord’s rest is verified by the author with the words, “then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.”

The point then is that what is anticipated in the promise of rest is yet future to the time of the psalmist, and it is even open and available concerning the time of the writing of Hebrews. This will be verified in the coming verse.

As a final note, some translations say, “Jesus” instead of “Joshua” in both this verse and in Acts 7:45. The names are the same in the Greek. This is true in both the Old Testament Greek, and here in the New Testament. The context of both passages clearly speaks of Joshua the son of Nun. It is true that Joshua is a type of Christ to come, but type and substance are not the same. The older translations which say “Jesus” in these two verses leave the reader with a false idea about what is being relayed. In the New Testament, when Jesus is referred to in relation to the work of the Lord in the Old Testament, the term “Lord” or “Christ” is used.

Life application: There is rest, and then there is rest. A person can build a house, put up walls around his property, and call it “rest from his enemies” as is stated of Israel at the time of Joshua. And yet, that person may not believe in Jesus at all. If so, then he has not entered into God’s promised rest, even though he has “rest” in a lesser sense. We can only truly say that we have attained God’s rest through the full, final, and finished work of Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we enter into God’s rest.

How marvelous and how wonderful it is to share in Your goodness, O God. This is true for all people who can enjoy those things which delight our five senses. You have given us so much in this way. But those things are temporary and perishing. The true goodness we now have is what comes through a personal relationship with You because of Jesus. In Him, we can enjoy You and share in You in a completely new and glorious way. May those who have never received this gift reach out and do so today! What a blessed taste of future glory we have, even now, because of Jesus! Amen.

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