Discussion Guide - Strive to Enter the Promised Rest (Hebrews 4:1-11)
Monday: Hebrews 4:1-11
Tuesday: Psalm 95
Wednesday: Genesis 2:2-3; Hebrews 4:3-5
Thursday: Joshua 11:23; 21:44; 22:4; 23:1; Hebrews 4:8-9
Friday: Hebrews 4:11; 3:12-14
Christians should make every effort to enter God’s rest.
Because of their “disobedience” (4:11) and “unbelief” (3:19), the first generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt were forbidden from entering the land of Canaan - God’s “rest” (3:11). But the next generation, led by Joshua, did enter it.
Did that mean the second generation was “in the clear” since they were safely in the land? Were God’s warnings to the wilderness generation relevant to people who were no longer in the wilderness (and by extension, us)?
According to Hebrews 4:1-11, God’s warning to the wilderness generation is as relevant to us today as it was to that generation. Psalm 95 proves this. This psalm was written centuries after God led Israel into the land of rest. And yet David encourages his own generation (“today”) to enter God’s “rest” (4:7). In other words, just because they were in the land of rest didn’t make them immune from failing to reach another, more important, rest.
The author’s point is that Canaan wasn’t an end in itself. The rest of being in the land was meant to point Israel to the greater rest of being in God’s presence. The land wasn’t just where Israel would live; it’s where they would live with God. What God was really offering to Moses’ generation, to David’s generation, and to us today is to enjoy the same rest he himself has been enjoying since his work of creation ended (4:3-5; cf. Genesis 2:2-3).
As instrumental as Joshua was in providing rest for the Israelites (see Joshua 22:4), he didn’t provide the ultimate rest God offers his people (4:8-10). Only Jesus provides that kind of rest, and we’re to “strive to enter” it (4:11) by not making the same mistakes the wilderness generation did. In short, we’re to make sure we don’t just hear the “good news” about Jesus but to respond to it in faith (4:2).
By preferring the land over God himself, the Israelites showed that they often loved God’s gifts more than a relationship with him. What gifts from God are you tempted to value over God himself?
According to Hebrews 4:2, what do we have in common with the wilderness generation? In what ways might their failures be re-enacted in our own day?
That we’re to “strive” to enter God’s rest indicates that following Jesus can be hard and exhausting. How have you seen this to be true in your life?
Hebrews is clear that the Christian life can’t be lived alone. Do you have people in your life that truly know you and are encouraging you? If not, what steps can you take to move in that direction?
Hebrews 4:11 – “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”
 Israel’s repeated sin was why God eventually removed them from the land and exiled them to Babylon.
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