The seventh day rest was a typical day of rest. And the land of Canaan was a typical land of rest. The unbelieving Jews did not enter into Canaan but turned around and wandered in the wilderness until they died. They never entered into God’s rest.
Some Must Enter
The multitudes perished in the wilderness, but the Word of God did not and could not fall to the ground. Canaan must be inhabited by Israel. Israel must possess the land of God’s promise. Therefore, God raised up Joshua (the type of Christ) to do what Moses (the type of the law) could never do. And Joshua led the chosen nation into the land of promised rest.
Don’t miss this. – The type must be fulfilled! The Lord Jesus Christ, our great Joshua, must and shall bring God’s Israel into the blessed rest of eternal salvation, every one of them. The covenant promise must and shall be fulfilled. Some must enter into rest (vv. 5-6).
“Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (v. 7). Nearly four hundred years passed between Joshua’s day and David’s day; but the Word of God was the same. And the day in which God speaks to us, “Today,” is our day, the day of grace and salvation.
This seventh verse specifically speaks of this gospel day. God set this day as the day when chosen sinners would enter into this true rest which he promised by faith in Christ. Today, this gospel day, is the day of salvation; now is the accepted time. We have nothing to do with the legal, typical rests (sabbath days) of the Old Testament. We now possess what those days only pictured (Col. 2:16-17).
Joshua and Jesus
“For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day” (v. 8). Joshua’s name was changed from Oshea (“Let God save”) to Joshua (“God shall save”), when he was sent to spy out the land of Canaan (Num. 13:16).
The law may bring us into a dry, thorny, desolate wilderness, where we may pray for a Savior and cry, “Let God save.” But the gospel brings us into the land of rest and gives us a Savior, Jesus, who is Jehovah our Righteousness!
Joshua is here called “Jesus” because his name in the Old Testament means exactly the same thing as Jesus in the New Testament, of whom he was a type. Yet, even the rest he gave in Canaan was only a typical rest and spoke of another, more glorious rest.
The Rest that Remains
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (v. 9). The word “rest” here is “sabbath” or “a sabbath keeping.” This rest is Christ our Sabbath, the sabbath rest we find in him. Those sinners chosen of God in eternal election, for whom Christ died, and to whom faith is given, those who believe on the Son of God do enter into a spiritual rest. It will be perfect rest in glory; but it is begun here. Heaven is but a perfection and a continuation of what he begins in our hearts when he brings us to faith (John 6:37-40).
All the sabbaths of the Old Testament, all those sabbaths required by the law of God in the days of carnal, ceremonial worship, were designed to portray this glorious gospel rest and the rest of heaven that shall follow. Ours is a sabbath without end.
1. As the Lord God ceased from his works (Gen. 2:2), so God’s elect, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, have ceased from our works, when we trust Christ. That is what the law of the seventh day sabbath portrayed.
2. God also required Israel to keep a seven year sabbath, during which the ground rested from its slavery, curse, and toil, portraying that rest which shall soon come to God’s creation and his people (Rom. 8:20-21).
3. Then, the law required a seventh seven year sabbath, every 49 years the whole land celebrated a year of jubilee. During that time all debts were discharged! -- All mortgages were cancelled! -- All bondmen were set free! -- And all that had been lost was restored!
Do you get the picture? Christ is our Sabbath. We rest in him by faith, and by faith alone! That is exactly the interpretation the Holy Spirit gives us in verse 10. -- “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his.”
This verse very clearly applies both to Christ and to his people. The Lord Jesus Christ had a work to do in preaching the gospel and in obtaining the salvation and redemption of his people. This work was given to him and he finished it. He ceased from these works, never to do them again. He is seated in heaven, having entered his rest (Heb. 10:5-14), just as we are told God ceased from the works of creation when he had finished them.
This is exactly what every believer does when he comes to Christ. We cease from a religion of works and rest in Christ.