The author of Hebrews is speaking to those who have come to faith in Jesus and are living in the hope of heaven. Verse 1 of chapter 3 says, “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession…” Our “confession” might more clearly be translated as our “profession.” The literal rendering of that Greek word is “say the same thing.” Guzik adds, “In regard to salvation, all Christians ‘say the same thing’ about their need for salvation and God’s provision in Jesus.”[1] The author is addressing those who have made a profession of faith in Jesus. He’s reminding them that they have chosen Jesus over Moses! The problem he addresses is that Moses, the law, sneaks back into our lives and takes over our devotion. We become more interested in doing good and exhorting others to do good than being declared good through our faith in Christ.

Jesus calls us to “rest” in Him; “Come to me all of you who are burdened down with religion and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  He calls it rest for “your souls.” When we come to faith in Christ, the burden of our failure under the law, our sins, is taken off our backs and we’re set free. We have true rest! Repentance is the acceptance of the reality of our own personal failure to live up to standards of the law. But the pull of religion is extremely strong. Once we receive God’s forgiveness in Christ, we are easily persuaded that we can now go back to living up to the standards of the law. But what invariably happens is we fail again and again. There is no “rest” in trying to live up to the standards of a law that was given to show us we can’t. The New Living Translation accurately renders Romans 3:20, “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”

There is no rest in trying to live up to the standards of the law! But Jesus promises us “rest for our souls” if we come to him. Coming to faith in Christ is like coming in out of the wind and rain of the law. In Christ we find rest, protection, and comfort. But the tendency in our flesh is to want to step back out into the storm of the law and demonstrate how we can stand up to it now. Once again, we find there is no rest outside of Christ. He is the subject of our profession. Our faith is not about how good we might become or about how much we might accomplish in life. Our faith always sees Christ as the subject and looks to Him, reflects diligently on Him, and finds rest in Him. The problem that Paul addressed in Galatians and the author of the book of Hebrews seems to be addressing is not just “entering” into God’s rest, but staying there.

[1] David Guzik, Hebrews, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible (Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik, 2013), Heb 3:1b.