Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:11 KJV
If Jesus offered rest to those who were over-burdened by labor, how then does Hebrews tell us that we must labor to enter his rest (or strive to enter his rest)? I’m telling you right now that anyone who can harmonize these opposing concepts simply do not know what they are talking about. The real question here is, does this verse actually teach that we must labor to enter God’s rest? And based upon two reasons, I say the answer is a definite no.
First, taking into account who the letter of Hebrews was written to and what they were dealing with at the time drastically affects how it should be viewed. Second, and perhaps more revealing, are the bogus translations of the Greek word that have been used to instill uncertainty regarding that rest. That’s right, the Greek word (spoudazo) does not mean labor or strive. Of course, in order to justify the translations found in most Bibles, alternative meanings are given. Here are two of them: “to use speed, i.e. to make effort” or “to make haste, hence to give diligence.” So tell me, when you read this verse, do you think the word labor is a legitimate way to express using speed or making haste? It seems many of us have been laboring under a false premise.
The proper understanding of Hebrews 4:11 is found in the realization that many of the Hebrews in Jerusalem who had joined the Jesus community were just like those who had escaped Egypt but did not enter the promised land because of their unbelief. History was repeating itself, and once again a majority of those who appeared to have escaped the corruption of the world were figuratively standing in the same place as did their ancestors. The message to the Hebrews was that of urgency. They were not being encouraged to strive in hopes of finding rest, but that they stop hesitating to believe the real promise of rest in Jesus Christ. For he had made the once and for all sacrifice for sins. Let your heart be assured that in having come to Jesus, you have already entered the rest being held out to the Hebrews.