Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
I. THE EXHORTATION TO EARNEST ENDEAVOR TO AVOID FAILURE AND SECURE SUCCESS. The believers to whom these words were addressed were halting between two opinions. The question was whether they should go back to the synagogue and the temple, and thus evade trial, or go forward in the brave and successful profession of Jesus Christ, and each should say, "Let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." No other subjects could approach these in importance, because they related to the life of the spirit, its power and safety now, and its eternal happiness in the life to come. The alternative is imaged by the fall and overthrow in the wilderness, and its lost labor, and the happy and successful entrance into the Promised Land. It was not a vain thing; it was for their life. The writer urges believers to labor, which term sets forth the arduousness of the enterprise and involves the exercise of watchfulness against the approach of foes, resolute self- repression, frequent prayer, and an ample and constant use of all divinely prescribed means for the preservation and furtherance of the spiritual life. "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." With this view agrees the counsel of Paul, who reminds us of the strife of men in the arena for an earthly and fading crown, and hints at the severe training through which the runners pass, the rigor of their effort, which taxes all their strength of limb and speed of foot; and therefore believers should, in view of an immortal prize, labor to gain the approbation of the Judge, and realize the blessedness of Divine success. II THE SOLEMN FACT WITH WHICH THE EXHORTATION IS ENFORCED. This is the weighty and all-concerning truth, that the Word of God with which ancient Israel had to do is the Word which affects the life and career of all Christians. It is believed by able expounders of the Scriptures that as every word must have a speaker, it is reasonable to apply this passage to Jesus Christ, who is the Word, and out of whose mouth there goes the sharp two-edged sword (Revelation 1:16). It is quick, or living, because it is the abiding and unchangeable will of our Lord, and, when written, represents his mind concerning God, our sinfulness, our opportunity of salvation by believing in him, and our prospects of eternal life. Men die, and the prophets, apostles, and confessors are removed by death; but the Word of the Lord endureth forever. It is active and power- ful, and produces changes of view and life. It awakens prayer, and elicits cheerful and efficient service for Christ. The Word which dwells richly in believers awakens melody in the heart as unto the Lord. It is divinely penetrative, and enters into the secret places of the soul. There is an impressive example in 1 Corinthians 14:24, where "one unlearned enters the assembly and "he is convinced of all, he is judged of all and thus the secrets of his heart being made manifest; and so falling down on his face he wilt worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth." This passage has an admonitory aspect, which is drawn from the history of Israel. The word of condemnation was spoken, and the unbelieving generation died in the wilderness, and funeral after funeral passed through the camp to the wilderness beyond; and Moses said, "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance" (Psalm 90:8). It reminds of some truths regarding ourselves and our condition of exposure to the constant observation of Jesus Christ, with whom we have to do. It declares to thoughtful minds that while we are what we are only as we appear to him, and that we should be content with his perfect knowledge of us, there is to be a final and solemn appearance before him to whom we must give an account. Apostles, evangelists, pastors, and all Christians must appear before him, to present our life for his inspection and final decision. If we have sought first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; if we have been merciful to his poor and persecuted followers; if we have maintained our hold of the gospel amid changes of public opinion; if we have been faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God, - we shall give up our account with joy and not with grief. - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.