God's Provision to Come into His Presence
Jesus – God's Highest Priest Offers Rest
– Hebrews 4
We have seen Jesus is the highest revelation of Who God is. We have seen that truly Jesus is God Himself our Great Savior. We have seen Jesus is our example of faithfulness, one greater than even the prophet-priest Moses. And we have been introduced to a theme in Hebrews second only to Jesus, which is faith. Now in Hebrews 4 we will see Jesus as the Highest Priest and we will also see how with faith there is a restful way of living with Jesus.
Paul referred to the Promised Land in Hebrews 3 and the historical circumstances which prevented the first generation of those delivered from Egypt from entering that Land. They sent out spies who confirmed it was indeed a Land of bounty flowing with milk and honey, but they also emphasized giant adversaries who would prevent them from taking the Land. Only Joshua and Caleb had a proper perspective as they faithfully saw the situation in terms of God fighting for them. Only these two men, their families and the next generation would actually enter into and take the Land. The account is told in the book of Joshua.
But the Promised Land is representative of something else in the life of the follower of God. Old Testament events are historical, but they also have spiritual application. The events in the history of Israel found in the Old Testament are a type or "shadow" (Heb. 10:1; cf. also Col. 2:17) or a "pattern" (Heb. 8:5) of truths and principles for the believer's walk with God. For instance the Exodus is a type of salvation. The parting of and going through the Red Sea is a type of baptism. Going through the wilderness is representative of going through a wilderness experience where the follower of God is learning to fully trust Him (e.g. Romans 7). And entering and living in the Promised Land is representative of that mindset and heart condition where by faith a person fully trusts or rests in God even though there are battles to be fought (e.g. "more than a conqueror" - Romans 8).
Hebrews 4 continues the discussion of this Promised Land restful experience. From chapter three we learned that:
· Jesus and Moses are examples of faithfulness; but Jesus as God is far greater (Heb. 3:1-6)
· Entering the Promised Land of rest can be faithlessly resisted and rebelled against (Heb. 3:7-11).
· "An evil heart of unbelief" is a spiritual attack of the devil to lead "holy brethren" away from God and His promised state of rest (Heb. 3:12).
· Whether a person is faithful or faithless involves a Personal willful decision on their part (Heb. 3:8, 13-15).
· To not have faith to enter God's rest is described as "rebellion," evil, devilish (cf. meaning of "evil"), disobedient, and sinful, and makes God angry like a Parent who is upset their children's choices cause them to miss out on His best (Heb. 3:16-18).
· Not everyone enters this place of "rest." Unbelief is the prime cause of not entering in and experiencing the promised rest of God (Heb. 3:19).
Now in Hebrews 4 we will continue with further explanation of God's Highest Priest Jesus and the rest He offers us.
Hebrews 4 (NKJV)
4 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
"Therefore," is the grammatical linking of what preceded with what follows. Here is it the warning against unbelief and not entering God's rest as illustrated in the conquest of Canaan found in Numbers 13-14).
The context is that "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling" (Heb. 3:1) are being addressed. Therefore the words, "Since a promise remains of entering His rest" tell us there is something beyond our second birth or coming to Jesus that the Christian needs to enter into. It is a "promise" (Greek epaggelia) or a divine assurance, a pronouncement of promise. And it involves "rest" (Greek katapausis) or reposing down, calming the winds, a resting place or restful condition.
This rest is particularly "His rest," it is a rest from God, according to His design and creation. This rest is His presence; living in His presence. This rest is a place, a relationship with God in Christ where you are clinging to Him, trusting Him in and through every life circumstance no matter how difficult or victorious. His rest is a place of peace that overcomes anxiety. It is a place where our fears are gobbled up by faith. This kind of rest is God's promise to us and we ought to do everything needed to enter this rest.
This rest from God is something we need to experience as the words, "let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it." "Fear" (Greek phobeo) can mean to frighten, to be in awe of, revere, reverence. Entering the promised rest of God is something that we should take seriously. When we enter such rest we need to take our earthly shoes off because we are stepping on holy ground.
2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them;
The phrase "gospel was preached" is from a single Greek term, euengelismenoi. The word "gospel" means good news. We associate "gospel" with "the Gospel" of salvation from sin and eternal life as a gift of God's grace received by faith in Jesus. But "gospel" can simply and generally refer to any message of good news. Context determines how this word is used. Therefore, when it speaks of "the gospel was preached to . . . them" their good news was that of a Promised Land God had set aside for Israel. The "gospel . . . preached to us," is more particularly focused on salvation through faith in Jesus and leads to a faith relationship of "rest" in the Lord (cf. Heb. 1:2 and 2:1).
Please don't misinterpret this to mean there are two gospels pertaining to salvation; one for the Jew and another for the Gentile. No, not at all, there is only one "gospel" or message of salvation from sin and how to enter into eternal life with God and that message is we are forgiven sin and receive eternal life only through faith in Jesus Christ (e.g. John 14:6).
but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
The point is that Paul is referring to how Israel did not enter the geographical Promised Land place of rest because of unbelief. And the Christian because of unbelief may not enter a spiritual place of rest or the depth of faith relationship in Jesus where we are at rest and not filled with fears and worry. The Old Testament geographical pattern is the illustrative means to teach truths relating to the New Testament spiritual pattern of entering into a faithful, restful relationship with God in Christ.
The word "profit" (Greek opheleo) means to be useful, to be beneficial, to make better, to assist, to be useful or advantageous. There's a spiritual principle here. We can express it in an equation. God's word + hearing + faith application of the word = spiritual profit and benefit; spiritual growth. But God's word + hearing - faith application of the word = no spiritual profit, benefit or spiritual growth. This is another way of saying, "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). It's another way of saying, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). As was stated in our study of chapter 3, All that God offers and all that God does in and through us is contingent upon our faith appropriation and cooperation with God. Faith is what metabolizes the word we consume and produces strong spiritual muscles. For God's word of promise to profit a person, it must fall into the good soil of a heart of faith (cf. Matthew 13 The Parable of the Sower).
Therefore, whether it is that first time turning from sin and receiving forgiveness for that sin through faith in Jesus, or that continuing from that point to live by faith, faith is what connect us to whatever the Lord does in and through us. That is why the apostle Paul used the phrase "from faith to faith" when speaking of how faith is the means of God for a person to be introduced into the new life we have in Christ and faith is the means by which we continue in that new life (cf. Romans 1:17). Later in Hebrews we will see that it is impossible to please God apart from faith (Heb. 11:6).
3 For we who have believed do enter that rest,
It is be faith that we enter the state of rest spoken of by Paul. "We who have believed" (Greek pisteusantes - Aorist/Active/Participle) speaks of those who have definitely believed and by implication continue to believe. This refers to Paul and those of his Hebrew brethren who had received Jesus as Messiah. These are those of who it could be said they "do enter that rest." These are those who have received the good news that by faith we rest in the completed work of Christ on the cross and in the resurrection. It was no longer necessary to rely on futile attempts to keep the law or feast days or sacrifices or ceremonies or human tradition. And this "rest" was entered into by faith.
as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ”
God disciplines the faithless with not giving them rest. Again Psalm 95 is referred to as it was in Hebrews 3. Those who refused to enter the Promised Land because of unbelief were punished. They were not allowed to enter the Land but forced to wander for nearly forty years in the wilderness. They remained children of God. But they did not enter His rest. When we speak of God's discipline and punishment for not trusting Him to enter the Promised Land, we are talking about the forfeiture of rest not forfeiture of our relationship with God in Christ. Those who wandered forty years in the wilderness remained children of God. They just didn't experience Him in relationship to the fullest.
Peace with God and the Peace of God
When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior they cross a line that moves them from being at war with God to being at peace with God (Romans 5:1). Being at peace with God is a wonderful thing. But the Bible speaks of a deeper more spiritually mature peace of God. It is possible for a Christian to experience peace with God but be missing the peace of God. It’s true; there are many born again believers who are overcome with anxiety and worry and lack Gods peace. Many Christians have peace with God but miss the peace of God.
In Romans 5 Paul uses phrases like “and not only that” (5:3), and “much more” (5:9.10.15, 17, 20) to show that God’s grace is limitless and inexhaustible. Just when we think God’s grace can’t get any better, He exceeds our expectations and understanding to bless us all the more (Ephesians 3:20-21). That’s the way God is, He just can’t stop loving us!
It is one thing to have peace with God; it is another thing to have the peace of God. Not only does God provide peace with Him, but He also provides His peace to help us live in this life. The peace of God is that steadying force, that inner sense that God is in control no matter what. Such a peace or rest guards the believer's heart from being overwhelmed by the trials of life. How can we receive the peace of God? There are two practical steps to experiencing the peace of God.
First, the peace of God is received as we commit all things to Him in prayer. Paul speaks of this to the Philippians when he is inspired to write:
- Philippians 4:6-9 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
The peace of God can permeate the believer to the depths of their being and take up residence in the mind and heart. By prayer in all things, we declare our dependence upon God who comes to us in our time of need to guard and quiet our anxieties and fears. Fear is the foe of faith and is overcome by prayerfully putting faith in God. In prayer we can literally cast our cares upon the Lord; we can throw off our worries; we can ax our anxieties (1 Peter 5:6-7). Then we rest in the peace of God trusting the Lord to be in control.
The way we think can also determine if we experience the peace of God. Paul tells us if we meditate on the pure, true, noble, just, lovely, good report and praiseworthy things it will facilitate Gods’ peace being poured out in our lives. He then says if you “do” the things you learned, received and heard and saw in him “the peace of God will be with you.” Put God’s word into practice by faith and God’s peace will be with you!
Second, the peace of God is fueled by the word of God, worship and Christlike doing. Paul was inspired to write to the Colossian church:
- Colossians 3:15-17 – “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Paul says, “Let.” This is an exhortation that implies God wants to give you His peace. All we need do is let Him give it to us. The peace of God is from Him and received by faith. Paul tells us to let God’s peace rule our hearts and be thankful for it. That means we let God’s peace be our referee to determine the way we ought to go in life.
The word of God fuels the peace of God in us because the word of God testifies to the faithfulness and provision of God. The word of God also guides us so that when we cast off our cares it does not lead to irresponsibility. One of the best ways to counter anxiety and fear is to consume the word of God, read it, meditate on it, and study it prayerfully. Paul points us to the psalms in particular. I always find the psalms comforting to read during times of trials or difficulties.
In Colossians 3:16 Paul also points us to worship as a means of bringing the peace of God into our lives. If you’re having a hard time of it, worship the Lord. Turn off the TV and turn on the praise and worship. Worship in the Spirit and the peace of God will come upon you and settle your heart and mind.
And lastly, we should do all that we do “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” That means we do all that we do in the power of Christ and in a Christ-like way. When we do things in His strength His way we have no reason to regret and the peace of God is unleashed in our lives. Do your best and trust him with the rest and God’s peace will be released in your life.
God doesn’t only provide the opportunity to have peace with Him, but “much more,” He provides His peace to help us through life now. Charles Ryrie, in his book So Great Salvation, tells a story of a Father and child that illustrates the practical nature of peace with God.
The 3-year old felt secure in his father's arms as Dad stood in the middle of the pool. But Dad, for fun, began walking slowly toward the deep end, gently chanting, "Deeper and deeper and deeper," as the water rose higher and higher on the child. The lad's face registered increasing degrees of panic, as he held all the more tightly to his father, who, of course, easily touched the bottom. Had the little boy been able to analyze his situation, he'd have realized there was no reason for increased anxiety. The water's depth in ANY part of the pool was over his head. Even in the shallowest part, had he not been held up, he'd have drowned. His safety anywhere in that pool depended on Dad. At various points in our lives, all of us feel we're getting "out of our depth" -- problems abound, a job is lost, someone dies. Our temptation is to panic, for we feel we've lost control. Yet, as with the child in the pool, the truth is we've never been in control over the most valuable things of life. We've always been held up by the grace of God, our Father, and that does not change. God is never out of his depth, and therefore we're safe when we're "going deeper" than we've ever been. 
When we come to rest by faith in Christ, in the peace of God, we rest in His arms. Resting in His arms, we should fear nothing in this life. By faith we receive peace with God; by faith we receive the peace of God; and then no matter what happens in life, God holds us and we get through. Keep the peace. Rest in His arms.
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
Here is an important point. Paul affirms that "the works were finished from the foundation of the world." For those who had come to the precipice of the Promised Land it meant they were fulfilling the plan of God that He had planned from the beginning; that they would enter a Land where, even though living in a fallen world, they might be able to recapture a little bit of Eden. This Land was where God would dwell with His people and they would dwell with Him. This Land was to be a place of rest; a place where God would provide and guide and where He could particularly demonstrate His goodness, mercy, love, and grace toward His people. As far as God was concerned this was a done deal. All the people had to do was trust and rest in God.
These words tell us that along with God's creation of the physical universe, His creation also involved His sovereign plans for humanity and in particular His chosen people. God's creative "works" included not only the physical design but also His purposeful design. God created in foreknowledge knowing everything in total from beginning to end. Therefore when He created He saw the outcome of all He would create. In His creation He knew of the fall of humanity as well as how He would provide a way for humanity to be redeemed. This redemptive plan included a Promised Land where He would make His presence known and use a small people to reach out to a lost world (e.g. Deut. 7). But God also knew that "They shall not enter My rest." The shortcomings of humanity did not take God off guard. God is so great that He builds His purposeful contingencies into His plans to account for the fallenness of humanity.
These verse also speak of the rest of God. "For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works” (cf. Gen. 2:2). The Hebrews were well aware of the Sabbath. But Paul is using this awareness to take them a bit deeper in its application. From God's perspective His work is complete. He knows how everything is going to pan out. God is at rest in the sense that His work is in place. Now this doesn't mean that God created and put His creation and His plans on automatic pilot. It does mean that His plans were completed and in place in all His omniscient foresight and all that remained was His omnipresent divine providential care.
This rest was particularly "My rest." This is God's rest. This rest is God's creation. This rest is from God and by God. When Israel rebelled and in unbelief refused to trust God and go into the Promised Land, they were going against God's plans. God's plans represented His best for them. Because of unbelief they missed out on God's best. Whenever we disregard God's word or refuse to follow His plans, we always settle for less than His best.
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it,
There remains are rest to enter. Because the rest if God's rest, there remains a rest for people to experience.
and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
Those recounted in Numbers 13-14 did not enter God's rest due to their disobeying lack of faith. But that there remains a rest is further evidenced by the fact that David in Psalm 95 (that is quoted continuously in Hebrews 3 and 4), though he lived centuries after the initial conquest of the Land, also mentions this "rest."
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
Joshua led God's people into the Promised Land. And for a time God's people learned a little about this place of rest. But as Paul explains, if Joshua's leading of the conquest of the Land fulfilled all there was about God's rest, then David would not have continued to mention God's rest centuries later as remaining a rest to be enjoyed by His people.
There is still, even to our day, a state of rest for us to enjoy. It is God's promise to us, "the people of God," those who are counted as "Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling" (Heb. 3:1). There are wonderful words and truly we should trust God to enter His rest.
10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Here is the defining description of the restful application Paul is making to the Hebrews. This letter to the Hebrews was written to address the dangerous issue of trying to supplement the gospel of Jesus with keeping laws and traditions of Judaism. The Hebrews were in danger of relying on a Jesus and relationship with God rather than simply resting in Jesus.
How does this pan out practically in life? Such a restless condition rears its evil head when we try to leverage God to bless us. When we think that God's blessing is contingent on something we do such as good works, devotions, even prayer. All of these things are good and needed, in their rightful place in our walk with God. But God doesn't want us to think He doesn't want to bless us. He doesn't want us to think we have to do something to secure His love. Such a mindset is more akin to prostitution than personal relationship.
When someone loves you they in love bless you simply because they love you. My wife doesn't have to earn or pay me to do good things for her. I love her and because I love her I simply do good to and bless her based on that. If my wife tried to pay me to do what she wants me to do I would be offended at that. I don't have a working relationship with my wife, I have a loving relationship with my wife. There's a reason why in scripture the Spirit has inspired the illustration of Jesus as our Husband and we the church as His Bride.
So when it speaks of having "ceased from his works," it is not an excuse for laziness or lethargy. These words are not license for Laodicean lukewarmness (cf. Rev. 3:16). Quite the contrary, when we love, when we are motivated and compelled by a passionate love of Jesus we will give ourselves totally to Him in all we say and do (e.g. 2 Cor. 5:14-21). We cease from works as a means to leverage to earn or buy God's favor. We work with all our strength as an expression of appreciation for the favor and love of God that He has given us by grace. We don't work to earn God's favor, we work to thank Him for His favor. We don't work to get good stuff, we rest in Him knowing and believing He will bestow good stuff on us just because He loves us. That my friends, is a beautiful, wonderful, incredible place of rest.
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
The word "diligent" (Greek spoudozo ) means to make every effort, to promptly and earnestly do something, labor with something as a goal to attain, endeavor to do something. Paul isn't contradicting Himself when he exhorts his readers to enter this rest. He is simply exhorting his readers to not miss out on this heavenly blissful state of being which is at rest in Jesus. He warns because he doesn't want today's Christian to miss out on a promise of God like those in the past have.
There are three means by which we can enter God's Promised Land of rest: The word of God; The Empathetic High Priest Jesus; and the Grace of God.
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
The word of God gives us directions to the Promised Land of rest. These are tremendous words describing God's word. "For," introduces a substantiating case. And what is being substantiated is that God's word is just as true not as it was in the beginning. God's word is always relevant regardless of the point in history we are in. God gave Abraham a word about the Promised Land. God spoke about the Promised Land to Moses and from Moses to His people. And God spoke of the rest of the Promise through David. And now, in quoting Psalm 95 repeatedly in Hebrews 3 and 4, we see that God's word is still relevant.
God's word is living. "Living" (Greek dzao) means alive, to live, to breathe, to be among living as opposed to lifeless, true life, active. The idea here is that God's word still applies. God's word brings life to us (Psalm 119:50, 93; 1 Peter 1:23-25). God's word strengthens us (e.g. Psalm 119:28). God's word enlarges our heart spiritually (e.g. Psalm 119:32). God's word comforts us in hard times (e.g. Psalm 119:50, 92). God's word brings His peace (e.g. Psalm 119:165). God's word introduce His living presence to us (e.g. Psalm 119:151). God's word revives us spiritually (e.g. Psalm 119:25, 37, 40, 88, 107, 154, 156, 159). God's word gives us directions to God's life producing rest.
God's word is powerful. "Powerful" (Greek energes ) means something that is effective, something that works, something that gets the job done, Something that activates. When we combine God's word with active faith - BOOM! like a dynamited mountain moved out of the way or a perfectly timed and planted left hook to a giant's jaw dropping him like a sack of potatoes, that which is in the way of God's will and way is removed. God's promises and plans start exploding on the scene of our life as with His powerful word we blow up the lies and schemes of the enemy. God's word blows up obstacles in the way of our entering God's rest.
God's word is comprehensively sharper than a two edged sword. God's word is better and greater than any material sword. That is because it doesn't merely pierce flesh, it pierces the flesh, or the carnal nature and our deepest thoughts - " piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." God's word directs about how to care for our physical bodies, but it also searches down deep into our heart and soul to cut out sinful cancers and do healing spiritual surgery. No evil heart of unbelief can hide because: " And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." God's word is comprehensive; it works to solve the problems and heal the diseases of the entire human being. God's word is His scalpel to remove any internal obstacles that might keep us from God's rest.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus, our empathetic High Priest, will usher us into God's rest. The key to understanding all of what we are seeing about resting in God is that "we have a great High Priest." Jesus is our High Priest, "who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God." Jesus leads the way to this rest. He is our High Priest in that He mediates between us and God. He represents us to the Father, He represents God to us as God in the flesh. We are not alone. Jesus is with us leading us to rest in Him.
Jesus does "sympathize" (Greek sympatheo) or feels sympathy, commiserates with us, has compassion toward us, touched with a feeling toward. Jesus is not cold and distant. He is not heartless or affectionless. Jesus looks at us and has a deep loving for us. Jesus knows what we experience in life as One who "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Jesus is our perfect example of how to enter God's rest. He lived with fallen human beings who constantly questioned Him, doubted Him, challenged Him, opposed Him, betrayed Him and ultimately crucified Him. And He lived through all of that "without sin." Yes, Jesus sweat drops of blood when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. But He was still enough at rest to say to the Father, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Mat. 26:39). On the cross He was enough at rest to say, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). And on the cross, He was restful enough to quote scripture and say, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5).
Jesus is our perfect example of One who remained at rest while going through the most difficult of trials. No matter what He encountered, He was at rest in the Father. Never do we see Jesus express worry or anxiety. Never do we see Jesus show fear; not in a physical storm (Mark 4:38), nor on the cross facing the accusations, brutality, and taunts of the devil (e.g. Matthew 27:27-31, 39-44). Jesus lived at rest. That is a powerful state of rest. That is our example. Like an usher directing us to our seat, Jesus takes our hand and leads us to God's promised rest.
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
This rest is a promised gift of God's grace that we can trust Him to provide. "Boldly" (Greek parrhesia) does not mean proudly or haughtily. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (cf. 1 Peter 5:5-7). "Boldly" means with confidently, without fear, freely, openly, publically, assuredly. "Boldly" here means come in faith trusting to receive what God has promised. It is exactly the opposite of what those showed who rebelled in faithlessness who refused to go into the Promised Land.
In confidence and assurance we are to come "to the throne of grace." This implies prayer. It implies coming into the Presence of God. "Grace" (Greek charis) is undeserved favor, divine influence on the heart. Grace means gift. It is not something deserved by the recipient. It is simply a gift bestowed because the one giving desires to give it. Gift are not earned, they are merely received.
From God's grace flows "mercy." "Mercy" (Greek eleos) means mercy, kindness, not getting a punishment that is deserved. We do not deserve the rest God promises. Some have mistakenly tried to compensate for their many shortcomings by trying to earn their salvation or trying to earn God's favor. This way of thinking is inherent to religious systems where forgiveness is worked for. That is not scriptural. That is not gospel. God's mercy toward us is a gift of His grace bestowed on the one who trusts Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Grace is the help we need to be at rest. Paul says if we want to enter the rest spoken of in these chapters we need to come in faith to God's throne of grace confidently believing in God's promise that He will provide us with " find grace to help in time of need" (e.g. Heb. 11:6). We can't and don't enter this promised state of rest by something we do. We simply trust God for it. We entrust our life and its circumstances to Jesus. We walk with Him ushered continually in a state of rest. We do our best and trust Him for the rest.
In the end, by faith we are called to do our best and trust Him for the rest. Would you describe your walk with the Lord as restful? Are you constantly plagued with sleepless nights of pacing the floor, wringing your hands, filled with fear and anxiety over things that are happening or maybe you fear could happen? God's word says, "Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God?" (Psalm 77:13). The sanctuary is the place where God makes His presence known and where we can experience His rest. There is the sanctuary which speaks of the Temple and there is the eventual sanctuary of the synagogue and church. But there is also the inner sanctum of our heart. God's rest will come to our heart when we trust in those words, "Who is so great a God as our God?" We need to turn to Him in those night of sleepless anxiety (e.g. Psalm 63). We need to follow God's word that instructs, "I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved" (Psalm 16:8). God promises a rest that will be our song in the night (Psalm 42:8-11).
As we trust and rest in Him we will grow and come to a rested word of, "I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness" (Psalm 17:15). God's word is our direction to rest. Jesus will usher us to His rest. And by God's grace we will be at rest as we faithfully trust Him in life.
 Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation, Victor Books, 1989, p. 137ff.