Daily Thoughts from Hebrews: Rest, Glorious Rest

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:1-10, ESV)

Rest!  What a concept.  God did not make our bodies relentless machines that never need a break.  Part of the rest our bodies require is even in a semi-conscious mode called sleep.  He modeled “rest” when He ceased His work of creating and “settled” into the role of preserving His creation, ruling it.  This established a pattern for our week of work followed by rest.  But this Psalm 95 is also suggesting that there is a spiritual rest for us.

The author of Hebrew’s logic is this:  If Joshua’s leading the people of Israel into Canaan after their 40 years in the wilderness had actually given them this spiritual rest then God would not have offered it again and urged His people to enter His rest.  And it is His rest that is being offered “today.”

The only reason we might not enter God’s rest is if, like Israel of old, we do not unite ourselves with those who by faith receive the gospel.  Those in Israel who did not really believe the gospel died in the wilderness.  Only those who believed entered with Joshua into Canaan.  Only those of us who truly believe will enter God’s rest, a rest from our works, our efforts to appease God through self-righteousness.

Aren’t you tired of trying to establish your own righteousness before God?  Is it like the way some of us approach our jobs: “If I don’t show my worth to my employer by working more than anyone else I won’t make it”?  The gospel is not about working harder but about resting from work.  It is about finding our righteousness established by Christ, not us.  We’re crazy to depart from that, but the pull to prove our worth seems strong.  God has already determined our worth and offered us rest.  Will you take it?

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30, ESV)

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