This month, there has been many lessons I can learn about rest. Not only is it Women’s History month and Multiple Myeloma awareness month, it is also a month of celebration personally is a couple of other ways. This all leads me to think of God’s goodness and grace as He has brought me through yet another year. I think about what all has been accomplished this year and in my life as a whole. I am touched by so many people and events that have led me to trust in God further. I can rest in Him because I trust in Him.
Today, I have been reading Hebrews 4 and mulling over it. It opens up with “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. (4:1)” The promise of entering his rest is the hope that we hold on to. The good news of the Gospel has been shared with us, and it is it that we see God’s grace, mercy, and provision. He made a way for us to be restored into right relationship with Him. That is the rest. That is the truth. That is the freedom.
There have been times over the last year that I have thought to myself in various circumstances, “why am I doing this? It is just too hard.” But in those circumstances, I am reminded of the end game. I am reminded why I am working on the project or why I am continuing to struggle through writing. I am reminded of reaching the goal and the reward I receive once it is done. In the struggles and hardships of the circumstances, if I am completely transparent and honest with myself, I have found myself wondering what it would be like to just give up. If I turned back on all that I have done and went down a different, easier path, what would I be giving up?
Here I am again trying to do things on my own and in my own strength. Just like carrying a heavy load, I need help, but I find myself not wanting to ask someone to help. In one way, I feel as though asking for help shows weakness. And in another way, I don’t want to bother anyone with what I have going on. Now to continue with the “heavy box” analogy, the heavy box is way too heavy for anyone to carry. The only One who can carry it is God, and yet I keep trying to do it myself. It may be because of a combination of pride, selfishness, distrust, or denial that anyone can or will help me with what I have in front of me. However, I am setting myself up for failure.
The author of Hebrews recalls Psalm 95 in this chapter, and quotes the last line: “Therefore I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ (Ps. 95:11)” What is the ‘rest’ referring to? Well, in psalms specifically, it was hearkening back to when the children of Israel were in the wilderness. The “rest” specifically referred to the place of rest (the Promised Land). However, since the congregation singing this psalm was already in the land, it follows that this psalm is using “rest” as an image of enjoying God’s presence forever, just like in Hebrews 4. The rest that we look forward to is being with God after the restoration of the heavens and the earth to the perfection it was before sin entered in.
This rest can take on many forms today in our lives both spiritually and physically. There are times when we need rest physically. We have to sleep at times so that our bodies are rested for physical activity. We also need rest spiritually. This rest is peace with God. Sometimes, I struggle with that sort of rest. I think about what I could of, should of, would of done, but didn’t do. The things that I said, did, or thought creep into my mind and cause me to doubt if God really loves me. I think that I am not worthy of His love, mercy, or grace. But He reminds me, my worth and peace is not based on me or anything I have done, but on Christ Jesus and what He has done. All of my worth and value is in Jesus. And the only thing that grants me entrance into His rest is faith in the Good News (the Gospel of Jesus).
In looking at the second half of Hebrews 4:1, “let us fear” requires a little bit more exposition for me. The word ‘fear’ here refers to the reverent fear before God and is calling us to look at our spiritual state. God is Almighty and Powerful, and He deserves all of our praise, worship, and respect. And the way to show our ‘fear’ and respect of him is in the act of obedience. When we remember the two commandments Jesus laid out for us in loving God with our everything and loving others as we love ourselves, we are obeying the law of the Son of God. These two things guide us to eternal rest.
Aspects of eternal rest include happiness, refreshment, satisfaction, and the absence of many harmful and hurtful aspects that sin brought into the world. However, we can experience some of this now. In Hebrews 4:7, it says, “again he appoints a certain day, ‘Today,…” It is quoting David from Psalm 95.
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts... (Psalm 95:7b)
We can enter into God’s rest partially right now when we accept God’s good news and have faith in Jesus. The promise of entering now into His rest means ceasing from the spiritual strivings that reflect uncertainty about one’s final destiny. It means we can enjoy being established in the presence of God, and we can share in the everlasting joy that God entered when he rested on the seventh day. So in Hebrews 4:11, our directive is clear.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)
He was bringing to remembrance the children of Israel in the wilderness when they doubted and complained. They said it was too hard. They were a “stiff necked people”, and they began worshipping idols. They lost their focus, and they turned to the very things God tried to keep them from doing for their safety and prosperity. Instead of relying on God’s goodness and peace, they turned away from Him. And that caused chaos, fear, and doubt to creep in disrupting their whole being. God was not keeping the good things and the fun things from them. He was keeping them from evil and chaos. He was keeping them from harm and hurt. However, they didn’t see it that way. So they ended up searching for rest and coming up empty. The only way to true rest is in Jesus.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
Gotta go fill up my cup…..