Thursday, September 22, 2022
Rest is such a basic need of every living thing. When it comes to people, we need to rest and sleep every day. If we neglect sleep for more than a handful of days, we will die the same as if we are starving or dehydrated. In the animal world, horses are used for their speed and stamina for racing these days and in the past they were used for travel. Despite their endurance, it is possible to run them so hard that they will die. Horses need rest the same as a human does. No living thing can survive without proper rest. So when you hear that God swore in his wrath that some will not enter into his rest, you should be very scared. This consequence is equivalent to a death sentence.
When God created the world, he labored over his work for six days straight and finally rested once his work was finished (Genesis 2:2,3). I think of how satisfying it is to have a good night’s sleep after completing a very hard workout at the gym the day before. The effect of experiencing rest after hard work is like a glass of water on a hot summer day. The converse is also true, if I spend all day laying on the couch and don’t get any work done, I feel terrible. Being that I’m not Jewish, I don’t have a good frame of reference for what the Sabbath is like, but it makes a lot of sense in concept to me. Working non-stop just isn’t healthy, but neither is resting without working. God’s rest is the right kind, the kind that is satisfying and comes after hard work. So the Sabbath was supposed to be God’s way of telling his people to work hard, but not too hard. Everything after that was just legalistic nonsense. We see this in Jesus’ teaching about the Sabbath. The rest of the Sabbath is supposed to be for the benefit of mankind, not for its detriment. It’s in this context that Jesus claims to be Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27, 28).
Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, promises to give rest to all who come to him (Matthew 11:28). I believe that the rest that Jesus promises is like the rest in Hebrews 4, but it is different, a precursor to the ultimate rest that we will enter into in God’s presence. The rest that Jesus talks about is the rest that you can have in your soul today. Jesus is our high priest, the one who speaks on our behalf to the God most high. Jesus lived on earth and experienced the weariness that comes from hard work. He knows all of the struggles and burdens that we carry and he wants us to enter into God’s rest. Here in Hebrews we have so many promises that we should take heart. “We who have believed are entering that rest” (Hebrews 4:3). In our belief, we have a piece of that rest for today, and the totality of that rest tomorrow.
Questions for Reflection
- How is your work-rest balance? Do you more often have too much rest, or too much work?
- What do you think is the best thing about God’s rest available now? Do you feel like you are receiving it?
- Reading through the chapter, what are some reasons given for not receiving God’s rest?