REST

Rest#1We live lives in the fast lane.  From soccer moms to workaholics, we all contribute to the fast paced lifestyle that characterizes our world. Unfortunately, the busy atmosphere we have created has caused a lot of anxiety.  And, yes, we can even over commit our lives to “church things.” Our motives are pure. We over involve ourselves because we want God to be happy with us. We feel that if we do not do our share at “the church,” God will be displeased. As a result we feel we can never do enough or be good enough. And, we can’t.

Rest#2When I travel long distances I am not one to stop at road side parks much. I think it is genetic. My dad was never one to stop either. Only in cases of dire emergencies do I ever contemplate pulling off to a rest stop.  Dotted along our highways are the signs, “Roadside Park” or “Rest Area.”

As we struggle to survive in our “dog-eat-dog” world, God offers us a rest, a spiritual “roadside park.”  So pull off the road for just minute and take the rest God offers. There we can refuel and refresh ourselves, away from the grind of every day life.

rest #5In Hebrews 4:1-11 the Hebrew writer hints at the rest we are offered. “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 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”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 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.” For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”

Yes, the main thrust is eternal rest. Rest speaks of a relationship with God. We can have assurance of entering the rest of the Lord when we go to heaven. But we can also have rest, a relationship with God, right now. Today we can find relief. Today we can live in the hope and reality of our eternal future.

Further, in the later part of Hebrews 3 the Israelites failed to enter in the rest the Lord provided in Canaan. They heard and rebelled. Because of their hard heart and unbelief they did not enter.  “16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (vs. 16-19)?”  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. What a desolate picture to consider. Not one we want hanging in our living room. Yes, in the back ground was a land flowing with milk and honey, a really big roadside park, but in the foreground lay the bloated corpses of the unfaithful, spiritual roadkill.  What a tragedy!

Now we come to Hebrews 4:1 with that background. “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”  The Israelites stood on the banks of the Jordan with their toes in the water and looked upon the beauty offered on the other side.  But despite all that the land offered they became filled with fear because of the giants in Canaan. Rather than trusting in their awesome God they failed to cross and sealed their doom.

As we come to Heb. 4:2-8 the Hebrew writer offers us three aids for entering our rest.

rest#4Rest requires faith. “ For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world”  (vs. 2-3). Hearing without belief is worthless. Just as Israel heard but did not believe, even so, if we fail to believe in God’s care and provision for us, we, too, will have no rest.  We have it, believe God will provide. We have to believe that serving Him is more important than any other thing under the sun.

Rest requires ceasing.  “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”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience” (vs. 4-6). Even God rested, ceased His labor on the seventh day.  Even in our daily lives we must come to the time and place where we rest, cease our work.  Realize again the value of meditating on God’s word, His beauty and His creation. We can stand on this side of the Jordan, pacing back and forth and biting our nails over all the errands and chores, spiritual or otherwise, that have yet to be done! Can you stop and by faith rest in God?

Sign showing burnout or time out Rest requires time.  “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.” For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His”  (vs. 7-8). Twice the writer stresses the urgency of entering God’s rest with the word today. Now is the time! Unfortunately, we tend to front load our schedules with urgent items that take over “now” and push entering into God’s rest to “later.”

We need to remember Jesus’ words to a hurried world.  “Come to Me, all you 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 11:28-30).

Entering Gods’ rest is not automatic so, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).  Old habits are hard to break so this requires attention and effort. Beyond that, our ability to rest now testifies to our belief in God’s promise of a future rest. Our lifestyle reflects our faith.

rest#7Do you see the sign post ahead now? “Roadside Park, Next Right.” Go ahead and take the exit. Ease your foot off the accelerator and loosen the vise grip on the steering wheel. Take advantage of the opportunity God has provided.

by Rickie Jenkins

rickiej08@gmail.com

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