Rest. Isn’t that such a beautiful word? And, perhaps especially if you’re in the muddy trenches of parenting, isn’t it also a word whose meaning seems all too elusive at times? But God has promised rest to every person who will believe in His truth and walk in His ways. And it’s one we don’t have to wait for Heaven to enter into. Let’s break it down a little…
Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (verses 1-3)
The rest contained in this promise isn’t for a few extra hours of sleep or of an uninterrupted shower or 5 minutes of time during the day where nobody is calling out “Moooooooommmmmm”. This is a far greater rest.
Have you ever worked your fingers to the bone, toiling all day until your body couldn’t take another brutal moment? And then when the time came for bed you wearily climbed in, laid your head on your soft pillow and burrowed under the covers, drinking in the pure delight of resting from your labors? I’d imagine we all have. For a few short hours we get to cast aside our cares and regenerate our reserves. We get to lay it all down and allow sleep to take over. The day of labor flavors with sweetness the night of rest.
Herein is that same kind of rest, only on a much deeper level. We labor on this earth, and through these trials, that we might find rest. And it comes through the total dependence on, and surrender to, the One who sustains us. By following His prescription, we are able to enter into the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit even on this earth.
We aren’t left without counsel, though, as to how to find this experience…
For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therin, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief; Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (verses 4-7)
First, He set aside and sanctified one day out of each week. The seventh day of each week was to be a day of rest and worship. A day to shrug out of our cares and our worries so we might reconnect more fully with our Creator. A day to train our minds on things eternal so that we might see the temporal for what they are. A day to fuel for the 6 days ahead in the new week before once again ending it in rest, as did the Creator at Creation. But once again, it is unbelief that holds His people from unwrapping this gift.
Unbelief, perhaps, in the need for rest. Or in the value of it. Possibly unbelief in the necessity of abiding in His pattern and choosing to rest on a day He’s given us for labor and laboring on the very day He designated for rest. The day He ordained and hallowed for rest has been changed by the world, but not by the Bible. We must be so careful not to settle into this world so comfortably that we accept its pattern over that of His. Because the fullness of His promise can only be unlocked by abiding steadfastly in His truth.
For if Jesus had given them rest, then he would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (verses 8-10)
We see here that the Sabbath rest was not all we were promised. Instead, that weekly rest is a foreshadowing of things to come. Of a rest so full and complete we can only enter into it when the work here is done. One intricately woven with threads of His grace and spun with His joy. Everlasting and unbroken. The promise is true, the reward eternal. We can look to not only the rest that followed the work of creation, but also to the rest that followed the work of the cross.
Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (verses 11-12)
But do you see the common theme that precedes the rest? Because first must come the work. It has to be done and it must be finished.
It’s a call so worthy it bears repeating and so we find it repeated. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest. It’s a battlecry for unity in a common cause. It’s a promise that the Word of God is enough. It’s a reminder that He sees into the secret places of the heart.
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our profession, For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (verses 13-15)
His eye is fixed upon us. His heart is knit to ours. He feels our pain and He enters into our sufferings. He understands our struggle because He endured even as we must. He battled temptation and conquered sin that He might more fully relate to our condition. He isn’t looking down on us in contempt but is instead standing beside us in compassion.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need. (verse 16)
And this final verse of such a hope-filled chapter stands alone and contains within it a petition, instruction, hope and the promise. Write it on your heart!