For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.. - Vs 10 (NASB)
Rest. It seems to be the main theme of this chapter. In fact, the word rest is used at least 10 times in today's reading. And what an attractive word rest is. It has a certain appeal to us because most of us are in desperate need of rest. We live busy lives filled with activity and action, seldom pausing long enough to really experience true rest. Even our sleep is filled with anxious thoughts and restless nights. We wake up tired instead of refreshed. We take vacations in the hope of finding rest, but return from them worn out and dreading the thought of all the work that has piled up while we were away. But the writer of the book of Hebrews talks about a rest that seems to be a non-negotiable. The rest he talks about is tied to the gospel and can be rejected through an act of disobedience. But what kind of rest is he talking about?
In his commentary on the book of Hebrews, John MacArthur says this, "Rest involves remaining confident, keeping trust. In other words, to rest in something or someone means to maintain our confidence in it or him. To enter God's rest, therefore, means to enjoy the perfect, unshakeable confidence of salvation in our Lord. We have no more reason to fear. We have absolute trust and confidence in God's power and care." It carries the idea that we can confidently "lean on" God both now and for eternity. We can depend on Him for everything and in everything – for support, for health, for strength – for everything we need. We have confidence in Him, so we rest in that confidence, because we know He is going to be there for us. It is like a child sleeping soundly in the arms of his father, even in the midst of a thunder storm. He rests because he knows he is safe from harm. He trust his father.
But this rest only comes to those who believe in God. Hearing the good news is not enough. You must believe. To not believe is to disobey and to disobey is to never enjoy the rest God offers. So we are warned to "be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience" (Vs 11). The example given is that of the Israelites in the wilderness, who because of their disobedience, never got to enter the rest of the Promised Land. In the New Living Translation verse 11 reads this way:
Let us do our best to enter that place of rest. For anyone who disobeys God, as the people of Israel did, will fall.
The choice of words here is interesting. The author says, "Let us do our best." The Greek word is spoudazo. It means “to make effort, be prompt or earnest:-do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study”. We're to make every effort to enter that place or rest. We should so want to enter the final rest that God offers, that we will do everything in our power to see to it that we get there. Now this is not talking about earning our place in heaven or our salvation. But it is promoting the idea of value or worth. The rest God offers is so valuable that we will do anything to gain it. We will not allow anything to sidetrack us or distract us. And God will examine our intentions and our hearts through His "living and active" word. He will determine whether we have embraced His offer of rest through faith or not.
But if we believe, we can "draw near with confidence to the throne of grace" and "obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." We can find rest NOW – in our times of need. We can come with confidence to His throne and appeal to His mercy and grace and He will give us rest – even in the midst of the storm. But we can also rest confidently that we will one day enter into His final rest for us. There is a Promised Land prepared for us. And while we wander through this wilderness experience of our own, we can rest knowing that He is taking care of us now, leading us, feeding us, providing for us – and guiding us into the place He has prepared for us.
Father, I need rest. I need physical rest, but I also need emotional and spiritual rest that only You can give. Forgive me for doubting You, because that is what causes so much of my unrest. I doubt, so I worry. I doubt, so I stress out. I doubt, so I wake up at night in a cold sweat. I am not resting confidently in Your word and Your promises. I am not resting in the assurance of Your promise of heaven. I obsess about the inconveniences of the "wilderness" and I grumble and complain. Father, I want to enjoy Your rest, now and for eternity. Show me how. Amen