rest n : something that remains over. A continual state of completion (Websters)
Good Lord I could use some rest. I’ve been sick for a few days and resting is the last thing I want to do, but just exactly what I need. I’ve been thinking about God’s invitation to rest found in Hebrews 4
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of us be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work. And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
Many believe the Sabbath rest to be a one-day-a-week cessation of work of any kind in observance and honor of God. But this passage in the New Testament clearly advocates an entirely different kind of rest. A rest of belief. A rest in the finished work of God.
We who have believed enter that rest
It doesn’t say “if you believe then you will be obedient to rest on the Sabbath.” First of all, if we are to get really technical, the Sabbath is on Saturday, not Sunday. And second, the immediate context of the statement, and then the wider context of the passage, the letter, and then the context of the new covenant dictates that it cannot be read that way. When properly received, it says, “when you believe, you enter God’s rest.” That’s pretty simple. When we believe what God says in any situation, we find rest.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
So when we believe, we enter the rest of God, the way God did. What works did God rest from? How did He rest? Did He enter into some sort of lazy inactivity or cease from relating to what He had just created? No, He certainly didn’t do that. So what exactly did God DO on the seventh day after He created all the things on days one through six? Was He tired? No, the bible tells us that God never gets tired, never sleeps, and never has need to “rest” as His creation does. So what was God’s “rest?”
Let’s go back a bit to this ancient text of Genesis and see exactly what God did leading up to the seventh day…
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.
The key to how God went about His seventh day rest is found in how He closed out the sixth day. He looked at all the vast and beautiful expanse of the heavens and the earth, the majestic mountains, the valleys, all the millions of various animals, plants, living things, including man, and He said in Himself, “Wow. I like this. I approve of this completely. This is very good.”
God’s declaration of what He accomplished on days one through six is the key to His “rest” on the seventh day. So what is this “sabbath rest” then that has been made available to the New Covenant believer? What does it look like to “rest from our own work, as God did from His?” It’s a rest from our “works” in hope to produce some sort of leverage with God. It’s an agreement with what He has called very good.
So what has He called very good? What has He approved? What does He look at and say, “Nothing more needs to be added to this, or taken away. Nothing more needs to be done. I declare this perfect and right and good?”
It is nothing less and nothing more than the finished work of Jesus Christ, through Whom the Father establishes, confirms, and perfects His children through the sacrifice of our Great High Priest.
Further on in the book of Hebrews this awesome declaration is found…
but He [Jesus], having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God (He rested), waiting from that time onward until His enemies become a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified
We can never say this enough times in our hearts. He has PERFECTED for all time through ONE offering (of Himself) those who are sanctified (that’s every believer). God declared the sacrifice of Christ not only good, but good enough that Jesus could sit down at the right hand of God in majestic triumph over sin. Elsewhere in many places in the New Testament we are told that we who believe are In Christ. This means we can rest also, when it comes to works in order to achieve God’s approval.
So much to say about this. For now we can soak in the scriptures above and rest in the finished work of Christ which remains in a perpetual state of completion.
I’ll save it for future posts.
For now I need to rest. 🙂