Chewing on Hebrews 4 this morning. A rest promised. God’s rest. The kind of rest God modeled at creation. A Sabbath rest. The “work is finished” type of rest.
But one that we need to strive to enter. That’s a little counterintuitive . . . exert yourself to enter into rest? But the rest being spoken of here is not an idleness. It’s not a kicking back and putting up of your feet. Instead, it has the idea of a calming of the winds. I picture the “striving” akin to steering a ship from the waves of open water into the flat waters of a protected bay.
And at the heart of this calm is resting from a sense that we need to keep doing in order for God to keep loving. Apparently easier said than done. Perhaps because of pride, in that the old man wants to boast of his efforts and secretly feel that God owes him a debt because of his self-righteousness. Or maybe it’s because of enemy-induced paranoia and uncertainty. That somehow my eternal destiny remains dependent on my current performance.
But the fact of the matter remains, as pertains to the things of eternity, “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (4:9b).
The price has been paid. Our sin atoned for, once and for all. Divine righteousness credited to the account of all who believe. Holy, declared as our standing before Him. And the curtain which once blocked the way into the presence of God’s glory has been torn in two, from top to bottom, and access freely made available. All because the work is finished.
And so know, dear saint, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
But a rest that is available is no rest at all if it is not entered into. So, you coming?
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 ESV)
I’m reminded this morning that Jesus was not just our once-for-all sacrifice for sin, but is also our now-and-forever great high priest (4:14-15). He not only has made open the way into the holy of holies, He ever lives to lead us, by His Spirit, into the holy of holies–escorting us, as it where, into the calm of God’s presence. He knows the barriers we face to truly entering into such a Sabbath rest because He is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses”, having “been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Thus, having such a great high priest, I’m exhorted this morning to boldly draw near.
Openly, just as you are, come, says the Spirit. Because the work is finished and there remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
Without hesitation, freely, enter into His presence. Knowing that the Savior actively intercedes on your behalf at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 7:25, 8:1-2).
That’s the work left to us. To come. To draw near with confidence. To enter with assurance and boldness.
Not to a seat of judgment but to a throne of grace. Not to be evaluated but to receive mercy and find grace in time of need.
The work is finished. Our “striving” is to enter into His rest. Our work is to keep directing the ship into the calm of His safe harbor.
By His grace . . . for His glory.