They were in danger of repeating the folly of their fathers. Just as their ancestors had journeyed to the edge of the promised land, yet refused to enter because it didn’t make sense to them to try and take on giants (Numbers 13 & 14), many were being tempted to harden their hearts and turn their back on God’s provision for them. Though they had tasted and seen the Lord is good, because of unbelief, they didn’t think it was really all that good.
But it was there for them. The promise of entering God’s rest still stood. A Sabbath rest for the people of God. But they had to strive to enter that rest.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
(Hebrews 4:9-11 ESV)
Strive to enter rest. That’s the phrase that’s got me thinking this morning.
Give all diligence. Interest one’s self most earnestly. Make haste and get at it. Or, to use a term that’s being used a lot lately in my circles, be intentional. That’s the type of effort exhorted here.
And for what purpose? To enter rest. To settle down. To colonize or take the land. To calm the winds and find an haven in still waters amid a safe harbor.
And first, it strikes me as funny (funny, weird . . . not funny, ha ha) that in talking about finding rest the charge is to make every effort. But the more I chew on it, the more it makes sense.
I don’t think we’re talking about heavenly rest here. Heaven’s eternal rest has been secured through the finished work of the cross. Guaranteed by the Spirit (Eph. 1:14) and assured by Jesus who promised that He would take us to Himself, that where He is we may be also (Jn. 14:3). We will enter that rest. Count on it!
Instead, I think the writer to the Hebrews is appealing to those who are wavering through unbelief to labor to enter the gospel’s rest. A rest for the people of God. God’s rest. A Sabbath rest. Resting from our works as God did from His.
And this requires that we strive to rest.
That we faithfully seek to abide in Christ as we feed on the word, labor in prayer, forsake not fellowship with His body, and seek to obey His commands. That we keep leaning in through difficulties and discouragements, resisting the temptation to go it on our own. That we continue to trust in the Lord with all our hearts, “for we who have believed enter that rest” (4:3a).
There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. A promised land to possess even today. And ours is not to waver through unbelief, but to make haste to enter into it. Every day. In every circumstance. By faith. Through His power.
We have been delivered from the wilderness. No need to wander back into it. We have been given wells of salvation from which we can draw living water–why would we seek other cisterns that offer drink that can’t satisfy our thirst? There is a peace that passes understanding, why pursue pressures beyond withstanding? He offers us the shadow of His wings, let’s not seek the shelters of this world.
“Come to me,” Jesus says still, even to those who are already His, “and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
Strive to enter rest.
By His grace. For His glory.