There was a story I used to tell about the kind of disciplinarian my mom was when I was kid. Can’t remember the incident but here’s how I recalled one instance of her “progressive discipline”. The immediate reaction to my transgression was “You’re grounded for a week, mister!” A little time passed that day and she sternly reminded me, “Don’t you forget, young man, you are not leaving this house until the weekend!” As we sat down around the dinner table that night, again she emphasized the consequences for my actions, “You will not be going out tonight to play with your friends.” Before we were done eating it was, “Remember, before you go anywhere after dinner you will have to do the dishes first.” That was mom.
That distant memory reemerged as I hovered over a couple of verses in Hebrews 4 this morning. In particular as I chewed on one word, the word again.
Since therefore it remains for some to enter [His rest], and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again He appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
(Hebrews 4:6-7 ESV)
God appoints a certain day. He specifies a certain time. He marks out boundaries around a set opportunity. The opportunity to respond. And, when some fail to take advantage of that set appointment, He does it again.
Not because He’s a fickle enforcer as was my dear mom, but because His boundless grace permits Him to set many boundaries. To provide many opportunities to enter into His promised rest.
And I’m not thinking as much of that initial entrance into rest when by faith I first knew my sins past were forgiven, my estrangement from God had been reconciled, and my soul was saved because the work of my redemption had been completed once for all on the cross of Christ. Instead, I’m thinking of the certain day He appoints again and again for me to confess my most recent sin, to be ushered afresh before His throne of grace, and know again that He is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness because of the enduring power of the blood of Jesus (1Jn. 1:9). Again He appoints a certain day.
And so, I need to heed the exhortation.
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Today is that certain day. Right now is that appointed time. The boundaries have been freshly lined. Do it! Now! Enter afresh into the rest of the finished work of the Savior.
Don’t harden your heart. Don’t dismiss your guilt. Don’t get comfortable with your sin. But humbly come to the cross, again. Confess your transgression, again. Know the cleansing power of the shed blood of the blessed Lamb of God, again. And ground yourself in the reality of His promised Sabbath rest, again. Enter again that promised rest, knowing again that “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30).
Again. And again. And again.
Not because our God is weak in discipline. But because He is great in mercy and grace.
Today’s the day. Right now is the time.
To know afresh His overflowing grace. To ascribe again to Him His all-deserving glory.