“Day seven, day seven, God rested in His Heaven.
Day seven, day seven, God rested in His Heaven.”
I’m not sure about you, but when I sang this song as a child, I pictured God laying in bed while wearing pajamas, eating dry cereal, and watching movies after an exhausting six days of creation. I mean, that’s what my rest looks like!
Well, simply put, God was finished with His work, satisfied with His work, and entered a place of “rest” (or completion) from all He had accomplished. Now that’s a place I want to be! A place where I am seated at the feet of God, completed with my labor, satisfied with my work.
Can you image a place? No more struggle. No more striving. No more temptation. No more sin. No more falling short. No more anticipation. No more waiting. Just you, God, and complete satisfaction from all you’ve accomplished.
Hebrews chapter four houses an open invitation to its readers to join God in this place of rest.
Wait, WHAT!? We are invited to enter this amazing place of rest with none other than God Himself?! Yes. You are invited. I am invited. We…are..invited!
But just like any invitation we receive today, God’s invitation has an “R.S.V.P”, if you will. The writer of Hebrews reminds his audience that though this invitation still stands, we must continue to “strive to enter the rest so that no one may fall by the same disobedience” (4:11).
What disobedience is he referring to here? Because if this disobedience prevents me from entering this amazing place of rest, I most definitely don’t want to be guilty!
We see this “disobedience” described earlier as “unbelief”, in reference to the Israelites continually doubting God for 40 years while being led out of Egypt by Moses. Regardless of how many signs or how much evidence God provided, the Israelites continually and constantly raised their voices questioning, “Is the Lord among us or
not?” (Exodus 17:7)
God expressed how He felt about this unbelief very clearly, “For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’” (Psalm 95:10, Hebrews 3:10).
This anger led God to conclude, “They shall not enter my rest” (3:7-11) Some say this “rest” here is referred to the Promised Land, other say this is referring to Heaven’s place of rest. Either way, they were invited but unable to enter because of unbelieving, disobedient, and rebellious hearts.
Chapter four is a reminder that in order to enter God’s place of rest, we first must whole heartedly believe that God is who He says He is, and will accomplish what He promises to accomplish. He is not a God who breaks promises, though His children at times are not faithful to their own promises and commitments (Numbers 23:19).
The writer, however, does not keep his audience in a state of fear. No, he also, through inspiration of the Spirit, strongly encourages the hearers to remember two things:
God will not stop pursuing.
From the moment God entered His period of rest on the seventh day, He has created opportunities for His children to experience glimpses of what that rest is like.
He starts off by first creating the Garden of Eden which sounds like a place of perfection. When man messed that up, He then creates/offers the Promised Land which sounded like the dream life. When man messed that up, He offers His only Son so that all of mankind can be invited. Not to mention establishing the earthly Sabbath day, an open invitation to kneel before the Throne in prayer whenever we want, and countless other invitations to be nearer to God, and better understand what that final rest will be like.
The Hebrews writer wanted to make sure the audience understood the lengths God has gone/and continues to go through, to invite His children to join Him. In verses 6-7 the writer points at that when some people failed to enter the Promise Land, God “again appoints a certain day”. Aka…God will not stop chasing His people. He will not stop inviting us. He will not stop giving us another chance…..unless we reject Him and choose an unbelieving and disobedient life.
He wants us. He longs for us. He invites us. And He will not stop.
God does not expect us, nor leave us, to strive alone.
The hearers of this message would have been very accustomed to the Levitical Priests under the Mosaic Law. These Priests were bound to so many rules and restrictions that one may not exactly see them as “approachable” or “personable”.
But then they are told of a new and everlasting High Priest, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (4:14-15)
Hearing this would have been life changing for these people. And it is still life changing news for us! What a blessing to live under the law of Christ, in a time of forgiveness, triumphant power, and everlasting love!
We are invited to join God in His place of rest. We are encouraged to strive hard, so that we may rejoice greatly after we have labored. We are reminded that God wants us, and has gone through the hoops to ensure us of that. We are encouraged by having a Helper in Christ to mediate between us and God, to root for us!
We are instructed to “draw near to the throne of grace”, “receive mercy and find grace” if ever we find ourself needing “help in time of need” (4:16) .