Text: Hebrews 4:1-11
Theme: God’s promise of rest for His people is for today.
Key verses: “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news–that God has prepared this rest–has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, ‘In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world” (v. 1-3). “So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later…’Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts'” (v. 6-7). “So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall” (v. 9-11).
What God said to me: First of all for the record, you can’t assume that everything you think I’m “saying” to you is gospel truth right now. There is much debate and disagreement among learned and godly scholars over the meaning and interpretation of this passage. I appreciate your sincere desire to be accurate and correct in rightly dividing my Word. However, you as one man simply cannot have the “corner” on how this passage is to be understood. Trust what you sense it means based on your in-depth study of my Scriptures; yet also leave yourself room for error; humble yourself to admit you don’t have it figured out completely–you are just one man. Now, with that clarification and caution said, what do you think it means, Dwayne? Can you in any way reconcile this passage with others that seem so clear about eternal security of believers? If the “rest” the Hebrews author talks of here only refers to the rest of heaven in the future, then you would need to “do your best to enter that rest.” You would need to strive to obey me, to believe and perhaps do good deeds to get to heaven. Does that jive with the whole of my Word regarding how you get to heaven? Not at all. It is only by grace you are saved–not of your works, lest you should boast. I am the author and finisher of your faith. You don’t have to muster up strength to believe. You don’t fall off the wagon of belief and salvation one day, and get back on the next. My salvation is eternal and it’s secure. Once I adopt you into my family, you are always and forever my child. No one–not even you–can pluck you out of my hand. So, if this passage in Hebrews 4 can’t be referring only to eternal rest in heaven, the other logical interpretation is that it means rest from your fleshly labors and strivings now. Once you truly believe that my yoke is easy and my burden is light, then you can find rest for your souls as you learn of me. That’s what Jesus said–you can find rest for your soul, Dwayne. Doesn’t that sound like present rest in the here and now? The rest you need, the deep and rich peace and joy you seek, can only come from putting your faith and hope in me. Remember that Paul said not to be weary in well-doing, for in due time you will reap a reward, if you don’t faint along the way. Don’t be weary. That means don’t be weary now. They that mount up with wings like eagles shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint. Do you see how all these passages come together to support the idea of true, spiritual rest in the here and now, while you are still on this earth? Dwayne, I can only truly begin to use you to work in my fields when you first learn to rest in my love, security and strength. Rest in the truth that I am the Vine and you are the branch. Rest in the divine reality that without me you can do nothing, but with me you can do all things. The same power that raised my Son from the grave lives in you. Rest in that awesome truth! Hear my voice speaking to you today, right at this moment. Now believe what I’m saying to you and claim the rest I have for you, both now and forevermore–rest that only comes from knowing and believing in me.
What I said to God: Wow Lord, I had no idea You would inundate me with so many scripture passages and encouraging words this morning. I am so thankful I made time to meet with You and hear Your still, small voice today. Please forgive me for often not truly resting in Your promises and believing Your truth. You are the God who saves; You called me from the grave; You rescue me. I need Thee, oh, I need Thee, every hour of today I need Thee.
I close my time with You now meditating of the words to this old and incredible chorus:
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.