WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – Jesus knew our need for rest when He promised, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt.11:28). Most of us who desire with all our hearts to live for Christ and to serve Him know the “weary” part very well, and many of us are familiar with “burdened.” It’s the part about “rest” we find elusive.
But there it is. There’s the promise from our Master’s own lips. Today’s chapter explains the rest Jesus promises, the reasons so few find it, and the secret to entering His rest.
The original “rest” to which this chapter refers was the Promised Land of the Old Testament (Deut. 12:10). God wanted His people to dwell in a place where He could provide all they needed and they could serve Him in peace and security. All they had to do was to believe that whatever He told them to do was the best thing to do – and then DO IT. Trust and obey.
But the Israelites could never muster up either the faith or the obedience. Though they finally entered the Promised Land, they never completely occupied it or enjoyed its full benefits. They never entered God’s promised rest, and they were eventually ejected from the land altogether.
However, God’s desire for His people never changed. Hebrews 4 encourages us that “the promise to enter His rest remains” (Heb 4:1). It carried over into the New Testament and into the gospel of Jesus Christ. God still wants His people to enter a place where He provides all they need and they serve Him in peace and security. And the keys to that rest are still faith and obedience.
“A Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest…” (Heb. 4:9-11).
He’s not talking about a day of rest (that reminder would be added later) but a life of rest. God trusted enough in the completeness of His six-day creation to rest on the seventh day. Likewise, we are to trust enough in the adequacy of God’s work in us that we simply cooperate with that work rather than adding ideas and efforts of our own.
This life of rest is not a life of inactivity or ease. Jesus started each day before His disciples were up, ended it after they were asleep, and walked miles in between. He worked tirelessly, but He did it from a position of resting in the will of His Father – not from a position of striving to accomplish His own works. “The Son is not able to do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – God invites you and me to join Him in this life of Sabbath rest. It’s been called by other names: the Spirit-filled life, the deeper life, the abundant life. The good news is: “A Sabbath rest remains for God’s people,” and it’s available today.
We enter it when we trust that God has done enough. We rest from our need to add more. We accept all His precepts as true, believe all His promises as certain, trust all His provisions as plenty, and obey all His commands as right. It’s still trust and obey.
“Let us then make every effort to enter that rest!”