“Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience” ( Hebrews 4:3-6 )
It takes faith to enter into God’s rest. Faith placed in the finished work of Christ and not in our works. God’s rest is more than setting aside one day a week to cease from labor, it is placing our entire trust and confidence in Christ to save us. God’s special relationship with Israel was not fulfilled because of their disobedience, so it stands to reason that this rest through relationship is still available for all who believe. If unbelief keeps you out, then faith brings you in.
When God created the world the Bible says that He rested on the seventh day. This was not because he was tired and couldn’t create anything else; it was because it was finished. There was nothing left to create. He didn’t have to produce more fruit trees to feed Adam and Eve. He created everything with seeds and the ability to reproduce. Everything was planned out and created to sustain mankind. God rested on the seventh day because everything was finished and complete.
In fact, Adam and Eve were created dwelling in the rest of God. There was no labor involved. Sure they had jobs to do, naming the animals and overseeing the garden, but God’s rest has nothing to do with taking a break from work and activities. It has everything to do with trusting God as our source. They walked and talked with God enjoying His fellowship and trusting in Him for everything.
God created mankind to dwell in this rest right from the start, this was always His plan. God never desired for mankind to go through all we have because of sin. He created us to live in a constant state of Sabbath Rest. He created us to love us. Sin is what ruined this plan.
However, the fall of mankind did not catch God off guard; He had made provision long before there was a problem. 1 Peter tells us, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” ( 1Peter 1:18-21 ). Christ was chosen, foreordained and destined for the cross from the beginning of time before the world existed because God knew that sin would separate us and remove us from the resting place in which He created us to dwell. Sin is what separated us, but sin is no longer an issue through Christ’s sacrifice, so there remains the promise of entering into God’s rest through faith in Jesus.
Just as God rested because everything was finished and He created everything with seeds and the ability to reproduce, we can rest in the finished work of the cross. We too have been born again with the living and lasting Word which regenerates our spirit. Peter goes on to say, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” ( I Peter 1:23 ). Jesus restores us to where mankind was before the fall. He has erased the guilt and shame that sin heaps on us. He has restored the relationship with the Father that we were created for. By trusting in Jesus as our source we too can enter into the rest that God desires for us. The rest in which He created Adam and Eve. Jesus is the Sabbath rest for the people of God.
The Jews missed out on this promise because they chose not to trust in God after they heard the good news of their deliverance. He wanted to take them into immediate possession of the land He promised to Abraham. Instead unbelief kept them out ( Hebrews 3:19 ). So it stands to reason that if unbelief keeps you out of this promise, faith brings you in. Faith placed in Christ and what He did to restore this relationship. Only you can keep yourself out of this rest. But entering in allows you to cease striving and working out your own salvation. Instead it allows you to dwell in relationship knowing that God has provided everything for you with a wonderful promise to sustain you every day of your life.
Tomorrow we will look at Hebrews 4:7-8; The Promise of Rest is Available Today.