Summary: We run around in our lives looking for peace and rest - but when we see the promise of rest that God promises in Jesus sometimes we hesitate to "seal the deal." Let Him give you rest for your soul!
"I’d love to rest - if I only wasn’t so busy." That’s a statement a lot of us could make. Our society is one of constant motion and activity - if we aren’t always doing something we feel useless and worthless.
This can invade our spiritual lives as well. We feel like if we aren’t always "on" and "active" in our ministry - always doing more and more and being more and more perfect - then God must not be pleased with us. It’s the "what are you going to do for me today" syndrome.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ESV
We don’t create the works, we don’t do the works - we simply "walk" in what God has already done. This is such a freeing concept - and yet how many times do we end up striving for God’s approval instead of resting in what He has done - then walking in what He has prepared for us - at times, that means doing nothing at all.
In chapter 3 they key was rebellion - not believing what God said and wanting to go back to old ways in order to find answers. Chapter 4 focuses on what you give up by rebelling - rest in God -
Rest from the search for who to rely on
Rest from striving for righteousness
Rest from hiding from God
Rest from the search for who to rely on by trusting in Jesus
At the end of chapter 3 the author says: "19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief." The picture used is of the rebellious heart of the Israelites as they traveled through the wilderness - discounting the provision of God for the journey and not trusting in God’s promise of an abode in the Promised Land. What we’re going to see here is that promise of provision and abode still exists - but we have to respond in faith.
Verses 1 - 3
1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
(1) There is still a promise of rest today - not a physical rest but a spiritual one - not in the Promised Land of Canine, but the Promised Person of Jesus Christ. The last part of verse 1 is difficult to translate from Greek but could be understood to read: "Take care lest God be able to say to you "you didn’t go all the way." A lot of people approach Jesus Christ but never seal the deal.
2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
(2) It didn’t benefit the Israelites to hear about the Promised Land because they didn’t believe that God would give it to them. Instead they believed the report from the spies that it was too much for them.
The people who got this letter needed to understand that the old way of Judaism fails to provide salvation - it is only a pointer to the real salvation in Jesus.
Romans 10:8-10 "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ESV
You don’t get saved by people speaking words around you - but by hearing and believing then confessing God’s Word of salvation.
I say this all the time - you can believe anything you want, but if it won’t actually have an effect, what good is it? It’s like getting exposed to Saran nerve gas and taking a sugar pill. You are going to die unless you inject yourself with Atropine or whatever it is they use. You can stare at the syringe all you want, but it is the cure - just like the cure for the fatal disease of sin - it comes only from appropriating salvation through belief.
3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, ’They shall not enter my rest,’"
(3) You have to "enter in" to the rest. Take the plunge, step out on the ledge, put your weight down - believe and trust in what Jesus said and did.
And God planned for all this happen when He made the earth: