Summary: Be sure of God's rest; however, if you're not sure, strive to be sure of that rest.
A photographer was snapping pictures of first graders at an elementary school, making small talk to put them at ease.
“What are you going to be when you grow up?” he asked one little girl.
“Tired”, she said. (J. R. Love, Rushton, Louisiana; www. PreachingToday.com)
Evidently, she had been watching all the adults in her life, working long hours, busy with a million things, and running around from place to place, and concluded that she was going to be just like them: tired.
That’s a hard way to live, isn’t it – Having nothing to look forward to except being tired? Well, I’ve got good news for you! The Bible presents a much better way to live for the believer in Jesus Christ. And if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Hebrews 4, Hebrews 4, where the Believer is promised God’s “rest.”
Hebrews 4:1 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. (ESV)
Or better, “…should THINK they have failed to reach it. You see, the original audience was going through so much persecution, they THOUGHT they had missed God’s “rest”; they THOUGHT they had failed to reach God’s promised blessings.
But the author of Hebrews tells his audience, which includes you and me, “Don’t think that!” Sure, life is hard right now, but don’t think for a minute that you missed God’s wonderful plan for your life. Don’t lose your hope. Instead…
BE SURE OF GOD’S REST
Be certain that you are entering it. Be confident that you are right now on the way to the glorious future God has for you.
You see, the “rest” here is the rest that comes when Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom.
Until then, this old world is in turmoil. There are wars and rumors of wars and unrest everywhere. God’s people experience trouble and persecution.
But when Jesus comes, the Bible says, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9).
When Jesus comes to reign on this earth, there will be rest; there will be real peace. Be sure of it, and don’t think for a minute that you have missed it, because you are right now in the process of entering that rest.
Hebrews 4:2 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. (ESV)
The Israelites in Moses’ day heard the good news of the Promised Land, but they could not enter, because they didn’t believe it. So we too have heard the Good News of Christ’s coming Kingdom, of God’s Rest. The question is: do we believe it or not?
Hebrews 4:3a For we who have believed enter that rest.
Or better, we who have believed are in the process of entering that rest. The verb for “enter” has the idea of continuous action. It’s like God is saying to those believers who suffer, “Don’t give up yet! You’re almost there. Jesus is coming soon, and you will rule and reign with Him in His Kingdom.”
If you believe the Good news, you will make it! If you have put your trust in Christ, who died for you, rose from the grave, and is coming again, then you are right now in the process of entering God’s Rest, and there is nothing that can stop you – not adversity, not persecution, not even death.
However, if you don’t believe the Good News, then you will NOT enter God’s rest no matter how hard you try.
Hebrews 4:3b As he has said, “As I swore in my wrath they [i.e., unbelieving Israel] shall not enter that rest,” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
God rested on the seventh day of creation, but unbelieving Israel could find no rest, because they refused to believe the good news about the Promised Land. Then, after God rebuked them for their unbelief, they tried to enter in their own strength, but they were soundly defeated and ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years until that whole generation died off. Unbelief keeps you from entering God’s Rest, but for those of you who do believe, there is nothing that can stop you, because you are right now in the process of entering that rest!