Summary: time to find rest in Christ

Concordia Lutheran Church

February 7, 2010

Let Us Strive…to Rest

Hebrews 4:9-13


May you grasp the gift of rest that has been purchased and given to by God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ


The men, dragging and weary, get off their bus, and unload their gear. It has been a long hard couple of months, with very few moments of peace. Their clothes, which were once cleanly pressed, are dirty and ragged. Their bodies, barely moving, are sore and worn down. Their eyes are tired, and almost vacant…

They line up, at least trying to appear somewhat like the military unit they are. But the days have been too long, and the nights contained no rest.

And after a few words, barely listened to, about how they should behave, one word makes all the difference in the world. Dis-missed!

And with that word, those who thought the battles would never end, realize it is time, a time they have longed for, but recently, never thought would come.

So begins a time known as R & R… rest and recuperation leave. Given to those who have been in the battle to long. It will take a few days for their bodies to realize the truth, but then, energy and enthusiasm for life will return…as they “rest”.

People of Concordia – the battles have gone on too long. Souls that are too tired need to know this – it is time to realize we can rest.

Indeed, the writer of our epistle this morning urges us to strive to enter that rest, to realize we are there..

The Need for “Rest”

Without it – Disobedience/Unbelief

In verse 11, there is a pretty strong warning about putting off our “rest”. Hear it again,

“11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience”

If we define rest, as inactivity, as decisive laziness and inaction, this will make no sense. We will get to the nature of that rest later in the message, but the effect of not entering into the rest is pretty ominous.

The falling referred to in the passage, is referring to what went before in the chapter and in chapter three. Falling away from God, as the people of Israel did as they did during the journey from Egypt to the promised land. Hear what it says there…

For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Heb 3:16 (ESV)

I think it benefits us a little, to understand this word disobedience, and how it relates to unbelief, and therefore to not entering God’s presence, or his rest. The prefix dis in English creates a negative – to disobey means you do the opposite of obeying. In greek, there is a similar prefix, usually just a “a”. In the case of disobedience though, the word that is negated isn’t obey, but rather persuaded.

In the case of Israel, the question of being persuaded is in reference to God’s salvation – whether He would be faithful to the promise of making them His people, and delivering them to the land He had prepared for them. Despite the miracles, despite the power demonstrated over and over in their presence, they could not be persuaded that they were God’s people, and therefore chose not to follow, and not to believe. I often wonder what would have persuaded these people to enter God’s rest.

Another parting of the red sea? Maybe some more Manna and quail?

The Cut of the Word

If you can grasp this concept of unbelief/disobedience/unpersuaded, the mentioning of God’s word as part of this discourse makes sense. For the word of God promises that rest, and testifies to God’s faithfulness. For it is there, in the words they constantly heard, that they were reminded of God’s faithfulness, of God’s power, of God’s love and care.

The Holy Spirit, through those words, creates the life, yet also convicts the actions and beliefs that destroy faith, Those words, calling to mind the actions of God, can build up and strengthen the trust we have in God’s promise of salvation

And yet, if we aren’t persuaded by them, if we don’t grasp the height and depth and width and breadth of God’s love, those very words leave us, as it did them, without excuse, yet apart from God. Unpersuaded, we stumble away, not trusting in God’s love and wisdom, and fall prey to Satan,

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