We are busier than ever. We think to ourselves, if only there was more hours in a day. If only rest or sleep weren’t so necessary. There is always pressure to do more, to work harder, and to rest less. Our egos are boosted by what we can get done but in the process we are sacrificing our souls. The busier we are the less we rest and the more we are exhausted by an always-demanding slave master.
Busyness isn’t a sin. Work is necessary and good. God is pleased by hard work. But being busy in an endless pursuit of things that leave us empty and unsatisfied cannot be pleasing to God. Sometimes the most godly thing we can to is stop and listen. We need to be still. We need to rest.
There is only One who never stops working. One who never tires. One who never takes a break. He is God. Even when he rested on the seventh day of creation it wasn’t because he was weary, but because he knew humans needed an example and would be exhausted from six days of hard work. God is wise. Rest is wisdom from God.
Rest for Israel was more than just sabbath rest or a much needed vacation in the Promised Land after wandering in the Wilderness for 40 years (Ex.34:6-7). It was a temporary rest that pictured a greater rest to come—an eternal rest with God forever. Rest ultimately is being with God, a heavenly rest.
There are five important times in history that God offered rest to humanity: 1) Creation (Hebrews 4:4; cf. Gen. 2), 2) David in the midst of battling (v.7), 3) Wandering in the Wilderness (v.5; Ps. 95:7-11), Joshua enters the Promised Land (v.8), and our Sabbath salvation (v.9). The final rest is ultimately secured for us in Christ. Jesus is the greater rest.
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. 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. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb. 4:1-13)
Rest is a means of showing God’s care and grace to his people. It bolsters our faith and trust in God, today. It reminds us to realign our strength. When life punches us in the gut we can trust that God is faithful and we can trust and obey him, even when we feel like giving up in moments of exhaustion. Resting in King Jesus is the great remedy for the soul.
Questions for Reflection:
- What is exhausting you right now? How is God calling you to rest as a result of this passage?
- What do you fear the most? What do you fear that could reveal an unbelieving heart?
- How is the illustration of Israel’s unfaithfulness and unbelief helpful for us?
- How do you respond when life punches you in the gut?
- What does it look like to get serious about your spiritual heart condition? (v.12-13)
- How is the Word of God a powerful and penetrating scalpel to help expose the heart?
- How is giving a heart check or exam a community process? (vs. 2, 11-13)