Read: Hebrews 4:1-10
“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. ….9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”
The English dictionary defines rest as follows:
- To cease from work or movement, to relax, sleep, or recover strength, be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position;
- To be free from whatever worries or anything that disturbs you;
- To lie down, to be settled or to be fixed;
- To remain confident, to put your trust in something, in other words, you rest in something in the sense of confidence;
- To lean on something.
Surprisingly, God’s kind of rest not only means all these five things but much more spiritually as well physically. Divine rest means a relationship with God in which you are trusting and relying on the finished work of Christ, and not on your own efforts or on yourself.
To help us to understand divine rest, the writer of the book of Hebrews in Chapter 4 likens this to the Sabbath God instituted in Gen 2:1-3. However, Colossians 2:16-17 describes the Sabbath as a “shadow of things to come”. The Sabbath as observed in the old covenant was a symbol of the realities we now have in the new covenant. A few things to note from the account of creation in Genesis 1 & 2:
- Everything man needed to survive on earth had been created before Man was created on the 6th day. Immediately after man was created, God rested.
- Man was created right before the Sabbath, and Man entered into God’s Sabbath where everything has been provided.
- The relevance of this to us is that every need of man has been anticipated by God, and He made provisions for them before Man ever existed on earth.
- The creation is self-perpetuating: no new thing was created after God rested.
- The phrase in Genesis that says “God rested” does not mean that He was tired, but rather that He rested because His work had been completed with perfection and satisfaction. Isa 40:28 – “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” God doesn’t get tired like humans do.
- After humans occupied the earth, they no longer needed to ask God for their needs. All they needed to do is take what had already been created and say, “thank You.”
This is what the old covenant Sabbath is all about: God told the Israelites to take one day off while everybody else was working their fingers to the bone. In the natural it doesn’t make sense: how can I prosper as much as those who work seven days a week if I only work six days a week? Well, you couldn’t if it were just you and your human effort. But when God blesses you, even though you’re working, God blesses every seed you put in the ground. When God is your source, trusting and obeying him on one out of every seven days actually makes you prosper more than those relying on their own human ability. By faith, the Jews prospered more than the nations around them even though they took one day out of seven days off. They trusted in God. That’s what the Sabbath was all about. It was a way for God to get this truth across to His people: He was their source.
What is the reality in the New Covenant For You?
Hebrews 4:10 says, “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” In other words, you cease trying to make God do something. You cease trying to get God to bless you. You cease trying to earn God’s favor. Instead, now you are just resting in the fact that the Father through Jesus has already supplied everything — much in the same way that God has already created everything and doesn’t create new people, new animals, new tree today: those are the result of his original creation.
The Lord made a new creation, that is us – 1 Cor 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” In this new creation, if you need to be healed, God doesn’t have to heal you — it is already in the new creation. If you need to prosper, God doesn’t have to do anything. He already commanded his blessing and prosperity over you – Eph. 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Now, in the new creation, everything is already done through Jesus. The key to your Christian life is learning how to rest, not how to work hard to make God move on your behalf.
Having established that God wants us to rest, the question becomes: how do we rest in the midst of life’s storms, just as Jesus rested, sleeping on a pillow while the boat was sinking and His disciples desperately feared for their lives (Mk 4:35-41)? How can you rest when the doctor’s report is bleak, the bank account is depleted and time is running out? It is summed up in trusting God even when you can’t see the whole picture, like Abraham did – Rom 4:17-22. It means your faith cannot be weak but strong – Rom 4:19-20 AMP. God’s promise must be more real to you than whatever it is you are facing or feeling. In this reality, you can rest in the middle of the storm like Jesus did.
Finally, Hebrews 4:11 (KJV) says, “Let us therefore labor to enter that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief”. How do you labor in rest? Does it mean you have to do something after all? Yes! It takes effort to stay in rest. But it’s not the kind of “effort” you think. The effort required is to constantly renew your mind with the promises God has made, and keep on reminding yourself of them despite all odds. It takes effort to not panic or fear. You constantly learn to declare His Words and not give voice to your fear. Continue to confess the Word even when it doesn’t make sense.