GOD’S OFFER OF REST
‘REST’ is a significant theological word in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, there is an emphasis on rest, the loss of rest, and rest given again by God. Rest is from God. Rest is tied to the Promised Land. Rest can also mean Heaven. The lack of rest is equated with the lack of God’s presence. Rest is a complicated word that has variations of meaning depending on the context. When we understand the theological roots of rest, we understand more about human life and the rest to which God calls all human beings.
Rest is a significant thought in Hebrews 3:7-4:13. This thick theological passage begs the believer in Jesus Christ to look back into the Old Testament through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to see the emphasis God the Father makes on ‘rest’ and how it relates to the People of God. The author of Hebrews says it related to the believers he was writing to and to the people who received the Old Testament. It applies to us now.
HEBREWS: THE REST TO COME
The Book of Hebrews is a key passage in the Bible in terms of understanding ‘rest’ because it specifically ties the Old Testament and the New Testament together on purpose. The writer of Hebrews is encouraging the Jews-who-have-become-Christians not to back off faith, but to press forward in faith and receive the rest that is to come. Jesus is the perfect answer to all questions human beings have and is the perfect answer to the chaos and trials we all endure.
Hebrews specifically talks about how the ‘rest’ found in Christ is better than any other type of rest. Hebrews 3:7-11 (ESV) is specific: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put Me to the test and saw My works for forty years. Therefore, I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known My ways. ‘As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’”
The author of Hebrews is pointing out to his readers that they are to remain faithful (3:12) and keep being faithful to Christ and keep their hearts soft towards God (3:13-19) for the express purpose of being able to enter into God’s rest (promised in the Old Testament), as stated in the New Testament will be realized by those who are faithful to Christ as Lord.
Hebrews 4:1 is clear: “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). Faith is required to enter His rest (4:2-3). Receiving the Good News is required for those who want rest in God (4:4-7) because only in Jesus Christ is rest realized. Being outside of Christ means no access to rest. Other kinds of rest exist (4:8), but true eternal God-given rest only comes from God the Father through Jesus Christ and people are marked for it by the Holy Spirit.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ON
Why will ‘rest’ not be available if we quit on God?
Where is the ‘rest’ God promises to believers in Him?