Ezekiel 3:16-4:17; Hebrews 4:1-11; Psalms 104:1-7; Proverbs 22:16
NT: “Therefore, since the promise to enter his rest remains, let us beware that none of you be found to have fallen short. For we also have received the good news just as they did. But the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith… Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, he again specifies a certain day — today. He specified this speaking through David after such a long time: Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from his. Let us, then, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:1-2, 6-11 CSB)
Rest is an interesting concept. The English word rest has various meanings that try to incorporate all of the ideas of rest. In our driven, performance-oriented culture, rest is something that so many people chase after, but so few people actually find. Oftentimes, rest is something that is taken, but not found. In the name of taking rest, people will force themselves to stop working and remove themselves from all responsibilities for a time, but will still find themselves anxious and quite unrestful.
The Greek word translated as rest here literally means a “calming of the winds.” Imagine trying to move forward in the midst of a strong headwind… and then suddenly the headwind calms down. The rest described in this passage is more of a ceasing from striving than a ceasing from work. Biblical rest actually involves work – just not work in your own strength and striving. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus called all of the Jewish people, who were worn out from carrying the heavy burden of religious requirements, to come to Him, put on His yoke and find rest. Jesus wasn’t calling them to stop being righteous. He called them to stop striving to be righteous in their own effort and strength, and place their faith and obedience in Him instead. There was still work involved, but the work would be empowered by His righteousness and grace.
When we try to take rest on our own conditions, we remove ourselves from Christ’s yoke and end up striving, even in our attempt at resting. As the writer of Hebrews so eloquently explained, true rest comes from faith and obedience in the one who created rest in the first place. God created Sabbath, and as Jesus taught, Sabbath was created for man. God desires to give His children rest, and like the Good Shepherd that He is, will lead us to rest if we place our faith in Him and do what He says. True rest doesn’t come from doing nothing. True rest doesn’t come from doing the things we want to do. True rest comes from obeying the Lord by His grace as we place our faith fully on Him. Then, even in the midst of doing some pretty challenging, yet amazing things, we will find rest.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You are a good Lord and good Shepherd that only wants what is good for me. I can fully trust You to lead me (not drive me) to the things that I need, including rest. Instead of trying to take rest for myself, help me to delight in the rest that You desire to give me as I place my faith in You and obey Your word, will and ways by Your grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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