I usually have 7 – 10 saved blog posts in my “saved drafts” folder. This was one that I found today. I’m not sure why I didn’t post it sooner. Perhaps, it was too emotional for me at the time. I’m doing better now. The Lord has been faithful to do a good work on my heart…
(March 19, 2011)
During a short prayer retreat this weekend, I came to the realization that I need meditate on the word “rest” before I can fully understand what it means or what it might look like in my life. I’ve been reading Hebrews quite a bit lately, so my thoughts gracefully meandered to chapter four. In my Bible, the section was titled “A Sabbath-Rest for the People of God”, and for obvious reasons my heart was eager to meditate on such a subject as this.
The first verse peaked my interest…”Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” I could feel my soul crying out, “You have fallen short of much rest.” However, the word “therefore” clearly indicated that this was the conclusion of a statement made previously in chapter three. So, I turned back a page in my Bible to find Hebrews 3:16-18, “Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter His rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.”
From this particular passage, it seems as though both “disobedience” and “unbelief” were equated. After being a Christian for many years, I have come to the understanding that God is deadly serious about disobedience. However, going back to my study of “Biblical Rest”, I couldn’t help but think that these two chapters were poorly divided. What did “unbelief” and “rest” have to do with each other? Why would the author of this text bring up the concept of rest in the context of the promised land where God’s chosen people would have experience relief from turmoil and security from their enemies and then never entered it? And in what sense does this apply to the readers of Hebrews and their experience of a “Sabbath Rest”?
I wrestled with this passage for quite some time before picking up my trusted commentary by Warren Wiersbe. In reference to this text, Wiersbe goes on to say, “The Canaan rest for Israel is a picture of the spiritual rest we find in Christ when we surrender to Him. When we come to Christ by faith, we find salvation rest (Matthew 11:28*). When we yield and learn of Him and obey Him by faith, we enjoy submission rest (Matthew 11:29-30*). The first is “peace with God” (Romans 5:1); the second is the “peace of God” (Philippians 4:6-8*). It is by believing that we enter into rest; it is by obeying God by faith and surrendering to His will that the rest enters into us.”
After reading the commentary, I thought it might be best to look up the original Greek word for “rest” in my Exhaustive Concordance. Rest (2663) (katapausis [word study] from katá = intensifies or “down” conveying sense of permanency + paúo = make to cease) describes literally a ceasing from one’s work or activity. A use in the active sense of a “putting to rest” as used in the sentence “a calming of the winds”. Metaphorically as used in the present verse, katapausis speaks of the spiritual fulfillment God provides for His people.
Was I really searching for physical rest when, in all reality, I was in need of spiritual fulfillment that only the Lord can provide? The wilderness wanderings now represented those people who heard the truth but then refused to believe that truth…with the result that they spent their whole life in restless unbelief. I camped on this thought for the remainder of my prayer retreat. After some time passed, the Lord impressed upon my heart that He wants me to surrender my life in a new way.
In Isaiah 43:18-19 it says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” I decided to take a few days to let this idea sink in. I immediately picked up a new book that I’ve been meaning to start for months now. It’s called “The Gospel Primer” and I finished it after three hours of dedicated reading time. Once I wiped the tears from my eyes, I realized that I had failed to preach The Gospel to myself daily.
The rest that my heart has been searching for is found in the daily exercise of preaching The Gospel to myself everyday. This will be my new focus. I hope it brings some much needed rest to my weary soul.
* Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
* Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”
* Philippians 4:6-8 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”