In my quiet time blogging through Hebrews it seems a little appropriate to pause over the idea of rest. In Hebrews 3 and 4 rest is THE big blessing of God that we ought to want to enter into. But what is it? Even with the added detail of 4:9 that it is God's "sabbath rest" for his people it still sounds a bit nebulous and less defined a blessing than, say, forgiveness or adoption.
Here are a few Bible explanations that add some detail and texture:
- The first idea of rest for God's people was the Promised Land. If they had obeyed they would have inherited a land where there was peace from their enemies. But they didn't because of disobedience.
- The Canaan rest was also meant to be the place of inheritance from God as well as the place of safety, in Deut 12:9 (NB by the time the Israelites get to Canaan it is NOT the promised land for them any more - no relief from enemies, no edenesque flowing with milk and honey. They did not enter the rest)
- There are Bible hints that rest is linked to loving marriage in which security is provided for the wife. (Ruth 3:1)
Most importantly it is God's rest (cf they shall never enter my rest). This means the rest God himself enjoys, as well as the rest he gives. That is why it is called sabbath rest. The sense is of eternal home with God. Our home of everlasting goodness. Hebrews will say a lot more about looking for an eternal city which is our real home. God is saying "come to my place. You can live where I live, you can experience the everlasting joy of the most joyful place, where I make myself known in glory and goodness to you."
Rest is nothing trivial. It is far more than a pleasant day off. It is the promise of security, relief, beauty, joy, marriage, inheritance and abundant goodness in intimate fellowship with God. It is surpassingly attractive. It ought to elicit a great big sigh of contentment at the very thought. No wonder that the writer is horrified that anyone at the Exodus would have turned up the opportunity, and no wonder he pleads with us to keep on in persistent faith in order to receive it.
Lord, help me turn my sights to it today and make me dissatisfied with attractions in the world that might seduce me away from this amazing treasure