Hebrews 4:9-10 (NKJV) There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
As children, we didn’t want to take naps—even though we were tired and miserable. Going down for a nap seemed like punishment, somehow.
It’s easy to spot a child who needs to rest. Their eyelids get a little puffy and the more tired they get, the less things seem to go their way. Why is it children become more determined to ‘fight back’ when the suggestion is made that they may need to lie down for a while and get some rest? It’s typical for a child to disagree by claiming, “I’m not tired!” But, they’re not fooling anyone…
As an adult, I’ve made the comment more than once, “I wish somebody would make me take a nap.”
When we’re grown up with responsibilities and deadlines, we don’t see ourselves as children anymore—and yet ironically, we still have the same needs as children in many ways. While we’re working hard, taking care of people, business, and our own needs, rest may be low on our list of priorities—maybe not even an option in our mind. We may even fear that important things won’t get done if we don’t keep working.
Hebrews chapter four is a reminder and a warning to us about rest…but not the kind of rest we’ve been referring to up to this point. In Hebrews four, ‘rest’ is being compared to salvation—and ‘labor’ represents sinfulness. The rest God wants us to take involves becoming free from the bondage and penalty of sin. Let’s think about that.
Sin is sometimes described as a ‘trap’ that is able to hold a person captive. When someone falls into sin—or a trap—they become deceived by that sin. What truly is sin, may not even look like sin to them—once they’re regularly participating in it.
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Because nothing ‘visible’ changed when the person committed the sin the first time, they may consider that whatever it is they’re doing, must not be so bad, after all. They might get all caught up in the sin—performing it over and over—‘not taking any rest’. So, in this case, not taking rest, refers to continuing in sin.
God has always wanted people not to sin. That’s nothing new. But, we know that people aren’t perfect. Even when they’re trying not to sin—they still do.
When Jesus came, instituting a new covenant, everything changed. For us, obtaining a Savior didn’t give us an excuse to sin—but instead, a model to follow. But more than just a good example, our Messiah came offering His Super/natural lifeblood as a final sacrifice for the sins of the world…once and for all.
Recognizing our hopelessness, and Christ, as our only hope—brings us freedom. In the same way that blood sacrifices used to bring redemption—now we have a relationship with the Lamb of God—Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world, and is able to offer us rest from our past condition of sinfulness.
So, does this mean that God doesn’t expect us to keep the Sabbath, and that we can just keep right on working seven days a week—day and night—night and day? No! God gave us Himself as an example, when He rested on the seventh day of creation. By doing that, He was showing us that we need to set limits for ourselves and follow what He told—and showed us to do, where rest is concerned.
Do you think God was all out of ideas when the seventh day came along? Definitely not! He could have kept right on creating forever without any kind of a break…but He didn’t. He gave Himself a limit—a cut off point—where He was able to say, “That’s enough.”
There needs to come a point in all of our lives where we’re able to say, “That’s enough,” where sin is involved, too. It’s up to us. Other people may tell us to stop doing the wrong things we do, but that won’t do us any good. It’s like being told to take a nap when we’re little. We’ll just insist, “I’m not tired”—or “I can handle this.”
Even for all of the encouragement a little child gets from people to take a rest—they finally have to give up and just do it. Nobody can really make them go to sleep…just like nobody can make us stop doing the wrong things we do. We have to come to the point where we respect and fear God’s old and new covenants enough to choose to rest from sin and rest in Christ.
Declaration: I will find new strength by contemplating more about the kinds of rest I need: body, soul, and spirit.
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