When the Israelites were led into the Promised Land, it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright difficult. They had the promises of God, but they failed time and time again to trust Him. This lack of trust led them to spend forty years wandering the desert. Those who failed to trust God also failed to ever see the Promised Land. It was instead given to their children. In Hebrews 3-4, we read about this very event… only the writer of Hebrews is now using this story as a comparison to what we have in Christ. We have access to God’s rest through Jesus. The question is, will we choose to place our faith in Him… or will we choose to wander?
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Depending on which translation you are reading, Hebrews 4:11 tells us to strive, to labor, or to “do our best” to enter God’s rest. We are called to be diligent and put forth an effort. I don’t know about you, but this feels a bit odd to me. We are called to work at entering God’s rest?
Now, this Scripture isn’t advocating a works-based faith. In context, it is clear throughout the New Testament that salvation is through our faith in Jesus, not our good works. But what it is saying, is that we have to put forth an effort to enter and abide in God’s promised rest. We can’t just pray a prayer and expect perfect peace to come. For the Israelites, entering the Promised Land required both trust and obedience to follow God’s lead… the same is true for us today.
Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest… – Hebrews 4:11
- Work at rest… So what does it really mean to strive at entering God’s rest? In essence, it means that we do our part. You see, when God gave Israel the Promised Land, He didn’t hand it to them on a silver platter. They had to follow Him into the desert. They had to trust Him each and every day to provide their meals and to protect them. And they had to go to war and face enemies, trusting that God would be by their side in battle. Every time they chose to trust God, He proved His faithfulness.
Have you done your part to enter God’s rest? Have you made the choice to follow Jesus and entrust your life to God?
- Work in rest… Now, this is the hard part. There are numerous promises found throughout the Bible for God’s people. Healing, peace, joy, and strength… just to list a few. But daily living in these promises is a choice. And trust me when I say that the enemy is quick to try and convince you that these promises don’t belong to you. (But never forget that they do!)
- Work from rest… Once you begin to daily abide in God’s rest, it becomes second nature. Work no longer feels like work because you are working from a place of rest. This was always God’s intention for us… to be so at rest in Him that His peace rules in our lives no matter what circumstance the world throws our way.
Entering God’s rest isn’t enough. He longs for us to live there… to abide in His peace each and every day of our lives.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.