An Urgent Rest

Author Marilynne Robinson offers a stunning and succinct summary of the Old Testament in one sentence:  “Stop doing this to yourselves!”  The endless downward spiral of a nation is difficult to read.  The voice of God comes to the people and they disobey.  He forgives and rescues them from their mess — and they rebel again.

The book of Hebrews picks up on this theme in Chapter 3, and last week, we were reminded of the importance of encouragement in preventing the same declension in our own community by holding one another accountable:

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

It is this supporting web of relationship that holds us upright in our life of faith and that strengthens our striving to enter into the rest God offers to those who believe.  Hebrews 3 ends on an ominous note for it was unbelief that kept the people of Israel wandering for forty years.  The message is clear:  Stop doing this to yourself!  Live in faith!  Enter His rest!

The writer of Hebrews gathers up this lesson and carries it into the next chapter.  Notice the “therefore” in Hebrews 4:1.  It was unbelief that kept a whole generation from entering the Promised Land.  “Beware!  Don’t miss this!”

Christ spoke of rest for the believer in Matthew 11:28, an end of the ceaseless striving for righteousness.  John MacArthur describes this rest, this easy yoke, with a five-fold definition.  Rest is:

  1. Ceasing from work or labor;
  2. Freedom from whatever worries or disturbs you;
  3. Being settled, fixed, secure;
  4. Remaining confident, keeping trust;
  5. Leaning.

Each of these facets of rest is visible in the rest that the author of Hebrews urges his readers to secure:

  1.  Put an end to all your strategies for self-salvation.  Stop comparing and concluding that you’re not enough.
  2. Enter the perfect peace that comes with forgiveness.  Understand that you are free from legalistic bondage to appearances. Stop wishing yourself away.
  3. Fix your mind on truth and make your home there.  Let Scripture be your heart’s true north.
  4. Let go of fears that throttle your creativity and your enthusiasm for following God’s call upon your life.
  5. Lean hard.  There is no safer Resting Place.

This is the essence of the Christian life, an hour-by-hour trust in His promises.  Furthermore, it is this perseverance, this faithfulness to ongoing relationship with God, that bears witness to the reality of a believer’s conversion experience, thus putting an end to fear and uncertainty of one’s salvation.

As you read Hebrews 4 this week, rejoice in God’s provision of rest:

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.

Then believe — and enter:

For we who have believed enter that rest.

//

Thanks for joining us in our study of The Epistle to the Hebrews, a letter to a congregation of struggling Jewish Christians written by an unknown author sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  My Sunday school class and I will be landing on a few verses in each chapter with the goal of getting an overview of this fascinating and complex book.  These mid-week reflections and observations are intended to initiate a deeper pondering of the week’s assignment in preparation for our discussion the following Sunday.  It’s not too late to catch up by reading Hebrews 1 -3, and, if you’re interested, last week’s blog post.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

24 thoughts on “An Urgent Rest”

  1. Ah..what a reminder to rest in God..stop all our toil and heartache! I remember not looking forward to my Bible Study on Hebrews, but it proved to be one of the most profound lessons ..I gained so many insights! But the resting is a theme I’ll ponder more in returning to Hebrews! Thank you…visiting today from #TellHisStory!

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  2. This post is particularly significant to me because I was burdened to address a topic, if controversial, in my blog. But the list of five facets of rest speaks succinctly and eloquently to the problem of us forever seeking to be our own savior, our own god, to work out our own salvation with good-for-goodness-sake self-righteousness–a strong message in Hebrews.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like thinking about resting as leaning on God. I’ve never thought of it like that. Good stuff. I’m glad you linked up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, my, I, too, love to study in the book of Hebrews! So deep! When my dear, Godly Papaw came to live with us during the last two weeks of his life, Mom would go in each day to read the Bible to him. She would always ask him where he wanted her to read, and his answer would be the same each day…”somewhere in Hebrews”. He taught the Bible for many, many years, and he discovered such profound truths. Recently, I came across some of his wonderful writings while going through my dear mother’s things. I am forever grateful for my Godly heritage and the love of the truth that was instilled in me. Thank you, Michele, for this wonderful post and for helping me to remember so many precious memories. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stop doing this to yourself! An eye opener for sure, we need to get off the merry go round that keeps us from reaping the benefits that God has for us. I am so thankful for the Resting Place in today’s life. Thanks for sharing this, Michele, and for linking up with Thankful Thursdays.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for these valuable insights into Hebrews. I stumbled upon your blog after clicking on a link over at http://www.janiscox.com and found it very interesting that today of all days you were talking about resting in God and I posted a poem about being still before God. I feel like the Lord is trying to tell me something today.

    Liked by 1 person

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