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. Hebrews 4:1
In Hebrews 4, Paul talks extensively about the rest of God. What is that rest? How do we know when we enter into that rest? The rest of God is not a sabbatical from working. Yet it is a spiritual rest that comes from trusting Almighty God to sustain us in our weariness by his unfailing love. Puritan commentator John Owen describes that rest as the peace of God. He maintained that the rest of God means freedom from a servile, bondage-like spirit in the worship and service of God. John Owen goes on to say that rest means deliverance from the burden of Mosaic observance. It is the freedom of worship according to the gospel.
I would add, that rest is our willingness to accept God’s will for our lives and to trust Him through our trials. It is finding contentment amid concern and serenity in suffering. That rest is a state of consciousness whereby our heart is freely given to God without preconditions.
We enter into that rest by living a life that is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). Such a life is predicated upon the joy of having a relationship of loving union with God. It is a life of service and surrender to God’s kingdom agenda. The only way to enter into that rest is through faith in Jesus Christ who is “the satisfaction of all our wants, the bread for all our hunger, the light for all our darkness, the strength for our weakness, the medicine for our sickness, the life for our death” (Alexander Whyte).
The Holy Spirit is our spiritual GPS for finding the rest of God. It is the Holy Spirit that ushers us into the presence of God and conforms our hearts to rejoice in the Lord always and let our gentleness be apparent to all (Philippians 4:4-5). It is the Holy Spirit that transforms us by the renewing of our minds so we can leave at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).
I am fascinated by the saints who do not have many material possessions yet abound in grace and in the love of Jesus Christ. These brothers and sisters have such a “beautiful soul” they seek to give from their poverty while many that are rich struggle to give from their abundance. These “beautiful souls” find peace in persecution and purpose in their existential struggles because they abide in the rest of God.
The apostle Paul had such a beautiful soul. That is why he says in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want.” Though Paul was imprisoned, persecuted, stoned, and left for dead, yet he lovingly urged Christians in Rome, to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification” (Romans 14:19).
How do we enter into the rest of God while living busy lives? By avoiding distraction and staying focused on our God-given assignment, and by living to the glory of God. We also have to resist the temptation to define our lives by the accumulation of material things so we can prioritize our investment in the kingdom of God.
Jesus entered into the rest of God by sacrificing his life for humanity. He had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58) and relied on the generosity of several women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities to provide for him out of their resources. Yet He gave His disciples the gift of His peace so they would not be troubled or afraid (John 14:27). Jesus did not say a mumbling word as the Roman soldiers whipped him all night long because He experienced the peace of God. Without Jesus, it is not possible to enter into the rest of God. For, Jesus is the gateway to glory, the pathway to righteousness, and the doorway to God’s eternal rest.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please teach us how to enter into your eternal rest. Please give us serenity as we surrender to your will for our lives.