NOW, let’s get into that rest I’ve been talking about. I am so excited to tell you about this! Like I said when I last posted, it is a place of overwhelming blessing for every believer but requires a lifestyle change in order to access it. I’ve been growing in this lifestyle, getting comfortable with it, and it has definitely been a challenge. However, I simply cannot describe to you how amazed I am at His faithfulness! He is so much better at planning my life than I am!!
Okay, let me calm down so I can type this. I know I directed you to this scripture the last time, but take another look at Hebrews 3:18-4:1. So, we know that there is a rest, but who are the disobedient “they” that the writer is referring to? Well, verses 8 and 9 in this same chapter give us a hint. The writer was referring to the children of Israel who Moses led out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. Let me give you the background story.
Most of us know the story of how Moses convinced Pharaoh to let the enslaved Israelites go after a series of miraculous plagues and led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. Well, in Exodus 16, after they crossed the Red Sea, they faced a wilderness, saw the hopelessness of the situation, and started complaining to Moses about not having food, water, and other comforts. They even told Moses that he should have left them enslaved in Egypt. God heard their complaining and told Moses how He would take care of them. He gave specific instructions: He would send manna from heaven everyday for them to eat, and everyday they were to collect only enough for that day. Now even though God told them that He would take care of them and even how He was going to do it, they still decided that they needed to take matters into their own hands. So, instead of consuming the day’s manna and trusting God would provide for the next day as He promised, they decided to keep some for the next day, you know…just in case. However, the manna that they saved spoiled and couldn’t be eaten. As if this wasn’t bad enough, it gets worse. Since God commanded them to honor the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week, by not working, He told them on the sixth day of the week to collect enough manna for two days so that they would not have to collect or work on the Sabbath This was the special day of each week that they were supposed to rest, and God would ensure that the manna they collected for the seventh day would not spoil. Well, they again decided to do it their way and tried to collect manna on the Sabbath, thereby disobeying and dishonoring God.
I’m sure you can already see where the Israelites went wrong without me even having to type another word, but let me explain something about the Sabbath that God revealed to me. The Sabbath tends to be a very touchy subject for some, especially where I grew up. Being able to participate in the rest is a relational matter and so is being able to participate in the Sabbath. A little history…The idea for the Sabbath was first seen when God rested on the seventh day after spending six days creating the world and all things in it. It is key to keep in mind that His rest was not one of exhaustion, but one of completion. He didn’t rest because He was tired; He rested because he was finished. Everything that was needed and would ever be needed in the earth was considered, accounted for, and finished, EVERYTHING… including our need for a Savior!
Now fast forward to God requiring the Israelites to observe the Sabbath. Why? Why did God want them to do this? Great question! It was a way for them to commemorate their participation in the completely finished work of God, available only to His special people…those whom He chose and who loved and trusted Him (Exodus 31:13). Unfortunately, they were unable to access and enjoy His rest because they didn’t trust Him. As a matter of fact, this generation of Israelites died in the wilderness because of their lack of faith.
So what does this mean for us? Why am I so excited about this rest? The answer is found in Hebrews 4. Why don’t you read it and see what you think? I believe you will begin to get excited as you begin to feel the freedom this rest brings. In the meantime, here’s a preview of verses 9 and 10:
9 So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God; 10 For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors [a]peculiarly His own.