that the King of Glory may come in."
4:1. Therefore let us fear, since we still have the promise of entering into His rest, lest any of you should be found to come short of it.
Promises are wonderful things, particularly when we know that the one who has made the promise is reliable. They offer us hope, a point of focus, something to look forward to. When they are accompanied by a condition, they can also give us a means of motivation: if I just stick to this course, I know I will receive the thing that I have been promised.
When a promise is given by someone reliable, it is far more than just wishful thinking. It carries a certainty. This will definitely happen (as long as we meet the conditions.) That is the kind of promise we have concerning God’s rest. There is no “might” or “maybe” about it. God has said unequivocally that His rest is there and available to us, if only we will meet the conditions and enter in.
The rest that is available to us in Christ is not just the rest of one day a week set aside from work. Of course, the principle that our bodies and minds were not designed to work non-stop without a rest is still true, and one day “off” in every seven is the thing that works best for us. However, the rest that God has for us is far greater than that.
It is even greater than the rest of entering into a “land of milk and honey” – a place of God’s abundant provision and blessing in the natural. Even if the people of Israel had obeyed God and gone in to take possession of the Promised Land when they first had the opportunity, that in itself was only a picture of the far greater rest that God was promising to His people.
In Christ, God offers us rest from all our own efforts: our own efforts for salvation, our own efforts for living, our own efforts for holiness. He sends us His Spirit to live within us. All we need to do is to rest in Him, and allow Him to live His life through us. He invites us to a place of absolute peace, where all our needs are supplied in Him. And because the promise comes from One who is absolutely faithful, we know that it is no mere fantasy. It is real, it is certain, and God holds out His hand inviting us to “come on in!”
Yet as much as promises are wonderful things, they can also be fearful things. Think of people you have known who, in their youth, displayed amazing promise. It was easy to look at them and see the future doctor, or statesman, or great author or architect. Loaded with natural ability and charisma, they seemed to have everything going for them.
Then something went wrong. Maybe they dropped out of school and got lost in the world of drugs. Maybe they started on the road to their future, but a couple of failures along the way knocked them off the path and they gave up. Maybe they simply made a series of wrong choices. One way or another, all that promise was never realized. And as you look at their lives today, the only thing you can think is “what a waste!” So much that could have been, but never was: not because the potential was not there, but because they had never really taken hold of that promise and determined to make it their own. As a result, both they and all those around them – and possibly, many others throughout the world – have missed out on what they could have had.
On the other hand, think of those through history who have lived up to the promise in their lives: great scientists, doctors, artists, musicians, statesmen. What if they had failed to enter into the promise that was theirs? How much poorer would the world have been without Lincoln, or Mozart, or Einstein, or Wesley?
If we fail to enter the rest that God has for us, the loss is every bit as great, both for ourselves and for those who are influenced by us. The people of Israel failed to enter because of their unbelief and disobedience. To take hold of God’s promise, and enter His rest, we simply need to reverse that: we need to believe and obey.
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