REST: IT’S ESSENTIAL ACTIVITY!
By Henry Jaegers
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor, therefore, to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Hebrews 4: 10,11)
In chapter 3 we have the illustration given of Israelites who failed to believe the word of God and rested in their own inability to do God's work. God brought them out of Egypt with the purpose of bringing them into a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses believed his commission and was faithful to the Lord but those who followed him were not fully convinced.
They started out well and the journey was long as they obeyed God. But their inability to go forth into the land under the guidance of God fell short of true faith. They were comfortable to send forth twelve spies into the land and get a report from them. The sending forth of the spies was an accommodation aloud because of their lack of trust in God to keep his word. In other words, these spies were their representation of their unbelief. If the spies failed, then the people could put the blame on them and not accept the responsibility coming from their false reports.
But the failure of the ten spies was just a confirmation of their original unbelief and by listening to their report, they failed to enter into the promised land. The promise of the land flowing with milk and honey was the rest that God promised and through their failure to believe God, they suffered the consequences of unbelief.
These are set forth to us as an example of being content with the way things are and never fully entering into the full blessing that God has provided for us as we journey forth. This is the background for which our verses proceeds. It begins by telling us "let us labor to enter into that rest".
This tells us first, of the importance God places on our desire to do so. It also admonishes us to persevere in spite of the seeming obstacles. When our focus is on the difficulties and we spend too much time contemplating our natural inabilities, it is not long before we find our progress coming to a halt. Now, what does “let us labor to enter into that rest”? It seems that labor is a contradiction to resting and in most cases that is so. But the idea is that we should never give up in our pursuits in achieving the best that God has for us to experience. We might say that laboring is the means employee n pursuing after our goal. It means that we are to give diligence, making that rest our ultimate purpose for living.
The verse suggests that there are obstacles that we must overcome and with God's help we can. But the problem is that we often try to do God's will using our own intellects and natural abilities to achieve it.
I have discovered that people with the temperament that strives to see results, have the most difficult time trusting God. I myself know of that tendency and I understand how long it takes for God to get through to us. Sometimes our natural temperaments get in the way of trusting God. Jacob had a problem with this often until that night when the angel wrestled with him and left him clinging rather than conquering. And so, it often is with us.
Satan is always at hand to throw in the obstacles. We see clearly in the book of Ezra as the people believe the lies of Satan and concluded because of the difficulties, it must not be the time. God promised to go before them and make the way and all they had to do was venture forth in faith, taking him at his word. There were so many illustrations of this previously in their history out of Egypt, yet they chose to believe and act upon the lie which came out of their imaginations.
So, how does this admonition from God apply to us, who are followers of Christ our great commander and example? The Holy Spirit, who is the great enabler, goes before us (like the cloud in the wilderness) and all we have to do is trust. It sounds so easy. But the life of faith always has to contend with the inner man and the tempter from without, who always places a drag in our efforts to pursue after righteousness. Sometimes trusting God involves failure, disappointment, misunderstanding, and discouragement. One would think that this was reason enough not to trust God. But these difficulties instead of being obstacles must be viewed as obstacles in the race that may slow us down but if we do not give up, we shall find the rest that God promised.
Believing God is the first step but the final step is the step where we come to the place where we unflinchingly trust God to carry us through. True faith involves perseverance, strain, hardship, sorrows; These all compose the trial of our faith which enables us to come out victoriously. These are all the trials that make us stronger, leading us to our final rest in him.