God promises me rest – what does that mean – how do I enter it (PART 1)
by David Leach
Let’s read Hebrews 4:1-11. In this passage of God’s word, God implores every Christian to enter His rest as a primary purpose of that Christian’s being born again. In these scriptures God identifies His rest as the spiritual equivalent to the Christian of the physical Promised Land to the nation of Israel. God had already delivered Israel out of Egypt via the Red Sea, corresponding to the New Birth of the Christian, when He exhorted them to enter the Promised Land. Israel refused to enter that blessed land when God offered it to them with devastating results to those who refused. A similar choice is before each of us Christians, will we enter God’s rest and be of the fullest use to Him, and enjoy His blessing, or not?
Heb 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His (God’s) rest, let us fear (be afraid to distrust the promise-Amp.) lest any of you seem to have come short of it. (Oh how our God wants us to trust Him. Rest is all about trust and trust works by love, Gal. 5:6 – that is, it works by how much I love Him.)
Our heavenly Father has made a promise to us Christians that we can enter into and live in His rest while we live on the earth. This opening scripture of the fourth chapter of Hebrews asks me, with some urgency and alarm, have I honestly entered into God’s rest (permanently, or have I just been an occasional visitor)?
What exactly is this rest that God promises?
According to Strong’s the word here translated rest is Greek NT word #2663 katapausis (kat-ap'-ow-sis); it is derived from NT word #2664 and means reposing down, i.e. abode: NT word # 2664 is katapauo (kat-ap-ow'-o) from NT # 2596 Kata (down) and NT #3973 Pauo (To stop); and means to settle down, i.e. to colonize, or to cause to desist:
Literally the word rest means to stop working. Stop working what kind of works? The works of the flesh. And what are they? Works that I initiate and carry out independently from God, they can be very gross or they can be very religious but they are neither inspired by nor energized by God, hence they are (spiritually) dead works. When I enter God’s spiritual rest and make my home in Him these dead works have ceased:
Heb 6:1 …Let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Is this then some slothful abandonment of doing any work at all as some have mis-interpreted it to mean? No, on the contrary as Andrew Murray asserts in his exposition on the book of Hebrews (P. 152) “It is a yielding oneself up to the highest level of activity”. But the activities, and they will be abundant, are now strictly led and directed by God, these are what God calls good works (hence they become God works).
2 Cor 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.
God’s promises, like this promise of rest, are useless if not heard and believed in my heart
Heb 4:2 For…the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
(Note: entering God’s rest or the Promised Land is included here as part of
Heb 4:3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest," although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (God’s good works intended for Israel were waiting for them in the Promised Land - Amp. God’s good works are waiting for the Christian, if we enter His rest, but if we don’t those works, touching other lives, won’t be done, to our and their loss)
In these verses God draws a parallel between the people of Israel before they entered the promised land and the Christian who has not yet entered God’s rest. To the Israelites a physical land was promised, an abundant land in which God would defeat all their enemies, supply their every need and be their God. To the Christian still largely living in the flesh, God promises a spiritual land, an abundant land in which God will defeat all his enemies, supply all of his needs and be his God. And the door of entry into both promised lands – the physical and the spiritual – is simply believing and obeying the promise. The Israelites to whom the promise was first made did not enter the land because of unbelief. Today many Christians have not entered God’s rest because of unbelief. As Andrew Murray says in his commentary (P. 145): “Only faith can enter into rest” It works by love.
John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." (and Hebrews chapter 4 is part of His word He has sent)(God’s intent with Israel was always to bring them out of Egypt so that He could bring them into the Promised Land. Likewise His purpose for each Christian is to bring us out of Satan’s Kingdom in order to bring us into His rest, which is His spiritual Kingdom where His will can now be done in us. Does God get angry when His primary plan for His people is defied, by His own people? Oh yes, because now they are no longer available to Him.)
Since in God’s rest all works independent from Him have ceased He calls it a Sabbath
Heb 4:4-8 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works (This is one type of Sabbath and is reflected in the ten commandments) "; And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, Again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts (This is now another type of a Sabbath)." For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day (or another and different Sabbath day – this time a continuous Sabbath- it’s called “Today” and means a continuing “Now” or unbroken “Present” in which our hearts remain always tender to God and so we always hear Him).
Smith Wigglesworth in his devotional for March 8 says “Enter into God’s rest. Oh this is a lovely rest! The whole life is a Sabbath. This is the only life that can glorify God. It is a life...