Hebrews 3:18 – 19
So many things have been said and taught about God’s Rest; some have defined it as getting to a state in life where all your needs are met and little or nothing is required by the individual, the so many desires (as in the car he wants to drive, the house he would like to live in, and the comforts of life we can think of materially. The man who has all he has ever desired for in life can be said to have entered into REST by this same dogma. To the one who has not yet acquired the goodies in this life, the task of acquiring the goodies becomes his only desire and by passion he pursues these things having a vision of entering into the REST of God.
The above has further become part of the many reasons why people attend Church services. This is because they have been sold a product and the main focus of such individuals is fixed on what was projected in the product displayed. Majority of the people who go to Church today have done so because they have been told that when they come to God, they will prosper materially and financially; some have problems with childbirth and therefore must look for a leader who has declared himself an anointed man with a strong anointing for healing. There are many more examples of the said “products” advertised by the many Christians Churches all around.
The question we can therefore ask at this juncture is, “Does the Bible agree with this definition of God’s Rest?” Is this the same rest the writer of the Epistles to the Hebrews mentioned? We can only go back to the scriptures to find this out, and then as a reader you can make your judgment on what the Rest of God is.
What is Rest?
According to the English definition of rest, it gives a sense of ceasing from work or from any kind of toil. It means there is a stop to what one was doing when physical effort is applied. If we therefore have to apply this to God, it means to come to a complete stop when we look at self-effort in Salvation. In other words, Salvation cannot be gained by human endeavor, so Paul stated categorically that it is not of works so that nobody would be able to boast.
This is the reason the writer of the Book of Hebrews went back into history about the past patriarchs and how they failed to enter into the Promised Land and compared it to the present time as an example to follow. The writer declared that they did not enter into God’s rest because of unbelief. In the Old Testament, work and self-effort was required to stay free from the penalty of sin but in the New Testament, it’s a new idea. Jesus mentioned that those who believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
Rest means freedom from the worries of this world. We are subjected to so many challenges and so many of us are engaged in this issue of worry and how things would get better. It is very natural to worry and besides we are such emotional creatures but it is also very important that we don’t become a subject of our worries. If we apply this to God, it means getting to that place where we have absolute peace and tranquility with Him because we have decided to put our trust in Him. It is not what we do or the solutions that we proffer that should bring the peace but an absolute trust in the sovereignty of God is sufficient.
Rest means to be settled, stable and secure. Many a times we are overwhelmed with the troubles and sadness of life: we may have just lost our jobs, we may have just lost a loved one et al, and the many philosophical, psychological, social and moral ideas begin to present themselves to us, we are found lost in so many thoughts and are confused because there are many unstoppable ideas flowing through our minds. When you are secure in what you know and you refuse to accept the various ideas, you are said to be stable, settled and secured. When we apply this to God, it means we refuse to be thrown here and there by the ideas fixing our gaze on what God has said in His Word.
The Israelites saw all the mighty works that God did, they saw how God took them out of Egypt, how God destroyed the Egyptians to the extent that there was a song in their mouths (Israelites). They sang about the fact that God had helped them to triumph, throwing the horses and their riders into the sea. When they came to a place where they needed water, rather than continue to walk with God or trust and believe in the same God who brought them out of Egypt, they decided to do otherwise and this simple act was the reason why they didn’t enter into Canaan (the Promised Land or the Rest of God).
Rest also means to depend on. As far as God is concerned, He wanted the Israelites to rely and depend on Him but the reverse was the case. When you continue to depend on God, you can be assured that God isn’t like man who fails. God never fails. He is with you when you go through the trials, the furnace, the setbacks, the persecution; He promised and said He would never leave or forsake His own. He is our refuge; our fortress and our very present help in time of trouble. To depend on our own abilities is to become independent of God with chaos waiting for us at the end of the road.
The Greeks call REST, Katapausis. It means reposing down, abode, and God’s heavenly rest. This is the REST promised to his audience as the writer pens down the Book of Hebrews. It is the REST promised by God to all who will respond positively to the message of the Gospel. To enter into God’s REST is to accept and believe in Jesus and the work He came to do: His death, burial and resurrection. A refusal to respond positively to the message of the Gospel puts us in the same boat like the Israelites who did not get into Canaan because of unbelief.
This is God’s REST; it is not materialism or what have we. It is accepting Jesus into our lives as Lord and Savior. Our salvation is now seen like the groom who makes a down payment for his bride knowing that he would come back for her on that set day. When you give your life to Christ, you become saved and that is the guarantee that the Groom would come back for you because you have become His bride. While He prepares to come back, the Spirit of God is preparing you for His coming. In other words, you are saved, you are being saved and eventually you are going to be saved.
Entering into His Rest is Salvation of your souls.
“It is a vain idea of ours, to suppose that if our circumstances were altered we should be more at rest. My brother, if you cannot rest in poverty, neither would you in riches; if you cannot rest in the midst of persecution, neither would you in the midst of honor. It is the spirit within that gives the rest, that rest has little to do with anything without” – C.H Spurgeon