There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…
– Hebrews 4:9-11
This letter covers two months, mainly because, like everyone, I need a rest, and we’re off on holiday in August. But a holiday, or a rest, really doesn’t have much effect if you carry a workload with you when you go! I can well-remember my Dad coming back late from the office the night before a family holiday, and Mum and Dad up ‘till the small hours packing, which meant that they were tired on holiday!
When we take a break, it actually requires some effort to make it a restful experience, rather than a stressful one. We have to plan – in my case, are sermons ready for my return, and who will feed my fish? Sometimes, the effort of packing bags and travelling makes us wonder if it was worth it!
The principle of rest, and change, is God-given. God did not need to rest on the seventh day, as recorded in the book of Genesis. He did it to set a pattern, an example, for man who is made in His image. Those who deviate from God’s plans, and try to work every day, soon come unstuck. We all need to rest.
But our passage this month, from Hebrews, is not speaking primarily about physical rest, or resting on a particular day. It is speaking to us about resting in Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour, and He calls to everyone ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest’. (Matt 11.28) But what kind of ‘rest’ is it that He offers?
Our chosen passage helps us here – it tells us that whoever has entered the rest Jesus Christ offers us has ‘ceased from his works’ just like God did in creation. What does it mean to rest in Christ? It means that we stop trying to please God with our own works. It means that we stop trying to earn God’s favour by what we do, and we realise that cannot earn or deserve the salvation He offers us. We must rest in Christ alone – that is, we must trust in Christ alone.
We’ve recently begun to sing a hymn, which begins: ‘My faith has found a resting-place’. Have you trusted in Christ for eternal life? I hope and pray that it is so, and that as you rest your body and mind on summer holiday, that you would rest your never-dying soul upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. As our text says, may you all ‘be diligent to enter that rest’.