4 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” 6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
The Hebrew word Shabbat (sabbath) literally means “rest”. Being physically refreshed is a benefit of God’s rest, but it’s primarily about relationship. Resting in God’s presence. Resting on his love and generosity towards his people: trusting him, enjoying him, leaning into him.
It’s the culmination and purpose of creation, as described in Genesis. The seventh day that uniquely has no end is the open-ended sabbath time of God living in and with his creation, and his creation resting in him.
There are many illustrations of God’s rest. Each week, God’s people would not work to provide what is needed but completely trust God and his generosity. Every seventh year the land would be rested, and freedom would be given to anyone forced into slavery by debt. Israel entering into the promised land was described as entering God’s rest – the place of his presence and promise.
When we put our trust in Jesus, we enter into that sabbath rest relationship with God. But astonishingly, some refused to walk with God into his place of promise. Psalm 95 (quoted here) makes it clear: the problem lies with hard hearts. Disobedience in the things we do is a symptom of hearts that are hard towards God.
So, Hebrews asks me, “How’s your heart? Are you trusting God completely? Is your heart soft enough to hear God’s voice?”
Jesus, I want to walk with you today and every day for the rest of eternity. I want to walk through the hard times into your rest in the place where you are. Soften my heart to hear you. And give me your heart, pleading with all whose hard hearts refuse to step into you and your rest.
Written by David Cornell