Today, we conclude our consideration of the fourth commandment to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Ex. 20:8). As we do so, we also discover that there is a future and symbolic aspect to this command given on Mt. Sinai. This future rest was made possible by Christ. He provided the once for all sacrifice for sins and then sat down (Heb. 10:12). His work as a result of the cross and the empty tomb makes it possible for us to experience reconciliation and peace with God, independent of our works.
The author of Hebrews couples the original Exodus command with Psalm 95:7-11 to develop his argument. Here are a few thoughts to consider:
- There is an urgency to this rest. The passage repeatedly drives home the fact that one should pursue this rest “as long as it is called ‘today’” (v. 13). It is true that this is not a limited offer that runs out at midnight tonight. It will be just as available tomorrow, but we should be daily admonishing one another to live within that rest. And, if it is available today, why should we keep striving and postpone experiencing it until a future date?
- There are conditions for experiencing this rest. No, the rest is not contingent upon us doing enough to earn it. Still, this passage warns against the dangers of disobedience and unbelief. Lives characterized by those two realities are restless lives. But, the conditions for God’s rest are not perfection. No, they are repentance and faith. Through repentance, we turn our backs on lifestyles once characterized by sin and disobedience. Through faith we open ourselves to the gracious gift of God’s rest.
- There is relief that comes with this rest. In the first creation week, God created for six days and then rested. In a similar way, “anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (Heb. 4:10).
The promise that Jesus gave is still valid. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)
Are you a Jesus follower? Pause now…quit striving…breathe deep…relax in knowing that there is nothing you can do to experience peace with God and the pleasure of God.