By Bob Hoekstra
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed 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. For we who have believed do enter that rest. (Hebrews 4:1-3)
Through the promises of God, spiritual rest can be experienced by all who believe. Initially, those who believe enjoy rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin. Additionally, those whose faith embraces more of the promises of God can enjoy rest from carnal striving and worldly indulgence.
When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they had rest from the bondage they had known there. This pictures our rest from sin and guilt. Yet, the Lord had more rest to share with His people. He wanted to give them rest from the barrenness of wilderness striving that lay between Egypt and the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. This pictures our rest from fleshly striving in doubt and disobedience by drawing upon the riches that are ours in Christ.
The Israelites wandered through the wilderness in hardness of heart for forty years. All of that generation (except Joshua and Caleb) missed the additional rest that God wanted them to experience. "Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest' " (Hebrews 3:10-11). They were out of Egypt, but they would not enter into the Promised Land.
Are we entering into the additional rest that God has for us? "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it." The Promised Land is a picture of the abundant spiritual life (not a picture of heaven - - no battles or failures in heaven). This additional rest is what Jesus offers to all who believe in Him. "I have come that they may have life (eternal life, forgiven of sin), and that they may have it more abundantly (richness of life, growing in practical righteousness)" (John 10:10). This abundant life is enjoyed by faith in the word of God, as it describes the riches that are ours in Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). Will we take the Lord at His word and believe that we might enter in? "For we who have believed do enter that rest." Israel did not believe, so they did not enter in. "The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."
Dear Lord, I thank You for giving me rest from sin and guilt, simply by trusting in Your promises. Now, I ask for new measures of additional rest from barrenness and striving, simply by trusting in Your promises of abundant life, in Jesus name, Amen.