Rest in Christ

Hebrews 4:2, For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

Who is “them”? In context, the author is referring to the Israelites (3:16-17). The author cites Psalm 95:7-11, “Today, if you hear [God’s] voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah… Therefore, I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest'” (vv. 7-8, 11 in 3:7-11). Meribah, also called Massah, is one place where the Israelites questioned God’s presence and providence (Exodus 17:1-7). It is because of such lack of trust—lack of faith—that the Israelites did not enter the Promised Land until much later, i.e. God’s rest. They did not believe God, so they did not enter His rest (3:19-4:2). We hear the same good news as them—the gospel of Christ and eternal rest found in Him.

Are we like the unbelieving Israelites? Not unbelief as in atheism, but rather unbelief as in not believing God’s promises. Perhaps it seems too good to be true—that God sent His only Son in order that whomever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Indeed, it might even sound absurd! Perhaps it is. It is absurd that God sent His only Son to die on our behalf. But He did.

It is one thing to believe this good news, but it is another thing entirely to believe it is true for you. That was me for so many years. I believed it, but I couldn’t believe it was true for me. “I’m such a bad sinner,” I told myself. “How could God forgive me?” What rubbish and blasphemy! God has accomplished His salvific promise in Christ; He accomplishes this in me by my faith. Only until I truly trusted in this Word could I find God’s rest.

That ability to trust, my friends, is an artwork only the Holy Spirit can perform in you. Through conviction and deliverance, He did His work in me. He will do His work in you, too, as He wills if you cannot believe this good news for you like I once did. If you have faith, He will bring you rest. Most especially, we will have eternal rest in Jesus Christ our Lord.

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