Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. (Hebrews 4:1-2)
Too often Christians are terrific at leisure but lousy at resting. Why? One reason may be because Western culture places a high premium on the relentless pursuit of higher and higher levels of success and prosperity. Even our leisure is full of “pursuits” and a desire to improve and achieve. And underneath this lies the affliction of every culture: our alienation from the God who created us and made us both to work and to rest.
When sin entered the world, rest eluded mankind. Whatever else you might say about humanity, it is undeniable that we are not marked by tranquility or restfulness. Leisure is not rest if you have worked so hard to achieve only a few moments of peace or if you fill your leisure time with things to do. Surely there is something more God desires.
God offers a rest that soothes our souls. Soul-rest flows from a life surrendered to Him in faith. When the dust of death, which came from sin, settled upon humanity, we could no longer enjoy the deeper rest God intended. We need a new creation—and this is exactly what God has provided! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In creation God established the principle of physical rest, and in redemption He established the possibility of perfect spiritual rest. Yet even so, people of all walks of life—even some professing Christians—insist on living their lives with a disregard for God. They spurn His invitation to rest their souls, remaining only hearers of the word but not doers (James 1:22), and then they hope to enter into their rest when they die. The Bible holds out no hope for such an approach to life. Just as the Israelites in the wilderness found God’s promises of no benefit because they failed to believe them, we similarly can’t expect to know God’s gift of soul-rest, in this life or in the one to come, if we continue in our own faithless striving.
Thankfully, everything resolves in Jesus. He cuts through the facade of empty religious pretense and desperate worldly striving and offers us a gracious invitation: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). This is a rest that we enjoy even as we work, a rest that enables us truly to rest from our work, and a rest that we will one day enjoy fully, finally, and eternally in His presence.
Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life: 365 Daily Devotions by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.