A Deeper Rest

The commandment that God gives Israel to keep the Sabbath day holy is familiar to many of us.

But in Hebrews 4, God tells the early Jewish Christian community that Sabbath still stands:

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
— Hebrews 4.9-10

The author of Hebrews has been encouraging his audience to persevere in their faith. In the same way as Israel took their eyes off God and his gracious provision in the wilderness, the same warnings are held out to them that their rest may be in jeopardy.

We are not just told that finding rest in God is a good idea. We are commanded to do it.

Ultimately, I believe the kind of rest Hebrews is speaking about is eternal rest. The message to not fall away from the faith is strong, and so we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

If an eternity free of crying and pain is our promised eternal rest, then I believe this also increases our opportunities for rest in this life.

When our lives are hectic, when our minds are cluttered and when we believe the lie that we can achieve rest if we just work hard enough, we fail to find peace.

Hebrews 4 tells us to rest just as God rested on the seventh day.

When God rests, I don’t believe it’s because he’s tired. I believe it’s because he’s satisfied. God isn’t in bed sleeping, he’s in an armchair looking out at his creation and delighting in the fact that it is very good.

In the same way, God’s promised eternal rest reminds us that when all is said and done, if this life doesn’t go according to plan, we have not been forgotten.

We can take rest from our works in this life because we see that the world will keep on spinning even if we stop. The earth does not rotate on our own axis, but on God’s.

When we find rest in God, the Christian does not just enjoy a better life to come. They enjoy a better life now. What does ‘better’ mean? Not necessarily richer or more prosperous. No, we are assured of something far greater. Instead of happiness we find joy and contentment that transcends our current circumstances. If we are sad, depressed, lonely or despondent we are not destroyed because we have a deeper reality. We are headed towards God’s final rest and so we can find rest in the midst of the struggles of the every day.

When we are restless, we keep our eyes fixed on God and in this we find a rest that is deeper than any other.

Chris Cipollone