“…for Good News has also been proclaimed to us, just as it was to them. But the message they heard didn’t do them any good, because those who heard it did not combine it with trust. For it is we who have trusted who enter the rest….” (Hebrews 4: 2, 3a)
Wow! Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Who doesn’t want to hear Good News and who doesn’t want it to pertain to them? And especially now, in these days, doesn’t rest seem promising in this ever-so-fast-paced world? But this joyful hope is actually wedged between some not so joyful thoughts. This is actually wedged in a warning.
What’s the warning? Well, in chapter 3, Paul was reminding everyone of the attitude of the Israelites in the desert with Moses. How they had the promise and presence of God and yet they didn’t trust Him. They kept wanting things their own way, or the old way, and they kept complaining and grumbling against Him. They had this kingdom planned for them, this rest that You, God, had prepared for them right around the corner, really, but because of disobedience and unbelief, they had to wander in a wilderness for 40 years! And most of them never got to experience the rest that You, God, wanted them to enter from the start. You hadn’t wanted them to wait 40 years for it. And it wasn’t that they didn’t know about it. They knew everything that was required to enter that rest, but they disregarded it all. They exempted themselves.
So Paul warns us about exempting ourselves. Verse 4:1 starts with “Therefore, let us be terrified of the possibility that, even though the promise of entering His rest remains, any one of you might be judged to have fallen short of it.” Ooooh! That hurts! Because it’s not just about having the Gospel preached in my hearing. It’s not just about the hearing of the Truth. Because so many Jews in the wilderness heard, but they didn’t respond rightly. They heard, but it didn’t do them any good. Why? Because if we don’t hear and combine it with trust, it’s just words. When I take Your words, Lord, and I combine them with trust, it becomes power. Because then I become an instrument of Your power.
Think about it. Twelve men went to spy the promised land. Ten came back telling stories of the giants and how they would be defeated because the “power” of the people there was so great. Two men came back and said, “God is bigger! He can defeat giants! This is no problem for Him!” Ten men trusted in their own strength and the strength of other men. Two men combined what they had already learned of You, Lord, and Your promises, with trust. And that brings another thought to mind.
What thought is that, you might ask? That I think that Joshua and Caleb, our two spies who trusted You, Lord, had already begun entering Your rest. Wait a minute! They didn’t get to enter the promised land until 40 years later! Maybe not physically, but I think that when you see giants and you can say, “No problem. No worries. God is going to handle this for us,” then I think that’s a state of rest in itself. I’d call that resting in the Lord, and it only comes with a committed trust in His every word and every part of His being.
Now here’s the other sandwich end of Paul’s words for us today. “For it is we who have trusted who enter the rest.” I’m stopping here for a minute because as I read that, it’s not telling me that we who have trusted will one day enter the rest. It’s telling me that we enter it. When I knock on a friend’s door and they open it and invite me in and I step inside, I enter their house. I don’t wait ten minutes or ten years before I enter. It’s something I do now.
I’m going to jump back to Matthew and share something that You, said, Jesus. You were talking to a young man who asked how he could have eternal life. But You refocused his thinking and ours by Your response. Here’s what You said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17 NASB) First, You focussed on entering into life, not even looking ahead to eternal life. And this entering is a verb form that is something that has already been started. And another word You choose to use is this particular word for wish.
Oh, let me go into a little more detail here. This wish is “thelo” in Greek, It’s a desire or wish. So is the word “boule.” They both mean to desire and wish something and to plan. But there is a great difference. “Thelo” makes sure it happens; “boule” does not make sure it is accomplished. Sounds like You are pointing this young man and us to a faith that acts upon what it knows. Faith isn’t just wishing I would be a better wife or a better husband or wishing I would have greater faith. Faith is applying what I know so that it is coming to pass in my life.
But that’s not all. There’s that word “eiserchomai” for entering in. And the young man wants to enter into eternal life one day in the future. But Jesus is using this verb tense that’s saying that life has already been entered. What? You mean I’m supposed to be concerned with how I live now? This is the life I’m to be living for You? Is it really my desire to live and bring about life? Really? Well, I’m are already in it? What am I doing with it? Am I livingYou out in it? Is my life a portrayal of Your words? You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Is that what my life looks like? I‘ve got all the words I need. Am I living them out in obedience, in faith? Because to live in You, to live in Your words, that’s what life is all about.
And so I come to the rest of verse 3. “It is just as He said, ‘And in my anger, I swore that they would not enter my rest.’ He swore this even though His works have been in existence since the founding of the universe.” But I can’t stop here because I need to go on to verse 6 and 7. Listen, Heart. “Therefore, since it still remains for some to enter it, and those who received the Good News earlier did not enter, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David, so long afterwards, in the text already given, ‘Today, if you hear God’s voice, don’t harden your hearts.'”
What does all this mean, Lord? Maybe, that believing is living it out in life right now. What if I was so concerned with living every moment for You that I really didn’t even have time to dwell on Heaven? Would that really be so bad? I mean, what if I was living out Your word in my life moment by every moment? What if I was seeing giant after giant all around me and it wasn’t phasing me because I trusted Your words to me so much, I knew that You would defeat every one as long as I committed my ways to You and followed Your leading? I mean, I have so many giants surrounding me right now but I’m going to choose to trust You and go on waiting for that moment when You will defeat them. You know, I don’t have this down pat, Lord. But I’m learning to turn from my ways and trust in You more and more every moment.
Lord, I’m not the only one who needs to live in Your rest now. We all need it. And we can’t wait until heaven. And I’m so glad that You don’t intend for us to wait that long to rest in You. You are our rest. You established Yourself as our rest when You created the universe. Your works and Your rest have existed for us since then. Today I can enter into that rest. But that today actually started so long ago. How many days will I choose to pass up on Your rest? I don’t want to pass up on any more. And I pray that no matter the situation going on in my life or anyone else’s out there, that no matter how big the giant or how many, that we would live in Your rest by faith in action. May Your word and You live through us and may we give You and Your word every opportunity through faith. I’m so glad Your today started before mine and that I get to live in Your today forever!