Monday, May 16, 2005

A rest for the people of God

Man was not made for the Sabbath day, but the Sabbath day was made for man. It is a good thing that we need not work 7 days a week to feed ourselves and our families. It seems to me, that the Sabbath day was a very practical thing as well as a foreshadowing of things to come. It remains that same thing today with some of the shadow removed.
Hebrews 4:9There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

Hebrews has a lot to say about entering into the rest of God. The author goes to great length to argue that Caanan was not the promised rest of God and that keeping the Sabbath on Saturday is not what the promised rest was all about. Those things merely pointed to the real rest. Hebrews 4:9 is the culmination of that argument; there remains a rest for the people of God. Joshua did not give it to them, and neither did Moses. Not even David gave Israel the real rest. Caanan pointed to the real rest with God--when Christ would come and the elect would be justified and eventually glorified. Calvin seems to say the same thing:
“for it is certain that [the Jews] looked higher than to that land; nay, the land of Canaan was not otherwise so much valued except for this reason, because it was an image and a symbol of the spiritual inheritance. When, therefore, they obtained possession of it, they ought not to have rested as though they had attained to the summit of their wishes, but on the contrary to meditate on what was spiritual as by it suggested. They to whom David addressed the Psalm were in possession of that land, but they were reminded of the duty of seeking a better rest.”

The next verse in Hebrews presents an interesting consideration. “11Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” This seems counter-intuitive to me. How can I labor to enter into a rest? I believe that is because this is a different kind of rest. This rest is from our own works and for the purpose doing the works of God. When we stop doing our own works and believe God, then we enter the rest of God. Perhaps “stop doing our own works” deserves some qualification though; we need to stop trying to earn our salvation by keeping the law. The law condemns people it; can’t justify them. We need to stop trusting our own works for salvation and lean on Christ for only he saves. This is the Christian’s rest!


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