A Rest for the People of God2
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.Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
- Hebrews 4:9-11
Rest requires effort. Rest is not passive. Rest is active and rewarding. And when our restless souls find their rest in God, we thrive.
In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews weaves together the strands we’ve been looking at throughout the week: the commandments about Sabbath, the narrative of the Exodus, and link between God’s creative work and our rhythms of rest. Like the rest of the book of Hebrews, this is dense and masterful writing. While we won’t unpack all of it, it could be helpful to key in on a few phrases.
First, note that the Sabbath-rest is for the people of God. Next week we’ll look at this principle in more depth, but at the moment we want to observe that the Sabbath is a gift and a blessing for us, not a burden on us.
Second, pay attention to the paradox of “rests from their works” and “make every effort to enter that rest.” This tension between work and rest isn’t resolved by naysaying or denigrating work. Effort is wonderful, in its place.
Finally, take a look at the consequences of failing to enter into the Sabbath-rest. We’re told that this is a form of “disobedience” (which means it damages relationship) which causes people to “perish” (which means it damages life). The struggle to wrestle room for rest into our regular rhythms is an important one.
After reflecting on rest throughout this week and so far this series, what advice would you give to a friend who is restless?