There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9-10 (NIV)
Hebrews 4:11 says, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” Sounds like we have to work hard not to work hard! It’s true. Giving in to the pressure to constantly do something and go somewhere is easier initially than choosing to forget what needs to be done and resting. Our To Do lists can be formidable. It takes longer and longer just to list everything, much less find time to do what’s on the list.
The word used in Hebrews 4 is katapausis which means “a putting to rest; a calming of the winds.” Both definitions require an action: “putting” and “calming.” We can’t calm the winds like Jesus did (Mark 4:37-39), but we can put to rest our frenzied way of life.
How do we find time to rest, to pray, or meditate on God’s Word? We give our To Do list to God and ask Him to separate what needs to be done from what needs to be done by me. We can delegate tasks such as setting and clearing the table, loading and unloading the dishwasher, taking the garbage out to others in our household. We may need to enlist others to help us with work and ministry obligations.
Things that demand our time and effort may seem urgent, but are they important? Are they crowding out something much more important? Pressing needs surrounded Jesus, yet He went off by himself to pray–regularly. A great number of people lay by the pool of Bethesda; Jesus healed one. Crowds thronged around Him, but just the woman who touched the hem of his garment was healed.
Sometimes we need to focus on the needs of one person instead of the needs of many people. Jesus often sent the crowds away, so He could talk to a few disciples. We may need to send the crowds away–crowds of people or crowds of thoughts–and actively seek the rest that only God can bring.
Read Matthew 11:28-29. What do we have to do in order to find rest?
First John 5:3 says that God’s commandments are not burdensome, yet so often we work hard to try to overcome sin in our lives. What overcomes the world according to 1 John 5:4?
Read Hebrews 3:8-11. Why was God so angry with the Israelites (except Joshua and Caleb) that He wouldn’t allow them to enter his rest–here represented by the Promised Land? How is this a warning to us?
Read Exodus 20:8-11. What two things did God instruct the Israelites to do to make the seventh day, the Sabbath, different from the other days? Is Sunday just another day of the week for you? How would our lives be different if we obeyed this commandment?
Nancy J. Baker