So we see that because of their (the Moses led, wandering Israelites) unbelief they were not able to enter his rest... God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them (the old testament Hebrews). But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,“In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. Hebrews 3:19; 4:1-3
I love the book of Hebrews and have traveled it's well worn pages many times. Yet finding rest bold and inviting among it's words is new to me. Faith, mediation, old and new covenants, torn veils, sacrifice, priesthood, blood, on and on and yet I don't think I would have added rest to the list of truths. Until now. The word has been whispered across my heart of late, REST, enter my presence for rest. Be with me, to rest. Believe, all of who I am, what I've promised, and in the believing find rest. Today.
The directness of the statement "the promise of entering his rest still stands" astounds me. It links us to those journeying Israelites wandering through the dessert, a journey that should have taken weeks instead of years. All because of unbelief. How many of us wander for a life span through our own desserts of unbelief, seeking rest and finding none. God says it need not be. "For only we who believe can enter his rest." It's there waiting, it always has been, for those pilgrims thousands of years ago. For us as pilgrims today.
"Some of you might fail to experience it" yes that should cause us to tremble in fear. Certainly the risk of being separated from God eternally is an implication, to never believe God is the source of soul rest is to never receive. Yet the author is addressing believers in the church. Could it be what makes his heart tremble is a person who has believed Jesus for salvation but hasn't entered into the rest of it, now. Is it possible the "fail to experience it" of verse one is referring to Christians who have not entered fully the rest God has for us in him for this life.
Many truths of the bible can be understood this way. Eternal life is for us now, the knowing of God is life; but also for later, the completely restored life on the other side of the grave. Holiness is for God's people now, it's commanded for this life; but we know we will never be completely holy until we've been glorified, having been consumed by his holiness in his very presence. The Kingdom of God is both a now and later, has come and is coming. So too I believe is rest. It is possible for our hearts in the midst of this turbulent world to know rest, and yet it's a foretaste of the great exhale of permanent Jesus rest that's coming.
It was giants that kept the Israelites from entering their place of rest, had they faced them with belief in God's promise of deliverance they would have entered the land of rest in a matter of weeks. What giants are you facing that threaten your rest? God's promise of rest still stands, good news for you and me, prepared and announced, waiting from the beginning of time. Believe. Will you go in?