Hebrews 4:9-13 - Stop Wandering, Start Resting
True Sabbath rest comes by trusting the alive & active Word of God.
Read / Listen
Read Hebrews 4:9-13
CONTEXT: The generation of Israelites who failed to trust God as they crossed the desert ended up losing the true Sabbath rest that God has promised for His people.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 103
Q. What is God’s will for you
in the fourth commandment?
that the gospel ministry
and education for it
and that, especially on
the festive day of rest,
I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people
to learn what God’s Word teaches,
to participate in the sacraments,
to pray to God publicly,
and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.
that every day of my life
I rest from my evil ways,
let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,
and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.
In many ways, one of the greatest tragedies of Adam's fall into sin is that we've lost our ability to enjoy the true Sabbath rest with our Father that we were created for. The Bible, from the end of Genesis 3 onward, is the story of God slowly bringing His people back into this relationship.
Nobody came closer to seeing this goal accomplished than did the Israelites who had been freed from their bondage in Egypt. God spoke directly to them from the mountain, but yet they ran away from His voice and sent Moses up to represent them. God came down and tabernacled amongst them, yet they continued to complain and rebel against Him.
Their ongoing obstinance caused them to miss what God was bringing them towards: Sabbath rest in the Promised Land. Instead, God left them in perpetual labor: always wandering, yet never arriving anywhere.
Although subsequent generations of Israelites ultimately made it to the Promised Land, their ability to enjoy Sabbath rest was thwarted by their inability to fully trust and obey their Father.
But there's still hope. We read here that a true "Sabbath-rest for the people of God" remains. This hope becomes reality when you lay down your 'work' - your frenzied efforts to attain everything yourself - and begin to rest in the completed work of Jesus Christ, who like His Father before Him on the seventh day of creation, has rested from His labor.
The final two verses of this passage, which describe Scripture as being a double edged sword, are quite familiar and are often read on their own, somewhat detached from their context (we also read them earlier this year). But notice today that this double edged sword is the means by which you can enter this promised rest.
This is why every Lord's Day, when the saints gather together for a small foretaste of the true Sabbath rest that Christ attained for us, we spend so much time reading, singing, praying and studying the living and active Word of God. Even though it's not always soothing as "it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges our thoughts and attitudes of our hearts," the Holy Spirit is using it to give us the immediate rest we need each week, and ultimately to bring us into God's eternal Sabbath rest.
So "make every effort to enter that rest." Continue reading scripture every day and gathering with the Saints on the Lord's Day as often as possible.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who is working all things out in order to restore your true Sabbath rest in Him;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that gathering with the saints to experience God's Word will be a top priority in your life;
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 2 Timothy 4