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MM00075 A promise of rest

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Mentoring Manna:  A promise of rest

© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell



Hebrews 4:1-2  “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”  From the beginning of creation, God has provided a rest for man.  God created the earth in six days and on the seventh day He rested. Man was created on the sixth day as the crowning seal of God’s creation.  God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it He rested from all His work that He had created and made.[1] Even the work of man’s redemption was considered finished in the heart and mind of God.[2]

The first full day of man’s existence was a day of rest.  God did not create man on the first day to be an assistant in His creation.  No, God did the work and then provided for man to enter into His rest.  Unlike the other six days of creation that had an evening and morning, the ending of the seventh day is never mentioned.  The unclosed seventh day in Genesis may highlight God’s provision of continual rest. Adam and Eve fell short of God’s rest because of unbelief leading to disobedience and, as a result, were expelled from the Garden of Eden.  Adam forfeited God’s rest and was condemned to work by the sweat of his face.[3] 

The Book of Hebrews was written to encourage Jewish believers in Jesus. Because of the intense persecution and hardships resulting from their faith in Christ, some believers were leaving Christ in order to return to Judaism.  The writer of Hebrews used the example of the Israelites in the wilderness to warn them of such a choice.  The Israelites in Moses’ day were given the promise of rest in the land promised to Abraham.  Those who believed and obeyed God’s word through Moses experienced salvation through the blood of the Passover and deliverance through the baptism of the Red Sea.[4]  They began their journey toward rest, but then fell short of reaching it while in the wilderness. Rather than remaining firm in their faith that God would give them what He had promised, they fell into unbelief because of adversity and, as a result, they disobeyed God. In doing so, the Israelites fell short of God’s rest and perished in the wilderness.

The writer of Hebrews warned Jewish believers not to follow the same example of unbelief in departing from the living God.[5]  If they did, they also would come short of God’s rest.  Those who enter God’s rest are those who believe.[6] Belief is more than mental assent to a fact.  True belief is followed by corresponding actions.  Corresponding action is called “obedience.”  A person who truly believes Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, will demonstrate through his or her obedience to Christ that their faith is real.

How can we fall short of God’s rest?  It is through unbelief and disobedience.  How do we enter His rest?  It is through faith and obedience.  It is not through our works.  It is through faith in the finished work of God in Christ on our behalf.  Jesus Christ is our Sabbath rest.  When we put our faith in Him and follow Him with corresponding obedience, we will experience His rest---evidenced by His peace, love, and joy---in our lives.

Application:  Many fail to experience God’s rest because they live in a state of unbelief and disobedience.  They have no peace, they do not feel God’s love, and they have no joy in their lives. Those who have not entered into God’s rest are still laboring to earn and feel God’s approval through their own righteousness. However, God’s rest is a gift.  Like the seventh day and the promise land, salvation is God’s gift to all who believe in and follow Jesus Christ.  Don’t give into the pressure to go back to your old life.  There remains a rest for those who will live a life of faith-filled obedience toward Jesus Christ.

Prayer:  “Heavenly Father, I want to thank You for Your promise of rest in Jesus Christ.  I choose not to harden my heart or to yield to unbelief and disobedience.  By faith I enter into Your rest and through faith and obedience I will experience its full provision.  I thank You for this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”


[1] Genesis 2:3

[2] Revelation 13:8

[3] Genesis 3:17-19

[4] 1 Corinthians 10:1-2

[5] Hebrews 3:12

[6] Hebrews 4:3

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