When I ponder Scripture I generally notice words and phrases that are oft repeated. For me, they are a clue as to something the author is trying to say and an idea he is trying to get across. It’s the same way when I preach or when I teach. If I repeat something several times it is because I want to make sure people hear it. In this chapter there is one word that is much repeated that will be my pondering focus – though there is much more in this chapter that could be focused on.
Rest – The word “rest” occurs 10x in the first 11 verses of this chapter. There are two aspects of this rest that the author of this letter wanted his Hebrew readers to consider. And they apply to us as well. He has in mind the wandering of the Israelites in the desert as they journeyed from Egypt to the land of promise. This parallels our journey through this life, having left a life of slavery to sin as we make our way toward heaven and the life promised to us when our journey is complete.
1) There is a rest that we can enjoy in this life even when life is hard and demanding; even when there is much to despair about; even when we don’t see the hand of God at work around us. We can still experience His peace, the shalom of God, because we have confidence in His promise that He will ALWAYS be with us and that He is ALWAYS working for our good and His glory – even when we can’t see it. Jesus made this powerful promise in Matthew 11:28-30…
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Those three phrases in bold are worth spending time thinking about as they will be the key to finding “rest for your souls” and getting rid of the burdens that are currently weighing you down and keeping you from a purposeful and productive life that honors and glorifies the Lord.
2) There is a rest we will enjoy in the life to come when we enter into the presence of God upon death. Revelation 21:4 describes it this way: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” We will not have to deal with all the difficulties that this life brings. We can experience the fulness of joy as we “rest” eternally in God’s forever shalom.
May this brick help you to experience the rest that God provides in this life as well as anticipating the rest He offers in the life to come.