Entering Into His Rest

Hebrews 4:9-11


We are in a new sermon series about Rest, and last Sunday, pastor Adrian talked  about these three questions: ‘What is rest?’, ‘Why don’t we rest?’, and ‘Why is rest  important?’ 

This morning, I am going to talk about the following two questions: ‘then, how can  we enter that rest?’ and ‘what does it mean when we say we enter into His rest?’ 

We are currently in the middle of summer, and I hope you are enjoying this great season of the year. It has been very hot for the last several days, but regardless of  the weather, this vacation season is special to us. During the summer, we can do  things that we’ve wanted to do throughout the rest of the year, but couldn’t. 

We can slow down. We can rest. We can travel and enjoy nature. We can visit  family and close friends who we have missed so much. You may want to try new  things or experience new fun activities. You may want to stop and do nothing if  you have been under big work pressure and are depleted. People want to be  refreshed and recharged through this season of rest. 

So, we try to have time to rest. After your vacation, when you return to your  normal life, how do you feel? You may feel refreshed and ready for the next  season. You may feel recharged, which is good and encouraging. However, this is  usually temporary, lasting for just about several weeks at most. In some cases, you may experience travel fatigue and need some time to recover from it. 

Of course, we still really need that rest or some time off for our physical and  mental health. It is valuable and essential. We love it and enjoy it, but it is still only temporary and does not fully satisfy our needs. 

When you return to your normal life after some time off, is a new life waiting for  you? Do things seem like they’ve improved? The same life situation that you were  in before is still there and waiting for you. The same challenges and stressors are  still there. The same expectations from others are still there. We resume the same  life in which we used to live, waiting for another chance to rest. We definitely need  more than just that temporary rest. Why is our life so restless regardless of our  efforts, and how can we truly rest?

Restless Life in the Broken World 

We are living in this broken world. The worldly culture has totally different values  than ours: that you are the center of this universe, you set a direction for your life,  your own benefit is what’s most important to you, you deserve what you desire,  you decide on what to do and where to go, your achievements will determine who  you are, you will be valued based on your education, profession, money, property,  position, and power. You need to do everything you can to beat others and take what you want. 

This world is so competitive, and people focus their energy on pursuing bigger,  better, faster, and more.  

As a result, they are carrying heavy burdens and are overwhelmed by many tasks,  demands, and responsibilities placed on them by themselves or others. People are  also becoming lonelier in broken relationships with others as they pursue their own  benefit. They won’t be able to escape from their restless lives just by taking some  time off from time to time. 

When Did the Restless Life Start? 

Christians are called to be set apart from the worldly culture, to live in the world  for His kingdom, but not be of the world. Romans 12:2 says, ‘Do not conform to  the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ But  when we look at our lives, we find ourselves also experiencing what they are  

experiencing in all areas of our lives. 

This is not the life that God intends us to live. How and when did this restless life  start? It started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. In the  beginning, they lived in the presence of God. They rested in Him. There was a  perfect relationship, a full connection among people and between God and them.  But a restless life started when Adam & Eve wanted to be like God. 

In Genesis 3, verses 4-6 say, “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the  woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and  you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the  fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for  gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. 

That was the moment that they became the center of their lives by trying to become  like God. They set their own direction and paid attention to what was pleasing to  their eyes. What they desired became the most important. They took what they 

wanted regardless of what the Creator asked them to do. That was the moment that  God and people became disconnected. Relationships among people were also  broken. Our restless life started from there.  

We are Christians, but we also choose to be the center of our lives quite often.  Maybe every time we want something, we may say ‘Lord, I will be in the center in  making this decision because I want this, but I promise I will put you in the center  next time.’ 

We are tempted to pursue what is pleasing to our eyes regardless of what God says  in the Bible. Too often, our benefit becomes more important than others. We want  to be in control just as Adam & Eve did. Gradually, too many burdens become ours  and we are overwhelmed by them. 

God’s Work for Our Rest 

So, it is clear that entering rest is about going back to God, putting full trust in  Him, and letting God be God in all areas of our lives. This may sound simple, but  Adam & Eve failed, and this world failed. We are also struggling because this is  possible only with the help from the Lord. One of the main messages of the Old  Testament is that you cannot save yourself and rest without the Messiah. Entering  rest is going back to the truth. 

Pastor Adrian explained three reasons why rest is important; rest reminds us of  who is in charge, refocuses our hearts on what is most important, and points us  toward the shape of things to come. 

We are already saved and belong to His kingdom. But when we forget who we are and want to be in charge, we lose focus on what is truly important. Our lives will become more and more restless. 

God says we cannot serve two masters. We cannot follow God while we are  pursuing this worldly culture. We cannot go both Christ’s way and Adam’s way. Adam’s way will lead us to a restless life. There is no way to escape from it except  finding the true sabbath rest in Jesus Christ. The true rest starts from understanding our old identity as sinners, God’s deliverance, and our new identity in Jesus Christ.  We can see that in Deuteronomy. 

Purpose of the Sabbath Law 

When God gave the sabbath law to Israelites for their rest, He had a clear purpose.  God worked for 6 days and then he rested on the seventh day. He used His 

example to establish the principle of the Sabbath law for His people. It wasn’t just  ‘let them cease working and rest from their work’. In Deuteronomy 5, verse 15,  Moses explained the reason why the Sabbath law was given to them.  

15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought  you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord  your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. 

God’s intention for the Sabbath law was not only for physical rest. On the Sabbath  day, God wanted them to remember their slavery in Egypt and His deliverance.  Israelites had experienced extreme suffering as slaves in Egypt. They cried out to  God, and He brought them out of Egypt. 

The Exodus marked the birthday of the nation of Israel, and from that time, they  looked back each year and remembered what the Lord had done for them. God  wanted them to remember their Egyptian slavery and His deliverance on the day of  Sabbath, once a week as they ceased work, and rested. 

True Sabbath Rest 

The story of salvation in Exodus is a picture of the redemption we have in Jesus  Christ. We were enslaved to sin and suffered all types of despair. Our Lord Jesus  came and took our sins, guilt, fear, and shame upon Himself on the cross. He shed  His blood to set us free. He delivered us from eternal death. God’s saving work was  revealed in Exodus, and it was revealed even more so on the cross.  

Through the Sabbath law, God wanted to foreshadow the coming of true Sabbath  rest, which is the ultimate rest in God through faith in Jesus Christ. You need to  remember that the Sabbath law and the Sabbath rest are different. The Sabbath law  was a shadow and a picture of something that was better to come, which is the new  covenant and the Sabbath rest that we have in Jesus Christ.  

Entering into the Sabbath Rest 

Today’s scripture passage is talking about entering into the Sabbath rest in Jesus  Christ. 

Hebrews 4:9-11 

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.

Trust God and His Promise 

In the previous chapter, there was a warning against unbelief. The Israelites were wandering in the desert. God had promised them that He would go before them and  defeat all their enemies in order to give them the land of Cannon. The Promised  Land was their final destination and their permanent place of rest.  

You will remember what decision the Israelites made at the Kadesh Barnea which  bordered the Promised Land of Canaan. They sent out twelve spies to scope out the  land and heard their reports. Even though they saw and experienced the powerful  hand of God at work during the plagues and miracles of Exodus, they believed the  pessimists and grumbled against God and their leaders. 

The land God commanded them to enter and possess was already theirs, because  the Almighty God had promised. They faithfully had to trust and obey to enter the  ultimate rest, but they trusted what they saw there and decided not to enter the land  based on their capabilities.  

They didn’t depend on God but trusted what they had in mind over Him. They  were in charge at that moment. They were struggling with what they could or  couldn’t do. The generation of the Israelites couldn’t experience the rest that God  had prepared for them. 

What they needed to do was to fully trust God and His promises. But they failed.  Instead, they complained and even wanted to go back to Egypt. God said that the  Israelites who disobeyed Him would never enter their permanent place of rest, and  they were all dead in the wilderness.  

But the next generation placed their faith in the Lord and entered into God’s rest.  God is using the Israelites as an example of those who were not resting in His  promises, to warn us to not make the same mistake by rejecting His Sabbath rest,  and to encourage us to make every effort to enter our Promised Land. 

What about us? We are saved but still on the journey of sanctification and ultimate  rest. Like the Israelites, if we put ourselves in charge and decide based on what we  can do or can’t do or what we want, we may lose the rest that God has prepared for  us. We know that God is all knowing and all powerful, but we often put our  

thoughts over His words, we choose our own way over His, and we still do what  we want to do over what He asks us to do. 

If we put everything on our shoulders like them in our daily lives, not trusting the  Lord, we will lose our sleep, and we may live with fears or concerns. There will be  no rest, and we will be broken.  

Verse 11 says, let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one  will perish by following their example of disobedience. 

Making every effort to enter that rest doesn’t sound restful. It seems like we are  being asked to do more work. We do not make self-effort to earn salvation and the  sabbath rest. It’s already done in Christ. What this verse is saying is, ‘depend on  God, trust Him, and submit all of us to Him. Then you will enter into true rest.  Stop trying to be like God’  

God loves us and has our best interests at heart. Regardless of our circumstances,  He can be trusted to work all things together for our ultimate good and for His  glory. We always need to remind ourselves of our total inability to enter God’s rest  on our own. We should stop trusting ourselves over God. We need to place our full  trust in God and His promises. We need to live in humble dependence on the Lord. 

Follow Christ as the example 

You may still feel temptation to be in control since we are surrounded by worldly  culture. Let’s look at our Lord, Jesus. When He was here on earth, even though He  is God, He humbly chose to live as we do. He was fully human and faced every  temptation and issue that we face. Even though He is God, Jesus gave the highest  priority to His relationship with His Heavenly Father. He lived every day in full  dependence on His heavenly father and trusted Him.  

Everything He did was done in God the father working through Him. While on  earth, Jesus said, ‘by myself, I can do nothing’ ‘I did not speak on my own, but the  Father who sent me commanded me on what to say and how to say it’.  

We are not God, but mere human. Do we put the highest priority on the  relationship with the Lord? Do we live every day in humble dependence on the  Lord? Do we fully trust Him? Can we also say, ‘by myself, I can do nothing’ ‘I did  not speak on my own, but as the Lord directs me’? Do we experience rest that the  Lord gave us? 

Jesus Himself is our Sabbath rest and invites us to come to Him. Matthew 11:28-29

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,  and you will find rest for your souls. 

He is giving us the gift of Himself here. He is inviting us to come to Him at all  times, not just one day a week or when you feel like it. Jesus is God, but He  regularly went off to a solitary place and spent time with His heavenly father. As  He did, Jesus is also inviting us daily to come to Him, to surrender our burdens,  pains, and concerns into His hands, and to find His rest for our souls.  

We are on a continuous journey towards something much greater. Our hearts should not focus on acquiring temporary success and prosperity in this broken  world that leads us to despair and have a restless life, but should be set on things  above to enter the true rest that God promises us in Christ. 

Let me close with this picture. God is our Shepherd, and His intention is not to  give us more work to do on our journey, but to lighten our burdens. God does not  want us to swim ourselves and get exhausted in the middle of the journey without  knowing where to go.  

God blows the wind, and what He asks us to do is to adjust the sail to use the  power of the wind. The wind will lead us to the right direction and let us rest in all  our situations. This is a way He lightens our burdens and helps us complete our  journey in this sinful world. But many people are trying to swim or paddle by themselves and get exhausted even when there is a sailboat and wind that God has  provided. What about you?

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