Read Hebrews 4
“To whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” ~ Hebrews 3:18-4:2.
Yesterday we looked at the keys found in Jesus’ example to us for living a life of obedience that leads to our entering into and remaining in the restful pastures of God’s provision. Today as I read Chapter 4, which continues the teaching on living in God’s rest, I am impressed with the connection obedience to God has with faith in Him.
Our level of obedience is directly related to the degree of faith we have to trust Him and take God fully at His Word. So when restful pastures elude us, the first place to look is to our faith: Are we fully believing God, taking His word to us to heart, and walking it out to completion with complete understanding of the intent of His Word?
I think to fully grasp this in a fallen world where trouble is promised to us and seems to rob of rest we need to discern this rest that God speaks of: what is God’s rest?
“For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest’” ~ verses 3-5.
Here is what I discern as God’s rest, beloved. God spoke and it was done, fully and completely, nothing of His intent lacking. So on the seventh day, He looked over all His works with the satisfaction of knowing it was complete. There was nothing more to be said, nothing more to accomplish but to enjoy the view and watch for the fruit to bear out of the finished product.
There are things He has spoken that we are waiting to see fulfilled in the earth through the bearing of the fruit of His Word, but when God speaks it, it’s intent is finished. We can take His Word to the bank knowing it is sufficient for every need and will bear fruit into our lives as we walk in faiths obedience.
When we have faith to believe God, even while waiting to see the fruit of His instruction and promise to us, obedience flows freely to complete the task with assurance of faith for the fulfillment of all things in Him. His Word is finished in us when our faith is complete, even while awaiting the fruit of it. So while waiting to see all He says come to pass, when we fulfill all obedience with faith, we can look over all that is before us and smile even in the midst of a storm tossed sea, knowing the produce of God’s word will be seen in due season.
“Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” ~ verses 6-10.
Joshua did well in leading the people into the Promised Land, becoming one of our patriarchs of faith, but he fell short of full obedience in several areas and, therefore, did not succeed at leading the people to the promised rest. I.e.: they too frequently fell short of their call to destroy all God told them to, so their enemies remained in their midst to cause hardship for them, tempt them away from God, and hinder the rest God desired for them. The people of Israel suffer the consequences for this shortfall still today, as does the whole world set in chaos by terrorism.
We too often forget God’s instruction to us or fall short of understanding its intent: thus we fail to fully believe and take His word seriously, and fall short of full obedience with faith. Such half-hearted obedience is what keeps us from the rest God desires for us.
The other day I found my rest and peace greatly disturbed in the area of my struggle with feelings of rejection. I wrote several weeks ago about that struggle and shared all God instructed me with regard to that issue, and I have walked in great freedom and peace since then. But approaching a friend after church to share something with her, I was left feeling she was uninterested and like I was bothering her.
Now I realized she was tired and that I stopped her as she was heading someplace to do something. I too have trouble relating with others when my mind is set on a course. I realized this quickly and set it aside as a non-issue, but peace and rest remained disturbed within me.
As I asked the Lord why I was feeling such unrest, with that spirit of rejection rearing up anew, He instructed me again that He is the one who gives me favor with man. When He told my heart that, I discerned two things: I was failing to fully trust God’s promise to me in that moment and peace was hindered by lack of faith; and desire for favor with man can become a God to me if I am not careful to realize God’s instruction that I am to seek His favor, not mans.
The intent of God for me / us is to seek after His favor, not concerning self with pleasing mankind. Full obedience for me in this area is to keep focus on the favor of God, walking in it, and not concerning myself with favor from man. When I fail to fulfill the intent of God’s word through obedience to seek the favor of God alone, I leave the restful pastures and am disturbed and hindered by every appearance of the lack of favor.
“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” ~ verse 11-13.
God sees our hearts. He knows when we are truly and fully following Him in obedience of faith. And He is ready with His Word to help us discern what is hindering our remaining in the restful pastures of His presence and peace. Not only that, but He assures our hearts through Christ for those times when we falter and fall:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” ~ verse 14-16.
Jesus is the fulfillment of all things through God, beloved. He understands the fleshly, worldly, and demonic battle we are in and the weakness of our flesh, how easily distracted and forgetful we can be. He knows we are a work in progress this side of heaven’s glory.
Beloved, in Christ, God’s word concerning the work of Christ and Him crucified has completed His work in us already as far as eternity is concerned. But in our earthly reality where war with God’s enemy is in play, we are a work in progress. The blood of Christ has completed the work of our eternal cleansing. The Spirit of God is doing the work day by day of purging the sin from our earthly existence. Thus it is vital in cooperating with the purging work of the Spirit that we heed His promptings and follow quickly in obedient faith so as to experience today the restful pastures of God.
Jesus is fully aware of the reality of our weakness. Thus, because of the Word of promise fulfilled in Him, we always find grace when we, being reminded of His word to us, bow at the foot of His throne in order to rise and walk in full obedience of faith anew.
Unhappy in your marriage, beloved? Bow down and seek Him for His word for your relationship. Unhappy in your job, beloved? Bow down and discover what is lacking of faith filled obedience to God.
God’s word has fulfilled all its good will and purpose, and it bears fruit in the earth to become our reality as we walk in faith-filled obedience to the intent of God. Such living allows us to kick back with God at the end of each day and rejoice in the work well-done even while watching for the fruit of it.