The other day we were chatting with a sweet couple. We were discussing the challenges of sharing the gospel and how it can be spiritually and physically exhausting to intentionally spend time with people who do not know the Lord. It’s kind of odd, actually. We love the people around us who do not believe the same way we do; we have many things in common and can have interesting dialogue learning about one another. Our care for them, however, goes beyond a surface level. Even though every encounter isn’t a gospel presentation, we are always thinking and praying within ourselves for God to use our words and actions to draw them toward Himself. We often leave these encounters exhausted.
In contrast, spending time with brothers and sisters who share our faith is rejuvenating. Because the same Holy Spirit indwells all believers, we are drawn toward one another, and it is physically and spiritually renewing to be together. In fact, we can’t live the Christ-life without it.
I was reminded of the reality of the spiritual warfare that we are all walking in as I read Hebrews 2-4 this morning. It begins with a warning: For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away from it (2:1). The writer goes on to explain why Jesus, who is much higher than the angels, had to be made “for a little while lower than the angels.”
God created the world and placed man over it to rule it. Adam and Eve were made lower than angels – finite human begins – but given a great responsibility as well as a great privilege. Before they sinned, life was good, as they enjoyed a world made just for them. But we know what happened. Sin came, and man lost his place as the one to whom the world was subject. Man was now under judgment, and death was the penalty.
Enter Jesus. God brought Jesus into the world as a human being, so that he could taste death for all men. God cannot die – He is Spirit, so He had to be made like men – for a little while lower than the angels – in order to defeat death and make eternal life possible again for us. This truth is “what we have heard” – what we are to “pay much closer attention to” and not “drift away from it” if we want to experience that renewed life – the restoration of what God intended all along.
In chapter 3, the writer takes us back to the disobedient Israelites who failed to enter the promised land because they had hard hearts. They went astray first, not in their actions, but in their hearts (3:10) when they began to disbelieve God’s promises. We are told that we prove ourselves members of God’s household if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end (3:6), and that we ought to take care not to have an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God (3:12). We have become partakers of Christ if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end (3:14).
In chapter 4, we learn the outcome of failing to believe or falling away from our hope in Christ. We come short of the rest God has for us. I believe this rest has multiple meanings. For the Israelites, the rest came when they entered the Promised Land (Canaan) and God gave them rest from their enemies – a picture of the final rest we will enjoy in the new heaven and new earth. But there is an earthly rest too – pictured by those weekly Sabbaths. God initiated the Sabbath rest when He rested from His work of creation. We rest from our works – the things we do to achieve or hold onto salvation instead of trusting in the finished work of Christ by faith. You see, that necessary perseverance, holding fast, holding firm until the end, is a work of the Holy Spirit in us. We rest in Christ – we hold fast to our faith, thus giving evidence we truly belong to Him.
We need to “enter this rest” every day. In Christ, we are restored to our God-given position, and the world is subject to us – we are not subjects of the world. We have the power to resist sin through the Holy Spirit. We have the ability to walk in joy and peace. We have spiritual insight to see things from an eternal perspective because we have the mind of Christ. Jesus was made like us so that we could enjoy eternal rest in heaven, but He also gave us rest today.
How do you find that rest?
Hebrews 4:16 – 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.
Spend time in prayer.
Spend time in God’s Word.
Draw near to God and be restored.
Just as Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day, we have the same opportunity. The Holy Spirit lives in us and will meet with us. We talk to Him in prayer, and He speaks to us in the Word.
Are you exhausted? Fearful? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Doubting? Tempted? You’ve forgotten that Jesus has restored you. We have the opportunity to live in the spiritual Garden of Eden. Stop letting the world dictate how you feel and think. Stop doubting God’s Word. Stop fretting about circumstances you can’t change or worrying about what tomorrow may bring. Focus on the good things God’s given us – a beautiful natural world to explore, children and grandchildren, parents and siblings, friends who make us laugh and encourage us when we’re down, a job to pay our bills, and provide a platform to share Jesus. If we have food and shelter, like Paul said, let us be content. If you need any of those things, ask your Heavenly Father and He promises to provide. Let your passion be to enjoy your salvation and share it with others until we get to go home.
Enter the rest God made possible through His Son, Jesus. Don’t let an unbelieving heart cause you to miss the rest God wants for you.