Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Hebrews 4:1-13

The Promise of Eternal Rest

You will remember that in the Old Testament the children of Israel were headed to the Promised Land, the land that had been promised to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The Lord brought them up out of Egypt to fulfill that promise.  After they left Egypt, they journeyed south to Mount Sinai where God gave them His law, the Ten Commandments.  Then they began their trek northeastward and came to Kadesh-Barnea where it was decision time; that is, time to either obey God and enter the land for which He had delivered them from Egypt, or … not.  The people of Israel chose not, and for their disobedience, that generation wandered forty years and died in the wilderness.  They missed the great reward that could have been theirs; they missed the rest they could have enjoyed from their many labors and slavery in Egypt.

Hebrews speaks of the rest that still awaits, a rest far greater than the earthly rest that the Israelites sought and missed.  It is, of course, that eternal rest, that heavenly rest of which the Letter speaks, a rest we do not want to miss.  Hebrews borrows from Psalm 95 to prove that this rest is still promised to God’s people.  After all, although that first generation of Israelites did not enter the Promised Land, the next generation did.  But it was not enough.  Later generations failed to retain it.  They were carried away into captivity for the same reason the first generation failed to even enter: They lacked faith and so were disobedient to God’s commands.

But a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God; that is, for those who have received the good news by faith.  Still, we are warned, “Let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it,” and “Let us strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”  We must not presume upon God’s grace like they did, but remain faithful in all things, for He who calls us is faithful.  In this task, the word of God is our incomparable aid, for it “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  The word of God keeps us honest as we apply it to our lives.  It convicts us of our sins, and calls us to repentance.  It shines its penetrating light upon us, strips us of our defenses, and leaves us with no recourse but to run to Christ, confess our sins, plead forgiveness, and strive with his help to amend our lives.  And striving with the Holy Spirit, we shall enter that rest, and know the joy that only comes when we behold our gracious Lord.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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