Entry Level Theological Truth [9]

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3

Someone whimsically suggested that the theme song of modern life ought to be: “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go” (obviously sung to the tune of the Seven Dwarves’ classic “Hi ho.”) While this invariably brings a smile to many faces, the sad truth is that, in its present form, the world is a place of unremitting physical and spiritual toil. People are burdened by the effort of life in this difficult scene. How different the world was when God initially created it. He pronounced it “very good” and then rested (Genesis 1:31 + verses at the head of this post.) What happened?

A Greater Work Of God

Genesis 3 gives the answer: the fall of man happened. Man disobeyed the Lord, thereby bringing sin and death into this world (Romans 5:12.) This disturbed God’s creation rest, for He now began to work again: this time in making a New Creation in Christ Jesus, which flows directly from the activities of the triune Godhead. This new work will culminate in an eternal rest where God is honored as He should be and man is able to cease from toil in favor of worship and service towards their Savior God. Hebrews 4 speaks of this “rest” and urges the readers: “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11.) F.B. Hole explains this rest for the believer:

At the present time we are in the position of pilgrims on our way to that rest, just as formerly Israel were pilgrims on their way to the land of promise. When the rest is reached we shall cease our working, but on the way there we should ‘labor’ or rather ‘be diligent’ to enter in, taking warning by the fate which of old overtook so many unbelieving Israelites. The latter part of the chapter sets before us three great sources of help and guidance which are available for us on our pilgrim way. They are first, the word of God; second, the priesthood of Christ; third, the throne of grace.*

Thus, the rest of God is ceasing from the sin of laboring to please God through one’s own religious efforts so that one may be free to serve and enjoy the Lord with a perfect conscience and without distraction.

No Rest For The Wicked

Following the argument of Hebrews 3-4, Moses and Joshua were not able to get people into this future rest; only in Christ is it achieved. So why did the Israelites of old not enter into this rest? Hebrews 3:18-19 provides the answer: “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” The Israelites failed due to their disobedience, which is tellingly equated in the verses with unbelief. To disbelieve God’s word is to reject His authority. In short, unbelief is the opposite of biblical faith and is tantamount to rebellion against the Creator.

So rest is available: one may be assured an entrance into God’s rest if he believes the gospel, receiving eternal life from the Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose again to create us anew.


*F.B. Hole, Comments On Hebrews. Found here: http://biblecentre.org/commentaries/fbh_61_hebrews.htm


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