One of the most important activities for promoting your physical health is getting enough quality sleep. Resting your body is critical for your overall well-being. Medical studies show that it is helpful in a number of ways. Those who do not sleep well tend to eat more and have a much higher risk of being overweight. Poor sleepers have an increased rate of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Lack of sleep is also linked to depression and negatively impacts emotions and social interactions. Sufficient rest improves concentration, productivity, and athletic performance while also strengthening the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.
Resting is one of the best ways to fend off sickness. Whenever I am really sick, I take some medicine and go to bed. Usually a day or 2 of good sleep is all it takes before I start feeling much better. The body needs seasons of rest to fend of germs and to restore itself. Sleeping is not a waste of time, but rather an important life function like eating and breathing.
To be honest, I have always loved sleeping. Even in college, while my peers were up all night, I was usually out by 10:30pm and up by 8:00am. The same is true today, as I average around 9 hours of sleep each night. I could probably get by with less sleep, but why deprive myself? As a matter of fact, I have even been known to take in a nap from time to time just as a bonus!
I’m no doctor, but I do encourage all of you to get plenty of quality rest everyday. That said, try to stay awake during the sermon, and if you can’t please don’t snore. It’s incredibly distracting… you know who you are!
While physical rest is valuable to the body, spiritual rest is necessary for the soul. This morning’s message touches on the importance of such rest in the life of a believer. As we examine the passage today, I am going to present the verses in a different order than they are written. I will not change their meaning, but rather arrange them in a way that helps me to explain them better. This sermon is titled “A Better Rest”.
I. THE PROMISED REST (verses 5-8)
Back in chapter 3, the writer compared Jesus with Moses and spent a great deal of time reminding his readers about the rebellious behavior of the Children of Israel during the exodus. In the early part of chapter 4 he again he cites Psalm 95:11 which states “They shall not enter My rest.” However, although they disobeyed God and did not go into the Promised Land, there “remains” a rest “for some to enter”.
Joshua led the Hebrew Children into Canaan sometime around 1400 BC, and yet David wrote Psalm 95 almost 400 years later. Referring to the epic conquest of their ancestors, David pleaded with the people of his generation urging them to listen to God’s voice and to enter into God’s rest. Now if the rest that Joshua had given the people of old by settling them in the Promised Land was complete, why would David be speaking of another rest centuries later?
The LORD has fixed “a certain day” for people to enter into His rest. That day is “Today”, or this present moment, meaning that right now any person can still enter into and enjoy the rest that God has made available. While the exodus was an actual historic event, it also represents this marvelous and ongoing truth. At Calvary Jesus Christ delivered mankind from the bondage of sin and death so that they could live eternally in the promised rest of God.
II. THE SABBATH REST (verses 4, 9-10)
In these verses, the writer of Hebrews introduces another comparison to further reinforce his teaching on God’s rest. He recalls a statement recorded all the way back in Genesis 2:2 which reads, “He rested on the seventh day from all His works”. After the 6 days of creation, in which the LORD made all of the natural universe - the stars, the moon, the earth, the plants, the animals, and mankind - the Bible says that God rested, not because He was tired (God doesn’t get tired) but because He was done.
In keeping with this pattern, God commanded the Jews to set aside the 7th day of each week as a day of rest. This day was called the Sabbath, and there was to be no work done on it. It was a time to remember God’s handiwork and reflect upon His holiness. The Old Testament Law wisely and intentionally prescribed a weekly day of rest for the people, which aided their physical and spiritual well- being.
This ancient law points to a present reality. The writer of Hebrews states, “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God”. Christians are still able to enter into and enjoy the LORD’s rest, but it is accessible only through faith and not by works. It is impossible to attain God’s glorious rest through works. Those who have acquired it have “rested from” their “works, as God did from His”.
III. THE BELIEVER’S REST (verses 1-3)
God has made an enduring promise of an available rest to every person of every generation. Unfortunately, far too many people “come short of it”. The church should strive to ensure that as many as possible enter into His rest. It should burden Christians to think about those who don’t know Jesus personally or experience the soothing rest He provides.
For hundreds of years humanity has “had good news preached” to them. The gospel has been declared to people all around the world from one generation to the next. Sadly, this message of salvation has been of no “profit” to many because “it was not united by faith in those who heard”. Hearing about Jesus does not bring about redemption and the forgiveness of sins. Only those who have truly repented and placed their faith in Him will “enter that rest”. The promised rest, the blessed Sabbath rest, is reserved specifically for believers.
God’s rest has both a present and future application. The Sabbath Day is something we experience repeatedly during our lifetimes. Whenever we are tired from our toils and labors, we can turn to the Lord and find rest in Him. The rest that awaits in the Promised Land is a destination to be reached after we die. Those who have accepted Jesus as Savior have the comforting hope of an eternal rest in Heaven. In other words, believers can enjoy the rest of God right now and in the life to come.
Could it be that someone listening to my voice today is in desperate need of spiritual rest? If so, such rest is readily available. But we can only enter into it and enjoy its benefits through faith. Would you turn to Jesus today, believe in Him as the divine Son of God, and receive Him as the Lord of your life? If you will trust Him, He will give you rest.
Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to rest. We have been conditioned to believe that we must always be doing something. As Christians, many serve God to the point of exhaustion and beyond. For them, ministry becomes a source of consternation and dread. They struggle to find joy in their work because they are constantly tired. As a result, their effectiveness for Christ is greatly diminished. I’ve been there my friend, and I trust you have been too.
Brethren, perhaps you are already saved, but are not well rested spiritually. Remember David’s words in Psalm 23, “He makes me lie down in green pastures”? When was the last time you took a break, a spiritual season of rest, to refresh and revive your soul? I’m not advocating spiritual laziness, but rather urging those who are weary to cast their burdens on to Jesus and to take a short break from their cares. Beloved, sometimes we need rest for our souls, and only the Lord can provide it. He gives “a better rest”.