Hebrews 41 11 How To Get The Rest You Need
In the next chapter of Hebrews, the author continues to lay out that case that it matters that you believe God. Not believing God's promises, like the Israelites, is what we should fear:"GOD'S PROMISE OF ENTERING HIS REST STILL STANDS, SO WE OUGHT TO TREMBLE WITH FEAR THAT SOME OF YOU MIGHT FAIL TO EXPERIENCE IT. FOR THIS GOOD NEWS-THAT GOD HAS PREPARED THIS REST-HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED TO US JUST AS IT WAS TO THEM. BUT IT DID THEM NO GOOD BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T SHARE THE FAITH OF THOSE WHO LISTENED TO GOD. FOR ONLY WE WHO BELIEVE CAN ENTER HIS REST... SO LET US DO OUR BEST TO ENTER THAT REST. BUT IF WE DISOBEY GOD, AS THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL DID, WE WILL FALL." (Hebrews 4:1-3, 11)The good news, or gospel, regarding God's rest was given to the Israelites. They were told by God to enter the Promised Land. But instead of believing Him, and the good report of Joshua and Caleb, they did NOT believe, and were prevented from entering the land of rest. They missed out on all that God had for them. The author of Hebrews says we should be very afraid of unbelief!Sometimes we feel that we don't deserve any good thing from God - and this is true! We don't deserve any of His blessings! They are given by His grace, not gained by our merit. There is NOTHING we can do to earn them. Surely the Israelites were correct that, in their own strength, they were not up to the task of defeating the enemies in Canaan. But God was on their side! He was going to give them the victory and the land, if they would just march on in.Our list of shortcomings is long: not smart enough, not good enough, not brave enough, not wealthy enough, not funny, not good-looking, too old, too fat, etc. And Satan loves to remind us of them! But none of them are relevant when the God of the Universe is on our side and has determined to bless us!Jon Courson uses a great illustration of how we need to mix the good news with faith, as he recounts the story in Acts 12 where Peter is released from prison by the angel:"THE NIGHT BEFORE PETER WAS TO BE PLACED ON TRIAL, HE WAS ASLEEP, FASTENED WITH TWO CHAINS BETWEEN TWO SOLDIERS. OTHERS STOOD GUARD AT THE PRISON GATE. SUDDENLY, THERE WAS A BRIGHT LIGHT IN THE CELL, AND AN ANGEL OF THE LORD STOOD BEFORE PETER. THE ANGEL STRUCK HIM ON THE SIDE TO AWAKEN HIM AND SAID, "QUICK! GET UP!" AND THE CHAINS FELL OFF HIS WRISTS. THEN THE ANGEL TOLD HIM, "GET DRESSED AND PUT ON YOUR SANDALS." AND HE DID. "NOW PUT ON YOUR COAT AND FOLLOW ME," THE ANGEL ORDERED. ""SO PETER LEFT THE CELL, FOLLOWING THE ANGEL. BUT ALL THE TIME HE THOUGHT IT WAS A VISION. HE DIDN'T REALIZE IT WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. THEY PASSED THE FIRST AND SECOND GUARD POSTS AND CAME TO THE IRON GATE LEADING TO THE CITY, AND THIS OPENED FOR THEM ALL BY ITSELF. SO THEY PASSED THROUGH AND STARTED WALKING DOWN THE STREET, AND THEN THE ANGEL SUDDENLY LEFT HIM. ""PETER FINALLY CAME TO HIS SENSES. "IT'S REALLY TRUE!" HE SAID. "THE LORD HAS SENT HIS ANGEL AND SAVED ME FROM HEROD AND FROM WHAT THE JEWISH LEADERS HAD PLANNED TO DO TO ME!" (Acts 12:6-11)Courson writes: "Now, had Peter not stood up and stepped out, had he not started moving, but instead said, "This is a neat thought, an interesting insight," had he not mixed the angel's command with faith - even though the chains were off and the door was opened, he would have remained in jail." ("Jon Courson's Application Commentary: New Testament", P. 1465).Does it require a mountain of faith? Apparently not, because those who had been praying for Peter's miraculous rescue from execution did not believe God had answered even when Peter kept knocking on the door where they were meeting in prayer!"HE KNOCKED AT THE DOOR IN THE GATE, AND A SERVANT GIRL NAMED RHODA CAME TO OPEN IT. WHEN SHE RECOGNIZED PETER'S VOICE, SHE WAS SO OVERJOYED THAT, INSTEAD OF OPENING THE DOOR, SHE RAN BACK INSIDE AND TOLD EVERYONE, "PETER IS STANDING AT THE DOOR! "YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR MIND!" THEY SAID. WHEN SHE INSISTED, THEY DECIDED, "IT MUST BE HIS ANGEL. "MEANWHILE, PETER CONTINUED KNOCKING. WHEN THEY FINALLY OPENED THE DOOR AND SAW HIM, THEY WERE AMAZED." (Acts 12:13-16)I love this scene! It's so funny! However, don't we often fail to recognize God's answers because we can't believe He actually hears our prayers and cares? The author of Hebrews says this isn't actually funny - it's something to cause us to tremble! The example of the Israelites is there for us for a reason. Walk in faith! Get up and start walking. What is God telling you to believe? That your marriage can be saved? That your wayward child can return to the faith? That the news of cancer is NOT the end? That He can take care of your finances and provide a house for you? BELIEVE Him! Do not let unbelief rob you of His rest!