Hebrews 4:1 (TPT) Now God has offered to us the same promise of entering into his realm of resting in confident faith. So we must be extremely careful to ensure that we all embrace the fullness of that promise and not fail to experience it.
When the children of Israel were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, God promised that His Presence would go with them and give them rest (Exodus 33:14). In Hebrew, the word “rest” in this Scripture is nuwach which has the concept of settling down, dwelling, and remaining. No longer would they be strangers in the land of their affliction nor would they be strangers in this new land where their father Abraham was a sojourner; God was bringing them to a place they could call home and the place that He would abide with them.
In Hebrews 4, Paul alludes to this concept in light of the redemption that Christ has brought us. He warns the redeemed not to follow in the pattern of those who wandered in the wilderness and miss out on the rest that Christ has purchased for us. But what does this rest in Christ look like? A clue can be found in the two types of rest that Paul alludes to.
Not only does Paul mention a nuwach type of rest (being settled, dwelling, and remaining in a place) but also another Hebrew word for rest, shabath. Shabath implies a sense of completion; God began the process of creation on the first day, and it was on the seventh day that He stopped creating because His work was complete. Nothing else need be added, so God could sit down and appreciate all that He had done.
We are being called to find our resting place in Christ. Just as the Israelites were redeemed and removed from Egypt, we too have been redeemed from the power of sin and bondage through the Cross. God is saying, “It is finished! It is complete! And your Promised Land of rest in the Everlasting Arms is accessible now in the land of the living!” When God promised the Israelites rest, technically the battle for the Promised Land was still in sight for them; but they allowed their fear over those looming battles to prevent them from attaining God’s promise. From their perspective, their redemption and fight for freedom wasn’t complete.
Therefore, we must be careful to resist the urge to let the battle against the flesh keep us from entering into our resting place in God. For the beautiful part of our redemption is that God comes into His rest with us as well. Just as the throne of God and His dwelling Presence went with the Israelites in the wilderness and into the Land, so God’s abiding Presence keeps us at every step. The battles ahead are already won. The only effort required on our part is to listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is our redeemer who will do all the work and all of the fighting on our behalf. It is God alone who is responsible for bringing us into our completeness and fullness of Christ.
Exodus 33:14 (NKJV) And He said, “My Presence will go [with you], and I will give you rest.”
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