The Epistle to the Hebrews takes up this theme of rest coming through death as well. The key point is made that Jesus destroyed death and the devil by suffering death to our sinful nature; the all-powerful death of Christ overcame the devil and death itself (see 2:14-17). We now live eternal life and do not fear death: God Himself lives His eternal life in our mortal bodies! Let us worship Him together…
True rest is available to all who believe in and obey Christ, unlike the generation of Hebrews who never entered the promised land because of their unbelief (3:19). Then follows this very important word in the fourth chapter:
Now we who have believed enter that rest… There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience (4:3, 9-11).
A Sabbath-rest of grace awaits in which we are no longer burdened with self-preservation. Our part is to allow the death of Jesus to work in us in order to receive the blessed liberation! Simple, but not easy…
Our already-crucified outer selves must be let go, relinquished; we are to let them be broken down as we continue along the narrow Way. We are to receive the humbling lovingly brought by our Heavenly Father through the daily circumstances and trials for this blessed purpose of sanctification.
When we feel weary and burdened with trying to preserve our outer selves during our sufferings, we must reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Ro. 6:11); we must choose to receive the humbling and enter into God’s rest.
We can, like our awe-inspiring brother Paul, make every effort not to fix our eyes on the momentary troubles and sufferings that are seen and temporary, but to fix our eyes (and hopes) on what is unseen and eternal – our new true selves united with God in Christ Jesus (see 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 5:17-18). Yes, the hardships we suffered… happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead (2 Cor.1:8, 9b).
It is the Life and experience of Jesus Christ that we live by, for He is now our life! We take off the old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:9-10). The astounding truth is that all Christ’s experiences are now ours, including but not limited to His crucifixion (we were there with Him!) and His ascension: And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).
Praise God for giving us such an identity! May He graciously cause all His beloved children to apprehend and walk it out it now in accordance with the measure of faith He has given us!
To bring these reflections on Christ our Sabbath-rest to an end, let us pause to meditate on these important words of rest from Revelation 14:12-13. Know that “the dead” refers to all who have been crucified with Christ and are hence dead to sin (e.g. Romans 6:6, 11), and that the next phrase, “who die in the Lord from now on” refers to those who choose to let the death of Jesus work in them:
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on… they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them. (Revelation 14:13).
Praise God for delivering us from the devil and from the fear of death by the omnipotent death and resurrection of His Son! We are new creations in Christ, and in Him we rest! Eternal life! Free indeed!
Receiving and rejoicing in the grace of Christ our Sabbath-rest with you, your sister deanna
(modified from “Resting in Christ -Part III” posted 7-18-2015)