The Huffington Post recently ran an article by Howard Fineman entitled, “Why The World Is Spinning Into Crisis Everywhere”? Fineman was relying heavily on the work of Richard Haass who has served as president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations for many years and served under several presidents including both Bush presidents. Haass essentially argues for global destabilization because of what he calls, “the age of nonpolarity” where super powers are no longer the sole players who control and change the world. Speaking about the 20th century when the shift from single or unipolar power changed, he wrote, “Now the world faced a free-for-all in which “non-state actors” — terrorists, global corporations, religious and ethnic tribes, sovereign wealth funds and nonprofit charities, to name a few — were as crucial as countries in shaping the order of a “nonpolar” world.” We only need to look at Al Qaeda and ISIS to see how terrorism can unsettle the world as much or even more than a legitimate state or country. In light of this article, Fineman wrote as his opening statement to his post, “Israel vs. Hamas. Ukraine vs. Russia. Unaccompanied minors at the Texas border. Syria in flames, with a militant “caliphate” at the door. Iran stalling for time on nukes. A rising China sowing fear throughout the rest of Asia. The world seems dangerously unmanageable these days.” The opposite of this world’s, nonpolarity, global instability, and well as local fears is security, peace and a world at rest. On a personal level, the issue is no better as far as the world without God is concerned. Total depravity renders man, restless, reckless, immoral, and darkened in thought and mind— blinded by his own fallen ambitions. What the world needs of course is rest, peace from its dangers and evils.
Jesus spoke rest to this world when He said in Mt. 11.29-30.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”
But the concept of rest comes to the world through a redemptive historical route that can be traced back to the “rest” of God in Genesis (Gen. 2.2). Later this rest was given as a command and sign for Israel to observe and thus memorialize the Exodus in the Decalogue (Ex. 31.17; Dt. 5.14-15). The theme of rest continues beyond this and expands its significance in the conquest of Canaan led by Joshua (Josh. 1.13). All of these installments and promises of rest are but shadows of the greatest rest of all— rest in Christ. Hebrews takes us in this very direction. Hebrews 4 takes us down the path of redemptive history terminating in Christ and consummating in the New Heaven and Earth.
Hebrews 4:1–10 1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
In the typology of the OT, the saints of old had good news preached to them. They heard the same hope of salvation as we do and yet, they disregarded God’s promises and disobeyed His word and thus were laid low in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10.5-10). Psalm 95 (as cited in Heb. 3-4) recounts the rebellion and recalls the events recorded in Numbers 14. But the beauty of redemptive history is that, the failures of the past often look forward to the opportunity and ultimately salvation of the future. Hebrews looks at three aspects of the OT as proof that a future rest remains. First, the negative example of Israel is proof that God’s rest was looking forward to future rest. Second, the fact that God is at rest and man is not at rest also looks forward to some future rest. Third, God’s OT vow that some will not enter His rest in Canaan always looked forward to the fact that there still was a promise of entering His rest. Hebrews focus on OT “rest” is supremely Christological in nature, not ecclesiastical (e.g. Sabbath-keeping etc.). The point is rest through faith, “For we who have believed enter that rest” (Heb. 3.3a). The context identifies “the word”, “the good news” as the obvious object of one’s faith. But “good news” about what? In the letter the Hebrews, the word, “gospel” does not appear! However, these terms refer to what God has spoken through the Son in the New Covenant age (Heb. 1.1-3; 2.1-2). By faith in Jesus, in His substitutionary atonement, eternal priesthood, and final sacrifice a person can leave the instability of this “crisis” filled world and come into true rest where they will find that His yoke is easy and burden is light. Only as one finds their ultimate Sabbath rest in the Son will they ever hope to enter God’s eternal rest in the city of the living God (Heb. 12.22).
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.