Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. Hebrews 4, verse 3.
What does it mean “and yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world?” My Concordia reference Bible says “God rested from his work on the seventh day of creation and thus his rest is already a reality. The rest God calls us to enter is not our rest but his rest, which he invites us to share.”
Yes, the Genesis account of creation is involved, specifically the account of how God rested on the seventh day after creating everything. That was work. If you don’t think so, try creating an avocado out of thin air. Or a tree, an elephant, or even a grain of sand. You can’t; science hasn’t (and can’t). God created everything and He did it with words, perhaps the ultimate physical miracle in all of history.
“Give me a break: speaking is work?” Be serious. I work part-time in a call-center. Talk purposely for hours on end and you’re exhausted. Can you imagine how it must have felt to talk for six days straight creating matter out of nothingness?
But let’s now move beyond Genesis and look for something more. Isn’t the verse talking more about God’s peace than God’s accomplishments? Sure, the second half mentions “since the creation of the world.” That’s not what the verse is truly speaking about. The meaning is about God’s real rest: Himself. There is nothing else in all of His creation that can equal the spiritual, emotional and physical peace that comes from being in communion with God Almighty. We get that peace by first believing in Jesus, then by following Him in our actions, our words, our lives.
It’s not just a Sabbath day: it’s a Sabbath life. “Peace out, girl scout” as my son might say. God’s rest is His presence, His peace, Him. Relax: if you’re a believer in Jesus, you’re already receiving that peace even if you sometimes don’t feel it. Shouldn’t we use our lives to help grow His peace with those who don’t know it?
That’s a tall order these days. Right now, our armed forces are involved in more military actions than they were 8 years ago (when we were still fighting 2 wars). Right now, malcontented rioters are violently protesting in large American cities because they didn’t get their way. Right now, we are a divided people living out human ambitions instead of those given to us by God.
Right now, then, is the time to turn back to God. To uphold the law but forswear illegal violence against it. Right now is the time to let Jesus look through our eyes and work through our hands. Yes, celebrate and implement real change by re-invigorating our principles but let’s do so with strength, grace, and mercy. Live Jesus without compromising on His principles that guide you. He never did. The Jesus of peace is the same Jesus who stridently drove out the moneychangers. Lead with God’s peace but hold firm in God’s strength, then think, speak and act with those vital tools. The behavior that results will be indwelt with God’s overwhelming peace. In that we will find rest from our division, labor and strife. Since the creation of the world, it’s what He created us to do.
For more reading: Psalm 95:11, Deuteronomy 1:34-35, Hebrews 3:11, Genesis 2:1-3.
Lord God, grant us Your peace. Help us to hold fast to You and Your strength, yet let us use that strength to heal our divided land in peace and with Your ideals.