Don’t you just love the thought of rest? We relish our bedtime after a grueling day — or a quick, afternoon power nap. God has designed these human bodies with a need to rest. He also modeled rest to us when He finished with the six days of creation. He rested on the seventh day — not that He needed it because God never tires — but it served as a picture for us.
A good night’s sleep rejuvenates the body, refreshes the mind, and sets us on course for another day’s activity.
But God commands us (that is, our spirits) to live, 24/7 in this realm of rest. In fact, He tells us in Hebrews 4 that we need to be concerned — even fearful for our well-being if we refuse to enter into that state of spiritual rest.
What kind of rest? It’s spiritual rest — that place of surrender of our human exertions from the need to try to pick up and do for ourselves that, which only God can do. Scripture does not advocate that we sit under the shade of a tree and twiddle our thumbs and live a life of laziness. But to live in such a way that there are no worries — no concerns, no doubts about God’s ability to sustain true followers of Christ through any and all circumstances of life.
Then the writer of Hebrews makes reference to a people in Hebrews 3 who refused to enter into God’s rest. The scene was the wilderness where the Israelites wandered for 40 years. God’s provisions were always there — He had a plan for them - that was to enter into the Land of Promise which God vowed to give to Abraham and all his descendants.
But the Israelite Wanderers continued to grumble and murmur against God — and God’s leader Moses. They couldn’t be satisfied with God’s leadership, even though they remembered God delivering them across the Red Sea, provided manna from Heaven to sustain them, not to mention quail for meat, and also great protection. But they couldn’t be content — they could not rest, and God became livid with them. He said in Numbers 14:29 “Your carcasses shall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.”
Why? Because they refused to “rest” in God. They refused to trust that He could sustain them. Their unwillingness to rest in God was the very same thing as not trusting God.
That’s why He told New Testament believers in the book of Hebrews 3:15 “While it is said, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” That provocation is about the Israelites grumbling against God in the wilderness. It grieved Him — it provoked Him to wrath. And the penalty for their refusal to “rest” in Him was death in that wilderness.
So, therefore, we are commanded to rest in Him — regard Him as being in charge of your life. To do otherwise infuriates Him because it’s the same as waving our fists in His face and saying, “I just don’t think you are able.” What audacity!
Did you ever try to dress a toddler? You want him or her to just remain limp while you direct their arms into the sleeves. But no, they want to do it themselves - and it’s frustrating. I think that is a good illustration as to how God feels when we are determined to do things our way instead of being limp and giving the reigns over to Him so He can do that which only He can do - and do perfectly,
We are to “cast our cares on Him” (1 Peter 5:7), and we are to come to Jesus and permit Him to give us rest (Matthew 11:28) To live any other way is disobedience.