Better Than a Sunday Afternoon Nap

October 19 — Hebrews 4:1–11

Therefore since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

My wife has often said that there are few things better than a Sunday afternoon nap! Sundays have been the Christian Sabbath, a day of rest, for two thousand years. The Christian Church chose Sundays because it was also a day to remember the resurrection of Christ and to gather for worship. But, as the word Sabbath indicates, it is meant to be a day of rest just as God rested from His labor on the seventh day.

The interesting thing in how the author of book of Hebrews addresses rest is that he ties it our faith and obedience. In verse 2, he writes, “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they (the Israelites in the wilderness) did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” Later, in verse 6, he writes, “It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.”

What do faith and obedience have to do with rest? The kind of rest that the author of Hebrews is talking about is more than just shutting your eyes for an hour or so. He is referring to the rest we find when we abide in Christ. It is a “soul rest” where everything is right. There is no sense of separation from God or conflict in our hearts. It is deeply connected with a godly peace that we are promised when we enter a relationship with God where He is Lord of our lives and we submit to his rule over our lives.

The Israelites did not find such rest when they left Egypt and wandered in the desert. They did not find such rest because they continued to be a stiff-necked, rebellious people. They often refused to follow Moses’ leadership with grumbling and their straight-out complaints against God betrayed their hardened hearts. As a result, not one of the generation that left Egypt entered into the Promised Land other than Joshua.

What Hebrews 4 reveals is that God wants each of us to enter into His rest but this will require a change of heart. We cannot remain rebellious like the Israelites did. We need to trust the Lord with our lives — every area — and guard our hearts from slipping into the murky mentality that turns to our own ways rather than God’s.

If a Sunday afternoon nap is one of the great blessings in life, imagine having a restful spirit that is abiding in Christ. Such a rest doesn’t end when your eyes open but helps guide you through your day.