In at least five places in Scripture people are invited to enter a place of rest for their souls by trusting the plan and promises of the Lord:
The Exodus Generation - 1445-1405 BC
- The Exodus Generation from 1445-1405 BC
- David’s Generation in 1000 BC
- Jeremiah’s Generation from 620-586 BC
- Jesus’ Generation in 30 AD
- Believers in Jerusalem in 63-66 AD
David’s Generation - 1000 BC
- Exodus 33:14 – And he said “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
- Joshua 1:13 – Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, “The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.”
- Psalm 95:11 – Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”
Both Jesus and Jeremiah spoke of this place of rest for a person’s soul if that person could hear the words of God and learn God’s ways:Jeremiah - 620-586 BC
Jesus - 30 AD
- Jeremiah 6:16 – Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for our souls.” But they said, “We will not walk in it.”
- Matthew 11:28-29 – [Jesus said] “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Just like in Jeremiah’s day, the people of Jesus’ day would end up rejecting the Lord’s offer of rest for their souls:
Believers in Jerusalem - 63-66 AD
- Matthew 12:6-8, 14 – I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath… But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
- Hebrews 3:18 – And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?
- Hebrews 4:1 – Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
- Hebrews 4:3 – For we who have believed enter that rest, 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.
- Hebrews 4:8 – For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.
- Hebrews 4:9 – So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
- Hebrews 4:11 – Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
This rest for the soul happens when we are confident in God’s plan. God’s rest is not found in external circumstances or achieved with internal distractions. The rest that the Lord invites us to is obtained and maintained only by believing the promises of the Lord.
In 1445 BC the people were promised that the Lord would lead them through the wilderness to the land promised to their forefathers. In 1000 BC David spoke of trusting the Creator God to be the sustainer and provider of his people throughout time. Between 620 and 586 BC Jeremiah encouraged his generation to return to the established truth revealed to his people by God through the prophets and the writings of Moses. In 30 AD Jesus, the Living Word, invited the people to come to him and learn from him. In 63 AD the author of the book of Hebrews spoke to those who had heard and trusted in the promises of Jesus Christ. Each of these generations had people who secured their souls by trusting the Word of the Lord, but they also had large numbers who refused to listen, refused to understand and refused to believe the clear teaching they heard.
Those who believed and maintained their confidence in the promises of God despite the particular opposition each faced (e.g., perils of the wilderness, fears of life and persecution for believing the truth) prepared their souls for rest. Those who understood and trusted the Word of God were able to stabilize themselves in the midst of confusion, problems, and persecution. They grew stronger. They matured to produce fruit. And, their understanding and faith increased.
Those who refused to believe or could not maintain their confidence in the Lord during times of confusion, problems, or persecution were either eternally lost or could not grow into mature believers. They either perished for all eternity or lived fruitless lives in this age before their Lord.
Hear and understand the promises of the Lord today so that you may enter his rest.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. - Isaiah 26:3
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40:28-31