Labor Day. It’s that national holiday that is a redemption for your sanity. The relaxation of summer has come and gone and the busyness of fall has arrived. The first month of dragging your kids to school at 7 AM has passed. The first month of picking your kid up from whatever practice they have has flown by. Two weeks of high school football is in the bag. And the madness of college football has arrived. The last month seems like a blur, no like a whirlwind on steroids. You’re tired. You’re exhausted. Then comes Labor Day weekend. That blissful 3 day weekend you so desperately needed. That glorious Monday morning that you can actually sleep in. Spend it at the lake. Spend it at the beach. Spend it on your couch in a nap that feels more like a comatose state. It doesn’t matter how you spend it, you just need the rest.
And then Tuesday morning hits. Time to get up, time to go to work, time to drag those kids to school yet again. Labor Day has come and gone. That vacation is but a distant memory. That glorious nap you took on Monday afternoon is erased by the busyness of the day after Labor Day. It’s life. But in these mundane experiences I am reminded of a joyful-soul-rejuvenating, God glorifying truth. The rest I have in Jesus is infinitely better than my Labor Day vacation or nap. So let me tell you why He is and, if you have yet to meet Him, why you should enter His rest Today.
Why the rest Jesus gives is infinitely better than any vacation or nap or…anything this world has to offer…
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I assure you, He’s not inviting you to take a vacation or to nap time. Thanks to the preacher from Hebrews we get an explanation of some robust theology on The Christian rest in Hebrews 4:4…
For He has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh from all His works.”
You need not to be a biblical scholar to pinpoint where “somewhere” is. You most likely know that this is a reference to the creation narrative in Genesis. Specifically, it is a reference to the conclusion of that week, “the seventh day” of Genesis 2:2.
Here is why I find this quote from Genesis 2:2 in Hebrews 4:4 interesting. If you read the creation narrative of Genesis 1-2 closely you will catch a phrase that in the Hebrew is sounds somewhat like poetic formula for the transition of the first six days…
- And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:3)
- And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. (Genesis 1:8)
- And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. (Genesis 1:13)
That formula is present for the first six days but is absent on the seventh day and here’s the point of that: God’s rest has been active ever since the dawning of that seventh day. Did you catch that wording that I used? Rest is active. How can rest be active? Thanks to the Hebrews preacher’s theology on rest we also see that this rest in the Bible isn’t an offer for inactivity. Certainly no sane person would say that God has been inactive since creation week. God is very active in this world and I dare say very active in your life. What I’m saying is that the Biblical idea of rest isn’t an eternal nap in a galaxy far, far away. Rest is what you see God doing at the conclusion of the first six days which is as Genesis describes– looking at His work and declaring it is very good (Genesis 1:31) and that it is finished (Genesis 2:1). The idea is that of satisfaction and completion, not a state of inactivity.
Therefore, when Jesus invites you to come to Him for rest He isn’t inviting you to nap time. He is inviting you into eternal joy, infinite delight, and complete satisfaction in Him and in Him alone. He’s offering living water for your thirsty heart. He’s offering the bread of life for your dead body. He is offering rest for your restless spirit. It’s an invitation to rest in The One who on the cross said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) It’s the rest you’ve always wanted that you’ve never found in Labor Day or any other holiday for that matter. It’s that satisfaction of the heart that you’ve always sought but never found in this world. I just want to say it again: Resting in Jesus is being satisfied by faith in the finished work of redemption in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s seeing Christ for who He is and resting from your own works as God did from His. It’s the casting of oneself upon Christ in faith. Interesting enough, the Christian rest isn’t found on an island in Maui or on your couch. It is found at no other place except the old rugged cross of Calvary. Therefore Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Why you should come to Jesus Today if you do not know Him.
To make this point of persuasion I will turn to the author of Hebrews once again…
Again He appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, ” Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7, ESV)
It’s the word appoints that catches my eye. In the old King James the translators used the word, “limiteth.” The Greek word being used in this verse according to Strong’s concordance is one that expresses the idea of setting a boundary. It’s hard to escape the urgency of the context since the Hebrews author has used this quotation from Psalm 95:7 three times between Hebrews 3:7 and Hebrews 4:7. So what does setting a boundary have to do with the urgent tone of the context? It seems to me that the author of Hebrews wants you to certainly consider the invitation to enter the rest Christ offers, but consider it quickly my friend! Listen, there is a day to which all other days run to. A moment to which every other moment in history has been funneling towards. There is a time where every question finds its answer, every war it’s solution, and every human meets his or her maker. I am overwhelmed by the urgent tone of the New Testament authors, they constantly were looking for the second coming of Christ. They constantly warn their readers against growing slack in expecting the second coming. The Hebrews preacher is doing the same thing here by pointing out the obvious. If you’re reading these words then know that that Day has still not come, there is still time for the moment. However that day is coming. No man knows the hour, but it is coming. And when it arrives the invitation to enter His rest will no longer be valid. God will shut the door to His rest as He shut the door of the ark in Noah’s day. But Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. You should enter His rest today, because tomorrow you may find that the invitation is no longer being extended.
So here is where I sense I should end. Stop ignoring your Pastor’s plea during the invitation of the worship service and come to Christ today. I have so many memories of myself ignoring this great invitation. Memories ripe with that old grand piano striking the tune of Come ye sinners poor and needy. The urgency of the fourth stanza is purely inescapable…
“Come, ye weary, heavy-laden
Lost and ruined by the fall
If you tarry ’til you’re better
You will never come at all”
The preacher giving his passionate plea to the congregation in the background of that sobering hymn: Come to Christ! Come while there is time! Come to Christ! Heart beating like a drum. Throat closing up tight. White-knuckling the pew in front of me. There are so many memories of myself as a 16 year old lost sinner standing still as a stone on the wrong side of this great invitation. Maybe this isn’t a distant memory for you. Maybe this is the present moment. Maybe this will be you at this Sunday’s invitation of the service. If so, then stop ignoring your Pastor’s plea and come to Christ today because His rest is infinitely better than your Labor Day vacation or nap. He is infinitely greater than anything this world has to offer. Hear the invitation once again, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest and Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart.