The Christian’s Rest in Trouble Times

02-25-98
Barrett Holloway

Hebrews 4:9-11

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

A person would not have to be a believer in the Bible to know that these are perilous times. It requires no spiritual discernment to know that the foundations on Earth are out of course in every realm, both government and families. They who do not believe this and refer to all who do as pessimist have their heads buried in the sand and refuse to look at things the way they actually are. It requires no one of great intelligence to summarize the times in which we live as wicked or evil. This is a fact of life in these days and few are those who do not believe this. If one does believe the Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God, then they know that we are only seeing the fulfillment of those things which have been spoken. You cannot read God’s Word without coming to the realization that surely these are the last of the last days in which the Apostles spoke. All of the Apostles speak of the perilous times that shall come upon men in those days just prior to the coming of the Son of God. Jesus, Himself spoke often of the last times such as in Luke 21:25, 26, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Surely, these are those times of which our Lord spoke and they shall only increase and intensify as His coming draweth nigh.

What is one to do if we are only in the beginning of the evil day? How will anyone survive if things get worse than they are now? Those who are outside the ark of safety will continue to fill the psychiatrist and psychologist’s offices because they have nothing within to quieten their hearts and minds. These people will continue to use drugs to settle their nerves and enable them to cope with the situation and develop optimistic views that they have no warrant to do. They will continue to use the powers of their mind in “positive thinking and living” to escape the reality of this very grave dilemma. Heart attacks and mental breakdowns will increase because of the pressure around and within that these evil days have brought upon us. They are like Ahithophel, David’s former counselor who had turned on him, when he saw that his counsel was not heeded by Absalom went out and hung himself. He had nothing to live for because his pride had been destroyed by his counsel not being taken and there was nothing within to sustain him in this state of dejection and depression. It is not so with God’s children and this brings us to the text in Hebrews.

To the Christian who has been brought to Christ, the evil around may shake for a time their courage and produce fears within but it will not destroy them. This is a true statement only to those who have found the rest of which the Apostle speaks. If you are to survive in this wicked and evil generation and maintain a healthy soul, you must have help and that comes not from another individual. If you carry out the work which has been given you in supplying to the other joints in Christ’s body, remain steadfast and not have a nervous or mental breakdown, it will be due to the fact that you have been brought to this rest of which the Apostle speaks. The word ‘rest’ comes from the Greek word, ‘Sabbatism’ or that sacred rest which is found alone in the Lord Jesus. Noah sent forth a dove from the ark to see if the flood waters were abated from off the earth, but the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned to the ark. This old world had just gone through the judgment of God as He broke up the fountains of the deep, destroying every living creature from off the face of the earth. The only place of safety during this great tribulation was in the ark that Noah had built by the directions of the Lord. In the latter days, God once again will judge this evil world and its effect will reach even to the elect and unless we find this ‘sacred rest in the ark of God, the Lord Jesus, it will destroy us. We must be as the dove dwelling in the ark and when we are sent forth, we must hasten to return that the flood waters around us will not destroy. This Sabbatical of which the Apostle writes has nothing to do with our eternal resting place or heaven but everything to do with our journey through the wilderness. It is coming to a state inwardly where tranquility and peace sit upon the heart to calm it and give the serenity that one needs. It is a believer coming to and abiding in Christ. When Habakkuk was told what was coming on the nation of Israel because of God’s judgment against them for sin, he said he would get to the watchtower and there wait and watch to see what God would say to him. He knew that survival through this could only be found in that elevated place with God which took him above all that was taking place around. Abiding with Christ is like the ark rising on the flood waters. It is getting us to that place where events and circumstances around will have little effect upon us. Here as in the ark, one will enjoy the “peace of God which passeth all understanding” and have the “peace of God rule within” or sit as an umpire over our spirits.

You ask how can one get to that place? The answer is given in verse number 10 of our text. You cease from your own works as God ceased from His and rested the seventh day. You quit all vain attempts to make yourself happy and begin to rest in that which God has done for you. Often when we become perplexed within, we turn to things that we can do which might relieve us from this condition. We look to works which we might perform for God and then we will have God obligated to us and He will come and deliver us from our difficult and trying situation. You will never come to this ‘sacred rest’ by works which you might do. There must be an abandonment of all efforts on your part to do something for God and by faith rest in that which He has done for you. When God saw the works that He had done, He saw them as good and rested from all His works. How much greater was His delight in seeing what Christ did? Jehovah rest and rejoices in the manifestation made of His character in the person and work of Christ. It is like the offering which ascended to God as a sweet odor. Both He and the priest and the people ate of that one offering. Surely, that which satisfies the Almighty and holy One can satisfy me. If God delighted in the Person and work of His Son, how much more should I delight in Him and find this as rest for my soul. What can one possibly do to add anything to the works of Christ? Finding this resting place means that you cease from you own works and fling everything on Christ.

Verse 11 gives warning to all. “Let us labour to enter into that rest lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. The Lord has set Israel before us as an example of unbelievers and how they never enter into His rest. Israel didn’t enter the promise land because of their unbelief. The word labour carries with it the idea of a diligent and persevering work where the Christian puts all his energies into it. Do not expect to enter this suddenly for you only attain unto this rest by degrees. Peter gives the Christian a list of things to “diligently” add to their faith. He knows that true faith is not something that we work up or diligently apply ourselves to, but is the gift of God. Once faith has been attained, then we can begin to add to this knowledge, temperance, patience, and so forth. The ‘sacred rest’ is gained by degrees as the Lord educates one. He sends us to school, pre-school at first and then we move into higher realms of this education, but this will require much labor on your part. See to it that you come not short of the rest God has promised. There may be some Christians who make it into heaven who have spent all their life time worrying or in a state of depression but these people will be of no benefit to anyone, not even themselves. Yes, you and I live in perilous times but there is a hiding place in Christ Jesus and all can enter there by simple faith alone. David said of the Lord, “He is my rock, my fortress, and my deliver” and when you have found Him to be that for you, you are in that ‘sacred rest’.

May the Lord be pleased to minister these few remarks to the heart that is sorely tried and feel that any moment you would sink into total despair. Keep your eyes upon Christ and you shall find in Him all that the Book says He is.

To Him be glory in the Church both now and forever.  bh