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Entering His Rest October 18, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Hebrews 4:1-13

Proper 24

October 18, 2015

 

Focus:  God cares for His people.

Function:  That the hearers trust in God to care for them.

Structure:  Story/Reflection.

 

Entering His Rest

 

I want to share with you two pieces of our history today.  As I do, pay attention for what connects these two accounts together.

For the first, we have a group of people, probably some 2 million strong, lost.  They have been journeying around in wilderness for months on end, setting up camp at night, only to break it in the morning.

A large group comes before the leader, a man named Moses, and they begin shouting at him.  Challenging his leadership, calling into question what they’re even doing anymore.  Why are we here?  We had plenty to eat back in Egypt.  Pots of meat, cooked and ready to eat.  And now nothing.  We’re dying of starvation in this desert!

Moses took the matter up with God, sharing the complaint, asking for help.  And the Lord made a promise, a promise that He would indeed give the people food to eat, enough for the day.  And so He set before them something they’d never seen before.  What is it?  Also known as manna.  A bread-like food, tasting of honey and coriander.

And the Lord said that six days of the week, they would wake up and they would find this manna covering the ground, that they should collect as much as they thought they would need for the day, but only that day.  They were to keep none of it until morning.  And on the sixth day, they were to collect twice as much, as there would be nothing out there the seventh morning.

And as dawn broke, the people came out of their tents and saw with their own eyes, manna.  Food to eat.  And so they grabbed their jars, every man, woman, and child, and they went and filled their jars to their liking.  Scooping up this bread from heaven.  It wouldn’t have taken long, the whole ground was covered.  They probably didn’t even need to walk far from their tents.

And so as the day went, they ate, they enjoyed.  They were fed.  But as the next morning broke, the camp awoke to the smell of rot.  Rotting bread filled with maggots.  But they were able to repeat the process.  Until the seventh day, when many went out in the morning to gather, but there was nothing there.

The other account is of twelve spies.  God had made His people a promise, that He would lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey.  Flowing with the very stuff of life, the needs of our bodies, and then some, with the sweet taste on top of it.  The promise of needs met, and blessings abounding.

The same Moses then sent out twelve men to go into this land, to cross the Jordan River, to go into the land of Canaan and to see what the land looked like.  To scope out who lived there, and to bring back some of the fruits.  Bring back news of how great this land really was.

Forty days later, these twelve spies returned from their trip with conflicting reports.  Ten of the men spoke of the people who lived there being like giants, with fortified cities, and little hope that they could possibly overtake them.  It would be certain death.

The people didn’t wait to hear the other two men, they revolted.  They rose up against Moses and sought a new leader who would take them home to Egypt to their pots of meat.

Could you hear the common link?  These are the very people to whom God made a promise, the very people who have seen the works and the miracles of His hands, and He has said to them, “I will provide.  I will give.  Trust Me.”

God made them promises, but what did the people do with them?  He promised to lead them and to provide for them.  But they chose to ignore Him.  They chose ignore the great things they had seen, and to trust instead in their own hands, their own abilities.

This is what the unknown author of the book of Hebrews is talking about in the text.  These are the men and women who heard, but disobeyed.  Who heard the promise, but hardened their hearts.  They didn’t believe.  And so God said they would not enter His rest.

The promise of rest to them was both present and eternal.  The promise of rest was a now and not yet.  The promise of rest was a gift.  You get a day off every week.  Enjoy it.  I’ll do the work, you rest.  I created this world and everything in it.  I can keep you safe and fed on your day off.  Rest.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Present, but also yet to come.  Because this trust in the Lord leads to the second rest, the everlasting rest.  That trusting in Him, having that relationship with Him, would lead them not just to a Promised Land, but to a life that would never end.

But they refused.  They refused the gifts, they refused the rest.  They refused to trust.  And in the end, they received neither, neither the present, nor the eternal rest of God.

The author of Hebrews wants us to know this and to learn from it.  He says,

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 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. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

 

He beseeches us to learn from their mistake, and to trust in the Lord and His promises.  You see the promise of a now and not yet time of rest is to you as well.  That He is your Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.  That He who created you from nothing can and will care for you if you take one day off each week for rest.

A simple glance around our society would say we’re doing what the Israelites did.  That we’re refusing, that we’re going out on the seventh day in search of work, when it’s already been done.  And it seems the average work week simply increases with every passing year.  In 2014, it was up to 47 hours a week.

How many families see both spouses work because of a need for more income?  How many people find themselves taking on second, even third jobs, to make ends meet?  For how many of us have our schedules become so full that it often feels like there’s no time left even to breathe?

Do we really believe the words of the catechism, or do we just vainly say them?

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of the.  He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have.  He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.

 

This is what our gospel reading last week was all about.  It’s what most of you know as the rich young ruler.  He wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life.  And Jesus told him, keep the commandments.  After saying he’s kept them since he was a boy, Jesus challenged that statement.  He asked him to sell everything, give it all away, and follow Him.

We often make the mistake of thinking that text is about money, but it’s not at all.  It’s about trust.  The young man couldn’t trust that Christ would provide, that God would take care of him.  He insisted on doing it for himself, on trusting his stuff to give his life meaning.  He actually hadn’t kept the commandments.  He’d broken the very first one.  Money, stuff, had become an idol, it had become his god.

If you’re struggling to trust the Lord, come and see me.  If it’s figuring out how to have space in your life, I’ll be your accountability partner.  If it’s making the most of every dollar so you have more time to rest and to enjoy God’s creation and His gifts to you, I’d be happy to confidentially coach you.

Because in the end, this thing called Sabbath isn’t about work, or money, or stuff, or really even time.  And it’s not even about going to church on Sunday morning, because God’s part of your whole life, not just on Sunday.  This thing called rest is all about trust.  It’s all about trusting in His promises, that He can do what He has said.

The promise with the manna was that God would be God.  That indeed He would provide for them each and every day.  Some of the Israelites got it, some of them listened well.  That they could live life knowing He was in control, that He loved them, and that He would even feed them.

The promise of the Promised Land was that God would be God.  The other two spies got it.  Joshua and Caleb reported,

The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land.  If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.  Only do not rebel against the LORD.  And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us.  Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.

 

They got it.  That no matter the enemy, God would handle it.  No matter the odds, God would provide.  No matter what they faced, God was in control.

And even though this Joshua couldn’t give us rest, the next one did.  Joshua, Yeshua in Hebrew, is the same name as Jesus.  It means “He saves.”  God made us a promise, that He would be God.  And as the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise, Jesus Christ is indeed our Lord and Savior.  He saves.

And whether it’s Sabbath, manna, spies, or young rulers, whether it’s work, or busyness, or stuff, none of these things can provide for us.  Only God can do that.  We can’t earn it.  We can’t fight for it.  He’s done it.  It’s a gift, and it is a gift that He freely gives.  Trust in Him, for He is good, and enjoy the rest that only He can give.

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