Rest

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.                                                                  Hebrews 4:9-11 ESV

What is Canaan a symbol of? In many of our hymnals it is heaven, and the Jordan is death. I don’t want to dismiss that too easily, because there is a certain correctness there. But I’m not sure we really understand what the connection is between Canaan and heaven.

The connection is rest. More than 100 times Canaan is said to be the place of rest. But what are we talking about? In fact, the Hebrew word is closely related to “roost.” Noah knew when the dove did not return that it had found a place to rest – roost. Naomi said to Ruth that she had a responsibility to find a place of rest – a roost – for her widowed daughter-in-law.

What is a roost? It is a place where a bird can land and settle in for the night, or from the storm. The Hebrew people had been enslaved and oppressed, then they had wandered in the desert for forty years, prey to every kind of uncertainty. Now God was bringing them into a place where they could land and settle, and if they would be obedient, they could be secure.

But the writer to the Hebrews says that the Hebrews did not enter their rest. They didn’t? Oh, yes, they entered the physical land alright. But they never, or only rarely, experienced the rest the land was supposed to make possible. Why not? Because they would not give up their futile attempts to take care of themselves. They could not give up their fruitless trying to manipulate the forces of nature to make themselves secure.

Oh, brother, sister Christian, have you entered your rest? Like a bird settling down on a branch, have you given up your attempts to make your life work? Have you given over control of your life to your Lover? Have you stopped fluttering around from place to place and thing to thing?

That’s why Jesus saved you, to bring you to that blessed place of rest in him. Heaven is nothing other than the culmination of the rest we are intended to enjoy now. Oh, don’t miss it.

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