We are headed toward Spring Break. Some of us will have that week off as teachers and students, others will take the week as vacation time because kids are out of school. Some will head to the beach or Disney World or out west to ski if the man-made snow can hold out. Others will simply sit still at home, catch up on the “honey-do list,” and truly rest. These will be wonderful days of restoration. Even if the week is filled with travel and fun-filled attractions, there is still a rest for the soul that is so precious.
I would guess most of us love those times of vacation and rest when they come. We feel more sane, more centered, more whole. Probably many of us are thankful for our jobs and feel a sense of purpose in those careers, but we love our breaks too.
The Hebrew Christians knew something about breaks too. These thoroughly Jewish Christians would have likely still observed the Sabbath, a precious time of rest and reconnection. In the Old Testament this idea of “rest” was also a way to talk about the kind of life that would be experienced in the Promised Land of Canaan, and this is how it is being used in today’s reading:
They will never enter my rest. (4:3, 5)
You may remember that during the forty-year Wilderness Wanderings from Egypt to Canaan, there were some Israelites who let go of their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Punishment came and they died in the desert, far shy of the promised rest.
The idea of “rest” would have been precious to the Hebrew Christians. Each week in their Sabbaths they were experiencing a small piece of the Promised Land rest of their ancestors. But the Hebrews author reminds them,
There is still a future sabbath “rest” for God’s people. (4:9)
There is a new Promised Land we are journeying towards. We will cross over Jordan, led by a new Joshua, to a land overflowing with milk and honey. Better than any Sabbath will be the endless rest we experience in the New Creation with God. So don’t give up on Jesus:
Today, if you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts. (4:7)
Personally, I plan on enjoying my Spring Break. But I am also remembering there is a rest coming that is far longer, richer, and better.