“Let us therefore exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter into that rest of God.” — Hebrews 4:11
This verse first came alive to me during the dreary month of February, when the challenges of being a teacher and the dark, cold days of winter often make me weary. The physical demands and mental challenges of teaching and dealing with students, who are also weary, arises each year, and I wonder if rest will ever come. I’m sure many who live in northern climes can relate to the feelings of weariness that tend to attack in the winter, when days are short and darkness is pervasive. I was seeking rest and refreshment in my time with God, when I read Herbrews 4:11. I strongly desired to “enter into that rest of God.” Here was a verse where I could find an answer. But closer study revealed a seeming paradox.
Do you notice the two verbs in the sentence? Exert and strive? Does that sound like rest? What kind of rest is it?
- This rest of God is not referencing our final rest because dying does not take exertion or striving on our part.
- Exert and strive are action verbs. We have to do something.
- The rest of God is a place because our efforts allow us to enter.
- We must strive diligently, which implies it isn’t a onetime exertion; we have to keep at it.
How do we do it?
Exert is defined as “to put forth or into use, as power or to apply oneself diligently, to make a strenuous effort.” So, we are to put to use God’s power to enter His rest. As with everything in the Christian walk, we need to rely on God to accomplish this. We can’t do anything on our own.
Interestingly, the origin of the word is Latin and comes from exertus, meaning “thrust out, put forth,” from ex- “out” + serere meaning to “attach, join, or bind together.” So, if we bind ourselves to God, we will enter His rest.
The other verb in this verse is strive. We often think of strive as meaning “to try hard or to make an effort toward a great goal.” However, this word also means “to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete; to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance; or to rival or vie.”
To enter into God’s rest, we must battle the enemy. We must believe God’s word over the lies of the enemy. For who robs us of our peace, if not the enemy; who comes to us with lies, discouragement, and doubt?
How do we use God’s power to battle the enemy? We must walk in faith. By reading and studying God’s word and praying, we build our faith. Then we apply our faith to the battle. The battle is won through faith and prayer.
The Israelites did not enter into God’s rest because they did not exercise faith in God. Hebrews 3:19 (AMP) says, “They were not able to enter [into His rest] because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust to and rely on God.”
Entering into God’s rest means we strive to battle the enemy’s lies and bind ourselves to God. If you are weary, you may be trying to fight your own battle. Enter into God’s rest, trusting that God will accomplish good things in your life as He promises in His word.
“Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him.” (Psalm 37:7)
Until next time,