Embracing God's Eternal Rest: From Creation to Redemption


God’s rest began at creation, continued in the covenant, and came to fruition at the cross. The writer of Hebrews then commented on God’s Sabbath rest: “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it” (Hebrews 4:1). This good news declares that Jesus died for our sin and paid the penalty purchased by the fall. As the perfect Adam, he then reversed the curse and restored our path to paradise. So, the only fear we still have should be the fear of not entering his rest—of remaining hard-hearted like the stubborn Israelites wandering in the wilderness. “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened” (v. 2). God’s rest comes by hearing the gospel and responding in faith, so that we will spend eternity with him in glory.

Application Insight: You cannot enter into God’s rest without faith in him or know his perfect peace without believing in Jesus. You might hear the good news over and over like the Israelites heard the law of God, but unless you believe in God you will never have rest. Today is the day of your salvation.

“For 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” (vv. 9–11). In the beginning, God rested on the Sabbath day from his work of creation. Yet not for long. For when man sinned, God took up his work of redemption. He preserved the promised seed, carried Noah through the flood, and called Abram out of Ur (Genesis 3:15; 6:8; 12:1–3). He gave his people a taste of that redemption in the exodus out of Egypt. He foreshadowed his people’s joy by instituting the Sabbath in the promised land and by providing them momentary blessings. Yet they soon forgot about the exodus and ceased their observance of the Sabbaths. They disobeyed their creator’s commands and sought after idols. So, God removed them from the land by means of exile.

Despite his people’s failure, however, the Lord continued his faithful work of accomplishing redemption. Following the exile in Babylon, he returned his people to the land and they began again to observe the Sabbath. Yet many practiced the law in form, though not in faith. They embraced the symbols, though not the substance. So, God sent forth his Son to fulfill the law and to usher in the final rest: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He then declared this redemptive work complete as he cried out from the cross, “It is finished!” Therefore, anyone who believes in Jesus may enter his spiritual rest: “As the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’” (Hebrews 3:7–8a; Psalm 95:7–8).

Application Insight: Do you want to know God’s rest and experience the abundant life he promised? Do you want to spend eternity with him in perfect peace? Do you want to know what paradise was like before the fall and what it will be like when Jesus comes back to reign again? Then, do not wait until tomorrow: “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2b). Come to Jesus and he will give you rest.

Consider what it will be like to rest in Jesus. First, it is joyous rest as at creation “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). When God declared creation, “Very good,” he expressed his joyful pleasure. So also, when we rest in Jesus we rejoice in his finished works of creation, redemption, and the promise of eternity with him.

Second, God’s rest is peaceful. In Christ, all fear is gone because he has washed away our sin and cleansed our guilty consciences. In Christ, we also embrace our future hope: “‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors…’” (Revelation 14:13).

Finally, God’s rest is satisfying in its fulfillment of the redemption story. Our God anticipated the heavenly consummation even before that first creation week he made the world. It was still on his heart as he made a covenant with Israel and as he sacrificed his Son upon a cross. It remains on his heart today as he calls you to find your rest in gospel truths. For man was made to rest in God and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in him.

Throughout the Scriptures, we have discovered how Jesus said “No” to the consequences of the fall in order to say “Yes” to something much better. He said “No” to busyness and “Yes” to his Father’s work. He said “No” to people-pleasing and “Yes” to fearing God. He said “No” to self-importance and “Yes” to humiliation. He said “No” to sin and “Yes” to the cross, “No” to human ministry and “Yes” to divine glory, “No” to sickness and to death and “Yes” to eternal life, “No” to restlessness and “Yes” to the final consummation. Jesus said “No” on our behalf, so that all the promises of redemption in him might be for us “Yes and Amen!”

8/31/2023 4:06:01 AM
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  • Tom Sugimura
    About Tom Sugimura
    Tom Sugimura is a pastor-writer, church planting coach, and professor of biblical counseling. He writes at tomsugi.com, ministers the gospel at New Life Church, and hosts the Every Peoples Podcast. He and his wife cherish the moments as they raise their four kids in Southern California.