Enter God’s Rest

By Pastor Teck Uy

Whether we are able to enter God’s rest or not depends on how we respond to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Hebrews warns, “Since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it” (Heb. 4:1). The door is about to be closed and we need to act quickly and wisely. We can no longer afford to take life easy and not be ready. With all the troubles that we read about in newspapers, hear on the radio and watch on TV, we can see that we are now living in the last days.  It is for this reason that the apostle Paul further admonished believers saying, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ep. 5:15-16).

To fully illustrate the urgency and the need to prepare for his coming, Jesus gave the Parable of the Ten Virgins. In this parable, there were five wise virgins and five who were foolish. While they were all waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom, the foolish virgins missed the opportunity to get into the wedding banquet because they did not have enough oil for their lamps. When they were away buying oil for their lamps, the bridegroom arrived. The wise virgins went in with him and the door was shut. When the foolish virgins returned and found the door shut, they pleaded for the bridegroom to open the door for them, but all they got in response was, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you” (Matt. 25:12). Clearly, the foolish virgins were not careful in the way they prepared themselves for the coming of the bridegroom. While they seemed to have done their preparations, just as the five wise virgins, they fell short of what was expected of them. They did not have enough oil or strength to endure the waiting.

The warning of Jesus, then, is for us to “keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matt. 25:13). Let us not be one of those who have been found to have fallen short, just like the five foolish virgins. Let us be quick and ready when door of opportunity to enter God’s rest opens. The foremost reason cited by the apostle Paul why many will not enter God’s rest is sin. He said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Indeed, it is sin that will cause us to fall short of what God has prepared for us. No matter how much good work we will do to cover for the shortfall, it will never be enough. We must remember that the penalty of sin is death and only the death of the Lord Jesus Christ will be enough.

Looking back at Israel, it was because of the sin of murmuring and complaining as they passed through the wilderness that caused them to miss the Promised Land. God said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest’” (Heb. 3:11). They were not able to endure the test that came upon them in the wilderness, and wished that they could go back to Egypt. They did not realize that the wilderness was the stepping stone to the Promised Land. Today, it is through the Lord Jesus Christ that we enter God’s rest. The Book of Hebrews tells us, “ Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body” (Heb. 10:19-20).

Many fall short of the glory of God because they have not fully embraced the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not because no one preached to them, but because they did not believe. Again, the Book of Hebrews tells us, “For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them: but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Heb. 4:2). Yes, we all have heard (or will hear) the gospel preached but the difference comes in the manner we respond to it. We who responded in faith believed but those who did not (or will not) will consider the message foolishness. Needless to say, those who believed will enter God’s rest and those who did not will be condemned.

While we who believed look forward to that promised eternal rest in heaven, Jesus also offers rest here on earth for those who are waiting for it. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Lest we fall short of the glory of God because of the burden of our soul, let us respond to the Lord’s invitation to enter his rest. Glory to God!