The Rest-Giver – Gospel in Life

The Rest-Giver

Tim Keller |  February 20, 2005

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  • Rest & Sabbath
Hebrews 4:1-13
RS 181-03

Hebrews 4:1–13

The book of Hebrews speaks powerfully to those who feel like they’re losing hope, highlighting the essential need for rest in our lives. It explores the two sides of rest: how we get there and where it comes from. The word “rest” crops up a lot, emphasizing its importance and urging us to accept God’s rest and turn away from disobeying Him.

1. Why rest matters

God’s words in Psalm 95 stress the importance of rest in our lives, something Judith Shulevitz rediscovered when she felt empty after ignoring the Sabbath. Encouraging overwork in society is as wrong as supporting theft or murder, and our modern fixation on work, driven by technology and the goal of personal success, has led to a cycle of weariness. This widespread tiredness and unrest are signs of a society in trouble.

2. The two kinds of rest

The idea of “rest” has many layers. For the Israelites, it meant physical and social freedom, and for God, it was a deep contentment in His creation. It also points to a deep, world-embracing peace that’s more than just physical or social, which we can only get through faith in the gospel. The gospel gives us a unique type of rest, freeing us from guilt and the constant pressure to prove our worth.

3. The struggle to reach rest

Real rest and openness are linked to our spiritual openness, as shown by Adam and Eve’s experience after they were separated from God. The problem isn’t work itself, but why we work, and the importance of finding value and self-esteem outside our jobs. Trying to justify ourselves through religious rituals is contrasted with the spiritual rest found in a true relationship with God.

4. The Source of rest

The image of being fully seen and known by God, as shown in verse 13, is a clear reminder of our human shortcomings and the standards we often set for others. But the introduction of Jesus as the merciful High Priest, who was sacrificed for us, brings a deep sense of hope and redemption. Through Jesus, we’re invited to stop trying to justify ourselves, to find rest, and to be covered in God’s love and glory, continually turning to the gospel for comfort and peace.



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