We could all use some good news these days. Indeed, it’s very strange times in which we live. Some people are working overtime to keep us all safe. Healthcare professionals, truck drivers, even the attendant at the gas station, all have taken on a new level of importance in our lives and society.
Conversely, some are unable to work, or are having to work from home. The current unemployment rate reached 14.7% this week, which is the highest it’s been since 1948, the year our government started officially keeping track of the figure.
The good news is it won’t always be like this. Economies, and illnesses, run in cycles. So, what is threatening or even damaging to a society today, will be a memory tomorrow. But, far beyond that, there is the good news that one day God will intervene and give us rest from this maddening world in which we live.
I could use such a rest, and I look forward to it. My mother has already gone on to that rest, and I long to see her. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a death wish, but I wish I could experience that bliss God assures his people of coming after death. Part of me says with the apostle Paul, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”
But, we can’t just assume that once we die, or Jesus returns (whichever comes first) that we will have such a rest.
Hebrews 4:1-2 reads, “Therefore we must be wary that, while the promise of entering his rest remains open, none of you may seem to have come short of it. For we had good news proclaimed to us just as they (the Israelites in the wilderness) did. But the message they heard did them no good, since they did not join in with those who heard it in faith.”
Based on these verses, there is certainly a promise of entering rest with God. In fact, the author goes on to describe how God promises an even greater rest than the Israelites were assured of in the Promised Land of Canaan. But, the reality is that they didn’t enter the rest God promised, and there is the possibility that we might not enter it too. God’s rest is contingent upon the faith of those who receive the promise.
Notice in verse two above that the “good news” the Israelites heard “did them no good.” What a contrast! What a sad statement! There are many who will hear the “good news” of salvation in Jesus Christ, but not everyone who hears will receive the rest that is promised in that salvation.
I’ve always been a fan of classic country music. So, about 17 years ago I went to a Willie Nelson concert, shortly after Waylon Jennings had died. During the middle of the concert Willie said, “Let’s sing one for Waylon!” and launched into a rousing rendition of the old spiritual, “I’ll Fly Away.” I was sitting some distance from the mayhem around the stage, however I couldn’t help but notice that immediately a chorus of mostly intoxicated people chimed in and sang along with him, beers held high.
Something inside of me was revolted by the whole scene. I was saddened as I realized the absurdity of it all. Something was terribly amiss, but there was nothing in that situation I could do but watch. What is it that was missing? In a word, faith.
We can’t claim as our own a rest received from a God whom we neither live for, nor profess to believe in. And we sure can’t claim that rest apart from faith in Jesus Christ.
Let the “good news” do you great good! Live your life in and for Jesus Christ.