Psalm 23, Deuteronomy 10:12–22, Hebrews 4:4–13
Sleep is good. Rest is good. Too much of either is bad. Too little of either is bad. Sleep and activity must be balanced. All too often, however, neither of these are correctly balanced in our lives. The lazy or lonely or depressed often get too much rest, and movement begins to cease. Those who are too active, rarely resting, usually become less themselves and even begin to lose their grasp on things, trying to keep it all together. Does any of this sound like you?
While Psalm 23 may be the most famous psalm, and many take solace in it. In the King James Version, Verse 2 says, “…maketh me to lie down…” The NIV says, “…he makes me lie down…” Some translations do say, “…lets me…”, but most don’t. The Hebrew “rabats” (רָבַץ) has more emphasis than just “lets”. David was a shepherd as a boy, during his most formative years, so shepherding would always be near to his heart and understanding. Sheep (like people) sometimes have to be made to rest. Are you being made to rest? Resting is not everything, though.
As Moses speaks to the people at the edge of the Promised Land, he calls them to Holy activity. They are instructed to walk in God’s ways. They are to love God. They are to worship God (with their whole hearts and souls). They are to do something. They must be in relationship with God. Yes, there were rules. Before you are quick to judge the Israelites on the law, look at our own law books, and understand that we have far more rules than they did. This perspective is important as we Christians are often too quick to say how bad “all” their laws were. The center of it all was heart and soul directed toward and in relationship with God. As they entered the Promised Land, they were to take this understanding with them. If they had taken it truly to heart and practiced it, the story would have turned out different.
In some ways, the author of Hebrews is trying to drive home the same point. Hearts aligned with God achieve true rest. However, note that the author of Hebrews did not end there. The author of Hebrews notes that Joshua did fully realize the goal, but does not blame Joshua. It was a pattern of disobedience that led to a lack of rest in the Promised Land. The author of Hebrews is warning his readers that we cannot just “rest” on God’s grace and love. We must respond to it. God’s grace and love don’t “require” a response, but only a response of following, love, and worship (from heart and soul) is a true relationship with God.
1) Have you ever found yourself checking-off the “God to-do” list? What emotions come to mind when you think of that?
2) Why do you think Moses emphasizes “heart and soul”? Shouldn’t one be enough? Aren’t they the same? What about the mind?
3) We are often busy doing “stuff”. How much of this “stuff” is Holy activity?
FD) Do think it odd that the writer of Hebrews says, “make every effort to enter the rest?” Effort to rest? What does that mean?