An Empty Church
In this week’s lesson we jump straight into the metaphor...an empty church. Due to circumstances we are unable to meet this week but that shouldn’t keep us from God’s word.
The church may be a place to go, but it is the people that truly make the church a church. But if we just stay inside our church what good does that do? If Jesus stayed in his tomb it would have been the logical conclusion, and a good story, but Jesus (and each of us) had more to do. Let’s look into this week’s readings from Hebrews 4, using NLV, for reference.
God promises rest, but it is mentioned several different ways. Hebrews 4:4 as cited from Genesis 2:2: "On the Seventh Day He rested because His work was good." Simple enough, that one is easy.
Then it goes on to say in Hebrews 4:5 as taken from Psalms 95:7-8: "They will never enter my place of rest."
So we aren’t just talking about taking a day off anymore? What is this place of rest?
I was recently reading that ever intriguing book in the Bible called Numbers (yawn….zzzz......oh sorry about that). In Numbers 20, the Israelites are in the Wilderness of Zin at the settlement of Kadesh; some have already not been obedient to God and have been “cut off”, swallowed up by the earth for attempting a revolt or even killed by God. And even though all the Israelites have witnessed God’s wrath on the disobedient, they still questioned God through Moses and Aaron.
This is when God tells Moses to strike a rock with his staff to make water spring from it so that the people will still have faith in God, but then God also said that none of the people on the census (20 years old and up, according to Numbers 1) would make it to the Promised Land. So this is the second “rest”, the Promised Land.
A special rest still to come
Finally Hebrew continues in 4:6 we learn of a third rest, God’s rest and it continues immediately in 4:7: "God set another time for entering His rest and that time is today!" And it goes on in 4:9: "There is a special rest still waiting for the people of God."
I know what they’re talking about here...HEAVEN!!! GOD’S REST is HEAVEN!!! and the way to get there is JESUS!!! and EASTER, HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION IS THE WAY!!! AMEN!!!!!!
(Deep breath, let that sink in a moment.)
Hebrews 4 closes it this way in versus 14-16:
So with God as our Creator, Jesus as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our Guide throughout our journey, until we are “laid to rest” (which we learned means “delivered to heaven” ) let us empty our churches and go out, disciple, witness, and lead others to Christ, so that they too can reach God’s Rest.