A Life of Rest- Hebrews 10:11-13
As we examine these verses, we come upon a passage in which the biblical paradigm for speaking on different “levels” and to different issues in the same passage can be readily observed. On a primary, most fundamental level, this passage speaks to the main theological purpose of the epistle to the Hebrews, for it tells us firstly that the priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus are superior to the priesthood and sacrifice of the Old Covenant, since the Old are temporary and repeated, while the New is permanent and done once for all. The Old covered over sin , while the New takes it away, the Old was a life of work while the New provides a life of rest. It is at this point of Jesus “resting”, of His “sitting down at the right hand of God”, that the writer speaks to us on another “level”, at which he speaks to the application of this theological truth in the life of the believer. Verses 11-12 read as follows in the NIV: “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again, he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God”. Again, the fundamental point is the comparison between the “settledness” of the New Covenant priestly function and the “unsettledness” of the Old, of the life on continual “work” of the old priesthood and the “rest” of the new. It is at this point in which we encounter the application of the writers message to the life of the New Covenant believer. Due to the permanent and final nature of the priestly work of Jesus, the New Covenant believer is offered a life of rest, a life of “sitting down” while still “working”, just as Jesus did, for Jesus tells us Himself that He and His Father are “working” ( John 5:17). We then find out what this resting while hard at work entails, for verse 13 tells us that Jesus waits for His enemies to be made His footstool. What this is telling us is that we will have “enemies” to deal with even in this life of rest, just as Jesus dealt with enemies while He was doing His work. What all of this means is that the priestly ministry of Jesus enables the believer to live a life of rest in the midst of a world which can be openly hostile to the message of Jesus and to those who spread it. This is not an external rest from having “work” to do for the Kingdom of God in the presence of many enemies, but an internal rest, a rest from the fear and anxiety which those enemies will try to bring about in our lives. This rest is not a rest “from” work, but a rest “for” work, because those enemies will try to use any internal fear and anxiety they can bring about to keep us from doing the work of God in our lives, and it is this “rest” which enables us to effectively “work”. It is our prayer that every believer would “sit down” as Jesus did, resting in the knowledge of who we are and whose we are, able to boldly proclaim the message of Jesus, living a life of “rest” while hard at work for the Kingdom of God.