Service Video Message Video Message Audio The service video is unavailable at this time. The sermon video is unavailable at this time. The sermon audio is unavailable at this time. Scripture Verses Hebrews 4:1-14 Downloads & Resources Remembering the Sabbath Dr. Jon Morrissette - 2/23/2003 I had applied for a maintenance job at the college that summer. The maintenance supervisor had a long list of projects that had to be completed by the end of summer. At the top of his list was prepping the dorms for the fall semester, which involved stripping and painting all the rooms. We started in the boys dorm by removing mirrors and unbolting furniture from the walls. We carried out the worn mattresses and spread tarps on the floor. We put newspaper and masking tape around immovable items. Then came the really fun part. We had to take a paint scraper and pick all the crud out of the crevices in the cinder block walls and ceilings. In one room we discovered that a guy had spent the semester sleeping under the stars. He had stuck glow-in-the-dark star stickers on the ceiling over his bed. In another room we were pleased to find crayon scribbles all over the wall. The handwriting would have embarrassed a two year old. We moved on to clean up candle wax, hardened food deposits, scuff marks, and other disgusting unmentionables. When we finished with the boys dorm we were excited at the prospect of working in the girls dorm. Ladies have a reputation for being so much neater, right? I cannot even begin to describe the horrifying sights that we experienced while cleaning the girls dorm! At the end of the summer we rested from our work. Our supervisor was satisfied and we were eager to see how the students would receive our work. Most students were really appreciative and treated their new environment with respect. But one night one group of students had a contest trying to break open canned food products by throwing them against a dorm wall. That explained all those food deposits we kept finding! On one floor a student working at a local pizza parlor brought back a bag of unused pizza dough. His idea was to have a doughball fight. In the girls dorm a few students were horse-playing and completely destroyed the woodwork that a man spent weeks crafting, staining, and finishing. So in the wake of all our hard work we found cause for great discouragement. I decided not to work in maintenance that next summer. Imagine that? Exasperated! When was the last time you found yourself being exasperated in a similar way? One thing that crushes the human spirit as fast as anything is realizing that our work or investment in someone or something has been in vain. Ladies, you spend all day on your hands and knees cleaning the house. You sweep, scrub on those stubborn carpet stains, wash dishes, fold laundry, clean the toilets and sinks and counters and shower and tub and mirrors and windows and fixtures and fridge, and you dust and put things away, and you're exhausted! I'm speaking hypothetically of course. But just as you kick back to enjoy your work, your husband comes home. He carelessly kicks off his shoes in the front room. He throws his coat over the back of the chair in the dining room. He tosses his work clothes on the floor in the corner of the bedroom. He messes up the bathroom. He fixes a snack and leaves dirty dishes in the living room. And then he plops down in his recliner and indignantly asks, "Honey, what did you do today? This place is a mess." I'm speaking hypothetically of course. Come on, you know what I'm talking about. This stuff happens every day. You roll up your sleeves, you put your best effort in, and you work hard. But then right as you begin to rest from your work, it happens. There is something intrinsic, a nerve perhaps, that reacts whenever this scenario presents itself. When we fully invest ourselves in something and put our best effort in and pour out our creative heart and soul, we want others to honor our investment and sacrifice by the way they approach our work! We want them to honor the spirit in which we gave of ourselves by not being so careless or ungrateful or indignant or irresponsible. We want them to be faithful with the part of our heart and soul we entrusted to them. We feel justified in getting angry when they don't live up to our expectations. Of course on the other hand, positively, we experience tremendous pleasure when others enter into work with a spirit of gratitude and responsibility. Entering God's rest. You already understand God far more than you could ever imagine. I know this sounds ridiculous, but try to imagine yourself in God's shoes at the time of creation. There is nothing but nothingness. The earth is formless and void. There is darkness. On the first day, you create light and separate the darkness. Years ago I took physics. Light is a particle. It's a wave, it refracts, it illuminates, it drives out the darkness, and it is so wonderfully mysterious. Imagine creating it! On the second day, you separate the waters by creating the sky. I know it's winter and gray overcast, but so often there is such a spectacular array of colors in the sky that it takes our breath away. It causes us to think of the glory of God. On the third day, you gather the waters together and create the seas. You create the dry land, abounding with seed-bearing plants and fruit-bearing trees. Remember the first time you stepped out into the ocean? Or caught a glimpse of the Grand Canyon? Or of the Rocky mountains? Or looked at a drop of pond water under a microscope? From micro to macro, life abounds everywhere! On the fourth day, you create the heavens and light the earth. You fashion the moon, the stars, the universe, the solar systems, and the distant galaxies. Whenever I want to feel a deep connection with God and sense his eternal power, his infinite majesty, and just be overwhelmed with God's greatness, I stand out under the stars and pray. The universe helps me imagine God. On the fifth day, you let the waters teem with living creatures. You fill every corner of the skies with birds. You create every living and moving thing, great and small creatures alike. On the sixth day, you let the land produce living creatures. You create livestock and creatures that move along the ground, wild animals. You design them to reproduce and multiply. I confess that I love the Discovery Channel, especially when they travel into the rain forests. God is so wonderfully and amazingly creative. He designed everything so uniquely and perfectly. On the sixth day, you also create man in your own image and you entrust all of creation, everything you just made, to him. He is to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the livestock, the earth, and the creatures that move along the ground everywhere. You bless man and pronounce your entire creation good. You are pleased and satisfied. On the seventh day, you have finished your work and you enter into rest. You bless the seventh day and make it holy, calling it the Sabbath. The Sabbath is to be a day of remembrance and celebration because on it you rested from your work of creating. But just as you begin to rest, right as you begin to take pleasure in all you created, you notice a disturbance in the garden. The man and woman you just created are train-wrecking your perfect creation. They sin. They blacken the flawless beauty of heaven and earth. They bring a curse upon that which was good and pleasing and perfect in your sight. And so on the seventh day, after six days of creative work, man enters your rest carelessly and irresponsibly and soils everything you entrusted to him. Let's pause here for a moment. How do you feel? What emotions do you experience? What thoughts are running through your mind? What do you do? Are we too afraid and politically correct to say that God became angry? That he grieved over the fact that he made us? That he was exasperated by our negligence? That he cursed disobedience? You already understand God far more than you realize. We entered into his rest, into his work, full of pride, and we indulged ourselves in disobedience! It was like we were making a mockery of all the work he had done and a mockery of the Sabbath. God works and works. But there is something else we learn about God. Yes, he is angered by rebellion, but his love compels him to work and sacrifice and seek and save and redeem and restore and again roll up his sleeves on our behalf! He didn't quit on us. Here is the pattern. God works and works so we can enter his rest. Our obedience to God is always predicated by God's work. It is in God's rest, in the wake of God's work, that we find ourselves entrusted with the hundreds of daily decisions that can potentially bring great pleasure to God. After Adam and Even sinned we find God again working to provide a new rest. Cain, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph; the Old Testament is filled with stories of men who found themselves entering into God's rest. Like us, these men were the beneficiaries or the trustees of God's work. Consider an example. Through Moses God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. He worked signs, wonders, and miracles. He displayed his power through the plagues. He allowed the Israelites to taste salvation through the Passover. He faithfully provided for the Israelites by supplying the daily sustenance of manna, quail, and water while they were escaping from Egypt. He daily assured them of his presence with a pillar of fire by night and later with the tabernacle. He gave them guidance in how to live God-pleasing lives by giving the ten commandments at Mount Sinai. He renewed their hope with a promise of rest. He led them toward the promised land and gave them the assurance of victory! But despite all God's work first in creation and then through the deliverance of Israel from captivity in Egypt, the Israelites groaned, whined, and complained. God found himself suffering their idolatry, their ingratitude, their rebellious disdain for his work, and their arrogant disobedience. The Israelites hardened their hearts! God works and works so we can enter his rest. But then how do we enter his rest? Do we really understand how exasperating it is to have someone repeatedly try to destroy our work? To disrespect and dishonor our efforts? Do we know what it is to be dishonored or mocked with disobedience? Entering God's rest. I think about our soldiers who are stationed all over the world in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea, and Japan.I think about our veterans. They laid down their lives for our freedoms. They endured the horrors of war, watching their friends get blown up, suffering trauma themselves, some becoming disabled, some even losing their own lives. I was listening to a Gulf War veteran explain how over one hundred thousand veterans of Desert Storm are experiencing the severe effects of Gulf War syndrome. Dizziness, extreme muscle pain, headaches, vomiting, constant sickness, fatigue, and severe memory loss. Veterans serve our country with selfless sacrifice, but how do we enter their rest? How do we receive their work? Well, some enter their rest with indifference by flaunting their freedoms, forgetting their sacrifices, burning the flag they died for, turning a cold shoulder toward them in their hour of need, or questioning the cause for which they have been enlisted. But many honor them by remembering their sacrifices and many responsibly use their freedoms. Hebrews 4:1-14 (NIV) reads, "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, 'So I declared on oath in my anger, They shall never enter my rest.' And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: 'And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.' And again in the passage above he says, 'They shall never enter my rest.' " "It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.' For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience." "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4 confronts us with the question of how we will enter God's rest. God works and works and then he rests, watching to see how you and I will respond. He watches, discerning the spirit with which we enter his rest. Hebrews describes how God became like us in every way. He was made a little lower than the angels. He endured tremendous suffering and pain in order to trailblaze a pathway between us and God. He tasted death on our behalf. He suffered humiliation and shame. He was brutally crucified on the cross for our sins. Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven to be at the right hand of God. He worked and worked so we could enter his rest. But how will we respond to God's work in Christ? Will we respond with faith and obedience and gratitude and humility and joy, or with something less? The simple message of Hebrews 4 is that God wants us to enter his Sabbath rest. He has given us great promises in Christ, promises that still stand. He is looking for our faith and obedience. He is looking for us to make every effort to enter his rest, so as not to follow Adam and Israel's examples of disobedience.