Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Rest - Part 2: Unrest

For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.” Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 04:03-10, NKJV).
There's a depressing timelessness about the events that occur in this world. While the accessories of sin may change with the times and technology, the underlying nature and motive is the same: offenses against a holy God, and self-aggrandizement, respectively.

Nothing is new under the sun in terms of human misbehavior. The results and reasons are the same throughout history. From "little white lies" to execrable, heinous depravity, all marches on as it has from Eden's demise.

Knowing this, as He knows all things, God still prepared, from the foundation of the world, a marvelous destiny for his beloved creatures, and called it rest. Specifically, His rest. Within the magnificent Creation Symphony, played out over the course of six earthly days, and building up to the stirring crescendo of His creation of the first human couple, He enacted a final dramatic pause: the Sabbath Rest. By doing this He signified His ultimate purpose and plan - the Universe and everything in it was designed and constructed for everlasting, carefree fellowship with God Himself.

He is like that father who takes great pains to provide joy, entertainment and safety for his beloved children in that custom backyard playground, except His playground is the Universe and all time, space and spirit.

Once mankind rebelled, that destiny was forfeit, again like that father who cannot reward bad behavior in his children lest their evil and rebellion be rewarded and they become incorrigible. In truth, Adam's sin could have ended the whole saga, but God in His mercy and love, chose before the outset to provide another way to regain the perfect fellowship that was lost, but it was at the greatest conceivable price - the death of His beloved Son on the Cross.

Belief in Christ, His virgin birth, His perfect life, His voluntary sacrifice and His stunning resurrection is all that is needed for the children to regain favor. In short, believing God is accounted for righteousness. In that sense, belief is a command that if disobeyed, renders all possibility of reconciliation null and void. 

Prior to Christ's incarnation, belief in the promise of the Coming One was the requirement that made one righteous, and since the sparklingly clear revelation of His actual earthly work and ministry, belief that He has come and finished the work of redemption is what is necessary.

And to those who remain in disobedient unbelief?

To them God has sworn that they shall NOT enter that rest, but shall be condemned for all eternity to agonizing unrest.

There can be no starker contrast; perfect joyful rest in God's Presence versus unending separation from that Presence, described as everlasting torment in Outer Darkness and eternal immersion in the Lake of Fire.

I am of the persuasion that God does not visit torture or punishment upon those who choose Hell, but that Hell itself, by definition, are those things inherently. What does it mean to be separated from the source of light and life and love forever? It means conscious agonizing pain, sorrow and regret that can never be relieved.

Unless you obey the command to believe, you will not enter that magnificent destiny fashioned before the foundation of the world.

Your eternity will be spent in unflagging weariness and striving to avoid that which can never again be avoided. It will be literal Hell in ways far beyond what we can conceive or imagine.

There has always been an effort to undermine the theology of Hell. It is nothing new.

But without Hell, there can be no Heaven. Without judgment there can be no justice.

And without faith, there can be no rest.