(James Smith, "The Rest!" 1865)
"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Hebrews 4:9
We shall consider these words as referring to HEAVENLY rest:
our Father's house,
our Savior's home, and
our eternal dwelling-place!
To the weary and way-worn — there is something delightful in the thought of REST, and they love to think of Heaven as the place where they shall "rest from their labors."
REST gives us the idea of . . .
repose — the calm, quiet repose of the soul;
refreshment — the refreshment of the exhausted spirit after conflict, sickness, or toil;
restoration to vigor — after debility, languor, and fainting.
Heaven will be a rest . . .
from sin — which will no more grieve us;
from sorrow — which will no more trouble and distress us;
from fears — which will no more harass and perplex us; and
from conflicts — which will no more agitate and suppress us.
It will be a rest . . .
with God in His glory,
with Jesus in His immediate presence,
with saints and holy angels in full perfection and blessedness.
This rest is FUTURE — it remains for the people of God.
This rest is the object of our hope and DESIRE. We look forward to it, with holy longing and cheering anticipations.
This rest is PERFECT — free from all mixture of anything that will agitate, give pain, or cause grief.
This rest is UNINTERRUPTED — nothing will ever occur to disturb, distress, or agitate us any more.
This rest is GLORIOUS — as bright as the meridian sun, as balmy as the most pleasant morning, as glowing with holiness, splendor, and majesty.
This rest is ETERNAL — and this is best of all. The possibility of a change, of a return to former scenes — would spoil all. But that rest will be enduring — as changeless as the Divine nature, and as glorious as the Divine perfections.
Blessed be God for such a rest for the weary, suffering, and downcast believer in Jesus! Oh, to keep the eye fixed upon it, and the heart expecting it — amidst all the troubles and trials of time!
This rest is FOR the redeemed people of God. They are now a poor, tried, tempted, and restless people; strangers and pilgrims upon the earth, as all their fathers were.
Satan tempts them,
sinners try them,
fears harass them,
Providence perplexes them,
and they often cry out, "O that I had wings like a dove — then would I fly away and be at rest!"
Believer, let the prospect of this eternal glorious rest, cheer you in toil and trouble! Your work will soon be finished, your trouble will soon come to an end — and then rest — the glorious rest, remains for you!
Let your Heavenly rest, quicken your pace homewards! You are going to a rest — a perfect, uninterrupted, and eternal rest — a rest in Heaven, a rest with Jesus, a rest in the presence of your God forever! Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, and press on towards the mark, cheered by the prospect of the end of the race.
Remember, Christian, this rest is SECURE, for Jesus has taken possession of it for you. "I am going," said He, "to prepare a place for you." Yes, Jesus has gone there for you, He has taken possession in your name, He is preparing your place, and will soon come and receive you to Himself!
Remember too, that it is NEAR — very near. Perhaps much nearer than you may think!
You may be sighing, sorrowing, striving, wrestling, doubting, fearing, and cast down today; and tomorrow you may be in your Heavenly rest!
Today, you may be lying like Lazarus, at the rich man's gate, full of sores; tomorrow, you may be basking in the beams of Immanuel's glory!
Today, you may be on the bed of sickness, suffering, and pain; tomorrow, you may be in the presence of Jesus, where there is no more pain, neither sorrow nor crying!
Who can tell how near we all are to our Heavenly and everlasting rest?
Remember also, that your very trials, toils, and sufferings here on earth, may SWEETEN your rest to you! And that soon, very soon — you may be rejoicing over your present sorrows, and praising God for what now fills you with grief and sadness. Things will look very different there — from what they do here. Never, never forget, then, in your darkest nights, in your most trying days, in the midst of every storm and tempest, when passing over burning sands and under a scorching sky — that there remains a rest for the people of God, and a rest for you!
"Arise and depart; for this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!"
"There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest!"