Lenten Readings: Day 8

Rest/Restless

Restless-Heart

The quotation is from Augstines Confessions c.400. The sign itself is more recent.

The passage from Hebrews today continues to riff off of the passage in Psalm 95 quoted in the past two days: “As in my anger I swore,“They will not enter my rest.””. The image is of a very anthropomorphic God, angry because of the people of Israel rejected him. My reading of this (perhaps not put as well yesterday as I could have said it) is that this is an anthropomorphic description of the consequences of rejecting God, and that, from a less anthropomorphic more objective perspective, “a life without the divine leads to restlessness, a long time in a forbidding wilderness  and the inevitable unsatisfying death.” We cannot enter into “the rest” of God because we have rejected God. That’s less a result of any imagined anger of God than a logical consequence of the rejection.

Heb 4.1–10
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
‘As in my anger I swore,
“They shall not enter my rest” ’,
though his works were finished at the foundation of the world. For in one place it speaks about the seventh day as follows: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.’ And again in this place it says, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ Since therefore it remains open for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he sets a certain day—‘today’—saying through David much later, in the words already quoted,
‘Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.’
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labours as God did from his.

So what is “the rest” of God? It clearly is related to the Sabbath rest, bit it probably means more in the passage. In the Hebrew of Psalm 95 the word is מְנוּחָתִֽי (mč-no-akh-i). It is a feminine noun related to the verb for “to rest”. It can be understood literally that no one of that generation would enter the Promised Land – their children did, but they did not. Hebrews takes it further, though. I think it can be read eschatologically, referring to the Kingdom of God that will come to pass with the revelation of Jesus as the Son of Man at his second coming. One might retroproject a later Christian emphasis on heaven as what the author means, but the eschatological perspective is closer to where the early Christians were. A fourth way to read it is the Augustinian way, which is to say we can enter into the rest of God today by stopping our pointless scurrying and busy-ness and resting in the Divine. Let’s go there!
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About Bruce Bryant-Scott

Baptised 1962. Anglican priest. Fly-paper brain. Husband & Father. Refugees welcome! I remember when Facebook was on paper.
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