Christ, the Greater Messenger, has invited us to partner with Him now. The reward for doing so is entering God’s rest, which is the administration of His future kingdom. The author of Hebrews is using the example of the Israelites leaving Egypt and their opportunity to participate in the administration of the future county of Israel as a parallel to our own lives:
A Sabbath rest remains, therefore, for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.
Notice that the author is stressing our need to make every effort to enter that rest; as such, he is clearly not taking about Jesus’ offer of eternal salvation from the penalty of our sins. If the rest discussed here were simply heaven, we wouldn’t have to work for it, because eternal life is an unearned gift (John 3:16; John 10:25; Ephesians 2:8-9; Revelation 22:17). Effort, however, is needed if we are going to be partners with Jesus and His administration of the universe. Our efforts now do not affect “where” we will spend eternity, but our efforts now will effect “what” we will be doing in eternity future.
Since the Israelites’ example and Jesus’ superior message are available in Scripture, this is the place we should be looking to see what we must do NOW in order to enter into the future kingdom participation LATER. However, when we look through Scripture, we discover:
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.
Since an account for my life will be given, all my times of having a sinful, unbelieving heart will be known…and I remember how God dealt with the Israelites for the unbelief (they missed out on participating in the establishment of the kingdom of Israel!) What am I going to do, then? Given my mistakes, sins, and all the times I act selfishly…How can I ever be considered qualified to partner with God in the future?
Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens – Jesus the Son of God – let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.
This tells me that Christ is on my side, as my brother in the family and the bridge for my relationship between me and God the Father. I am not alone in my struggles! Even greater still, we are told:
Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
In all honesty, my human mind would not expect this. We are so weak…so very, very weak. We do not deserve the first, second, or any chance to partner with God. And once again, our God blows away our expectations with His mercy and grace.
Jesus is here to sympathize with our weaknesses and to help us in our time of need, so that we can make every effort to enter that rest.