It has been five months since my dad passed away at the age of 91. I still vividly remember that moment when I was alone beside his bed in the hospital waiting for his body to be moved to the mortuary; it finally dawned on me that his earthly journey had ended. As I pondered on this reality, I turned to my phone’s Bible app for consolation. The passage from Hebrews 4:1-13 came on for my reading. And as I read, I was deeply distressed.
5 And again in this passage, He said, “They shall not enter my rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,
7 … Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
I felt that God was insensitive to my loss to declare so quickly that my dad will not enter into His heavenly rest. I wrestled with God there and then because these were not words of comfort which I wanted to hear from my Heavenly Father. By most accounts, my dad lived a fulfilling albeit challenging life. His life was tough but he worked doubly hard to provide for the family.
Although he could hardly make ends meet, he would occasionally send money to his siblings and relatives in Hainan when they needed some financial assistance. He was well loved for his friendly and helpful nature and a loyal friend to all. But by God’s standard, he failed miserably even if he had lived a morally upright life and did many good deeds. For the Bible says that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Each of us will have to account for our lives on earth and God will judge us accordingly. John 3:18 said “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God”. Just as we are assured in John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
God’s rest is promised to all who believe in Him. This rest includes His peace and joy which transcends all understanding and above all, assurance of an eternal heavenly rest. God has offered this rest to His people in ancient times and continues to offer it even to this present time. For in Revelation 3:20, Jesus declares “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”.
If you are still hesitating or unsure, let Hebrews 4:7 convict you today to repentance and to seek His forgiveness and place your faith completely in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9).
Take heed of God’s warning! “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Let us therefore respond to God’s invitation to enter that rest and be rested in His glory. To disobey is to face eternal condemnation and be forever separated from God.
I still miss my dad. I pray that God will extend His mercy and grace to him. In His good time, the Lord did give me these comforting words in Psalm 30:5 “For His anger is but for a moment, and His favour is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
By Vincent Lim, Deacon (YCKC Bulletin 13&14 September 2014)