When Jesus said “Come to me and I will give you rest,” He did not add a condition to it. If you quit smoking and come to me I will give you rest. I’ve often said that smoking won’t send you to hell, but it might make you smell like you’ve already been there. Drinking won’t send you to hell. No sin will send you to hell. The only thing that will send you to hell is the rejection of God’s free gift of eternal life offered in Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchased for us a place in heaven which He offers as a free gift. That free gift comes to us through faith. The “rest” that Jesus offers sinners like you and me comes through faith alone. As Jesus promised in Matthew 11:28, it is “rest for our souls.” It sets everything right with God. The Good News for sinners is the promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul said it this way in Galatians 3:22, “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”

God always keeps His promises. The writer of Hebrews reminds all of his readers, those he personally addressed and even us today, of this truth. In Hebrews 6:13-14 he says, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, ‘Surely I will bless you and multiply you.’” The author is reminding us that Abraham’s faith rested on two things; the promise of God and the oath or covenant of God. God’s promise to Abraham was unconditional. There were no strings attached. To assure Abraham, God took a blood oath in Genesis 15. Instead of both parties walking between the blood sacrifices, God signed the contract on His own. Pentecost says, “To show that this covenant was dependent on God alone, God rendered Abraham incapable of participating in the ritual of ratification. While Abraham slept (15:12), he saw the Shekinah of God pass between the pieces of the sacrificed animals (15:17). In this way, God showed Abraham that He was binding Himself in a unilateral, unchangeable, irrevocable covenant.” [1]

The author gives his readers meat from the Scriptures here. You see, Abraham and God’s promise and oath to him, is about Jesus and His promises to us. Just as the blood offered to guarantee the promise to Abraham, Jesus is the blood sacrifice that becomes the oath that guarantees His promise. The writer of Hebrews is about to launch into a long lesson about the priesthood of Melchizedek and its superiority to the Jewish priesthood. Jesus is the greater priest and Jesus is the greater sacrifice. The blood in Genesis 15 guarantees the reliability of God’s promise to Abraham, but the greater guarantee is the blood of Jesus which guarantees God’s promise to those who believe. The author will say this directly in Hebrews 7:22. It reads, “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” The writer once again wants his readers to understand that the whole bible is about Jesus. If you let yourself become sluggish about Jesus, you will drift away and slip back into religion. There is no rest in religion. But Jesus promises us with a blood oath that we’ll have rest for our souls through faith in Him. God is showing us from the cross of Calvary the He was binding himself in a unilateral, unchangeable, irrevocable covenant!

[1] J. Dwight Pentecost and Ken Durham, Faith That Endures : A Practical Commentary on the Book of Hebrews, Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2000), 112.