GOD INTRODUCES REST
The concept of rest began with God Himself. In Genesis 1, we see that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days from what was without form and void. In those 6 days, He had completed what He desired to do. God had established a system and order from the state of disorder and He placed Adam, His son, to rule and reign in it, and God saw that it was good. Now, He could cease or rest, and God rested on the 7th day and sanctified that day as a blessed day. He also instituted a system of a regular period of rest for mankind. This was a day for a man to rest from his work and to devote his attention to the Lord. This day of rest was intended to refresh and revive both the soul and the body. God knew how important this resting was and called it blessed.
Our lives today are filled with busyness, activities, and entertainment. God desires that we regularly and intentionally set apart time to rest and reflect on God’s faithfulness and mercy. It should also be a time to hear from Him, what He desires to speak with us. It is a time of allowing His presence to wash away all the weariness and pain of the soul and to be revived within and without. Without this regular time of resting and waiting on the Lord, we will grow weary quickly and run out of strength in soul and body. I hope we can all commit to making this ‘get away with God’ a regular part of this year so that we can enter into His promise of rest.
The rest of God is in taking time apart from busyness to wait on the Lord and revive our body, soul, and spirit.
GOD RESTORES REST
When Israel lived in Egypt as slaves, they had lost the concept of this rest. Being under the yoke of slavery of Pharaoh for 400 years, they had gotten no rest, rather they were expected to labour more than they were humanly able to.
But when God brought them out from Egypt, they were under a new Master who was a gracious and loving God. He was not like Pharaoh who did not care about how they got the work done.
He was a loving Father who was taking care of them. He was providing them food in the wilderness. They did not have to till the ground or work for it. Their food would simply appear for them every morning. They would not need to worry if they had enough or whether they would have food for tomorrow. All they needed to do was to believe in God and go out and gather what He provided for them (Exodus 16).
Though some of them gathered more and others less, each one finally had enough for that day. They did not even need to save for the next day because God would provide for them each day. It was difficult for them to believe that God would be faithful to provide and many tried to save up for the next day but the food wouldn’t last and was eaten up by worms.
Exodus 16:22, “And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ ”
The rulers were surprised because on the 6th day they gathered twice of what they usually gathered. This was because God was thinking about their need for a day of rest and even planned it out for them before they did. He also wanted it to be a holy day for them to consecrate unto Him.
We go on to see that many of them still turned up on the 7th day looking for manna. They could not take God at His Word and rest that day and Moses had to rebuke them for disobeying God’s Word. They were probably fearful and anxious about not having enough and were still behaving like slaves who sufficient. God was preparing them to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation, but their mindsets were still that of slavery.
The rest of God is in trusting that God is a good Father and will provide our every need.
Rest is not being oblivious to what the future may bring. But it is refusing to allow the fears of the future to have power over our present. When the thoughts of anxiety about tomorrow and what the future holds come in and take over we are stepping out of rest. Don’t let anxieties and fears stop you from receiving God’s rest. Rather, enter God’s rest by giving Him your anxieties by praying with them and receiving His wisdom and peace for the situation.
A LAND OF REST
Further, God promised to take the Israelites into a land of rest. His rest was not meant to be limited to just a day, instead, He was taking them into a land where they would experience His rest in a whole new way.
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14
The land God was taking them into would be a land flowing with milk and honey, a blessed land filled with beautiful fruits. It was a land of plenty and abundance. He would also defend them and give them rest from their enemies once they entered the land. The Israelites were probably so excited about getting into this land of rest!
But there were some obstacles to cross over and some things they first needed to do before they could enter this amazing land of rest. Moses handpicked 12 leaders and sent them into Canaan to bring back a report of the land. The spies saw the good land and tasted it’s fruit but they came back with a negative report.
Numbers 13:27 – “So they reported to him and said, “We came into the land where you sent us, and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And indeed, we saw the descendants of Anak there! 29 Amalek is living in the land of the Negev, the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.””
The giants they saw in the land were too strong for them and the cities were too difficult to conquer. They were at the brink of entering into the land of rest the Lord had promised them, but they were unable to believe God for it.God desired them to enter rest, but they needed faith to enter. Only Caleb and Joshua finally entered the rest that God had for them while all the others lived a life wandering around in the wilderness and finally died and were buried there.
We also have a land of rest that God wants to take us into. This is not necessarily a physical land but the place of walking with God – experience His fulness and seeing the fulfilment of His purposes in our life. It is a land of experiencing the satisfaction in the Lord.
But we have an enemy who wants to stop us from entering this place. We can be so close to our rest yet our eyes may be on the giants before us instead of the God who is with us. These giants can be problems that we face, difficult people who stand against us, limitations in resources and ability, oreven our mindsets and belief systems. But with God on our side, none of these are big enough to stop us.
We need the eyes of faith of Caleb and Joshua who believed that they could conquer with God on their side and the courage to go in and conquer those giants. Do not let fear and unbelief stop you from entering God’s rest, for He has greater things in store.
Believe that the God who called you is well able to fulfill what He has promised. So step out in faith and obedience to do what God is calling you to do.
The rest of God is the place of walking with Him and seeing His Word fulfilled in us.
A LIFESTYLE OF REST
Jesus always lived and walked in that place of rest. When the boat He was in was being tossed about in the storm, Jesus could sleep at the back of the boat. He had no apprehension of what would happen to Him for He knew the God who was ruling the storm was His Father. While the disciples were restless Jesus was resting. Jesus was never in a hurry. He had enough work to do and preached and taught long hours. But He always operated from a place of rest in the Father. Even when the Jews tried to stone Him we see that He peacefully slipped through their midst.
Matt 11 :28-30, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Jesus calls the weary and heavy-laden to come to Him and promises the same rest for our soul. And in this rest, He also has a yoke or a work for us to do, just like the Father had a work for Him to do. But as we do it from a place of trust He promises that the yoke is easy and the burden is light.
So then, the rest of God is not doing anything, but it is doing the will of God by walking with Him and taking His yoke. It is a place of trust and confidence knowing that God is sufficient for every need. The enemy always wants to try to take us out of the rest of God. But through faith and obedience, we can overcome and experience fulfillment and satisfaction in Christ.
LABOR TO ENTER THE REST
Hebrews 4:9 -11, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
God is inviting us to enter His rest. This Sabbath rest of God is more than just a day of rest. It is a lifestyle of inner rest that comes out of intimacy with God and faith. We are not only invited into that rest but are asked to make every effort to enter into it. This means that getting into this lifestyle of rest takes effort. It does not happen automatically or casually. It needs intentional effort.
Let us examine our lives and ask some questions – “Have I been over busy with things that I do not need to be busy with? Do I take enough time to rest and wait in the Lord’s presence? Am I living in the rest of God’s presence or are there giants that are stopping me from that? Am I exercising my faith to overcome those giants or resigning to a life of fear? Finally, am I walking in intimacy with Jesus and taking His yoke to do the will of the Father?” May the Holy Spirit show us the answers to these and enable you and me to enter the true rest of GOD.
Have a blessed year of rest and satisfaction!