Tag Archives: Rest

Peace and Rest

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.(Psalm 4:8 ESV)

Peace and rest go together, like justice and righteousness and repentance and faith. You cannot have one without the other. Peace and rest do not demand a circumstance outside of knowing God and being known by Him. Temporal circumstances may rob temporary peace and rest but cannot change that which God has established in eternity. Peace and rest are spiritual realities sometimes reflected through physical circumstances.

In this world there is neither peace with God, nor rest in Him, outside of a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In the Psalms God tells us He intimately “knows the way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6 ESV). They are those He has declared righteous because they are in His Son. He then directs those who are unrighteous to “kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way” (Psalm 2:12 ESV). He offers an escape from His wrath through His Son. Jesus Christ is the One who is their life and the Righteous Judge of all. Only in Jesus Christ is there deliverance from the sentence of sin and rescue from separation from God for eternity. “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Psalm 3:8 ESV). Only in Him who faced God’s wrath as a righteous man, living His earthly life without sin, is there peace and rest. Only in eternity with God is there life and rest and security from the presence and effects of sin.

It is better to have the eternal blessings of God than the temporal, haphazardly found lack of conflict that masquerades as peace in the world.

As Jesus walked among the people, working and teaching and confronting sin, He never acted or spoke out of a place of turmoil or desperation. His actions and speech were measured and filled with pointed compassion for those He met. He was not in a hurry, driven by anyone to do or act or be in a particular place.

As Lazarus lay dying, Jesus and His disciples were a two-day journey away. When word reached Jesus that Lazarus was sick, He did not immediately arise and go to him. John tells us Jesus’ feelings toward the sisters and brother. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was” (John 11:5-6 ESV). He knew Lazarus would die but still told His disciples “this illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4 ESV). How could Jesus say the illness would not lead to death knowing Lazarus would die? Jesus knows what He will do. He will raise Lazarus from the dead, restoring his life, even after four days in a tomb. He will do this as evidence of who He is and of His purpose for coming.

Knowledge gives control. He who knows all, has control over all. God is both omniscient and omnipotent. Jesus works from a place of peace and rest, able to lie down and  of His peace with God, who gives Him rest from the havoc of sin and makes Him dwell in safety.

Everything Jesus did fulfilled the purpose given Him by God for coming into this world as a human. After raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem, where He would endure an agonizing death. As completely God, He eternally knew the outcome of His sacrifice would bring absolute glory to God. His sacrifice is the ultimate worship of God. As a servant found in human form, He faced the physical and emotional anticipation of His coming agony.

Jesus was both eager to complete His mission and troubled by what He would endure. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27 ESV). Facing death, Jesus felt inward agitation and was anxious and distressed. His human part wanted release from what awaited Him outside of Jerusalem. Though facing the opposite of peace and rest, Jesus submitted Himself to God and finished that which He purposed from eternity.

God answered Him for people to hear. “Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again’” (John 12:28 ESV). God is glorified by what His Son does on the cross. His sacrifice brought peace with God to those whose sin He took upon Himself and who are covered by His blood. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV). In peace He, and we in Him, lie down and sleep, even die. For God alone makes us dwell in this world and throughout eternity, in His secure presence. Jesus is our refuge and our peace and in Him is eternal life, and with life, eternal rest.

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Rest

Rest. If you want to rest, do not go to a hospital.

That Thursday evening I was put in a room by myself. There was a small curtain next to the front door.  I have wires taped to my chest, an IV in one arm, more needles in the other arm. Lights may be dimmed but never go out. There are noises I am not used to, beeps, blips and obnoxious sounds coming from my room and all the other rooms on the floor. Several times during the night I hear “code blue” or “stroke” and the call for staff to respond. Something happened to a monitor in the room next to mine and I watched staff run to the patient.

While I was in Emergency Room I heard the same beeps, blips and obnoxious sounds. But I also heard cries of pain and agony muffled by closed doors and walls. Children and adults screamed. I didn’t know for whom I was praying, but I prayed. I envisioned broken bones and deep wounds, burns and other injuries needing aggressive attention. I was not afraid for me, but for them. I have occasionally awakened the last few nights as I remember the sounds of suffering.

Still, I was able to rest. I was not afraid for me.

Rest is an attitude. It is not the attitude of “I don’t care” but the attitude of “there is One caring for me” whom I trust. Rest is possible even when surrounded by turmoil, people who are always active, felt desires or needs for security, overwhelming difficulties, because it is a discipline of the thinking of the heart. I trust God because He has told me I matter to Him. Those you love matter to you. We are to love God and people even when confronted by turmoil, activity, insecurity and any difficulty.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40 ESV)

Loving people does not mean we ignore the wrong things people do. Wickedness also comes from the thinking of the heart. Loving people does mean viewing them as valuable. God does not stop the suffering. This does not mean He loves people less.

I rest because I am at peace with God. My peace does not come from anything I have done but from what He has done for me. I will not ignore Him with my life because He has not ignored me. Though this world is engulfed by unrestrained turmoil, pain and suffering, He stands as Creator. Surrounded by selfish and self-centered activity, He sustains His creation. Assaulted by a felt desire or need for security against that which cannot be controlled, He governs. Overwhelmed by problems, He gives purpose. There is no area of my life He does not touch. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

 

God Blesses and Makes Holy

Studies in Genesis 2

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV)

This is now the third time God uses the word “blessed.” On the fifth day, when God created the sea creatures and the birds of the air He blessed them, saying they were to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22 ESV) and fill the earth. Then, on the sixth day God “blessed” Adam, Man, to not only fill the earth but to have dominion over all earthly living creatures. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 ESV). I think it of no consequence that God refrained from blessing the wild and domesticated animals and those creatures that creep. His blessing is to all earthly living things, that they are fruitful and multiply, according to their kind, and fill the earth.

“Blessing” means to kneel before and give that which cannot be had otherwise. Where God blessed living creatures during creation, here He blesses, not a period of time but the totality of the end result of His work of creation. If we read the first six days as periods of time with definitive beginnings and endings, then God’s seventh “day” has a beginning but no end. Or, the seventh day is the end of creation where all is accomplished according to God’s eternal purpose and He will do nothing else. God is eternal, unconstrained by time. For us to view Him in time helps us understand Him in a limited, space-time manner, but ultimately our understanding of Him will never define Him.

God uses His eternal character to define His blessing of the seventh day. He declares it “holy.” He set apart the seventh day from all the rest. He sanctified it and dedicated it to Himself. Holiness carries all of the eternal attributes of God for His use and according to His design and for His direction ad purpose. Nothing holy is defiled or corrupted, bent or broken, unable to fulfill its purpose and design because of a flaw. Nothing God creates is flawed or broken or unable to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. Holiness is integral to God. It does not surround Him, or direct Him or force Him to conform to its purpose. Holiness is God. All which God does is holy.

God’s Sabbath is holy and all created by God are designed to recognize Him as such. Holiness cannot be ignored. Man, created in the image of God for intimate relationship with Him was given an immediate and eternal disposition to love God and enjoy Him in peace and rest. Now, God tells Man to view and treat Him as holy and to keep, as a reminder and promise, the Sabbath set apart for intimate relationship with Him.

God Rests

Studies in Genesis 2

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV)

God finished His work and then He rested. Do not think God is exhausted from His work or that He needs to sleep so He can get up after the weekend and do it all again.

We need to have an understanding of God’s work for us to understand God’s rest. God worked in creation. His work is everything He does which is natural to His being. He does not work for someone else but acts according to His eternal nature. What He begins He finishes, perfectly completing all He determined to accomplish. He then ceases working on creation. He finishes creation, because there is nothing left to do. His finishing creation and ceasing to work He calls “rest.” God “rested.”

“Rested” is a verb and means to cease or desist from labor. It is the word shabat from which is derived the noun shabbath translated Sabbath. So, on the seventh day of creation, the sabbath, God rested, shabat.

One of the questions which arises is whether after God rested He again began to work. We are told God finished His work. If He were to begin working again it would be to do something different, unrelated to that which He created. A new project. We don’t know about God’s “projects” other than the space-time universe in which we live. Yet, Jesus tells us He and His Father are still working. “My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:15 ESV). John uses a word for “work” which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “work” used in Genesis 2.

Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and the Jewish leaders are incensed. One of the rules the Jewish leaders extrapolated from Scripture was no one was to “work” on the Sabbath. Apparently healing a person on the Sabbath was considered “work.” That, and Jesus told the man healed to “get up, take up your bed, and walk” (John 5:8 ESV), which is also considered work by the Jewish leaders. Not only was Jesus working but encouraging others to work on the Sabbath. How scandalous.

Jesus’ response to the superstitious tradition of not doing physical labor on the Sabbath was that God works and is still working, regardless of the day of the week. These Jewish leaders misunderstood what it means to work and rest. They also have a skewed understanding of God. They do not know Him either intellectually or intimately.

Jesus is God. It was He who created the heavens and the earth, every atom in the universe, accomplishing exactly what He intended. It was He who wrote the Scripture, inspiring the writers to record, in their own voices, that which He wanted. It is He who declares Himself “Lord of the Sabbath” “for the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8 ESV). It is He who created the beginning of the space-time universe and it is He who will bring it to an end.

God’s rest is in our future. He is not constrained by the space-time universe He created but exists outside of it. Those laws which hold the universe together are sustained by Him until He decides to bring the universe to an end. The laws of the universe, like the moral laws, are a reflection of Him but do not control Him. Scripture tells us He rested after He finished His work. Those who are His know how to rest in Him because they are looking forward to His rest in eternity.

God’s Fourth Statement

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. [Exodus 20:8-11 ESV]

Persecution is designed to cause terror, to distract and upset the normal life of work and rest and relationship. Yet, God states we are to work and rest and know Him and this the world hates.

In this fourth statement, God moves back to the purpose of why He created man. We were created in His image to do His work as He would want it done. When He finished His work of creation He rested. God does not exist in space-time creation. He exists in eternity. We do not have the right to lower Him into our history, or constrain Him by the same laws He created to sustain the universe. I am not interested in debating young versus old-earth theology. We are speaking about God, who holds the universe in His hand, sees the beginning of history from the end, and every moment and molecule contained therein. Before we see man as the crown of His creation we hear Him speak about what He had accomplished.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.  Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. [Genesis 1:31-2:3 ESV]

God explains one of the reasons why He created man in His image. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it” [Genesis 2:15 ESV]. Just as God works and keeps the universe man works and keeps the garden. As God is to the universe so man is to the garden. Man was His authority and is His mouthpiece over the garden. He made man higher than all other creation but He did not make man god. There can be no other god, and man does not have the right to make creation a god, nor to attribute to anything other than God what He has done and does. Keeping the Sabbath is a recognition of who we are before Him, that we are His not He ours.

When Jesus and His disciples walked through a grain-field on the Sabbath and harvested the grain with their hands because they were hungry they were attacked by the Pharisees for “working on the Sabbath” which is “unlawful.” Jesus’ response is quick and sure. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” [Mark 2:27-28 ESV]. God did not rest because He had to. He is not constrained by law. Nor does man keep the Sabbath because he has to. God tells us to keep that which is a natural part of the image of God in man. If we do not keep His Sabbath it is because of our rebellion against Him.

The writer of Hebrews drives home this point (see Hebrews 4:9-12). We are counseled to not rebel, to not harden our hearts as Israel did during the exodus, and refused to believe and trust God. It is the Sabbath which teaches us to rest in Him. We work, for that is one of the given purposes of God. But we work for Him. We rest, because that is one of the given purposes of God. But we rest in Him. Those who rebel, who refuse to work for Him, will never rest in Him.

God’s rest is eternal, just as He is eternal. His Sabbath’s rest is eternal rest. Our temporal rest of every seventh day is a looking forward to His eternal rest, with Him. As is true with each of these ten statements this one points to our rebellion against the God who created us, who sustains us, who governs us, and who gives us purpose. A Sabbath rest is a matter of the heart, the being of each person, and reveals the intimacy, or lack of intimacy, of the relationship we have with the only One who created us.

Those who would bring suffering on the righteous would steal away the peace and rest we have in God, breaking our relationship. Since our relationship is founded on God and His work and promise none can sever it, though they bring upon us the harshest treatment. Their lack of rest and peace is evident by the treatment they show toward those who are God’s. Our trust in God’s promise, His eternal being, is a witness to the world of God’s presence and power.