A Rest For God's People
According to Genesis 2:2, when God had finished all of His works, it says, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested....” Hebrews 4:4 says, about the same event, “For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.” In this same context we find in Hebrews a tremendous truth of God that we need to claim for ourselves.
- Hebrews 4:9: There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” This is key for peaceful living; yet, very, very few Christians know the reality and the depth of this “rest.” In the Book of 1Kings, God talks about this rest for a whole nation.
- 1Kings 8:56: Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel [to the whole nation], according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
God did not fail on even one Word of His promises, and the promise here was that the whole nation of Israel should have rest. That is how God blessed His people.
God also promised rest to an entire city if they would return to His Word. For to Jerusalem, God said, there is “the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest.”
- Jeremiah 6:16: Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye [inhabitants of Jerusalem] in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
At one time Israel as a nation found rest; God also promised rest to the city of Jerusalem when He spoke that there “...is the good way, and walk there in, and ye shall find rest...." However, the people by their own volition determined not to walk according to God’s Word and, therefore, they were denied the promised rest.
There is another rest in the Word, and that is the rest found in a marital relationship. Naomi said to her daughters-in-law Orpha and Ruth as recorded in Ruth 1:9, “The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband.” Ruth did just that when she married Boaz. So there can be rest in married life.
In the Christ administration (the time period of Jesus' ministry on earth to the Nation of Israel, now held abeyance, to resume after the Grace and the Revelation administrations run their course), Jesus Christ promised rest to those who would be his disciples.
- Matthew 11:28 and 29: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“Come unto me...and I will give you rest...yet shall find rest unto your souls.” Another great promise of rest is found in the Book of Psalms.
- Psalms 37:4-7: Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
"Don’t pay any attention to those who appear to prosper in their own ways, but rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." That is the great key to restful living. We cannot be conditioned by the people and situations surrounding us and still expect to find rest. Looking at the Lord and waiting patiently for Him, delighting ourselves in the Lord, committing our ways to Him, trusting in Him–this gives us rest.
God, after He had finished His creation, rested. The word “rest” means the same as the word “sat.” Why do people sit? To rest. When God had finished His works, He rested, He sat. Everything was finished. When Jesus Christ had finished his work for us, he ascended into heaven and sat down.
- Hebrews 10:12: “But this man [Jesus Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” See also Hebrews 1:3, Ephesians 1:20, and Romans 8:34
The believer’s right to rest is a result of the finished work of Christ. When Christ had finished his work, he sat down on the right hand of God because all had been completed for mankind. Another great usage of “sat” occurs when the day of Pentecost was fully come. Acts 2:3 says that the gift of the holy spirit was given “...and it [holy spirit] sat upon each of them [the twelve apostles].” The fulfillment of all requirements toward the giving of the holy spirit to those who believe had been completely completed and, therefore, it sat, rested, on each of them.
This secret to living restfully is embodied within Christ’s finished work for the believer. We know that we are what God says we are, that we have what He says we have, that we will be what He says we will be. We know that we have passed from death unto life. We know that we are a part of the family of God, the Body of Christ. We know that we have been circumcised with Christ, we have been baptized with him, we have been buried with him, we have been raised together with him, When he ascended, according to the Word of God, we ascended with him and are seated with him at the right hand of God.
- Ephesians 2:5 and 6: Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
This is why we have a life which is more abundant. This is why we can have great restfulness.
With belief of this knowledge of God’s Word in our lives, we have really reached the end of our struggles; the end of all fear, worry, and anxiety because we have full knowledge that we are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). When God looks at us, He sees us as one with Him because of what Christ wrought: You and I have entered into that rest spiritually by what Jesus Christ did for us. Now it becomes a part of our lives as we literally walk upon that Word and claim those promises which are ours. Look at the confidence we have if we walk according to the advice of Philippians.
- Philippians 4:6: Be careful [The word “careful” should be translated “anxious.” Be anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
We have no anxiety when we live in the knowledge of what Christ accomplished for us. The next verse in Philippians 4 continues to encourage us.
- Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall [absolutely] keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Isn’t that a beautiful rest? That is the secret of living serenely. Spiritually we are what the Word of God says we are and we have what the Word of God says we have. Christ paid for it; he purchased it. Then why do we so frequently see Christians who are nervous, frustrated, and full of fear? Because they have not learned the secret of living, the secret of resting in that rest which is already theirs and was paid for by Christ Jesus. When we have confidence in the promises of God because of the accomplishments of Christ Jesus, we have the peace of God in our hearts and minds.
As we continue to submit our thoughts to God's thoughts about who and what we are in Christ we become more and more Christ-like in our minds, and, therefore, also in our walks. We allow what God says is true about us in Christ to be that which determines how we see ourselves (see "The Christian's True Identity"). As we believe God’s Word it brings peace into fruition in our lives.
- 1Peter 5:7: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
This verse says, “Casting all....” And the word “all” means all. Trusting God’s Word is so simple, but the Adversary tries to talk us out of it. Satan keeps doing his utmost to keep us from believing the totality of the word “all.” And he does this so stealthily that we aren’t aware of what’s happening until our lives are frayed and thread bare.
- 1Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
Once you and I have entered into God’s rest, then no longer can we be disturbed by the roaring of the Adversary. We have cast our care upon God. The Adversary is just roaring, and he cannot bite when he is roaring. The reason he makes a loud, ferocious racket is to frighten us, to freeze us in our tracks so that he can then pounce. But we are no longer to be disturbed by the roar of what people say. The questions our best friends may ask no longer upset us. The doubts that other people have about God and His Word don’t rattle us, because we are in His rest.
We have arrived at the place that we trust God’s Word. This is why we are no longer circumstance-conditioned; we are God’s Word-conditioned. Most people go through life being conditioned by their circumstances–by people, places, things. So one day they feel as lighthearted as can be and the next day they are moody and melancholy. The people who are perfectly conditioned by God’s Word have an even, steady assurance and peacefulness.
Now a different scripture to fit into the context of this study on rest is Philippians 4:11:
- Philippians 4:11: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
That is the King James rendition, and it is erroneous. This verse conveys the idea that, for example, if you are sick, you should just enjoy being sick–be content and at peace with your condition. If you are dying, be content that you are dying. If someone runs over your foot and smashes it with a tractor, be content. No, No! You see, this teaching that you have to be content with suffering is just a trick of the Adversary. How can you have confidence and feel rested when you’re miserable? God does not need the Adversary to help make your life and mine complete. We’ve got something far better in Christ Jesus. The accurate text of Philippians 4:11 reads: “Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, I am sufficient, adequate." What a tremendous revelation! We are adequate. Why? Because God made us adequate in Christ. That is why circumstances do not condition us. God made us adequate and sufficient–and God should know. Look at the next two verses in Philippians 4
- Philippians 4:12 and 13: [In my adequacy in Christ] I [Paul] know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things [I can do them because I am in that rest; I have learned the secret of living.] through Christ who strengtheneth me.
Our ability comes from an infusion; it is a spiritual intravenous feeding. "Through Christ which strengtheneth me." Now that is quality spiritual strengthening!
This happens as we are conditioning our minds to the gospel and walking in its truth, it is by this means that we enter into great rest.
- Hebrews 4:1-4a (Phillips): Now since the same promise of rest is offered to us today, let us be continually on our guard that none of us even looks like failing to attain it. For we too have had a Gospel preached to us, as those men had. Yet the message proclaimed to them did them no good, because they only heard and did not believe as well. It is only as a result of our faith and trust ["in the gospel message preached to us"] that we experience that rest.
- Hebrews 4:9-12: There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor [to rest in the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, ceasing from our own works] therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For [Why do we believe the gospel and trust that it is the power of God?] the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Thank God for the integrity of His wonderful, matchless Word. Experiencing this rest is as simple as believing the gospel of Christ. What a magnificent reality! Truly, there remains a rest to God’s people when we cast our cares upon Him, when we are anxious for nothing, when we accept the riches of His grace to us through Christ Jesus our Lord.