God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, “In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world.
We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day:
“ON THE SEVENTH DAY GOD RESTED FROM ALL HIS WORK.” Genesis 2:2
But in the other passage God said, “THEY WILL NEVER ENTER MY PLACE OF REST.” Psalm 95:11
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“TODAY WHEN YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DON’T HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” Psalm 95:7-8
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labours, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.Hebrews 4:1-13
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews is making it clear to us that we can find the rest of God in Christ. I find the timing impeccable as I come to writing this Gem having heard yesterday the principle again from the sermon of Dr John Tucker, the Principal of Carey Baptist College. The serendipitous nature of the moment made me smile thinking of what was in my head for this Gem. John Tucker used Matthew 11:25-30 to talk of Jesus favourite word being “Come”. Come to Jesus to find rest for your soul.
Take My yoke upon you, and you will find rest for your soul . . . because My yoke is easy and the burden is light.Matthew 11:29-30
Many times when people find out I am a Christian they say, “Oh, so you are religious then?” I say, “No, far from it. I may do things religiously (habitually) but I am not religious. Being religious and following the letter of the law kills.” I learned this principle early on in my Christian life. My mind goes back to encounters I would have with a friend, Harry Downes. We would ask one another how our quiet time was going? We would use the “how’s-your-Quiet-Time” question. We joked together as to who had had the longest QUIET TIME. Who had spent the longest time in devotion and or who was it who had risen the earliest. But the whole point was to recognise that such thinking was folly. God’s love for you is not on the basis of time spent in religious servitude. I regularly have a quiet time and have done so for decades, not because it is a rule I have to keep. Nor does it depend on how long I spend in that quiet time. It is all about loving God enough to want to spend time with Him, read His Word and have Him speak to my heart and guide my life.
Just stop and think for a moment. The Israelites in the wilderness had been told to move when the cloud of God’s Presence moved and not before. Wait on the Presence of God to lead. How easy that must have been! The sad thing is that religious people quickly turn something easy into a religious system. That was exactly what the Pharisees did. They added to the Law of Moses all the minutiae of the Mishnah. All of the extra rules of the Pharisees spelled out what the people OUGHT to do. It was the teaching and practice of each rabbi which was called the rabbi’s yoke. The principles they gave their students or learners (disciples) and the degree to which they insisted on those principles being carried out. All religious systems bind their adherents to a set of rules which must be strictly obeyed. Many churches insist on their members following the church programme: attendance at the midweek Bible Study, the Friday night prayer meeting, the prayer time before church and the intercessory group on a Sunday night after the service. Not to mention tithing, the Monday night discipleship training programme and fitting in the cell group fellowship meeting into that mix makes it all wearying. Very soon following Jesus becomes a chore and a bore rather than something which is life giving and a joy.
Finding rest in Christ is a matter of learning to do that which God is asking you to do. I have told you before of my delight in praying with my friend Tim in Sulawesi after he suggested we meet at the time the Holy Spirit woke us respectively. It was indeed a delight. I looked forward to see when the LORD would wake us but there was balance in it. There were times we woke early, times we woke late and even times we both slept in and we were comfortable with either. The enemy of our souls will push us toward religious activity. If he can’t stop us doing something which is good for us, he will push us into doing more. By loading the burden on us he kills the joy. Don’t allow that to happen. Just learn to respond when God inspires you to do so. Rest in Him who rested in His work.
I am often asked now, how I am coping with not rising early in response to my latest minor stroke. No problem, it is easy to rest in Him and know that I need to get more sleep. Contrary to popular opinion I am not driven; I happen to delight to be in the LORD’s Presence. Jesus yoke is indeed easy and His burden light. He only did what His Father told Him. Now that is freeing!
At the moment, I am going to drop a little gem on you from Deeper Bible level 201. I have taught the participants to pay attention to the repetition in Scripture and conversely to notice when repetition is not there. In looking at Jesus’ parable in Luke 15 there is an interesting omission. The second part of prodigal’s speech is missing. When he rehearses his speech, he says,
I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please make me like one of your hired servants.”’Luke 15:18-19
The final part of his rehearsed speech is omitted. Take note of that. It’s important. Notice what happened immediately following the father running, falling on his neck and kissing him.
But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.Luke 15:22
Do you realise what the father has just done for the son? In giving him the best robe, he restores to him his connection to the family or the clan. All around the world cultures have special robes, tartan, sarongs or clothing which mark you as a member of the tribe, clan or family. The son’s relationship with his family has been restored. Next he is given the ring for his finger. The ring is symbolic of the power and authority of the family. In medieval times in Europe the ring with the family crest on it was the key to signing documents and wielding the authority of the family. Lastly, he was given the sandals, why? Because only the father and the sons were able to wear their sandals in the house. All over the Pacific, Asia and Africa in many cultures that is the case. This son has had his sonship restored. All of these cultural practices around the world match the Jewish practice as well.
What would have been the effect of the son completing his rehearsed speech? “Please make me like one of your hired servants.” To have done so would have been to throw back in the father’s face all he had just bestowed on this son symbolically by giving him the robe, the ring and the sandals. Do you realise that is what we do if we seek to earn God’s favour through our activity or our obeisance (works) and not accept the magnitude of all He has done for us in Christ? It is not by works it is by trusting that Jesus has done all He needs to do to save you.
Relax and enter into resting in Him – His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Jesus I am resting resting, in the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.Jean Sophia Pigott
You can’t do anything to make the Father love you more and you can’t do anything to make the Father love you less.Ian
Take My yoke upon you, and you will find rest for your soul . . . because My yoke is easy and the burden is light.Matt 11:29-30
No soul can be really at rest until it has given up all dependence on everything else and has been forced to depend on the Lord alone. As long as our expectation is from other things, nothing but disappointment awaits us.Hannah Whittal Smith
Check out John Tucker’s sermon; it’s a goodie. Arnie Hall says he’s a good bloke and I second that. https://www.facebook.com/manukau.citybaptist/videos/719101152752669