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Entering the Rest of God
September 15, 2008
Restlessness pervades societies around the globe. People desire rest, quietness within, peace. Rest implies settling down, ceasing from our labors and striving, taking a Sabbath. In the Old Testament we read of God's Sabbath rest when He ceased from His creation activity (Genesis 2.2; Hebrews 4.4) and of Israel's rest in Canaan (Deut. 12.9; Joshua 21.43-45; Hebrews 3.11). When times were good, God gave Israel rest, or a time of peace from war with other nations.
"Rest" illustrates the spiritual experience in our journey as believers. Hebrews 4.9 says that there remains a rest for the people of God. Sabbath rest pictures our rest in Christ through salvation. First, it is Jesus who gives us rest. In Matthew 11.28 He says, "Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." This rest of salvation is something we receive as we come to Christ and the light of the gospel enters our darkness to dispel the forces of darkness and to cause us to receive the life of Christ. It is the Son that reveals the Father (Mt. 11.27), and Jesus shows us the way to enter into God's rest. This first rest is the rest of salvation, and it gives us peace with God. With this first rest, we are freed from the penalty of sin.
God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, but in the wilderness journey, they experienced unbelief. Israel was delivered from Egypt by the blood of lambs (the Passover) and by the power of God. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away sin and delivers the sinner from the bondage of sin. (Colossians 1.13, 14) God in Christ gives us this rest from the way of bondage to sin.
God did not desire that the people remain in Egypt or in the wilderness. The intent was that the people enter Canaan and receive their inheritance; but at the border they delayed because of doubt and unbelief. When the people heard two reports, one of giants and one of giant fruit, they doubted; and instead of going forward in faith, they ended up back in the wilderness to wander for 40 years. (Numbers 13 and 14)
Wilderness wanderings represent the experiences of believers who will not claim their spiritual inheritance in Christ. It is theirs, but they doubt God's Word and live in restless unbelief. God is with them, but they do not enjoy the fullness of God's blessing. They are "out of Egypt" but not "in Canaan." They need the second rest Jesus talks about in Matthew 11.
Jesus goes on to say, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." (Matthew 11.29, 30) This second level of rest is the rest of submission. We find rest for our souls. As we find this rest, we claim our inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1; Hebrews 4.11-13). We find we are delivered from the power of sin. We find the peace of God.
God was grieved with Israel during the entire forty years they wandered in the wilderness. They provoked God, complained, and departed from the living God by refusing God's will for their lives. Stubbornly, they wanted to go back to Egypt. Thus they limited the Holy One of Israel. They vexed the Holy Spirit. (Ps 78)
The people of God couldn't go back to Egypt; and neither can we. When we are saved, we are born out of God and cannot go back and become unborn. We have been born again, saved by grace (John 3; Ephesians 2.8, 9; 1 Peter 1.23). Going back to Egypt is out. Rather, in wilderness wanderings, we are disciplined and chastened until we come to that rest of submission.
The Canaan rest is a picture of the spiritual rest we find in Christ when we submit and surrender to Him. Once we have peace with God in salvation (Romans 5.1), we are to come to the peace of God (Phil. 4.6-8). We enter into rest when we receive Christ and believe. God's rest enters into us as we obey God by faith and surrender to His will.
Jesus gives us the clue when He says to learn of Him because He is meek and humble of heart. We have defined meekness as surrendering to the will of God without regret, without rebellion, without rebuttal, without resistance, and without resentment. The Israelites judged God's Word when it came to them instead of allowing the Word to judge them. The Word of God exposes our hearts. If we trust God and His Word, and we don't become critical, doubting, and unbelieving, the Word will enable our hearts to obey God and do what He desires.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, the place of the oil press, Jesus struggled with the will of the Father. Nothing is impossible with God; wasn't there any other way? No. Jesus submitted to the Father's will. It is in this place of the oil press that we also come to surrender the soul completely, heart, mind, and will, to the will of the Father. This is the place of refining, the place of crushing, the place of the crucible of the cross, the place of fire, the place of prayer, the place of preparing unto God that sweet fragrance of the anointing.
This is meekness and humility. Jesus surrendered to the Father in private and in public He had the victory. When the band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees came with lanterns and torches and weapons to take Jesus, Peter drew his sword and smote the ear of the high priest's servant Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put up your sword into the sheath. The cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18.11)
On the cross, when all was said and done, Jesus declared, "It is finished." He went through the battle against evil and all that rises up against the knowledge of God and humbled Himself in obedience to the Father even unto death. Jesus shows us that the way to full Sonship is in being the Servant Son before being the Sovereign Son. As we share in the fellowship of His sufferings, so also will we share in the fellowship of His glory. We must learn to be under authority before being given authority. We will rule and reign with Christ only as we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and walk in meekness before Him.
The third rest is the final rest. We enter this rest. It is a place of rest in God, a place where we are delivered from the presence of sin and abide in the presence of Christ. Believers enter this final rest upon physical death certainly and in this life, we "taste" this rest to the extent that we walk in the Spirit of God's Son, in the spirit of Sonship. In this place, the battle is over. Here there is only the presence of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the presence of the Father.
The word for it is sabbatismos, "a keeping of the Sabbath." It's only used in Hebrews 4.9. This is the rest where we cease from our own works just as God ceased from His work of creation. We are to labor to enter into this rest and not fall into unbelief. We are to hold fast our profession of faith in Christ. We are to come boldly unto the throne of grace in order that we may obtain mercy and find grace and favor to help us in a timely way. (Hebrews 4)
To enter the place of final rest, we are to learn from Christ and labor.
- Learn to be an overcomer. Overcome unbelief, disbelief, and all obstacles that rise up against God as Creator/Redeemer.
- Learn obedience through the things which you experience. Be willing to be trained. Do not remain lawless when your opinions differ from God's standard and/or God's opinions.
- Live in agreement with God. Do not agree with God only when He agrees with you. Do not storm the gates of heaven until God submits to your will. Do not put up an angry fist in God's face or get in God's face to get what you want. Don't usurp the authority or place of God and think you can legislate your own ideas of morality and righteousness. Choose the same things that God has already commanded in His law. Do what you see the Father doing. Speak what you hear the Father speaking.
- Walk in love. Remain loyal to God. Walk in the Spirit. Walk in Truth. Walk in the Light. Walk in union with Christ, in oneness with the Godhead.
- Forgive even as Christ as forgiven you. Live in forgiveness.
- Move from imputation to impartation to imitation to identification to incarnation, Christ in you the hope of glory. Remember, we never become God, a divine person; but we do partake of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1.4 1 John 3.2)
- Be spiritually perfected. We have been declared holy, blameless, and without reproach or defect. Now we must have defects removed and become what God has declared us to be. (Leviticus 21.17-23; 1 Peter 1, 2; Colossians)
Soon an MCM team will go to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt as part of a spiritual warfare thrust for the Middle East. Please be in pray for this important mission as we carry the word of the Lord to the region. We trust in our covenant-keeping God to provide, protect, pity (our frame), empower, preserve, and pursue His enemies to their destruction. Jesus Christ is Ruler over the kings of the earth!
The first part of December we will have another Barnabas distribution in South Florida. We need school supplies, children's toys and clothing, small household items, clothing, and linens among other things to distribute to the poorest of our communities. If you live in the area and have something to donate, you can drop things off at Craighouse, 114 East McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. And thank you!
Word is getting out about The Monday Night Thing at Craighouse. Those recovering from the ravages of addiction and bondages are finding help and hope in Jesus through this Christ-centered approach developed by Mary Craig Ministries. It is radical because it goes to the root. It is real because it is based on the truth of the Word of God. It is reaching people because they are not anonymous. It is working because lives are being touched and transformed by the full gospel of Jesus Christ. Support The Monday Night Thing!
Your gifts demonstrate the love Christ has put in your hearts in response to His mind and will. Thank you!
Laboring to enter into that rest,
P.S. Go to www.marycraig.org. Order books from our Catalog section using PayPal. Worship with us 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Grow and flourish in small group ministry at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Log on to www.craighouse.org for a map and more events and Bible studies. Reach MCM at 954-491-7270. Send in your prayer requests. .
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