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Tuesday
Oct192010

There Remains a Rest

According to the song, “We’ll work ‘till Jesus comes,” but through all that labor, we are apt to get tired, and the truth is that we will also look for opportunities to rest. We don’t ever want to rest so peacefully or thoroughly that people mistake us for dead, but there must be in this life an earnest of the rest we envision for eternity. Even Jesus rested in spite of having nowhere permanent to lay his head, and if we can master the rest of the sojourner, we will likewise be all right.

I. Rest for the Weary

    A. No Rest for the Wicked

        1. the writer of the Hebrew letter was concerned with rest because his readers seemed to desire it prematurely – that is, they were being persecuted and ostracized so harshly for their faith in Christ that they considered abandoning him to find immediate comfort from their afflictions (Hebrews 3:7-11)

        2. they were like the tired runner who yearns to quit before the final lap, but there is no crown of victory or real rest for anyone who fails to break the tape at the end of a faithful life

        3. like them, we are prone to the same kinds of surrender – hardening our hearts the longer we wait for relief and going astray because of inattentiveness to God’s will

        4. the sad irony is that we only mollify slightly our life’s complaints, while heaping upon ourselves eternal discomfort, rejecting inner and lasting peace in exchange for freedom from persecution (Isaiah 57:14-21)

 

    B. Hardened by the Deceitfulness of Sin

        1. we run the risk of following in the dangerous footsteps of many generations of lukewarm believers whose faith was insufficient to see them through to the real rest (Hebrews 3:12-19)

        2. it is interesting how the psalmist applied that concept to the way that people sometimes become weary of worship (Psalm 95:1-11)

        3. in Malachi’s day, people sneered at the commands of God and treated worship like an utter imposition, going through the motions halfheartedly until the Lord was sick of it

        4. contrary to the misleadingly soothing creeds of men, the disobedience of the believer is tantamount to disbelief and that rebellion can interrupt our march toward rest

 

    C. A Sabbath Rest

        1. the very notion of rest is traced to the Creation Week, during which God rested on the seventh day from all his labors, establishing a Sabbath rest for the people of Israel (Hebrews 4:1-10)

        2. sadly, we tend to think of the Sabbath as a day of punishing restriction, because we equate our Saturdays with vigor, work and play, but the Sabbath was created for man’s benefit, his recharging, not his detriment

        3. the Sabbath was not extended to the church and so we must find our rest in other places and at other times, but never with such thorough enjoyment that we lay down our arms and become unconscious to the work ahead of us – worship, evangelism and every aspect of kingdom business (Proverbs 24:30-34)

        4. what we ultimately pursue is eternal rest in Heaven, and laziness on Earth can put threaten our hope for that

 

    D. There Remains a Rest

        1. and so our pursuit of rest is marked by diligence (Hebrews 4:11-13)

        2. it is disobedience that we beware, for disobedience, like it or not, is evidence of a certain level of disbelief

        3. the Lord’s brother, Jude, writes, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (5).

        4. whenever we rest on Earth – weekends, evenings, vacations, coffee breaks, retirement – it must always be accompanied with a determination simply to rest and not to hibernate, with an eye to returning to the labor force of the kingdom when the bell sounds (Titus 3:1-2)

 

II. Rest

    A. Jesus Rested

        1. at the end of the Genesis creation week, the Bible says that God rested on the seventh day – it was not that he was tired, but that he was finished, and he wanted lastly to establish a precedent for Israel in the Sabbath observance, and for the church in the hope of heaven

        2. upon the Earth thousands of years later, Jesus occupied the body of a human being, susceptible to illness and fatigue and he found it necessary to rest, even during the three years of his brief ministry (Mark 6:30-32)

        3. on another occasion, the disciples were frantic, but he was asleep (Matthew 8:23-27)

            a. there is obviously something biologically necessary about sleep and even rest is beneficial to the body and mind that they might go on a bit further later

            b. there is no reason to regret taking a vacation from school or work, or taking a break to drink a cup of coffee or even retiring from earthly labors to live out your years

            c. the dangers lie in refusing to support oneself, depending upon others instead of helping the needy, and allowing your mind and body to atrophy into uselessness

 

    B. The Apostles Rested Too Much

        1. the trouble with too much rest is that, when poorly timed or enjoyed to excess, it can destroy our vigilance (Mark 14:32-42)

        2. sleep and rest become negative metaphors for spiritual lethargy (First Thessalonians 5:2-8)

        3. even when he rests, the warrior’s spear is within reach, the lion is ready to spring into action

        4. maybe we feel like Agur, the writer of Proverbs chapter 30: “I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out” (1); we just cannot afford to let it linger (Hebrews 12:1-3)

 

    C. Rest in Peace

        1. what Jesus promised to the disciple is rest, not only in the next life, but also in this (Matthew 11:28-30)

        2. one of the Greek words that is translated as rest in the New Testament is katapausis (katapausiv, pr. kat-ap'-ow-sis), literally a calming of the winds, which suggests why Jesus was able to sleep through a violent storm and challenge his disciples to have greater faith when so afflicted

        3. our faith and our obedience in this life are all pointed toward eternal rest (Second Thessalonians 1:5-12)

            a. Revelation mainly describes the vindication of early Christians who were persecuted mercilessly in life, but the principles remain true today (Revelation 14:12-13)

            b. then all the bloodshed and hardship will be concluded and the people of God will rest from their labors, but not we must work ‘till Jesus comes

 

Conclusion

It is okay to rest, but don’t get too comfortable.

 

Questions For Review

  1. Why was Moses reluctant to enlist in the Lord’s signal corps?
  2. How did God choose to identify himself to Moses and Israel?
  3. Why didn’t Moses make it into the Promised Land?
  4. What kept some of God’s servants from being fully willing to serve the Lord?
  5. Where do we get our courage to do God’s will?
  6. In what can we have confidence as we go about our faith?
  7. In what must we be confident?

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