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SEEK REST

November 27, 2016

Text:  “I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 34:15  NASV

“I need to get some rest.” That is a frequently heard statement. The pace of life in America in the 21st century is horrendous.  Our whole world seems to be running on a tight schedule at breakneck speed.  The walls of my former physician’s office displayed seven posters, each touting a necessary element of good health: diet, exercise, etc. One of them was “sleep”. How often we neglect sleep! Sleep is the best measure to rejuvenate your energies; and there are other benefits.

The word “rest” appears 15 times in the English Bible, with several connotations. (KJV and ESV) It can be used as a noun or a verb. Its usual meaning is “freedom from activity or labor”. Or,  “free of anxieties”. Again, as a verb, “to cease from action or motion”. Or, as in our text above (as a noun) “a place for resting or lodging”. (All citations from Merriam and Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus (online).

Let us all be aware that God has promised his people rest, a respite from their labors, terrors, injustice, oppression, illness, labor for our food and other blessings. That God granted man the blessing of rest is evident even from the creation. “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 2:3  The covenant of Moses specifies the keeping of the law by the Israelites, honoring the work of creation and sanctifying man’s work.  “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…” Deuteronomy 5:12-14a,b  God has set aside a weekly day of rest for man, but he has also prepared an eternal rest for his faithful people. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:9-10 

Mankind seeks a haven from the tiresome “daily grind”, pressures, sorrows, etc. Some stop by the bar for a “drink”. Others seek release in drugs. There are games on the x-box, sports to participate in or watch on TV. On it goes. Whether to roll away the blues, recreation from one’s boredom, or depressants for tension, it all amounts to one thing: escape!

God made a perfect world, but because of the disobedience of its first human inhabitants cursed it and made man’s lot in it very difficult. The curses heavily burdened humanity, and God gave them the respite of a day of rest out of each seven day week (as above).  Looking forward, God also provided a rest for world weary mankind.   That was a loving action on the Lord’s part. But this “rest” is both temporal (the Sabbath) and the  rest in heaven (eternal).  

Jesus has somewhat to say regarding the “rest” that God has prepared. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28  It is here fixed by Jesus that the rest he promises is available only in him. He promises that the rest coming from him will lighten their burdens both in this world and especially in the hereafter. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” Ephesians 3:1  Salvation is ours from Jesus. All spiritual blessings too. A home in which to dwell. A spiritual body like Christ’s. And, YES, REST, too!

There is a promise and also  caution regarding this rest. Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands,  let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Hebrews 4:1  God had promised eternal life in  heaven and it still stands, however, the Israelites coasted into disobedience  and God revoked His blessing of rest.  “Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience…” Heberews 4:11.  Many of our fellow saints will decide to choose the goods of this world and forsake their rest.  Others will lose faith in Christ. Yet others will abandon belief in God’s word,  and desert  the church. 

Please do not take lightly the eternal blessings that are promised to us. Keep looking for the rest that awaits us by promise

“…but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.”  Hebrews 3:6  

REM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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