REFLECTIONS ON THE REST OF GOD AND THE JUBILEE
Notes for ISOM at New Life 26th November 2013
ALWAYS BEGIN WITH GOD
Whenever we consider any doctrine, any truth of God we tend to begin with man, with ourselves or with the things of this world. We also have a penchant to attempt to MASTER a subject. A mistake, we can never MASTER the things of God. He is immeasurably great and all that He does partakes of His nature. So, to title these studies REFLECTIONS is wise. We could also use the words ‘ponderings’ and ‘musings’ to describe the three studies on Rest and Jubilee. We are all learners and must mature in knowledge and understanding. We come humbly to His Book to learn of Him.
- Usually books of Systematic Theology, Biblical Theology and Dogmatic Theology begin with the Doctrine of God. The right place to start!
- Pentecostalism and sometimes the Charismatic movement have erred in saying “come in and leave your mind at the door!”
- This is a statement that is part truth and part dangerous error.
- It is true that we enter into the things of God spirit first but our mind must follow swiftly. God’s truth is utterly reasonable. In fact, God appeals to us in the three main areas of our life, the realm of emotions, affections and desires, the realm of the intellectual (mind) and thirdly the realm of the volition (will). Our Christian ministry should reflect this fact as we approach others with the gospel and teach and preach in the churches.
- When God speaks to us He speaks to the ‘whole man’ of us and does so from the place of His eternal rest of Being. He speaks Being to our being.
- Salvation begins and continues as a powerful reality when we come into, and stay in agreement with Him. Stay in agreement with Him and you will enjoy an absence of tension, striving and pressurized living. You will begin to share His rest.
GOD THE RESTFUL GOD
He is un-hasting in His Being. There is no hurry, no toil or sweat. As soon as He begins to disclose Himself in the Book of Genesis this is what we see.
- He Who is ‘outside’ time works in time.
- The evening and the morning, day by day. Orderly, unhurried and without tension are His creative acts.
- First there is light, He is always consistent with Himself and so when He works in us, His speaking brings spiritual light.
- It is impossible for Him to be ‘dark’ or sin. He is good and therefore all that He does is good.
- He always moves from the place of His rest of Being. Sin has damaged us most terribly and is the reason that we are harassed by time, out of synchronization with everything and dominated by timetables.
- God looked at all that He had made and it was very good (Genesis 1:31). He rests in His work with pleasure.
- Notice the repeated phrase, “the evening and the morning”. God works and finishes His works in the light. We go to work, beginning in light and ending in the dusk of evening or the early hours of darkness (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23, 11:6)! When God finishes everything it will usher in the eternal day for darkness and night shall be no more (Revelation 21:25). He will make His dwelling place in the New Creation and all shall be rest (Revelation 21:3).
- h. We are worn out when we finish our work and need to rest. God begins in rest and ends His work in rest too (Genesis 2:2-3). This is true of His first creation and the New Creation. God crowns all that He does with rest.
NOT JEWS, WE ARE CHRISTIANS!
There are significant differences between the Jewish week and that of the Christian.
- a. Following what He had done in creation, the Sabbath was established by God on the seventh day. It followed His work and thus He rested from His work and in His work.
- It ends the week.
- Jesus was crucified and lay in the tomb on the Jewish Sabbath day.
- He rose on the first day of the week (Sunday). (Matthew 28:1). Note that the Sabbath was ended. The first day had come and Jesus rose then and appeared to the women and the disciples (John 20:1, 19, 26).
- So, the first day of the week became known as “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10). He rose victorious and in and from His victory we must pursue the following days of the week!
- The early Christians met on that day whenever possible, they did not meet on the Saturday (Jewish Sabbath). (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2)
- g. Jews end their week with a day of rest. Christians begin their week with a day of rest. They work from the place of rest! We must understand this distinction with all seriousness and joy. No ‘blue Mondays’ but do our work from and in the rest of God and in joyful service to Him and our fellow human beings.
SHEBII, SHABATH, SHABA
These three Hebrew words are all in the same family. The first means ‘seventh,’ the second means ‘repose’ and ‘rest’ and the third means ‘to swear,’ ‘to make an oath’ and so is linked with promises and covenant. We should not be surprised at this.
- God rests in His promises. He is the God of promise and covenant.
- We should rest in His covenant promises. What He has said He has done and will do.
- Remember, covenants were frequently sealed with the shedding of the blood of a sacrifice (Genesis 15:1-21).
- God has sealed His promises and covenant with the death and bloodshed of His Son. God gave His oath and kept it (Hebrews 6:13-20).
- e. So Sabbath rest and God’s oath are intimately connected. If we are to rest in His love then we must be those who believe on His word(s) and promises.
- God rested on the seventh day resting joyfully in His work but notice that there was no ‘finish; to that day, no ‘evening and morning was the seventh day’ (Genesis 2:1-3). God was living in His rest and all was in perfect order and tranquility. God and man in restful agreement in the Garden of Eden.
- g. Man was made on the sixth day; his first day on earth was the Sabbath. He was made to dwell in a life of rest with God. It is original native air.
h. But that state would be dreadfully disturbed and God would have more work to do.
SIN, SWEAT AND TOIL
God is still in His repose, resting in His love, but man is not. How swiftly sin enters in, man opens the door to the adversary of God and rest and peace are disturbed most terribly. Every relationship is now troubled. The conscience of mankind is in the toils of condemnation. Rest has departed. There is no rest for the wicked (Isaiah 57:20). But God is at work immediately.
- He promises salvation, He assures his man and woman that there shall be a remedy for sin and the adversary shall be overcome (Genesis 3:14-19).
- Tension, trouble, trial, sweat and tears. This is the lot of man now.
- He tries all sorts of ways to salve his troubled conscience and still his restless heart.
- Memories of paradise lost linger long in the hearts of mankind. For that they had been created, but no matter how hard they try, they cannot regain Eden themselves. No work of man can bring lasting repose. But God can do it and He has!
- e. In rest He speaks, from that place of rest He utters His promises, to Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and all the way through what we know as the Old Testament.
- It is a history of God at work! Patiently, steadily, unhurriedly He continues in the face of the disobedience of the people He had called and from whom He was going to bring His Son.
- The people are wearied but God is not (Isaiah 40:28).
h. He is unwearied in His restful labors. And we must rest in Him. He is not exasperated; we should not get exasperated, even with ourselves and certainly not with Him. He patiently worked and works now. “Don’t you know? The Everlasting God, never grows tired or weary?”
- Priests, prophets, kings, captivity and release, and so God worked in an unwearied way through it all until the coming of the Promised Seed.
HISTORY ACCORDING TO JESUS
In the fullness of time Jesus came. God is a Trinity of Persons. First the Father worked and then the Son came. How silently He was given. Born to Mary, laid in an animal-feeding trough. There is tranquility about it all. He grows up and lives hidden years until the day He begins His ministry. He is unhurried, moving in the rest of His Father. He does so many of His works on the Sabbath days and so plays into the hands of the critical Pharisees. He heals a paralytic man and when questioned gives His definition of history!
- “My Father has been working until now and I am working (John 5:17)
- Not “the devil has been busy” and “everything is chaos and anarchy.”
- “I came to finish the Father’s work” (John 4:34, 5:36).
- This is the explanation of Jesus concerning Himself.
- “Father, I have glorified You on earth having finished the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4)
- And then the triumphal cry on Calvary “It is finished” (John 19:30).
- He accomplished all this in the restful timings of His Father but it was not without sweat (Luke 22:44) and it was not without the toils of thorns and thistles (Mark 15:17).
- Remember Genesis 3:18-19). The reign of sin and death, the ceaseless labor producing sweat and toil. Jesus came and worked His Father’s works, to remove the curse and break the bonds of sin and the devil. In order to accomplish this He suffered on the cross and passed through the agonies of heart and body that entailed.
- i. He rose again on the first day of the week. His first word to the women He met first was “ALL HAIL” which means “REJOICE AND BE GLAD.” (Matthew 28:9). The tomb was in a garden and Jesus rose and appeared first in the garden having finished the work promised by the Father in the Garden of Eden. He had bruised the serpent’s head. The enemy is no longer master! In that Eden garden the woman has been saddened beyond all computing and now, womankind is told to “rejoice and be glad” and be the first messengers of the good news to the fearful disciples. Eve had been a kind of messenger in the Garden of Eden but redemption is in every act of Jesus. He revealed Himself to woman first, not man!
- j. And then He ascended on high. He passed through the heavens and sat down enthroned by His Father (Hebrews 1:3, 13, 8:1, 9:24, 10:12). Sitting until all enemies are made a stool for His feet. Jesus is at rest in the presence of His Father and ever lives there as the intercessor ceaselessly confessing by His abiding there that God and man are sat down in repose together.
WHO IS WORKING NOW?
If Jesus has sat down and ever lives in the presence of God for us, Who is working now? We know the answer; at least in theory. It is the Person of the Holy Spirit. Having entered His rest Jesus received the Holy Spirit from His Father and poured Him out on the day of Pentecost. That day was a day of rest!
- Now He works and ever proceeds freshly from the Father (John 15:26-27)
- He is the helper, the energy giver, the enabler, and the empowerer.
- He witnesses in the hearts of those who receive Him and to the consciences of hearers who hear their word (John 15:27).
- d. He makes heavenly things real. He is always proceeding from the place of eternal rest, the throne of God where the Lord Jesus is seated in glory.
- e. The Holy Spirit communicates God’s rest to our hearts. He whispers and sometimes almost shouts within us “it is done,” Jesus has finished it all. In heaven God with man are sat down!
- We live in the day of the Spirit. He gives gifts and ministries to men and women that they might work the works ordained by God for His church.
- g. Now we who believe share in the work. But, it is always Spirit first! All flows from the place of eternal rest and satisfaction. We carry on the work until the day chosen by the Father when Jesus shall return.
h. There is still work to be done. Work while it is day! But do not try to work without the Holy Spirit.
- A dread and sure way to become a bitter Christian (actually these words do not go together) is to work without the Spirit. Instead of laboring with Him, to work in the service of God by your own strength is disastrous. It will wear you out and wear you down and embitter your soul.
IT SHALL BE DONE
And so we live in the day of the Spirit. There is work to be done. He enlists us, enables us, and equips us, if we will let Him. He leads us in the work. We must become people of the Holy Spirit. Too often we lag behind or run ahead and the consequences are always restless laboring in God’s service, driving the flock with a subtle whip and much more. But, living in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit brings the Spirit’s harvest (Galatians 5:22-26) and there is no strain in a vine bringing forth its grapes. The Spirit is moving. All moves towards that day of the Lord when all shall be completed. The Voice of Him that sits on the throne in the midst of His people shall be heard to say, “It is done.” Eternal rest will then be absolute. At this point as we live in time there is a promise given to us daily that we can enter His rest and dwell there every moment (Hebrews 4:9). Let us enter now and be glad!