God’s Rest, Is It For Me? Yes! If You Can Believe

So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest.

Hebrews 3:11

The Bible clearly teaches there is a rest for the people of God, then why did God say that the generation Moses lead out of Egypt would not enter His rest? Why would God be so angry with this generation, that He would swear in His wrath they would not enter in?

In Hebrews 2:1, the writer tells his readers, “We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” Isn’t it interesting how we can see and experience the power, and the goodness of God, yet so easily we can also drift away? How often did the Children of Israel murmur and complain after experiencing all the great miracles, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna, water from the rock, all the wondrous works of God they had previously witnessed in Egypt? Yet, they still limited God with their doubt and unbelief? The whole book of Hebrews is written to a generation of Jewish believers who were on the very brink of turning back to the Old Testament Jewish religious system they had come out of. They had suffered so much during that first transitional generation, most of their persecution up to that time had been from their own countrymen. The generation was rapidly coming to an end, and the temple in Jerusalem was still standing. The prophecy of Jesus, for that generation in Matthew 24:34, had not yet been fulfilled, as He had promised . As a result these Jewish Christians were growing weary in well doing, and ready to turn back. So the writer is exhorting them, don’t leave the rest that is in Christ, don’t be like the generation Moses lead out into the wilderness. “Strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,” don’t turn back. He exhorts, them throughout Hebrews, that Christ is the Greater One. What they had left was good in it’s time, but it was now obsolete, growing old, and ready to vanish away, that Christ had replaced it with the New Covenant in His Blood. He had come to take away the First and establish the Second (Hebrews 8:13; 10:9). Legally the New Covenant had begun at the cross, but the temple still stood, and even Jewish Christians were still offering sacrifices and following the Law, instead of living by grace. This would all change at the end of this first transitional generation, in 70 AD. Herod’s temple would be torn down, and the Old Covenant system of worship would be brought to an abrupt end. Revealing to both the Jews and the Gentile world that God would no longer honor the Old, that in Christ the New was established.

The writer of Hebrews is telling them “Hang in there, the temple may still be standing, but it’s not over yet. This generation isn’t over yet, and God’s word will prevail! In these last days (of the Old Covenant Age) God has spoken to us through His Son, LISTEN TO HIM! Don’t be deceived by what you see with your eyes, or hear with your ears. Stop listening to so many voices, LISTEN TO HIM! Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone turns back My soul has no pleasure in him. If anyone puts his hand to the plow and looks back, he is not fit for the Kingdom” (Hebrews 10:38; Luke 9:62).

The Old Testament generation of Moses had seen so much, more than most of us could ever imagine, yet they were persuaded more by their own vain imaginations than they were by God’s Word, His promise to them of a place of rest. So that God in His wrath swore, that of the whole generation, only Caleb and Joshua would enter into the land He had promised them (Numbers 14:30). Hebrews 3:18-19, puts it simply, because they did not obey God. the writer of Hebrews goes on to say, He would not allow them to enter into His rest, because of their unbelief. Anytime we disobey it’s because we don’t believe. If we believed we’d obey. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic book “The Cost of Discipleship” put it this way, “Only those who believe obey. Only those who obey believe.”

Today many Christians are also on the brink of turning back. The same word that was good for that first generation is still valid for us today. “God has spoken to us, through His son, Hear Him!” The promise still remains for those who believe. For the works of God were finished before the foundations of the world. God has entered into His rest, we also can enter in with Him. Consider this, Adam was created at the end of the sixth day, before he could do anything, he entered into the seventh day, God’s Day of rest. Before Adam could name the animals, till the soil, or do anything at all in the garden, first he had to enter God’s rest. This is true for us as believers, before God will allow us to work in His garden, first He requires us to enter His rest. For us to enter God’s rest we must realize that it’s not in a day, God’s rest is in His Son. On Okinawa there are many Seventh Day Adventist, who still believe we must keep the Sabbath, their rest is in a day. For us who see the truth, we recognize Jesus is our Sabbath, our rest is not in a day, but in a Man. For us to fully enter in is then to stop trying and let Him accomplish through us whatsoever He desires. It becomes an issue of grace, not our good works. Grace empowers us, good works without grace simply wear us out. Hebrews 12:2728, speaks of a shaking that has come and is coming again. This shaking will remove ALL that is not of the Kingdom. Those that find their rest in Him, who have dug deep and built upon the Rock ,which is Christ, they will stand. Now notice verse 28, “Since we are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” I don’t know how you read that verse but to me it says without grace we cannot acceptably serve God. Meaning God doesn’t accept anything I do for the Kingdom that is done outside the realm of His grace. Whatever I do in my ability won’t be able to stand the shaking that is to come, and is even now shaking the Church and the nations.

I’m sure you’ll ask, “What do you mean by stop trying and let Him?” This Christian life is really not up to us, but totally and completely up to Him. When we see that, cease from our labors and enter into His rest, then the burden is no longer on us, but completely on Him. When we learn that simple lesson, then God can fully begin to use us. Remember Christianity does not begin with a big DO, but with a big DONE. It’s not what we can do for God, it’s what He has already done for us, in Christ. We simply by faith accept this New this link Testament truth. This is the reality of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11: 28, “Come into Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Religion, and religious activity, offers us no rest, but in Christ alone, can we find our rest.

For us to cease from our labors has nothing to do with laziness, or simply laying around being a couch potato. First we must accept the fact that we can do nothing without Him (John 15:5). Anything we try to do in our own strength and ability separates us from the Vine, and causes us to become unprofitable branches. These are the areas in our life the Lord wants to deal with. God really wants us to slow down, cease from our busy bee activities and find more time to minister to Him. There is where our true strength lies, this is the sign of Christian maturity. We all know by heart the story of Mary and Martha. Mary chose the good part sitting at the Master’s feet, and Martha got busy preparing Jesus a meal He didn’t order. Later it was Mary who anointed Jesus for His burial (John 12:7), and it was also Mary who was the first to see Him after His resurrection. Mary was the one sent to tell the others He’d been resurrected (John 20:11-18). There’s something about sitting at His feet and listening to Him that prepares us for spiritual service. Notice how the disciples themselves didn’t understand the death and burial that was to come. It was Mary who had simply set at His feet who anointed Jesus for His burial. We don’t have to go to lots of conferences and get anointed with special holy oil, everything we need pertaining to life and godliness is ours, in Him. We don’t need more love, more power, we are already complete in Him (Colossians 2:9-10). What we really need is revelation of the width, the length, the depth, and the height of His love which passes all our human understanding: that we might be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19). This fullness comes by revelation of what we’ve already received IN HIM!

If we could but understand John 3:16, God the Father’s gift to us was not eternal life. God the Father’s gift is Christ. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” It’s only when we receive the gift that eternal life becomes our portion. Everything God has for us is already freely given in Christ. We can’t earn it, we surely can’t pay for it. Consider Simon the Sorcerer wanting to purchase the power of God. It’s not to be bought it’s freely given. We’re already blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

It would certainly help us to learn the lesson of being seated with with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). We all know this verse and many times we quote it, but do we really understand it? If we did we’d see our world, our circumstances, everything from God’s eyes, from a heavenly perspective, and not from our earthly tunnel vision. This put quite simply is our place of rest. Imagine yourself as seated in a chair. You’ve taken all the weight off your legs and put it on the chair. Who is supporting you? The chair of course. If we can see that, then Who is supporting us when we’re seated in Christ Jesus? Of course we have to answer Jesus. Yes, it’s true there is a place in Ephesians where we walk out this Christian life, but like Adam who was born on the sixth day and rested on the seventh before he could work in the garden. We too must learn first to rest in Him before we can fully walk worthy of the calling with which we were called (Ephesians 4:1).

Our choice then is simple, believe and enter in. This is the abiding place where we abide in Him and His word abides in us. Where we’ve decreased, and He’s increased. Where we learn that our weakness is the best thing we have going for us, for when we’re weak He’s strong. Paul put it simply, “I glory in my weakness that the power of Christ might rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). These are is the keys to power in the Kingdom of God, yet I’ve never heard them taught in a spiritual warfare teaching.

If we can but grasp some of these simple Christian truths it would certainly simplify the Christian life. Perhaps that’s why Paul prayed the prayers in Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21, over the church at Ephesus. Perhaps this is the essence of apostolic prayers for the Church, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ might give to us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of our understanding be enlightened; that we may know the what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Amen.” True apostolic ministry is never to cover the saints, but to release them into the calling which they were called.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. To Him be the glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Your servants in Japan. Jerry & Kazuko Sorrow

Naha City Church Ministries
Jerry & Kazuko Sorrow
jkblessing@nirai.ne.jp