Tuesday, February 28, 2017

HEBREWS 4: 8-11

"For if Joshua had given them rest,
He would not have spoken of another day after that.
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
For the one who has entered His rest
has himself also rested from his works,
as God did from His.
Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest,
so that no one will fall,
through following the same example of disobedience."

Okay, we haven't finished resting yet.  Let's take another look at the blessed promise, you know, like the Sunday afternoon nap that is calling you when you're eyes cross with eyelids fluttering like butterflies in order to stay open, and your mouth falls open with a little drool's about ready to drip down onto the pillow.  Yeah, that kind, the one where you want to blissfully sink down onto your soft Egyptian cotton sheets and let the perfect mattress cradle you to sleep.  That's the Sabbath rest, forgetting all your dirty dishes and unwashed loads of laundry, all the dust bunnies and the checkbook that needs balancing.  But there is a better and deeper rest promised here, a rest for the soul.

The author makes one more attempt to help us understand this vital concept that "the apostle shows that, although Joshua did bring the children of Israel into the promised land, yet this could not be the intended rest, because long after this time the Holy Spirit, by David, speaks of this rest;  the apostle therefore concludes, 'There remaineth a rest to the people of God...a state of blessedness, for the people of God.'" (Adam Clarke)

Adam Clarke goes on to say, "There are two words in this chapter which we indifferently translate 'rest, the first signifying a cessation from labour, so that the weary body is rested and refreshed; the second meaning, not only a rest from labour, but a religious rest, 'sabbatismus,' a rest of a sacred kind, of which both soul and body partake." 

"Has ceased from his own works" "No longer depends on the observance of Mosaic rites and ceremonies for his justification and final happiness.  He rests from all these works of the law as fully as God has rested from His works of creation."  This would be so important for the Christian Jews to hear.  The temptation is to go back to the comfort of outward constraints, the laws, instead of the inward constraints of the Spirit.  Sometimes people would rather have melt-downs of babbles in order to make a golden calf, an idol--slipping into man-made worship, rather than waiting on God on the mountain to speak. 

In the King James it says, "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man should fall."  The word (labor) implies every exertion of body and mind which can be made...All things else omitted, this one thing let us do." (Adam Clarke)  It is interesting to think of laboring in order to enter into rest.  Andrew Murray says that this word labor or diligence "means, 'Make haste--be in earnest, put your whole heart into it, see that you do it; enter into that rest."

Then the warning, either enter or fall, due to disobedience. After raising a whole gaggle of sleep-resistant kids, and even after working in a preschool with an allotted nap time, I well understand that warning of "rest or else!"  God's not playing around here.  He's serious.  We all know what a joy sleep deprived little ones are--NOT!  Tantrums usually follow naplessness, cranky kids who become grumpy pants or even turn into little monsters. Sometimes weary adults even resemble that.  Right? Okay, you can put your hands down now.

God has built it into our little bodies a wondrous need for rest.  Not only in the body, but in the soul.  Andrew Murray says, "The danger is imminent--the loss will be terrible.  God has sworn in His wrath that unless we hearken and obey, we shall not enter His rest." 

Go, weary pilgrim, and enjoy the rest the shepherd David described that He has prepared for His flock: "He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters; He restores my soul."  Yep.  That's the place.  Have you found rest in your soul?

We married young, between my freshman and sophomore year of college, with my man a year ahead of me.  It is not for the faint hearted or one wishing for a bed of roses.  It is hard work.  Thus after years of this, not only with both of us graduating, we faced moving across the country so that he could go to seminary in the nitty, gritty city of K.C.  By the time we were set free from student-hood, we were blessed to find our green pasture in our first church up in the Trinity Mountains of Weaverville.  We literally found green pastures but also enjoyed the kind of green pastures where God restored our souls. 

It was where my soul learned to sing, in spite of being physically depressed, I found joy at the same time.  Circumstances were such that we needed to remain in a penny-pinching lifestyle, continuing to just live on love. I learned that I could be happy and be depressed at the same time, after all, it was a time for babies. It is where I found soul rest that defied situations or circumstances, place or position, that refused to be bound or drowned in a body with clinical depression--yes, meds were a long-time in coming and brought tremendous relief when they arrived--still, I found soul rest because the battle had been won.  I was like the soldier, battle-weary, wounded and limping, but glorying in victory.  He gives peace, not as the world gives peace, a peace that passes understanding. 

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