The Rest of God

For the past several months, I have consistently remarked that I am walking in the manifestation of answered prayer. The difficulties of life are still active and present, but they do not overwhelm me in the same way they had previously; God has already acted on my behalf and made provision, so worry is unfruitful and unnecessary. Jesus Christ himself confirmed this reality, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (John 16:33, AMPC). God has already answered my prayers so any associated challenges still remain his concern. There is an unshakeable assurance, confidence that comes when God has taken charge of your matter. “And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:6, AMPC). I have been engulfed by the peace of God. Philippians 4: 4-7 states clearly, “Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon]. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (AMPC)” This peace is the rest of God. This rest was the original intention of God for humanity.

On the sixth day, at the pinnacle of God’s creative masterpiece, God created man and gave him dominion of the earth and all that dwelt therein. And then He rested. Man was created into rest. All provision was made for man to not only survive but thrive. The work of creation had been completed; the function of man was to merely manage and steward creation:

And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. (Genesis 2:15-7, AMPC)

Unfortunately, Adam disobeyed God’s command and failed to heed His warning. As a result, there would be dire consequences for humanity.

And to Adam He said, because you have listened and given heed to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it, the ground is under a curse because of you; in sorrow and toil shall you eat [of the fruits] of it all the days of your life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:17-9, AMPC)

In an instant there was a tragic reversal of mankind’s fate: the rest that God had intended for mankind became unrest, as a result of the curse. Man moved out of favor with God and became dependent on his own labor. The impact of sin was felt because of man’s disobedience.

So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God; for he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own. Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell]. (Hebrews 4:9-11, AMPC)

Due to the inclination of the human nature to strive and seek validation through our own efforts, we are admonished to use that same zeal to access the rest of God. The exiled children of Israel are used as a cautionary tale in both instances.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength. But you would not, and you said, No! We will speed [our own course] on horses! Therefore you will speed [in flight from your enemies]! You said, We will ride upon swift steeds [doing our own way]! Therefore will they who pursue you be swift, [so swift that] one thousand of you will flee at the threat of one of them; at the threat of five you will flee till you are left like a beacon or a flagpole on the top of a mountain, and like a signal on a hill. And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! (Isaiah 30:15-8, AMPC)

This passage is preceded by a rebuke of those who looked to Egypt for deliverance, the writer admonished Judah for their rejection of God’s message and their self-reliance. God offered to Judah the promise of protection from Assyria; they need not look to Egypt for salvation. They should have trusted God for the fulfilment of His promise. Trusting in the promise of God means returning. If there is conspicuous disobedience in our lives, we must return to His ways. Outright disobedience is never consistent with authentic, genuine trust in God’s promise. Returning requires that we draw close Him. Trusting in the promise of God means rest. When we trust God, we do not have to strive for ourselves, nor do we need to guard or protect ourselves. He is our Protector. Trusting in the promise of God means quietness. There is no need to seek the validation of others, arguing to be heard.  Be quiet before Him and before others. Trusting in the promise of God means confidence. There is no despair or fear because His character authenticates and validates His promise.

God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19, AMPC)

All of these constitute a genuine trust in the promise of God, it means that we shall be saved, and it means that we will find strength. There is no person walking this earth more powerful than a child of God boldly and properly trusting the promise of the living God.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. (Isaiah 40:28-31, AMPC)

Except The Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil–for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep. (Psalms 127:1-2, AMPC)

Jesus Christ, Our risen Savior, calls to each of use to enter into the rest that only He can offer:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. (Matthew 11:28-30, AMPC)

In order to fully access this rest, we must first acknowledge the fallibility of our humanity: our weakness and our need to be fully dependent on Him and Him alone.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!

This inspires hope:

[What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! (Psalm 27:13, AMPC)

As we commune and fellowship with Him, we remain in a state of perpetual rest:

You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. (Isaiah 26:3, AMP)

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