“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing” (vs. 7-8).
Did you know that we cannot enter into true, restorative rest and fret at the same time? It is impossible. To understand this fact, we must understand what God considers as true rest, which is the call of this passage. Any command we are given must be viewed from His understanding and meaning or we will fall short. So let us begin our journey to find the “rest” God speaks of here. Again, I am sure this will just scratch the surface, but it will be a good beginning point for our growth in true rest:
~*~ Rest Truth 1 ~*~
“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said,
‘Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.’
“For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12-19).
When we fret, we are not living by faith. Lack of faith, if there are degrees of sin, is probably the most intolerable sin God sees in our lives every day. Without faith it is impossible ~ IMPOSSIBLE! ~ to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Fretting destroys faith, hinders obedience, even leading us to deliberate sin pouring out of our anxious lives, and thereby keeps us from rest. Rest: trusting, believing rest that is godly, flows out of a life of faith that trusts Him fully despite the situations of life, denies fretting, and, trusting His hand in our lives, it removes anxiety from us.
~*~*~ Rest Truth 2 ~*~*~
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).
This one seems easy to understand, doesn’t it? We all need time to rest from our work and the labors of life, and God not only provides for our every need, but He always sets the example for us, for He never demands of us that which is not His own practice.
Rest is vital to us, and God, knowing this, commanded for us a day of Sabbath rest. That day has traditionally been on the day that we come together to worship God as a body, whether our religious organization chooses that to be Saturday, the last day of the week; or Sunday, the day believed to be the one in which Jesus arose and walked out of the tomb, destroying death’s hold on those who are His.
I don’t know if you have noticed it, but I have long noticed that in the churches I attend, the day of worship is anything but restful. Church life is often too busy to rest, as all are called to work in church related responsibilities. Couple that with family demands, it being the only day the housework can be done in our workaholic society, etc., and rest is far from us. So I have long had Monday as my Sabbath, a day when I draw apart from the hustle and bustle of normal life to seek the Father and rest myself in Him. God’s design is an entire day of Sabbatical. Whatever time it is for us, whether an entire day, or smidgeons of time throughout the week, we are called to enter in to the Sabbath with Him.
Now according to our understanding, God is not one who gets tired, so I asked Him once why He rested and what He did that brought rest to Him. Can you see God, sitting under a tree, chewing on a blade of grass, smiling? Can you envision that with me? What was He doing that applies to us for the Sabbath rest we are called to?
Here is what He revealed to my heart as I saw Him sitting under that tree. He looked back over all the previous week and rejoiced in all that was accomplished, enjoying the product of His hands.
How much time do we give on the Sabbath to looking back over all the good accomplished over the previous week, months, years, and rejoice in the Lord for His bounty? There is rest in the glory of God acknowledged. Too often, however, as we look back, our mind settles on the negatives and we turn to fretting. So what are we to do when we find ourselves in those instances?
Surrender it. Turn it all over to Him.
Did You realize that in creation, there was a negative that God put in place that could have brought Him to fretting? But I do not see God fretting, do you? He had a purpose in the negative, and it would bring glory. He knew this, so He rested without fretting. What was that negative?
“Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day” (Genesis 1:6-8).
Note that this is the only day in all of creation that the passage does not include, “and God saw that it was good.” Why? I believe it is because the expanse reminded Him that there would come a time when separation would come between Him and us, created in His image, and for whose pleasure He created all this glory. So we see that even God most likely looked back and saw that there was a negative there to mar the glory, but His focus was on all that was good, and in the end He looked at the full tapestry of His created work and of it all, including the expanse, we are told, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God does not fret over the flaws found in the product of His hands, knowing that every flaw He allows in His creation has a purpose and it all will work together to fulfill the purpose. Instead He focuses on the good and the flow that will lead to the end product and His ultimate glory.
When we look back and see negatives, it brings with it all too often, a look toward the week, months, years ahead, and the negative we must deal with. I am sure that as God looked over all His creation, He was reminded again of what was coming to His creation. But He knew that Jesus was not Plan B. He was always Plan A. God had a plan and was doing a good work.
We enter His rest with Him when fretting threatens to enter to destroy, and we meet it with faith that God has a plan and He is doing a good work. We will see it if we faint not in the way, but instead keep waiting for the Lord with earnest expectation and hope of glory.
Get excited when difficulty comes! It brings with it the assurance of opportunity to see what the Lord will do. This is where fretting turns into a grateful heart toward our Loving Lord, Who is forever for us and not against us.
~*~*~*~ Rest Truth 3 ~*~*~*~
For this final insight on trusting, believing rest that is godly, we return to yesterday’s passage:
“‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ …” (Exodus 33:12-17).
Our greatest rest comes as we know and discern and walk in the presence of the Lord our God, knowing Him and trusting His work in our midst.
Can you hear the sigh of Moses after being told that God was not going into the Promised Land with this obstinate people, when God proclaimed, “Okay, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Whew.
Do you think God knew that as weary as He was with the people, it was unbearable to Moses for sure, and he was exhausted? Moses learned total reliance upon God for the power and ability to do all he was called to. The thought of being without Him had to be unbearable. Like with Moses, just to know with belief that God is with us and in us brings us to rest. Thus, if we have any hope of entering into His rest, we must learn to say with David:
“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence” (Acts 2:25-28).
We can face any “Goliath” in life when we trust the Presence of Holy God with us.
Rest in the Lord, beloved, and wait patiently for Him. In so doing, know also that you are the apple of His eye; He is always looking after you for your good, and not for harm, to give you a hope and a future. He will never, no never, leave nor forsake you. So take your rest, beloved, and be at peace.