Are you heavily ladened?
Do you feel as if you are placed on a treadmill that is running and you could not stop it nor get off it. You are so tired from all the hard work and you see that there’s still lots more work waiting for you to do. Each time when you try to relax, do you have an inner voice accusing you for being lazy or some fears and worries about the future that overwhelm you? We are all living in a world where we have to work to make a living. If there is anything that is certain about life on earth, it is that if you do not labour, you will not have money to pay for food, shelter, medical bills and the things you like. In fact, even if you work very hard, you may still not succeed in achieving the kind of life you dream to have. This is the curse of Genesis 3:17. My child, do you know that believers of Jesus Christ, Christians, are given the gift of rest? Do you know that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33) and we who believe in Jesus, we can come to Him and He promised us a gift of rest (Matthew 11:28)? In Galatians 3:13, we read that Christ has broken all the curses:
But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Galatians 3:13 (NLT)
In this blog post, we are going to study the scriptures to find out what is God’s concept of rest and if Christians are given the gift of rest, just like the children of Israel had received in Exodus 16? Hebrews 4 stated that there is a promise of rest for Christians. How can we enter this promise of rest?
The Gift of Rest
The LORD our God first gave the gift of rest, the Sabbath law to the Israelites after they left Egypt. You see, from the time Adam and Eve sinned and the curse of Genesis 3:17 was pronounced, to the time the children of Israel left Egypt was 2729 years. For 2729 years, mankind had laboured and toiled to make a living. Nothing comes easy. Food and money do not fall from the sky. Moreover, the children of Israel had lived 400 years in slavery in Egypt. It was therefore very difficult for them to believe they can rest. It was difficult for them to believe they can receive any blessings. Hence the LORD rained manna so that everyday they can see the unfailing love, faithfulness and miraculous power of the LORD our God. Perhaps when you read the scriptures in Exodus chapter 16, you would think that such a gift of rest only happened during the time when the children of Israel were in the wilderness. No, this is incorrect. The gift of rest was given forever to the children of Israel:
The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time.It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days theLordmade heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed. Exodus 31:16-17 (NLT)
That means, the people of Israel can rest like in the days in the wilderness even if there were no manna rained from the sky. As long as the children of Israel observe the Sabbath law, the LORD will continue to provide for them, forever.
What is the rest that God has intended for mankind?
Let’s study the scriptures and understand what is the concept of rest that the LORD has. We will first analyse the scriptures on the events of manna. Second, we will study the scripture on the promised land. Third, we will revisit what we have learnt in Genesis chapter 1 and 2 on the LORD God’s original plan for Adam and Eve.
1. Exodus 16 – Quail and Bread from Heaven
a. Exodus 16:12-15 Know that He is the LORD who make things happen
Quails came in the evening and cover the camp. In the morning, when the layer of dew lifted, there was a small round substance, as fine as frost, white like coriander seeds and tasted like honey wafers (Exodus 16:31)! It was the bread the LORD had given to them and they called it manna. The children of Israel need not have to find ways to get the quails to be attracted to their camp. The children of Israel did not have to plant the wheat, grind it make into flour and find oven to bake into bread. All they had to do was to gather the manna according to each one’s need. They did not have to sweat to make things happen. The LORD provided. He demonstrated that He is the LORD their God:
“I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” Exodus 16:12
b. Exodus 16:26 – There are set times for us to rest without any guilt feeling
The LORD did not send the manna on Sabbath day so that the children of Israel could rest without any guilt feeling on Sabbath day.
c. Exodus 16:29- Rest without any lack
For the children of Israel, the LORD gave a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. In this way, the children of Israel can rest without having lack on Sabbath day.
d. Exodus 16:19-20 – No need to worry about tomorrow for the LORD had already made plans for the future
We read in Exodus 16:19-20 that Moses commanded the children of Israel not to keep the manna overnight. Except for the 6th day, if they were to keep the manna overnight for any other days, the manna will rot. Why did the LORD do this? One reason why the LORD did this was because He wanted the children of Israel to put their trust completely in Him and not putting their trust in themselves or their hardwork. He wanted them not to worry about tomorrow because He is a faithful God, He is the LORD who already went ahead into the future to plan in advance, He will take care of His people.
2. Deuteronomy 6:10-14 – The gifts of a loving, perfect Father
If you read Exodus 33:14, Deuteronomy 6:10-14 and Joshua 24:13, you will discover that the promised land that the LORD prepared for them was one where they live in houses they did not build and eat the fruits they did not plant.
Do you find this strange? If you are a parent, you will be teaching your children to work hard and enjoy the dignity of their labour. So why is it that the LORD did not simply give them a land and bless them with good harvest? Why did the LORD want them to live in houses they did not build and eat the fruits they did not plant?
The children of Israel had lived 400 years in slavery. The LORD delivered them from the Egyptians so they can enter into His rest. The LORD’s gift of rest is truly this — living in houses they did not build and eating from vineyards they did not plant. Period. But, why?
You see, as parents, while we teach our children to work hard, actually, we are all working hard to accumulate wealth for our children. We hope that someday, when we pass on, they can inherit the houses that we left behind for them and inherit all the wealth we have worked hard to accumulate for them. All these are a reflection of a parent’s love. Now can you see that the LORD was giving rest to His people because He loves them as a Father loves His children? This does not mean we should be lazy and not work. Rather it meant that the LORD, our God, loves us as His beloved children and will bless us abundantly. Our LORD is always working so that we are blessed (John 5:17).
3. Genesis Chapter 1 & 2 – Adam and Eve were created last
We read in Genesis chapter 1 and 2 that the LORD God created everything before He created Adam and Eve so that they enter this world with no lack. They entered this world to celebrate all of God’s creation and inherit the kingdom God created for them, a kingdom they did not build. This was the LORD God’s original intention, His will for mankind. His plan for mankind was never for them to labour and toil.
Hence, when the LORD gave the gift of rest to the children of Israel, the concept of rest remains the same. The children of Israel will live in houses they did not build and eat from vineyards they did not plant. They ate quail and manna that were sent to their camp. The Sabbath law was given so the children of Israel could rest, just as Adam and Eve could enter this world resting in God’s perfect love and provisions.
The Promise of Rest for Christians
Having studied the scriptures, let’s do a quick list of the concept of rest that God has always intended for His People:
1. We need not sweat to make things happen. The LORD is our God who make things happen.
2. There are days for us to work and there are days for us to rest. During the days of rest, we can rest without feeling any guilt nor worry.
3. The LORD provides in advance so we can rest with no lack.
4. There is no need to worry about tomorrow because the LORD holds our future and has already planned ahead.
5. God, our heavenly Father loves to lavish on us and bless us abundantly.
God chose Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6-8) as the model nation because of His promise to Abraham and so that all other nations could see the love between God and His people. How the LORD delivered, protected, provided and fought for them. God loves the world and He sent Jesus to come and die for us so that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life (John 3:16). Do you know that for all who believes in Jesus, they have become the true children of Abraham and whatever God promised to Abraham belongs to us who believe?
And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:29 (NLT)
This scripture tells us that if the gift of rest was a permanent covenant to the children of Israel, then surely for believers of Jesus (Christians), there exist a Promise of Rest (Hebrews 4:9-11). In the blog post on the purpose of the Sabbath day, we learned that the LORD gave the Sabbath law so that the children of Israel will grow in faith and be sanctified and made holy. We learned that faith and holiness are the keys that unlock all the blessings that the LORD had planned for them. Now, let’s study the scriptures to find out how Christians can enter this promised rest. Is it by observing the Sabbath law? 1. Christians are already made holy For Christians, because Jesus has died for our sins, we are already made holy:
Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. Colossians 1:22
2. Christians are already entitled to the rest Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 4:1-11 that there is a special rest waiting for the people of God who have believed:
For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”
Hebrews 4:3 (NLT)
So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall. Hebrew 4:8-11 (NLT)
The above scriptures tell us that Christians (the people of God) are already entitled to this special rest. The rest where they do not need to labour to make things happen. The LORD had already gone ahead into the future, making all the plans and provisions for the people of God who believe and rest in the perfect love of God, just like Adam and Eve enjoying all the provisions and gifts of God. Some people thought that this special rest refers to the days when we go to heaven or the days when Jesus come back on earth to rule this world. This is not correct. The scriptures below confirm that this rest is ours to claim now when we believe. 3. Faith is still needed to enter the rest Hebrews 4:3 and Hebrews 4:11 tell us that if Christians choose not to believe that God loves us perfectly and will provide for us, if we choose to continue to live worrying, we too will not enter into this rest that we are entitled to, the rest that Christ’s sacrifice had made possible for us. 4. Christ has given us the solution –remain in Him Adam and Eve existed about 6268 years ago. For 6268 years, mankind had laboured and toiled. Our LORD Jesus knew that it is very difficult for us living in this land that has been cursed (Genesis 3:17) to believe that we can be entitled to the rest that Adam and Eve once had on the 7th day of creation. So the LORD had taught us the way is to remain in Him:
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! John 15:7 (NLT)
When we remain in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit of God living in us (Romans 8:9, John 20:22). When Christians choose to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), they are directed by the Spirit and hence are not under obligation to the law of Moses (Galatians 5:18). Unlike the people of Israel having to keep the laws in order to have the blessings, Christians have the Holy Spirit. Christians just have to ask in Jesus’ name and it will be granted (John 14:14). 5. The Holy Spirit lives in us forever Our worries and fears are not just about money. We worry about our health, the well-being of our loved ones, we fear tragedies and disasters, there are many things that we are concerned about. So when our LORD Jesus sacrified for us, His blood cleansed all our sins and make us holy enabling the Holy Spirit of God to be able to live in us forever:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. John 14:16 (NLT)
My child, when you have the Holy Spirit of God living in you, not only will you have no lack, you have power and authority:
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. Ephesians 1:19-21 (NLT)
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11 (NLT)
6. Jesus has overcome the world and given us a gift of Peace Are you living in fear of the future? Our LORD Jesus told us that He had overcome the world and hence He gave us the gift of peace:
Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] John 14:27 (AMPC)
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)
This means, as believers of Christ, we can live a life of rest. We can let go and let God. We can trust in the LORD, knowing that He has gone ahead into the future to make plans for us. 7. The Promise of Rest At the start of His ministry, Jesus taught in Matthew 6: 25-34, Luke 11:13, Matthew 7:11, that we should not worry:
But seek first his kingdomand his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6: 33-34 (NLT)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35 (NLT)
However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. John 6:37 (NLT)
From the above scriptures, we can conclude that rest is a promise of God, a gift given to all Christians (believers of Jesus) who believe in this perfect love of God. Just as the children of Israel had to believe to enter the promised land (Hewbrews 4:3), Christians had to believe (not to live worrying) to enter this rest that is already given to us (Hebrews 4:11). Christians are already made holy by Christ’s sacrifice and all that we need to do is to remain in Christ (spend time with Jesus like what Mary did in Luke 10:42). When we remain in Christ and His words remain in us (John 15:7), i.e when we focus on the promises that our LORD Jesus had told us (His Words), we will grow in faith. This faith will unlock all blessings:
I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. Mark 11:24 (NLT)
My child, can you see the love of our LORD Jesus? He sacrificed everything so that we can be in this blameless, holy, blessed position to enter God’s rest. It is God’s gift to us (Ephesians 2:8). I pray for the person reading this blog post that the Holy Spirit will cause your heart to understand this perfect love of our heavenly Father and give you the ability to pause your work and rest in the presence of God. To let go of all your worries that had been so heavy on you and to let God take over these burdens. I pray that you can simply rest knowing that our LORD Jesus has already made provisions and will cause all things to work well for you.