Rest: Sermon By Minister Victor Ngocih
Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it. For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard (did believe). For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest, in accordance with His declaration that those [who did not believe] should not enter when He said, As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest; and this He said although [His] works had been completed and prepared [and waiting for all who would believe] from the foundation of the world. For in a certain place He has said this about the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works. And [they forfeited their part in it, for] in this [passage] He said, They shall not enter My rest.
Seeing then that the promise remains over [from past times] for some to enter that rest, and that those who formerly were given the good news about it and the opportunity, failed to appropriate it and did not enter because of disobedience, Again He sets a definite day, [a new] Today, [and gives another opportunity of securing that rest] saying through David after so long a time in the words already quoted, Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts. [This mention of a rest was not a reference to their entering into Canaan.] For if Joshua had given them rest, He [God] would not speak afterward about another day. 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 4:1-11 (AMPC)
Definition of rest:
- Repose, sleep; specifically: a bodily state characterised by minimal functional and metabolic activities.
- Freedom from activity or labour: a state of motionlessness or inactivity: the repose of death.
- A place for resting or lodging.
- Peace of mind or spirit.
There is no rest without peace.
[After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.Romans 14:17 (AMPC)
What Does It Mean To Enter Rest?
The first mention of rest in the Bible is in Genesis where God rested from His works.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And God blessed (spoke good of) the seventh day, set it apart as His own, and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all His work which He had created and done.Genesis 2:1-3 (AMPC)
The Israelites were being ushered into a state of physical rest where they could own things and they were no longer slaves.
It was a place to recuperate. Sometimes God can take you through physical seasons so that we have physical rest.
Spiritual rest denotes entering into God’s covenant in and through Jesus Christ, and us submitting ourselves to the terms and conditions of that covenant.
The terms and conditions of this covenant are eternal because God is an eternal God. And therefore our response to this God must have an eternal element/aspect/mark.
How Then Do We Enter This Rest?
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.Psalm 5:7 (ESV)
You cannot enter into rest without faith. In Hebrews 4, we see a generation that received the word of God but they did not join in faith with those that believed.
All the Israelites were required to do was to believe.
For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.Romans 1:17 (AMPC)
Now it is evident that no person is justified (declared righteous and brought into right standing with God) through the Law, for the Scripture says, The man in right standing with God [the just, the righteous] shall live by and out of faith and he who through and by faith is declared righteous and in right standing with God shall live.Galatians 3:11 (AMPC)
Faith is not being ignorant of the prevailing circumstance but rather being aware of the circumstances and being anchored in the truth of who God is.
We have to be at that place for us to really experience rest. We must understand what it means to walk in the steadfast love of God. He does not change, His love is unchanging.
Your circumstance is most of the time not a reflection of the nature of God. He uses circumstances to cause us to share in the holiness of Christ.
But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him.Hebrews 10:38 (AMPC)
Steadfast is an adjective denoting:
- Fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze.
- Firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend.
- Unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.
- Firmly established, as an institution or a state of affairs.
- Firmly fixed in place or position.
Your faith has to plant you in the steadfast love of God and you remain in the presence of God because you know that it is the only place where you are safe.
What Does This Rest Imply To Us? Physically & Spiritually? In Our Personal Lives?
And when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were in the brink of the water—for the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest.Joshua 3:15 (AMPC)
The children of Israel entered into the Promised Land at a time of harvest. Though the manna stopped, there was provision for them already. They began to eat of what they had not planted.
We need to be ready to enter places we have not qualified for or worked. However, to stay there it’ll take your continued standing in the steadfast love of God and your keeping your end of the bargain/covenant. This implies considering God’s mercies and in view of that offering your body as living sacrifice to God.
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].Romans 12:1-2 (AMPC)
As God rested from the work of creation, we also get to rest from the labour of our flesh. We enter into the realm of becoming to the works of God. We then cease to work to prove that we are sons but from knowing that we are sons.
And such as violate the covenant he shall pervert and seduce with flatteries, but the people who know their God shall prove themselves strong and shall stand firm and do exploits [for God].Daniel 11:32 (AMPC)
Your works do not qualify you, but for you to show that you are qualified you must have works. These works now being your service unto God that validates and is aligned to your faith.
You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes]. So also with Rahab the harlot—was she not shown to be justified (pronounced righteous before God) by [good] deeds when she took in the scouts (spies) and sent them away by a different route? For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead.James 2:24-26 (AMPC)
There is a place of work that is a manifestation of rest. In the same way that a fountain, a spring is never the source. It is a manifestation. So is our work unto God is not the source of our identity.
After creation, everything that God has done is from a place of rest. For example, God heals – it is from a place of rest.
I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.John 14:12 (AMPC)
After harvest, you enjoy the produce but you prepare for a new season. As such the children of Israel had to go back and plant for the new season.
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.Genesis 8:22 (AMPC)
In divine sustenance, there is need to realign and meet the end of our bargain that is having unwavering faith in God where your circumstance does not change how you view God. He remains immutable.
In every season, there are those things that God will be expecting us to do. There are general aspects of a believer and there are those specific to us. We need to ask God what we are to do as individuals in every season.
Now an old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” For his sons had seen which way the man of God went who came from Judah. Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” And he said, “I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. For I have been told by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ ”
He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” (He was lying to him.) So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water. Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ” So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
Now when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard it, he said, “It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the Lord. Therefore the Lord has delivered him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to him.” And he spoke to his sons, saying, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled it. Then he went and found his corpse thrown on the road, and the donkey and the lion standing by the corpse. The lion had not eaten the corpse nor torn the donkey. And the prophet took up the corpse of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back. So the old prophet came to the city to mourn, and to bury him. Then he laid the corpse in his own tomb; and they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!” So it was, after he had buried him, that he spoke to his sons, saying, “When I am dead, then bury me in the tomb where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. For the saying which he cried out by the word of the Lord against the altar in Bethel, and against all the shrines on the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, will surely come to pass.” After this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again he made priests from every class of people for the high places; whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam, so as to exterminate and destroy it from the face of the earth.1 Kings 13 (NKJV)
There is a place of death to self to roar like a lion and serve like a donkey as is shown in 1 Kings 13 in the story of the young prophet and the old prophet – the lion, the donkey and the dead man.
Rest is a state of being; it is not a labour of becoming. It is the quantum of relationship with God. We cannot achieve rest on our own.
A person that has rested is one that has prepared. They are strategic and operate in wisdom and counsel. Those who are rested are powerful.
It is in the place of rest that one flows in the spirit.
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMPC)
Leave a Reply