Are your present circumstances making you tired of heart? What you need is the “rest” of the Lord. Sounds like an American commercial from the 1950s, “And how Mom!”. It’s more than a commercial, it’s God’s offer of rest for any and all things that come against us. Logically that begs a couple of questions: 1. What does God mean by rest? 2. How do you take this rest in your time of stress?
One of the definitions of the English noun “rest” is a period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in stressful activity. As a born again Christian we can have rest in the most stressful circumstances. How often is this rest available? At all times! Under what circumstances is this rest available? In all circumstances! Impossible you say. Maybe that’s so in man’s strength, but then there is God.
Luke 18:27 KJV
And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
God has made a way for man, where man himself has no way. And as in all of life, Jesus Christ is that way.
John 14:6 KJV
And Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The true means to peaceful victorious living is provided in and through Christ. In order to get God’s spiritual insight regarding this subject let’s look at four different words in the Bible that will help us get a clear picture of this rest provided in Christ.
The first is the Hebrew word ‘shabath’ from the Old Testament. This word is a verb that means to desist from labor.
Genesis 2:2 KJV
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested [H. shabath] on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
God didn’t rest because He was tired but because the work of creation had been completed. All that was necessary to live a prosperous life had been provided. When God placed Adam and Eve in His creation they were given the authority and responsibility (Genesis 2:15 KJV & Genesis 1:26-27 KJV) to oversee it so they might benefit from the blessings that were provided. Their dwelling place was complete. That is why scripture says God rested (shabath) from His work. It wasn’t Adam and Eve’s tireless efforts that made paradise produce all the wonderful things that made life full. It was God’s hand that had made it to be so. He had completed the work.
After Adam and Eve chose darkness over light, and they spiritually died, God began working with people in another way – through covenants. He provided this so that He could bless people and at the same time point them to the full redemption coming which was to be wrought through Christ.
When God made a covenant with Israel one of the things that He gave them was the ten commandments listed in Exodus chapter twenty. The second word we ‘ll look at regarding rest is in this chapter. It’s related to the Hebrew word shabath. Another “b” is added and you have the noun form-shabbath translated sabbath in the English.
Exodus 20:8-11 KJV
Remember the sabbath [H.shabbath] day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath [H.shabbath] of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested in the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath [H.shabbath] day, and hallowed it.
Since He ceased from His work on the seventh day they were to cease from laboring on their seventh day, the Sabbath (H.shabbath). What truth was God conveying to Israel regarding the keeping of the Sabbath. This celebrating of the Sabbath was a sign to Israel that He, God, had made a covenant with them and that they could rest in that. He would provide all they needed to live a full life.
It wasn’t their efforts that were the source of their blessings. When a need loomed before them, they were to turn to Him from whence their deliverance comes. He had made covenant with them. There is story after story in the Old Testament of deliverance, healing, protection, needs supplied, victories wrought for those believers who took Him at His word. Those stories of victories are there for our learning (Romans 15:4 KJV).
Exodus 31:16-17 KJV
Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.
The things of the old covenant, the law, were a shadow of the greater to come (Hebrews 10:1). They were to point to the work that Christ would accomplish for us. That brings us to the third word we need to look at. It’s the Greek word ‘sabbatismos’.
Hebrews 4:9-10 KJV
There remaineth therefore a rest (Gr.sabbatismos)to the people of God.
Sabbatismos means a rest from toil and trouble. This is referring to the New testament rest. The new covenant, accomplished through the blood of Jesus Christ, has provided the permanent rest that the Old Testament covenant could only point to.
When God gave Moses the revelation to build the tabernacle there weren’t any chairs mentioned or constructed. The priests were to stand while performing their duties to make sacrifices and offerings to God on behalf of Israel. They stood because it signified their work was never completed. It was an ongoing necessary requirement. Everything was a temporary measure. Animal sacrifices were a temporary measure to cover the sins of the people not to cleanse them.
Hebrews 10:11 KJV
And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
However, the rest, sabbatismos, that is offered through Christ is an accomplished, once and for all work. After his crucifixion, death and resurrection Jesus Christ presented his blood before God in the heavens. The lamb of God was the once and forever sacrifice for sin.
Hebrews 9:11-12,24 KJV
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
Jesus Christ not only died for us, he now lives for us at God’s right hand. When Jesus Christ ascended, he led captivity captive.
Ephesians 4:8 KJV
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
All that holds us captive, spiritually, physically, mentally and materially has been broken. Christ has become a curse for us so legally speaking our sins and the consequences of those sins were put on him. That’s great news! Even greater news is that through his ascended and seated position in the heavenlies we have been given all spiritual blessings. This grants us rights to a full life in any and all circumstances. We have the legal grounds through the ascended Christ to live a victorious life. This is why when he ascended he sat down at the right hand of God. He sat because the work was completed.
Ephesians 1:19-20 KJV
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right in the heavenly places,
God sat Christ at His own right hand when our salvation was paid in full. Christ is not standing like the priests mentioned in Hebrews 10:11 KJV because the work for all mankind’s salvation had been completed. So where does this leave the man or woman who confesses Jesus as their Lord? It leaves them legally identified with Christ Jesus their savior. They are seated in him. Their salvation is complete, they legally have all that they need to live an abundant, victorious life! They are tied to a reigning Lord who is committed to energizing these spiritual realities into manifestation in their lives.
Ephesians 2:4-6 KJV
But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
All the paid for promises in Christ are the legal possession of every born-again believer.
2 Corinthians 1:20 KJV
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
Christ is our rest. Even in the most troublesome conditions; physically, materially, mentally, etc. we can rest in the truth that God will energize our deliverance into fruition as we step out and trust Him.
Hebrews 4:9-11 KJV
There remaineth therefore a rest [Gr. sabbatismos] to the people of God.
For he that entereth into his rest [Gr. katapauses], he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest [Gr. katapauses], lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Here in verses ten and eleven is the fourth word regarding rest, the Greek word ‘katapause’s. It means a putting to rest, calming storms. We as believers are to calm the storms in our lives by putting our hearts to rest in Christ where the paid for promises have been declared yes by God. Always remember that you are never outside of God’s love. God tells us in Romans that if He gave His only begotten Son for you when you were a sinner will He hold back any good thing now that you are His child (Romans 8:31-32 KJV)?
Our labor is a labor of faith. We are not to earn our victory or our deliverance but rather to walk by faith in response to the finished work of Christ. This is how we enter that rest by faith. The Greek word for labour, or labor, in verse eleven is ‘spoudazo’. It doesn’t mean a toilsome labor. Its emphasis is on speed and diligence. In other words, we are to be quick and continuously diligent to agree with and respond to God in thought word and deed. We are to be zealous in our response to God. God provides the “yes” rest through Christ, we provide the faith labor.
God’s word is a living word which is why I like to give living examples of God’s hand of deliverance in most of my articles. This one is about what God did for my wife and me. This happened years ago when our two daughters were just coming up to school age. Our eldest was going to start kindergarten that September. I had a job as a maintenance supervisor for a downtown high-rise in a city. It was a live-in position. Besides the salary, they provided me with a very nice two-bedroom apartment. It was a very wealthy area of the city. In fact, at times I felt like I was the only blue color worker in the neighborhood. In addition to that there were very few families that lived there. I suppose that was probably why there weren’t any schools in this area of the city. My wife and I, being concerned parents, sought to find out where our daughter would be attending school.
One day while my wife was watching the girls I took the subway to the area where our daughter would be attending school to check out the area. I’m not a snob by any stretch of the imagination. I was raised in a pretty tough neighborhood when I was a growing up. It was tough but I don’t think I could call it dangerous. This neighborhood however was dangerous. Having been a heroin addict myself, at one point in my life, I could usually spot street dealers by their actions. On the walk to my daughter’s school I ran across that as well as some other disturbing situations. Now I know that God loves everybody and it’s His will to deliver these people but were not talking ministry here but my responsibility as a Father to protect my children.
After discussing the situation with my wife, we prayed and asked God for direction. We concluded that we should move. We then asked God as to where He’d have us to go. That answer came over the next couple of days as we separately prayed and then compared answers. God told us both, the state of Virginia. At the time we were living in Massachusetts so I began purchasing Virginia newspapers and began sending out resumes (these were the pre- internet days- Oh what hardships!).
When a period of time went by with no responses, my wife and I decided that I should use my two-week vacation to go down to Virginia, stay at motels and apply for jobs in person. This meant that I had just two weeks to land a good paying job, and rent a place so that my family could move, prior to school starting. This began our adventurer of laboring “to enter into that rest” that has been provided for us in Christ Jesus.
We both knew that God declared, by the covenant we had through Christ, that He would supply our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 KJV). Couple that with the truth that this was His direction and we knew that we had the victory if we stayed put in that rest and kept stepping.
My wife stayed home with the girls and I went down to Virginia. During that time, we gave diligence to our walk of faith. We both constantly declared scripture declarations over our situation. I remember God had prompted me to take two cassette tapes that taught about our authority in Christ as well as our completeness in Him. I played them constantly while looking for a job. Now this is not to say that satan didn’t try to interject thoughts of fear and failure into both of our minds. To counteract his lies we both constantly declared out loud God’s answers from the scriptures as well as thanking and praising Him for what we had in Christ.
This is how it played out by God’s hand: To backtrack, while still in Massachusetts I had sent out one resume for a very good job in Virginia. This position paid very well with great benefits etc., but I had never heard back from these people. One night while down in Virginia I called my wife who informed me that these people had called and asked if I could come down to Virginia for an interview. She had informed them that I was already down there.
I contacted them and went in for an interview. Four men at a conference table asked me a number of questions. Then they huddled together and told me that they hadn’t decided yet, but that they would let me know. Now at this point it was the Tuesday of my second week. I had only three more days to get a job and rent a place. I explained to them that I needed their decision by Thursday, or they should forget about me, because I was going to have a job by then. I told them that I was determined to get my family out of the city and move to Virginia. After they huddled together again they asked me to stay by the phone Thursday morning and they would let me know by 10:00 AM.
When Thursday morning came, I was by the phone still declaring God’s promises over my life. Meanwhile, back at the homestead, my wife was doing likewise. Not only that, she also by faith had reserved a rental truck and began packing boxes to move.
Our God is faithful, that morning when they called they not only offered me the job but gave me a bigger salary than they had offered originally. Friday, the next day, I rented a nice town house to move into and then returned to Massachusetts.
There you have it, in two weeks God got me a good paying job as well as a new home. A bit of a cliff hanger to the senses but not to our God! This was a tremendous lesson to us regarding our rest that is in Christ Jesus. And in regards to that truth our faith labor is never in vain. God bless you.
My name is Joseph. I became serious about walking with the Lord back in 1972. My wife and I have been married since 1975, and have two grown daughters. We live in Idaho. Visit our website at www.comewalkwiththefather.com. Our e-book -“Come Walk With The Father”