I want to quickly look at what the Bible says about the nature of God and the nature of the soul, to help us get these rhythms of rest.
Then I want to tell you- one word – that’ll help you remember this week, every day – maybe through Lent you can decide today to put rest rhythms in your life – take the Opportunity to Rest. Let God restore your soul- which will be SO attractive to the world they’ll come running to find out how you live so differently in the same world as them. The world God made. Because you’re not a restless soul wandering, but a rested soul, walking in God’s purposes.
We started out looking at the beginning of Genesis with Cain, but even earlier than that; Genesis, chapter 2, God laid down the pattern of this need, possibility and opportunity for us to enter His rest, which threads its way throughout the whole Bible right through to Revelation. In the middle of this beautiful picture of God making everything, all the complexity and creativity of creation, verse 2 at the end it says, “…so on the seventh day [of all this creation] he [God] rested from all his work.” In the Hebrew language, the word for work there is not so much a labourer as someone who’s an artist. So God has done ALL this stunning artwork of the universe, then it says he rests. But you notice here God doesn’t rest like we do. We have to rest – why? Because we’re tired. But the Bible says clearly He’s not like us – it says, ‘Our God does not get weary…’ God was not so worn out from creating the world that he wanted to put his feet up!
He didn’t rest for Him, he rested for US. He rested to show us something.
The first part of this verse tells us why God rested, let’s back up and look at that together. “By the seventh day God had finished the work; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” His work hadn’t worn him out; his work was finished. God’s rest comes because it was (Literally) completely complete. What God did in creation was to provide everything we need. Now, God invites us to REST in that. Throughout the Bible and in the passage from Hebrews that I started with, God invites us into a kind of spiritual rest, HIS rest, to rest In him and LIKE Him – trusting that he has provided what we need.
Our friend Mike Breen says, “On the first full day of existence for Adam and Eve, God rested. All of creation took a break. Our first full day was a day of rest. Then work began.” Too often, we’ve the mistaken idea that we spend hurried, restless days in work, work, work, work, work, work, and then we rest. But Mike says, if we look at the pattern God established for mankind, “we are to work from our rest, not rest from our work.”
In the passage I started off by reading; Hebrews 4, the writer says this about God: “…his work has been finished since the creation of the world.” The rest came out of the finished work. Then it says to us, ‘while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should fail… to reach it…’ It goes on to tell of a whole generation of people who SAID they were God’s people, but NEVER entered into His rest. It happened in the OT. The people God had brought out of Egypt where they were slaves, they wandered restlessly around in the desert and never entered the Promised land. Why? Because they didn’t have FAITH. They didn’t really believe HE could do it. That means it takes FAITH to enter into the REST that God has for us. You have to TRUST God, to REST in God. You have to trust God, if you’ve ever going to rest your soul.
Let’s look at Psalm 91 again, how we find rest in God, it said. ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’ We had that before – and the verse that follows, verse 2 – it says, “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him will I trust.'” Do you see the connection? Resting and Trusting. Resting comes from Trusting.
If you can’t TRUST, you’ll never REST.
The strongest evidence that what God created is working the way he wants it to is that there are some people on this earth who are not restless, wandering souls but they have RESTED and TRUSTED completely in him, they enter his rest. They say, ‘No matter what is going on, no matter what I have to face, no matter what the challenge or opportunity, my soul is at rest – not because I can handle it, but because HE is my refuge, my fortress, and I’m going to trust in Him.’ Now my question is – is that you and me? Is that what people would say you’re like?
Because Rest’s a lot bigger than just sitting on the sofa, having a holiday, more even than renewing ourselves. REST is an ATTITUDE of FAITH. At the deepest level, rest is worship, it’s your SOUL telling God – you trust him. It’s YOU telling your soul, ‘TRUST GOD.’ You trust Him to do what is too big for you; because nothing’s too big for him to handle – or too small for him to be bothered about.
You trust that He’ll save you, not that you’ll be good enough or even religious from now on. You say you trust that He will provide for you, so you don’t have to panic buy. You say you trust that He will be your refuge and fortress so you’re safe in Him no matter what. Waking or sleeping. Trusting. Instead of saying, ‘It’s too big and I;m too tired,’ You speak this out – ‘The great big God who made the whole universe – He’s my refuge – He is my God! I am trusting HIM!’ And you live live and act like you would – if you really believed that your God can handle it.