For the one who has enter ed God’s rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from his. Heb 4:10
God rested on the seventh day. Why? Because everything was done. Gen 2:1-2 says that heaven and earth with all in it was finished. A finished work. Just like at the cross.
From a finished work comes rest. God had created a finished world. Many believe that the earth still was chaos at the time and only the garden reflected God’s plan and goals. But here it says that God was finished with heaven and earth and all that is within. Again: a finished work. Perfect in God’s eyes. Just as he said: it was very good.
What then was it all about, what was the assignment for Adam and Eve? Go, be fruitful, fill the earth and subdue.
It was about the age old question: who reigns.
Man blew it. Instead of setting up the reign of the sons of God throughout creation, he did the only thing he was not allowed to. He did not loose the right for the earth – it never was his. The earth is the Lord’s and all that is within it. Man just gave up on the plan of God, to reign as a son of God in the name of God. He looked for another master and now reigns for him. A dictator, thief, one that eats his children for desert. Thus man turned the garden into a graveyard.
But Jesus came and turned it back into a garden, the garden. When Mary mistook him for the gardener, she actually was right. He is the gardener. And he came to set in place the original plan of God. He came to reign over all creation in the name of God. He came to implement the kingdom of God even on this planet, in this creation.
And again, after all was done, he said: it s finished. Our assignment: Go and be fruitful, fill the earth and subdue.
Last time it was fruitfulness in the natural, now in the spiritual. Fruit like:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things. Gal 5:22-23
Go then, and make disciples of all the nations. Mat 28:19a
But what does this have in common with our verse, that we could rest from our work? Isn’t this about work? Activity, programs, busyness, planning, processes, projects, stress, tiredness, burn outs, fights, and strive?
What did God do when all was done? Rest. And for how long? Well, in Hebrews 4:8 we read that, since Joshua did not lead the people into rest, God has made another day. Another day? Did another day start with the new covenant? God rested the seventh day. Seven speaks of maturity, fullness, completeness. In Hebrew eight is more than seven. Literally. It stand for overflow, more than enough. A shaken and pressed together measure that overflows.
Is the new covenant the eighth day? That would mean that God rested during all of the seventh day, all of the Old Testament. And that he started the eighth day restoring the finished work, giving himself (7+1=8). As everything is finished again, God rests again. Even this eighth day. Even today.
Now you might ask: what about all the works that are written of God in the Old Testament? Isn’t rest about leaning back, and especially: doing nothin’?
As soon as God pronounces something, it is done. Jericho did not fall on the seventh day of the march. It fell, when God said so. But what has been set in heaven, must be established on earth and walked out. Through obedience of Joshua and the people what was true for a long time became fact.
And then again rest really does not mean to do nothing. More about that.
We are a trinitarian being with body, soul, and spirit. To see rest as doing nothing only encompasses the body. For the soul, doing nothing would be equivalent to “no thinking, no feeling”, which is maybe possible for man, but not woman. And we are built in the image of God, and he thinks and feels. For example he tells us that his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. And worse even, for the spirit doing nothing is to turn itself off – spiritual death.
What then is rest? Again, let’s go to Jericho.
There is a messenger of God, one of his waring angels. He says to Joshua: God has spoken over Jericho already. The walls will fall. And now you walk out on earth, what God already did in heaven. Walk around the city 13 times, don’t talk, but at the end shout (exact procedures can be found in the book of Joshua).
The faith of Joshua in his God and the people’s trust in its leader had them act in peace, laid back. They knew what would happen – because God said so. Now, the Israelites – just like us, if we are honest – were not perfect. And thus the Lord included a precondition: do not talk. Why would he say so in the first place? Because their talk would have changed very fast, from “Hey, the walls are gonna fall!” to “When will the walls fall?” to “Will the walls really fall?” to “We are going to look real dumb if the walls do not fall!”.
Why then did God have them walk 7 days and 13 rounds?
To do God’s will, to be obedient is what brings about the Kingdom of God on earth. Kingdom means the King’s dominion. And wherever God reigns, people will be obedient. Pretty clear. Even Jesus learned to be obedient, with one goal:
Because, as numbers of men became sinners through the wrongdoing of one man, even so will great numbers get righteousness through the keeping of the word [obedience] of God by one man. Rom 5:19
On the other side God wanted to strengthen their trust, knowing the difficult times ahead of them, times of war, taking the land. Doing what God tells us establishes on earth what had been set in heaven. Partner that with the fact that God is a good Daddy, and you got yourself heaven on earth.
What then is rest?
Rest is the composure that comes from the trust in God implementing his will on earth. It is our strength to have God’s truths become facts on earth.
That encompasses all body, soul, and spirit. All three are active out of rest. Out of the knowledge of the finished work. All is done. We only walk it out.
What did God say to Joshua?
Every place on which you put your foot I have given to you, as I said to Moses. Jos 1:3
When we know that we are in the will of God, then God has already given everything to us. He said so, therefore it is. We now put our foot on it and let it become a fact. Be bold and strong.
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