“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” – Psalm 37:7 (NASB)
Don’t we all remember when we went to school for the first time? For most is was Kindergarten. Some time during the day all in the class took a break from activities and rested. During the rest period we were told to “be still” which was difficult for some of us. Indeed, very difficult for most 5 years old children. The command we have in today’s verse is to “rest in the LORD” which is just as correctly rendered “be still before the LORD.” Just as a 5 year old is not really resting if he or she is wiggling about, we are not truly resting if our concern and activity is fretting about those who seems to be “getting away” with their malevolent behavior. Many cheat, lie, steal, and run confidence games on good people and seem to escape legal consequences. The first verse in this psalm said it first. “Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.” Our promise is that we do not need to fret. We actually do not gain anything if we become so obsessed over the evil in this world – and we miss the rest we need.
“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” Hebrews 4:9-10 (NASB)
Resting is trusting in the midst of trials and testing. It’s well for us to be aware of the benefits Christian faith which God gives us to experience. In these days as attacks on our faith by the enemy grow more and more overt, we can find a promise of rest in today’s verse. This concept of resting began a long time ago. God rested after the creation of the universe. In the Old Testament God wanted His people to rest on His promise to take care of them. They often disappointed Him by trying to work things out their own way. God is still eager for us to rest upon His promises. We rest on His promise to give us eternal life when we believed on Jesus as our Savior. He wants us to know that our ultimate promised rest is not realized fully during this life on Earth. That rest is ours today and it will be fully realized in the Messiah’s Kingdom. Now we hold an earnest of the promise. Instead of worrying about things, let’s rest on God goodness and love today and remember the promise that has been given to each of us.
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?” – Acts 7:49-50 (ESV)
These words, spoken by Stephen to the Jewish Sanhedrin in defense of his faith. Stephen was a deacon in the truly first church in Jerusalem and became the first Christian martyr. Stephen quoted Isaiah 66:1-2. It is a reminder for us to remember church is not a building, in grand or simple architecture and the size and does not make a place a church. When emphasis is on the structure, we tend to limit God to that building. Because of His majesty no one can build a house for Him to dwell in (1 Kings 8:27); God is the Creator of all things – especially all things used to build the grand and beautiful church buildings. What He values above His inanimate Creation are people who are humble and contrite (Isaiah. 57:15) and who follow His word. God desires to dwell in the hearts of persons who takes His Word so seriously that it produces humility, broken spirit, and trembling in the presence of His Word. ““But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2b
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (NASB)
Weary. Heavy-laden. Do not we all feel this way from time to time? in this passage. This is an open invitation from Jesus to all who hear—but expressed in such a way that the ones who will respond to the invitation are those who are burdened by their own effort of trying to be good enough to please God and “qualify” for heaven. The ‘rest’ that Jesus promises is rest from just that self-effort to be righteous enough through one’s own good works. Many will think and say “I’ve lived a pretty good life and I’m going to heaven.” A pretty good life will never be good enough. There is only one way any of us will find ourselves to be that good and that is through Jesus Christ who gives to us His righteousness. It is impossible for us to be good enough even though we’ve been better than pretty good. Jesus says, “Come to Me because I can give you rest from your weariness. I can lift that heavy burden off of you. And it is free.” He bought that rest for us when he was crucified without sinning and died for sinners⸺that’s us.
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,,,” Isaiah 30:15 (ESV)
Our verse is part of a prophecy God sent to His people Israel through Isaiah His prophet. Isaiah delivered this important message to His people. It is a promise for all but in this instance it was a promise that the people rejected and were unwilling to submit to it. By not accepting the promise Israel missed the blessing of it. God wanted to them to learn this truth, and it is still effective even today. You and I will do well to listen to this promise. God wants us today to know the secret to salvation and strength. Rest, or relax, and trust in Him. If we have been trying to live right by our own effort, we need to realize that God offers to help us to live right and also to accomplish lasting results. The kind of rest promised comes from trusting the words of God. We can rest by believing and following God’s instructions. Let’s believe His words and quit trying in our own strength. Let’s remember these words, “In quietness and trust is your strength.” It’s a promise and a blessing for us if we will have it.
Isaiah, rest, salvation, strength, trust
“And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)
Does it make a difference for us to know that God is with us through difficult hours? I believe it certainly does, just as it did in the time of Moses when God gave him this promise. God had just reviewed His instructions to Moses, telling him to lead the people of Israel from Sinai to the Promised Land. Typical of Moses, he was again in a self-made quandary. Even though God had led the new nation of Israel out of Egypt with marvelous manifestations of His loving care and provision, and even though God had relented and provided whatever Moses and the people complained for, Moses was frequently disturbed by challenges God put in their path. In spite of God’s promise “I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites…” Moses asked who was going with him. The Lord assured him that He Himself would go with him. Then He added that He would give them rest by bringing them to the land after their wanderings. We, too, can have confidence when we remember that God is with us. It’s a rest we can experience when we trust Him.