Torchbearers for Christ
Sunday, April 22, 2018
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A REST FOR GOD'S PEOPLE

 
Our study this month is based on the third and fourth chapters of Hebrews, where we find eleven references to the word “rest”. We will be looking at three passages where this word occurs.
 
In Hebrews 4:4 we read of God’s rest at the creation. Hebrews 3:11 and 18 tell of Israel’s rest in Canaan and Hebrews 4:9 tells of the believer’s rest in Christ. We also note that each “rest” is based on a finished work. God’s work at creation was completed and described as “good” and “very good” (Genesis 1:12, 18, 21 and 31). The land of Canaan which God had prepared for His people, Israel, is described as being “an exceeding good land” (Numbers 14:7) and the birth of the Lord Jesus was announced by the angel of the Lord as being “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10).
 
Surely, in this turbulent and restless world, to find an inward rest and peace must surely be most desirable. How then can such an experience be found and maintained?
 
Firstly, we learn that restlessness is the result of being out of relationship with a loving God. We have probably heard the expression “There’s no peace for the wicked”. This thought is explained in Isaiah 57:18-21, where we read, “Peace, peace, to him that is afar off, saith the Lord, I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast off mire and dirt. There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked”.
 
Then in Jeremiah 6:16 we read “....ask for the old paths wherein is the good way and walk therein and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘we will not walk therein’”. We conclude, then, that restlessness is the result of rejecting God’s way, while rest is found when the life is surrendered to God’s will as found in His Word. God invites us to believe, to obey and to enter into His rest. By so doing, we will have peace of conscience, the joy of sins forgiven and a hope beyond this life.
 
On a number of occasions, the Lord Jesus gave a generous invitation to us all, saying “Come unto Me”. On one such occasion He said “Come unto me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
 
This unspeakable privilege of rest for the soul is extended to all who are willing to forsake their sins and trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again for our justification (Romans 4:25). Many delightful Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments, give us this assurance. Take, for example, these verses from Isaiah chapter 53, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed” (vss. 5,6).
 
This blessed rest can be maintained throughout our lives as we continue in humble and cheerful obedience to God’s will. We may enjoy peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit and the precious hope of endless life in heaven.
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.