ECHOES from EDEN, PART 21
END-TIME PROPHECY – TRUTH REVEALED
BY: J. PRESTON EBY
KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
A SABBATH in EDEN, (continued)
The Three-fold Sabbath
A Sabbath for the Body
Shadows of the Things to Come
A Sabbath for the Soul
A Sabbath for the Spirit
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and HE RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY from all His work which He had made. And God BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY, AND SANCTIFIED IT: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." (Gen. 2:1-3)
When God BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY AND SANCTIFIED IT, He lifted it above other days, and set it apart to a work and revelation of Himself, excelling in glory all that had preceded. In this simple expression, "and God sanctified," scripture reveals to us the character of God as the Holy One, who MAKES HOLY, and the way in which He makes holy – by entering in and RESTING.
The seventh day is not merely a period of time; the seventh day is the REALM OF GOD'S REST, and ultimately, the seventh day becomes A PEOPLE. In Gen. 2:3 it is stated of the seventh day: "And God blessed the seventh day, and SANCTIFIED IT." He did this because in it HE RESTED. Then in Exe. 31:13 God identifies the day with a people, showing how the one prefigures the other, and how the twain are one. "Verily, MY SABBATHS SHALL YE KEEP: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth SANCTIFY YOU." Here the DAY and the PEOPLE are BOTH SO SANCTIFIED TO GOD that they become as ONE. As we enter into God's rest, so that His rest becomes personified within us, WE BECOME HIS REST, HIS HOLY DAY, HIS SABBATH. God is bringing forth a SABBATH PEOPLE, a people who ARE HIS REST in the earth. As God brings His rest into us, and us into His rest, causing His rest to be personified in us, even righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – let the nations rage, let the people imagine a vain thing, let the storms of trouble blow, let sorrows spread as a cloud over the land, let the kingdoms around us tremble and fall, the whole economic and political structure collapse and darkness cover the earth – God's SABBATH PEOPLE ARE AT REST and unafraid, because they DWELL IN HIM. Hallelujah!
THE THREE-FOLD SABBATH
I have shown in the previous Study on this subject that the Sabbath in Gen. 2:2-3 was not a twenty-four hour period of time, in which God rested from the labor of six other twenty-four hour periods of time. The Sabbath following the six days of creation is an eternal day of rest in which God still abides, a day eternally accessible to man, for man is still enjoined to "enter in to His (God's) rest." (Heb. 4:1-11) How could it be possible today, six millenniums after Adam dwelt in Eden, for man to "enter into GOD'S REST," if God's rest had come to an end? This blessed Sabbath of God is THE ETERNAL REALM OF HIS OWN REST AND GLORY, sanctified and set apart for man, that man might have entrance into it, to know God there, to experience God there, and forever abide in union with God in the high and holy and blessed realm of HIS LIFE, REST, JOY, PEACE, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND VICTORY.
This realm of God's rest is three-fold as it pertains to man, for man has three main parts in his being: body, soul, and spirit. The Spirit today is teaching us how great is the necessity for each of these three faculties of our being to "enter into His rest," that we might know the fullness of the rest of God provided for THE WHOLE MAN. God has not given us a Sabbath merely for the body, nor just for the soul, nor only for the spirit. The simple truth of the matter is this: When the omniscient, immutable, omnipotent, and eternal God said, "They shall enter into My rest," He intended the whole man to enter into that rest, spirit, soul, and body. Behold how great and complete a provision God has made for His people! Concerning the three-fold dimensions of the Sabbath-rest, let us note:
There is a rest that is given – it is for the body.
There is a rest that is found – it is for the soul.
There is a rest that is entered – it is for the spirit.
A SABBATH FOR THE BODY
When Adam walked out of the Garden of Eden, he brought with him two institutions which have immeasurably blessed the life of mankind ever since – the institution of the home and one that was even older, the institution of the Sabbath, the first blessing which God gave to mankind. The benefit that has come to the human race through the gift of the Sabbath can hardly be overestimated.
Among the special dealings of God with His people Israel, we find one which the Spirit would focus attention upon these days, and that is concerning the "body Sabbath," that our bodies might know a rest provided by the Lord. In Neh. 9:13-14 it is declared: "Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai, and spake with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: and madest known unto them THY HOLY SABBATH." When the Lord commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath day holy, we read in Ex. 20:9-10: "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it THOU SHALT NOT DO ANY WORK, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates." The word "Sabbath" means "to cease; to terminate; to abstain; to be at an end." God declared that every form of labor was to cease. There were absolutely no exhortations of any kind to engage in worship, meetings, or other kinds of spiritual activity. On the contrary the command to Israel was to stop all activities of all sorts! In short they were to give their physical bodies a full day's REST after six days of hard labor. The word "Sabbath" on the natural level has nothing devout or holy in it. It is a word about time, denoting the non-use thereof, what we usually call wasting time or doing nothing. Israel physically rested on the Sabbath day. It was not inaugurated under Moses as a time for gathering together for worship, but rather as a time for staying at home to rest. Worship was another issue. God told Moses to tell the people to stay home on the Seventh day. "See! The Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day." (Ex. 16:29-30) So to keep the Sabbath, one remains at home. It is not enough merely not to work. One also has to rest. In the context of the cited verse, which tells people not to go out into the fields on the Sabbath to collect manna, it follows that people are not supposed to engage in all kinds of activities on that day. I am to remain in my place. What it means to "remain in my place" is that I am to enjoy rest in my own home or locale. And I can tell you, my brethren, if Sunday is the Sabbath – if a day of meetings, dinners, and visitation is what we do on our so-called Sabbath – we have desecrated the Sabbath with our fellowship and worship! It is my long standing experience that I am more physically exhausted on Sunday evening than on any other day of the week!
Another point I would mention in passing – the Word of the Lord is that "the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." Now, which day is the seventh day? We must keep in mind that calendars and the reckoning of time have changed at various points in history. There was no Roman Gregorian Calendar in Jesus' day, or in the days of the Old Testament. In fact, by the calendar of ancient Israel there were only 360 days in a year, and several months had a different number of days than do our present months. For this reason some believers become confused as to which day they ought to keep as Sabbath. They forget that when Yahweh gave the Sabbath commandment to the children of Israel there was no calendar at that time like the Gregorian calendar which we use today. Days and months were not designated according to certain names as we know them today. One day of the week was designated "first day" of the week. One day was called "Sabbath." Another day was called "the day of preparation" which was the day before the Sabbath. Those week days in the calendar of Israel were designated in relationship to the Sabbath, rather than bearing certain names (usually of gods) as in the Roman Calendar. We did not have the calendar which we use today until Gregory the Thirteenth (1582), Pope of the Holy Roman Empire, which some have said was neither "holy" nor "Roman". He was the editor of our present calendar with the seven days of the week named for Roman gods.
In the Gregorian calendar, we call the last day of the week Saturday, while the first we call Sunday. Because Saturday is the seventh day of our week, some suppose that it should be made the Sabbath, "the day of cessation." But in light of all the changes in calendars and the reckoning of time through the ages there is absolutely no way of knowing that the "seventh day" we keep would be the same day as the "seventh day" in ancient times. In their wrangling over the letter of the Word – bringing into question which day the Lord's people should observe as the Sabbath, following six days of labor – the legalistic seventh day advocates have either written into the fourth commandment, or assumed it to be understood, three words – "of the week." Thus they present the commandment as stating: "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." By what authority and right are these three words added to the commandment? The Lord did not specify a particular day of the week, for the simple reason that it would be uniformly impossible to keep the identical day worldwide as the Sabbath unto the Lord. He, therefore, had Moses specify that the seventh day, following six days of labor, was to be the Sabbath of the Lord. Therefore, regardless of where your six days of labor may begin – the seventh day, following the six days of labor – is the Sabbath. In this light all the changes in the calendars and the reckoning of time become utterly irrelevant, whether our seventh day corresponds historically to any other peoples' seventh day matters not at all. And today, when it is Saturday on one side of a time line, it is Sunday on the other side, and yet it is exactly the same day. By what right or reason can the Sabbatarian on his side of the line condemn the Sunday observer of the Sabbath on his side of the line, when both are observing the same day as their Sabbath following six days of labor? We have often said it would be interesting for the Sabbatarians to start at a given point on the earth, with one going east and the other west, each observing Saturday as their Sabbath. When they meet on the other side of the earth, they would be observing different days as their Sabbath but each calling the day "Saturday!"
Our omniscient Father and Creator, full of wisdom, knowing every need of His creatures, has made gracious provision for the whole man, not only for the inner man, the spirit and soul realms, but He also gave His people a day of physical rest. I realize that immediately there are those who will rise up in indignation and reject any thought of a day of rest for the physical body; for they claim that they are walking by the grace of God and are able to go on day after day without rest. But I would point out that as long as we have a flesh and blood body of the physical creation, until we have been thoroughly changed, and clothed upon with our house which is from above; until this body of humiliation has been transfigured, fashioned "like unto His body of glory," this body, like it or not, admit it or not, is subject to the LAWS OF GOD which govern the physical order.
The entire universe is governed by law. All of life operates according to law. When we observe these laws, we get definite beneficial results. When we disregard them, we get certain evil consequences. In the realm of agriculture, the farmer knows from experience that laws govern his crops. He who sows wheat reaps the same, and so with all other grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc. Crying, screaming, and praying for a field that has been sown with oats to come up into stalks of corn will only reveal the folly of the fool. There is a law; God's law and it cannot be broken. We, in disobedience, merely break ourselves over it. There is a law, unwritten but positive, that says that, if you jump into a fire, you will be burned; if you leap from a precipice, your bones will break and your flesh and blood will spatter; if you expose your body to the frost, you will get frost-bite; if your breath is cut off, you will perish. Ah, beloved, we are in the midst of a universe that God has made, and we have to think as God thinks regarding even natural laws. If a man thinks otherwise than God has thought about electricity, electricity will soon knock him out. A 400 pound weight impends over a man's head and is about to fall. He is warned to get out of the way, but he refuses and says that he doesn't believe in the law of gravitation, and anyhow, he isn't under any law for he is walking in the grace of God. Soon the man doesn't think anymore. When the 400 pound weight falls, his thinking machinery is forever smashed.
And there is a law which declares that if you work seven days a week, month after month, year after year, there will surely come the time when physical exhaustion takes over, because you have not joyfully received God's precious gift of a Sabbath for the body. The French revolutionaries decided that Moses was not wise in insisting on a Sabbath day of rest, so they decided they could not afford to spend one day in seven, and adopted the decimal system with rest every tenth day. And what happened was this. The donkeys began to break down. The scientists came together and asked: "What is the matter with the donkeys?" When they looked into it they found that the donkeys, and all other animals like them, man included, have this peculiarity about them. The physical body is so constructed that the pulse is feebler on the seventh day after six days of work and stress, and if work continues long enough beyond this point it will break down altogether. The donkeys thus broke down and the French revolutionaries had to go back to the Bible day of rest, because they were wise enough to take a lesson from the donkeys. We need to rest our bodies. That not only means a Sabbath, it means fewer late night movies and no late, late ones. Jesus said to His disciples, "come ye apart and rest a while." Well, a lot of us are doing the first part of that – we're coming apart! The whole country is filled with people who are burning their candle at both ends and in the middle too. It is God, gracious and wise, who has written the law of one day of rest out of every seven, into the very fabric of our being. As batteries need constant recharging, so our bodies need regular periods of rest to revitalize and restore them. "Oh, but," someone objects, "I have gone beyond that, I am now walking in the Spirit, I am in the Kingdom, I am living in a higher realm than that, I need no natural "day" of rest because Christ is my rest!" I only say to this one: Let him who says he needs no day of rest for his body, and that God has not provided one, also demonstrate: "I no longer go to bed nor sleep at night, I am now walking in the Spirit, I am in the Kingdom, I am living in a higher realm than that, Christ is my rest and I can go twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks in the year without ever getting tired!" Can any say that? I deny it. They cannot. Have such also stopped eating and drinking? Do they no longer hunger or thirst or need food for strength? Do they still wake up in the morning with "dragon's mouth" and brush their teeth? Do they drive their automobiles to get from place to place, or are they now transported by the Spirit? Do they not conform to multitudinous other laws of nature?
We sit in the glory light of our anticipation of an incorruptible, celestial plane of existence BEYOND THIS PHYSICAL WORLD to which all God's sons are destined to attain, and the transformation of our body into a body like unto HIS body of glory shall mean the fullness of what the body-sabbath is to be. But until the reality has broken through, let us not walk as fools. The laws are here – health laws, which, if they are obeyed will result in health, happiness and long life. What grief, what sorrow many have borne because they have cast away God's laws, stuffing their stomachs with unclean and unhealthy junk, and their bodies have been defiled with disease and corruption. Are you defiling your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit? If you defile your body by any nicotine poison, by the filthy vice of smoking, then you sin against the temple of God. You sow nicotine and you reap cancer; you sow nicotine in your flesh and you reap corruption in your flesh. That is in exact accordance with the law of sin and death (Gal. 6:7-8). I must talk plainly in this ministry, for God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness, to be the Sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.
Men cast away God's moral law, and their minds become the hold of every foul thought and imagination and they indulge their flesh in every lust and passion without restraint. Even the churches are filled with the corruption of strife, envy, jealously, covetousness, lies, deceits, foolishness, adultery, gluttonous appetites, undisciplined tempers, contentions, unbridled gossipy tongues, critical spirits, pettiness and childishness. We have cast away God's spiritual laws, and many have become entangled with every form of cultism, metaphysics, eastern philosophies, and devilish doctrines.
Let all men know that for the breaking of every law there is a result. Eat too much rich food and you will get indigestion! It's a law. If it makes no impression on a man to know that God will visit his iniquities upon him, he cannot blind himself to the fact that NATURE WILL. Do we not all know what it is to be punished by Nature for disobeying her? We have looked around the wards of a hospital, a prison, or a mental institute, and seen there Nature at work squaring her accounts with sin. And we knew as we looked that if no Judge sat on the throne of the heavens at all there was a Judgment there, where an inexorable Nature was crying aloud for justice, and carrying out her heavy sentences for violated laws.
On the other hand, there is great blessing in walking in harmony with God's laws. Normally speaking, if you would quit working every few days to take a needed rest, you might naturally expect to get behind with your work and finances. But God Himself has set in motion a great law. The law of the Sabbath says that if you will pause to rest on the seventh day, you will be so physically blessed by the rest that the work of the six days will more than make up for what you might have accomplished on the Sabbath! Do you realize what that amounts to? In one way of looking at it, God is giving us a PAID VACATION every seventh day! The world rushes on, caught up in their frenzied desire to gain material things, to build and to plant and to store up, seeking for some kind of security, but, blessed be the name of the Lord, HIS OWN can take their Sabbaths, and know that HE will provide all that is needed, and they can rest in Him!
ONE POINT I WOULD MAKE VERY CLEAR: There is positively NO SALVATION in keeping a day of physical rest, one will never be made MORE RIGHTEOUS in the eyes of God by keeping a day of rest, and one will never be brought into PERFECTION AND SONSHIP by keeping a day. It should be clear to all who read these pages that all the NATURAL LAWS were given for the benefit of the PHYSICAL MAN during this time of watching and waiting for the full manifestation of the eternal glory that is set before us, into which some must soon enter, praise God! Let all of God's apprehended ones know beyond any shadow of doubt that we will never, in a million, million years, reap any particular SPIRITUAL BENEFIT from keeping a Sabbath or eating the right kinds of food. These things minister to the physical man, not the spiritual man, and no physical thing possesses any power or ability to minister anything to the inward man of the spirit. Natural laws are not given for our spiritual enrichment, rather, for our physical blessing. There are absolutely no ETERNAL SPIRITUAL BENEFITS derived from the keeping of natural laws – but – there ARE DEFINITE PHYSICAL BENEFITS for the here and now!
I explain this, beloved, and boldly declare it, for there are some who would bring God's people under bondage to the keeping of a day, as though their salvation depended upon it, as though it were a mark of deep spirituality, or as though our attainment to sonship required it. It is inconceivable to imagine any scripture or any inspired saying that could possibly make this truth more plain and understandable than these words of the apostle Paul: "To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. by what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified BY FAITH WITHOUT THE DEEDS OF THE LAW. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have ACCESS BY FAITH into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we THROUGH THE SPIRIT WAIT FOR THE HOPE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, OR BY THE HEARING OF FAITH? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, ARE YE NOW MADE PERFECT BY THE FLESH? FOR THE LAW MADE NOTHING PERFECT, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God." (Rom. 3:26-28; Rom. 5:1-2; Gal. 5:4-5; Gal. 3:1-3; Heb. 7:19)
Obeying the physical laws of God will reap rich reward to the physical man on the plane of corruptible life, but if you consider with reverent honesty the above stated words of the apostle Paul, it should be clear that physical laws are powerless to produce anything in the higher realm of the Spirit. How good is our heavenly Father that He in grace and wisdom should give us a day of rest for our physical bodies, and the CONSUMMATION of this SABBATH FOR THE BODY comes with the redemption of our bodies from the tyranny of change and decay, and until then our bodies need their Sabbaths, while we carry on in this travail. "For ye are bought with a price: therefore GLORIFY GOD IN YOUR BODY, and in your spirit, which are God's." (I Cor. 6:20)
Ray Prinzing has shared this precious word of confirmation: "Paul described it this way: 'For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.' (Rom. 7:22-23, 25)
"Full well Paul knew that he had given himself to the Lord, made his surrender, and received the INDWELLING LIFE OF THE SPIRIT. But he also knew that there was a law in his members, in the flesh, which would war against this inner life and that there were only two ways to bring a cessation to the conflict, either to PUT OFF THIS BODY, or else to have this body SWALLOWED UP INTO HIS LIFE. He had no great desire to become a dis-embodied spirit, but rather longed to have this body CHANGED and fashioned anew like unto HIS glorious body, for then he would know that GLORIOUS REST FOR THE BODY.
"What conflicts – the negative says, 'This body is mine by reason of the fall, and the sin that dwells therein.' The spirit of the world adds, 'This body is mine, I give it life and nourishment – I feed its senses, tickle its emotions, stir up its impulses, etc.' But the Spirit of God within, says, 'IT IS MINE BY VIRTUE OF REDEMPTION – I shall transform it, I shall lift it into higher realms beyond all sin and corruption.' Thus we have conflict between the negative and the positive. There might be momentary pauses in the battle, but there will be no THOROUGH PAUSE, complete cessation of warfare, until we are totally changed. It is when we are ALL RIGHTEOUS, that the 'prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.' (John 14:30), that we know the rest of righteousness." – end quote.
Thank God! The change is coming where we will no longer need rest for the body, nor be subject to any physical law. When our Lord arose from the dead, He was not raised in corruption, but in incorruption. That which is incorruptible is beyond the power of corruption, decay, weakness or death. It is also beyond the power of tiredness or the need for either food or rest. Thus of the resurrection of the dead it is written, "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" (I Cor. 15:42-44) This corruptible must put on incorruption. The body of the corruptible man is the body of death, but the body of the incorruptible man is the body of the resurrection, a body beyond the power of change or death. When our Forerunner rose from the dead, He arose incorruptible. He did not take His blood into the tomb, and when He arose He did not arise with blood flowing in His veins, He arose with a body pulsating with LIFE, the life of God, life incorruptible and eternal.
The spiritual body of glory and incorruption is the body of the resurrection. When the Kingdom of God reaches the fullness of its glory on the earth, the sons of God will be manifest to the world in the glory of their resurrection. Being children of the resurrection, they will be incorruptible beings and they will rule the world and all the nations in it as resurrected and incorruptible men. Just as Jesus had power after His resurrection to appear and disappear, to manifest Himself or to hide His identity, ascend to heaven or return to earth, so also will these incorruptible sons have power. For this the whole creation is in travail! The SPIRITUAL BODY is the CONSUMMATION of God's SABBATH FOR THE BODY – eternal rest from corruption and all the distresses of the flesh. No more weakness nor tiredness; no more disease nor limitation; no more sweating in the heat of the sun nor shivering from the cold of the wind; no more subjection to natural law.
SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME
I have pointed out that God knows the need of the whole man, not only did He provide for the inner man, the spirit and soul realms, But He also gave His people a day of physical rest. But we praise God for that quickening of the Spirit which enlightens our minds and hearts to the knowledge that not only is there a LAW AND ORDER for the body realm, but there is that higher and more glorious LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS. All the natural laws find their fulfillment in Christ, in the law of the Spirit of life. IN HIM we find the fulfillment of the "seventh day Sabbath," for HE IS BECOMING OUR REST, body, soul, and spirit. The seventh day is far more than a period of time; the seventh day is the whole REALM OF GOD'S REST, and that rest is found in Christ.
Just as surely as Christ is our salvation, our sacrifice, our Passover, our high priest, our peace, our wisdom, our righteousness, our anointing, and our life, so also is Christ our Sabbath. Is not this the plain and forceful teaching of Paul in his letter to the Colossian saints? "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: WHICH ARE A SHADOW of things to come; but the body is of Christ." (Col. 2:16-17) All the things contained in the law, good and wondrous as they are, are only shadows of things to come. A shadow falling upon the ground tells us that there is a body nearby, and if you will lift your eyes away from the dusky shadow on the surface of the ground, you will see the body that made the shadow. You will behold the reality rather than the reflection. All earthly things are but the shadow of heavenly things, and all physical things are the shadow cast by higher realities in the realm of the Spirit. Therefore Paul says, "The body is of Christ." The Amplified Bible reads: "Such things are only the shadow of things that are to come. but the reality – the SUBSTANCE, the SOLID FACT of what is foreshadowed, the body of it – belongs to Christ." If I see the shadowy image of a snarling bulldog on the ground beside me, then I can be assured there is a SUBSTANCE, a REALITY behind the shadow – and I had better move quickly! The dog is the substance, the body of the shadow. So is Christ the substance of the law. Meats and drinks and holydays and sabbaths are but shadows, lying darkly upon the surface of the ground (the earth realm), but look a little farther and you will behold the reality – CHRIST OUR SABBATH IN WHOM WE FIND GLORIOUS REST! That there is physical blessing in keeping physical laws, that there is God-ordained bodily profit in keeping even the seventh day Sabbath for the body is evident, for, if there was no value or benefit to the physical man in meats and drinks and Sabbath days, these could not then stand as the shadow of the reality in Christ. But let us never settle for the mere shadow when God is also offering us the substance!
A SABBATH FOR THE SOUL
Next, there is also a rest for the soul – the realm of the mind, will, emotions, and desires. Our Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed this rest for the soul when He said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find REST UNTO YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." (Mat. 11:28-30) Yes, beloved, the whole soulish realm needs to be brought into rest. As Ray Prinzing has written, "We often speak of entering into HIS REST, and we often quote the verse, 'There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour (Greek, make haste, speed) therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.' (Hebrews 4:9-11) But it is also found that while we might lie down and give our physical body a rest, this mind of ours can remain agitated and in turmoil, thoughts upon thoughts stirred up within – and to 'find rest for your souls,' (Matthew 11:29) only comes as we LEARN OF HIM, and are RENEWED INTO HIS MIND."
Jesus encourages us to "TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU and LEARN OF ME," for this is what will bring rest to the soul. How strange this admonition of our Lord! How exhausted we become in our minds and bodies with all the feverish activity of trying to keep pace with this world's system. There are so many pressures in the world, each one bearing down upon us and clamoring for our attention – each one presenting a problem that needs to be solved, until your head aches with all the urgency and clatter, and your nerves are frayed from the tension. And now comes the word, "Take My yoke upon you. and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Is life not hard and sorrowful enough without being fettered with yet another yoke? Then the statement, "For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Did you ever stop to ask what a yoke is for? Is it to be a burden to the animal which wears it? It is just the opposite. It is to make its burden light. Attached to the oxen in any other way than by a yoke, the plough would be intolerable. Worked by means of a yoke, it is light! A yoke is not an instrument of torture; it is AN INSTRUMENT OF MERCY. It is not a malicious contrivance for making work hard; it is a gentle device to make hard labor light. It is not meant to give pain, but to save pain. Christ says, "My yoke is EASY." The word easy comes from the Greek word (chrestos), literally meaning "goodness," "gracious," or "kind." MY YOKE IS GOODNESS, MY YOKE IS GRACIOUS, MY YOKE IS KIND! Take My goodness, take My graciousness, take My kindness upon you, and learn of Me. Learn what? Learn that "I am meek and lowly in heart." Meekness is the opposite of all that is hard or bitter or sharp. Meekness is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
There is perhaps none of the lovely virtues which adorn the image of God's Son, which is more seldom seen in those who are called to be the expression of Christ. There are many precious saints, in whom much love for souls, much zeal for God's will, much desire after God's glory, much hope for the call to sonship, are visible, and yet who continually come short in this. How often, when offence comes unexpectedly, whether at home, in the church, or in the world, they are carried away by temper and anger and upset emotions, and have to confess that they have lost the PERFECT REST OF SOUL IN GOD! There is no virtue, perhaps, for which some have prayed more earnestly: they feel they would give anything if in their intercourse with partner, or children, or brothers and sisters in Christ, in company or in business, they could always keep their emotions perfectly, and exhibit the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Unspeakable is the grief and disappointment experienced by those who have been stirred to long for it, and yet have not discovered where the secret to meekness lies!
For every apprehended one who longs to possess this spirit, Christ's word is full of encouragement and wisdom: "Learn of Me that I am meek." The soul that seeks to be meek must learn that Jesus is meek. We must take time to gaze on His meekness, until the heart has received the full import of the message: HE ONLY IS MEEK: with Him alone can meekness be found. When the truth of this bursts within our souls, we next fix our hearts upon the truth: This meek One is THE INDWELLING CHRIST. All He is, all He has, is shared with His "many brethren," His meekness is to be communicated to every area of our beings. But He does not impart it, by giving, as it were from Himself, something away to us. He does not sit in the heavens and "spoon out" to us a "spoonful" of meekness! No! we must learn that He alone is meek, and only when He is known as the INDWELLING CHRIST, only as He takes possession of heart and life from within, as we spend blessed time "at His feet," His meekness is enabled to rule in our souls.
He has been exalted to the power of God from thence to reign in our hearts, to conquer every enemy, and continue in us His own victorious conquering life. Therefore, only believe! Believe that Christ dwells not in some far-off heaven somewhere, but He dwells within your life and is able to fill your soul with His own spirit of meekness. Within your own heart reverberates the message: "BEHOLD! THY KING COMETH UNTO THEE, MEEK." (Mat. 21:5) Expect Him to reveal Himself to you and in you, unto the praise of His glory. Thank God! there is a rest that can be found for the SOUL, as we take His yoke upon us, and learn of Him.
Rest for the soul. Ah, how we yearn for it! And it comes by taking His yoke upon us. Men speak of the yoke of Christ as if it were slavery, and look upon those who wear it as objects of compassion. The mistake has arisen from taking the word "yoke" here in the same sense as in the expressions "under the yoke," or "wear the yoke in his youth." But in Christ's illustration it is not the "jugum" of the Roman soldier, but the simple "harness" or "ox-collar" used by the Eastern peasant. It is the literal wooden yoke which He, with His own hands in the carpenter shop, had probably often made. He knew the difference between a smooth yoke and a rough one, a bad fit and a good fit; the difference also it made to the patient animal which had to wear it. The rough yoke galled, and the burden was heavy; the smooth yoke caused no pain, and the load was lightly drawn. The badly fitted harness was a misery; the well-fitted collar was "easy."
And what is the "burden"? It is not some special burden laid upon the believer, some unique infliction laid upon those called to sonship, that they alone must bear. IT IS WHAT ALL MEN BEAR. It is simply life, human life itself, the general burden of life lived out in a corruptible body, on the earth plane, with all it has of problems, frustrations, pressures, weaknesses and difficulties. Christ saw that most men take life painfully. To some it is a weariness, to others a failure, to many a tragedy, and to nearly all a struggle and a sorrow. How to carry this burden of life, this burden of the creature made subject to vanity, has been the whole world's problem. It is today the whole world's problem. How men handle it can be seen in the daily newspaper, as we read of murders, suicides, divorces, lawsuits, nervous breakdowns, arguments, fights, men cursing and swearing at one another, drunkenness, dope addiction, cultism, and those who simply seek to escape from the pressures by withdrawing to the seclusion of communes and wilderness retreats.
But here is Christ's solution: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me THAT I AM MEEK AND LOWLY IN HEART: and ye shall find rest for your souls!" He invites us: "Take life as I do. Carry it as I carry it. Look at it from My point of view. Interpret it upon My principles. Live it in the power of My life and by the energy of My Spirit. Get yoked up with Me. Stop struggling within yourself, and walk in step with Me. Listen to My voice. Yield to My will. Be conscious, every moment, of My presence within. Because you have become new creatures through the grace of God and the power of His Spirit, think of yourselves as new creatures, a new creation, and not as the old men you used to be. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me. and you SHALL FIND REST unto your souls."
"There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest." (Heb. 4:9-11) Some say, "I believe there is such a rest, but not for me." There are people who continually say, "Oh, my nature is so unstable; my will is naturally very weak; I am Irish and my temperament is nervous and excitable, it is impossible for me always to live without worry or irritableness, resting in God." Beloved brother, sister, do not say that. You say so only for one reason: You do not know what your God will do for you! Begin to look away from self and look to Christ. "Learn of ME." Take that precious word: "He brought them out that He might bring them in." (Deut. 5:15) The God who took Israel through the Red Sea was the God who took them through Jordan into Canaan. The God who converted you is the God who is able to PERFECT YOU and give you blessed provision of His life every day.
Do you believe it is possible for Christ to bring you today into the rest of God, even in your soul? Remember that word in Hebrews, "Even as the Holy Ghost saith, TODAY if ye will hear His voice. there remaineth a rest to the people of God." Let us believe even now that our Joshua leads us into the rest of God in our souls, the rest in which we are saved from self-care, self-seeking, self-trusting, and self-loving, the rest in which we do not think of ourselves, but where we know that He who is almighty will always be dwelling and working in us. When we have done that, let us know as surety that as we have sought first the Kingdom of God and God's righteousness, all things shall be added unto us. Beloved, the Kingdom of God is within you, and it is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost!
God is bringing forth a people who shall know the fullness of rest in every part of their being. They shall become the manifestation to the entire creation of what REST really is. Buried deep in the heart of every man is that desire and hunger to know God, and to find in Him their permanent dwelling place. As long as we continue to burn the candle at both ends seven days a week, our body shall not have the benefit of its God-appointed rest. As long as we remain caught up in the madness of this world's system, and fail to spend time AT HIS FEET TO LEARN OF HIM, our minds, emotions, desires and will cannot find their rest. "Let us labour therefore TO ENTER INTO THAT REST!"
A SABBATH FOR THE SPIRIT
I would draw your attention to a most wonderful and meaningful event in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, and recommend that you read the entire account in Mat. 12:1-8. Here we shall extract only two verses out of this significant story: "I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple for the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day." Read these inspired and holy statements with all diligence and prayer, and with bowed head and contrite heart ask the Spirit of God to fill your spirit with the glorious revelation contained in these words, for out of the incident in the grain field, rises two startling truths: that CHRIST is greater than the TEMPLE; and CHRIST is greater than the SABBATH. Greater than the Temple, Priests, David, or the Sabbath, is the ONE WHO IS HERE, said the Christ, when His disciples were caught with wheat in their hands which they had plucked and rubbed on the Sabbath day.
As the Greater-than-the-Temple is CHRIST IN YOU, so the Greater-than-the-Sabbath also is CHRIST IN YOU. Jesus said, "The Son of man is LORD. OF THE SABBATH DAY." If He is LORD of the Sabbath day, He is then GREATER than the Sabbath day. If He is LORD of the SABBATH, the Sabbath then finds its fulfillment IN HIS LORDSHIP. Can we not see that the Sabbath is the place where Christ IS ABSOLUTE LORD within.
WE BECOME THE SUBSTANCE OF THE SHADOW as He rests in us, and we rest in Him. When the rest of HIS LORDSHIP becomes personified within us, WE BECOME HIS REST, HIS HOLY DAY, THE SABBATH OF THE LORD OUR GOD! If we are going to enter into the rest, we must enter into Christ. But where is Christ today? We answer that He is in our spirit, for "He that is joined unto the Lord IS ONE SPIRIT, and if Christ be IN YOU, the body is dead because of sin; but THE SPIRIT IS LIFE because of righteousness." (I Cor. 6:17; Rom 8:10) Ah, here is where God's Sabbath is rooted, in the area of our spirit. If we join our spirit to the spirit of the world, it will work destruction within. A spirit of restlessness, rebellion, fear and hopelessness has gripped the whole world in this hour and all nations are being driven to chaos. It is the spirit of the wicked one energizing and agitating the peoples in their riots, terrorism, revolutions, lawlessness and sensuality, and it is this same spirit of destruction that is driving the nations toward terrible judgment.
Praise God! Our spirits have been quickened by God's Spirit, and there is a rest deep within our bosoms, birthed by the Spirit of Him who is rest. Well may they be troubled who know not God and have no confidence in the indwelling Christ. He who KNOWS HIM says within his heart, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." (Ps. 46:1-3) The heathen may rage and the kingdoms of earth be moved. Tyranny may sweep across the land as a dark and furious storm. We may be imprisoned for our faith in Christ, our sons and daughters may shed their blood in the streets, our women may be ravished cruelly before our eyes. The earth itself may melt at the voice of the Lord, yet, to those who DO KNOW THEIR GOD, "The God of Jacob is our refuge." They who find this kind of rest in God speak from the midst of the fire, saying with joy, "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The Lord of hosts is with us; Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire. BE STILL (at rest), AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!" (Ps. 46:4-10)
There is a rest in the spirit of every child of God which is a source of mighty peace and victory in the midst of earth's trying circumstances. Dear ones, do not be distressed by the confusion around you at home, on the job, in the nation. Today you are a kernel of wheat in the tumult of the threshing floor. The weeds, chaff, and straw are being blown about by the wind, but you are being gathered into the garner. Do not be disturbed about the present disorder, deception, violence, weakness and vacillation of our national leaders, confusion in the religious world, hatred, war, disease, famine, pestilence, moral breakdown of society, or the specter of persecution. Do not run away and hide. Do not worry. If you are worrying, then you are not trusting. Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though SOME STRANGE THING HAPPENED TO YOU: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (I Pet. 4:12-13). The fiery trial is for our purification that we may be qualified to rule and reign as overcomers in the Kingdom of God. It is necessary that offences come. It is necessary that you have problems at home, troubles in the family, trials at work, testings in your finances, distresses in the flesh, confusion around you and pressures on every hand. It is necessary that saints be tried. It is the fierce heat of the furnace that separates the gold from the dross. It is the seven-fold heat that purifies the gold, and we must not be amazed or troubled by it.
WITHIN YOUR SPIRIT, my brother, my sister, has been planted the incorruptible seed of Christ and therein is a reservoir of THE PEACE OF GOD that passeth understanding. As this peace grows in stature and strength within to RULE IN YOUR HEARTH, you are transformed into God's SABBATH PEOPLE, a people who ARE HIS REST in the earth. God's SABBATH PEOPLE ARE AT REST and unafraid, because they dwell in the secret place of the Most High and they abide under the shadow of the almighty. These saints so become ONE WITH HIS REST that they are not disturbed by the pressures without. When Paul wrote to the saints at Thessalonica, he told them of many dreadful things that would come upon the earth. He warned them not to be shaken in mind or troubled, and then gave this beautiful assurance, "And to you who are troubled, REST WITH US, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty messengers, when He shall come to be GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS and to be ADMIRED IN ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE in that day." (II Thes. 1:7, 10) Yes, God is preparing a SABBATH COMPANY, not only to have rest, but to bring rest, to minister peace, joy, and righteousness to the troubled peoples of earth in the distressing days which lie before us, praise HIS wonderful name! If you want to be raptured off to heaven and sit on a cloud eating pork chops, go ahead; as for me and my house, we choose to remain on the battle field until we see His Kingdom a great mountain THAT FILLS THE WHOLE EARTH.
This rest of the spirit had its inception on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples. Jesus had promised: "And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high." (Lk. 24:49) On the day of the feast of Pentecost "they were all FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT and began to speak with tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4) This was a fulfillment of prophecy! Six centuries before the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed: "For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people" (Isa. 28:11). And what was this all about? Isaiah continues: "THIS IS THE REST WHEREWITH YE MAY CAUSE THE WEARY TO REST; and this is the refreshing." (Isa. 28:12) This is the rest. This is the refreshing, this glorious baptism in the Holy Spirit evidenced by speaking in other tongues! I do not hesitate to declare to you that the infilling of the Holy Spirit effects the initial quickening of our spirit, releasing within the spiritual refreshing of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It has been my observation through many years, and I have learned as I have been taught by the Spirit of God, that though a believer may be justified by faith, as Abraham was justified by faith before the Spirit was given, the believer's spirit is not quickened by God's Spirit UNTIL HE RECEIVES THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Regardless how many years you may have walked as a justified believer in Christ, I believe that all who read these lines will agree with me that you never truly became ALIVE UNTO GOD, QUICKENED IN SPIRIT, until you received the "baptism in the Holy Spirit." This is where spiritual life starts, this is where reality in Christ begins, and this is where the rest of God finds its first expression, ultimately to swallow up the whole being into the fullness of GOD'S REST.
"For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people. THIS IS THE REST wherewith ye may cause THE WEARY TO REST; and this is the refreshing." It means simply this: If you have not received God's precious gift of the Holy Spirit; if you are not walking in the Spirit – YOU ARE A SABBATH-BREAKER! The baptism in the Spirit is merely the "earnest," the "down payment" of this Sabbath rest, and, praise God, the fullness is surely becoming reality within as we FOLLOW ON to know the Lord in deeper measures.
Oh, the goodness and greatness of the purposes of God! How wonderful and wise His ways! How almighty His acts!