POWER in HIS REST
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
SEPTEMBER 25, 2011
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Ex. 33:14)
About last week’s writing, “The Lord’s Gold,” a friend commented, “it reminds me of His nature in us (the Gold) and His full redemption of us (the Silver). It’s all of Him and belongs to Him; may our rising and shining reflect only His beautiful silver and gold. To God be the glory!” Her thoughts prompted me to reply, “He gets all the glory because He has all the responsibility for everything and I am so relieved to know that, thinking all those years that somehow it was up to me. Power in His rest is a grand way to live.” She wrote back that the phrase “power in His rest” sounded like a title. And so it does.
God has many ways to help us enter His rest, which isn’t easy to do. There’s an enlightening comment in Hebrews where the writer declares that “those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in because of their disobedience.” (Heb. 4:7) Speaking of those who disobeyed under the Law, the writer says they had the gospel preached to them. That reminds us of Paul’s assertion: “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham.” What was that gospel? That all nations would be blessed in Abraham’s seed. (Gal. 3:8)
We all know that the gospel came through Christ, rather than by the Law: “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Heb. 4: 8-10) The King James Version renders the thought, “Let us labor therefore, to enter into that rest.” That really almost seems like an “oxymoron,” a contradiction, doesn’t it?
I bear witness to the difficulty of entering into rest, and in fact, usually don’t get there until I have struggled to the end of my strength, collapsing at the feet of the Lord in defeat. He has His inexorable means of bringing us to the end of ourselves so that there is nothing left but His will, His might, His power and His grace and unconditional love to see us through. Like Zerubbabel, we may have to exhaust ourselves in self effort before hearing the blessed words, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6)
Whatever our situation, or our particular personality “quirks,” we can rest in the knowledge that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. NOTHING in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. EVERYTHING is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:12-13) To those living under Law, in the time of Moses or in many churches today, those words are terrifying, because many have been convinced that how God sees them depends entirely upon them, their works, their thoughts, their prayers, their Bible study, their avoidance of sin.
I was brought up that way, laboring under the misinformation that everything depended upon me. We had a young, zealous minister who warned us young people that God would not tolerate evil thoughts, smoking, drinking, dancing, cheating, lying, sex before marriage, “mixed bathing” and many more things. I was too afraid of God to do any of those things, except swimming, but still there was fear, because what if I slipped up and sinned in spite of my best efforts? There was a greased chute leading to hell and I knew it was a quick trip down there. When you always wonder if your ticket to the hot place has been punched already, there’s no way you can rest. You have to keep working, praying and worrying.
We have been dialoguing with a young man who feared hell so much that he became convinced there was no hope for him. His depression blanketed him like a shroud so that he couldn’t even hold a job. Someone shared with him the revelation that many of us have been blessed with that God will eventually save everyone. He relaxed for a while, but something triggered his fear again and he went down for the count harder than before, because now, he figured he would burn in a hotter flame for the dangerous thoughts that he had entertained ideas which went against all he had learned in church. Our young friend plunged down the chute into the bowels of hell on earth and suffered agonies beyond description.
This dialogue has been going on for several months, and after sharing the gospel of God’s unconditional love with him to the best of my poor ability, and having no positive result, other than his desire to hear from Jesus Himself, I told him that I would agree with him in prayer that Jesus would call him personally in a way that he could no longer deny. That is God’s job, not ours. We can testify about how Christ enriches our life, but it truly is up to HIM to make it real, bring it home for the person searching. Again, the Hebrew writer promised that God is a “rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6) What Lenny and I have come to is that we can trust in His ability to accomplish His own will. He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance.” (II Pet. 3:9) Since He “works all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11), we can rest because unlike us, He cannot fail!
Our young friend’s dilemma is NOT a moral failure, nor a lack of faith. In fact, it may be a chemical imbalance of the brain. Whatever it is, the only one who can fix it and soothe his soul already engulfed in the flames of hell, is the Lord Himself. The “hell” Jesus warned about was Gehenna, a physical location on this earth, not an eternal one. Likewise, people are in the hellish fires of fear and doubt on earth NOW, awaiting the deliverer. Our friend and many, many others, needs the faith of Christ, not my faith or Lenny’s or anyone’s. Only God can impart Himself into this young man so that he sees it and tastes it and feels it. He has not entered into rest because of unbelief, but I have come to see that this is God’s problem, not his.
“For GOD consigned (penned up) all men to disobedience that He may have mercy upon all.” (Rom. 11:32) To me, that is my ticket into heaven (spirit) wherein I may rest, not upon my works, but upon Gods, which the Hebrew writer assures us were “finished from the foundation of the world.” (Heb. 4:3)
We recently “met” online a precious woman from Switzerland, a delightful treasure who exudes love and joy in the Lord in spite of great physical problems in her life. Her conclusion after reading articles on our website was, “LET GOD HAVE HIS WAY.” He knows what He does. Since I learned that God created the bad side as well as the good one in humans, and that He will save everyone, I’m liberated. The devil is on a dog’s leash in God’s hand. He can do nothing without God’s approval. And we have to go through suffering. How else would we appreciate the freedom from suffering. And how else can God change us from the inside. He works in us when we suffer. It is better when we let Him do what He wants.” End Quote.
She said to me “God walks in your shoes.” That blessed me so much, that I am led to say to you, dear readers, “and God walks in your shoes as well.” This woman has been led by the Spirit to enter into rest, having found that by leaving it all to God, His power comes through. Where is the power? As He said to Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” It is only in His presence that we can rest. And by the way, entering into rest does not mean we sit back and do nothing. It means that He empowers us to do His will.
Father, help us to enter into Your rest wherein we receive power to overcome all things. In that blessed place, we celebrate Your love, Your grace, Your deliverance, and the ability to share You with everyone we meet. You are the beginning and the end, the be all and end all of all things and all peoples. We worship and praise You, now and forever. Amen.