“For he who has entered into His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10)
Rest that God refers to is not merely a period of recuperation for one to be rejuvenated. We see from the scriptures that God Himself is in an undisrupted state of rest; “and God rested on the seventh day from all His works” (Gen. 2:2). It is His rest that we are called to enter into. The Greek word for rest is ‘Katapauo’ which means to ‘make quiet, to lead to a quiet abode, and to still.’ The Greek word also means to cause one who is striving to do something to desist or to colonize. The entering into God’s rest is therefore not simply the ceasing of labors but the end of the one who labors. It is an entering into an abode; a condition and state of being where the nature of one who is Rest takes preeminence.
Much of the things I write about relate to nature or being. I believe that God is in the business of transforming our inward nature and not merely our outward behavior and conduct. God is not into behavior adjustment. He is after the root of the problem – the heart of man. We see this heart of rebellion in the children of Israel who escaped the bondage of Egypt and traveled across the wilderness but never entered into the promised rest of God.
The place of rest that God had promised the children of Israel was Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. This land was their inheritance. Canaan was the place of rest for the children of Israel from the toil and labor of Egypt. For us today, this promised inheritance of the riches of His glory, the divine abundance of His life and His rest are found in Christ. Christ is our inheritance! He is an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away (1 Pet. 1:4). He is our land where we enjoy of the spirituals milk and honey that is found in His divine nature. Therefore, entering into the fullness of Christ is entering into God’s rest. This is the promise God has given us by the very seed of the indwelling Christ.
The Seventh Day – The Day of Rest
“For in a certain place He has said this about the seventh day: and God rested on the seventh day from all His works.” (Heb. 4:4)
God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2). The seventh day is the Sabbath; a day of rest. Seven in biblical numerology indicates completeness and fullness. We see this in the 7 days of creation, the 7 spirits of God, the 7 Churches, the 7 trumpets, the 7 seals. The seventh day is therefore a day of fullness. The seventh day is not just a period of time, it is the realm of God’s rest. The seventh day is the day the creation work was complete and in which God entered His rest. The entering into the rest of God is therefore entering into and living out of the fullness of the seventh day. The Sabbath rest of the seventh day can only be realized in coming to fullness in Christ. In this state of continuously living in Him, He causes us to cease from all the effort and labor of the soul.
What is it that we are resting from? It is from everything we strive to do and accomplish from our soulish realm that God desires us to rest from. We are to rest from the fruitless efforts of religion, of the traditions of men, the forms, programs, visions, and efforts of the church system. All the works of the flesh and the soul are labor. God is not looking for laborers, He is looking for Sons who have come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. In these Sons He is well pleased because they live in the rest of God. The labor of religious men does not please the Father. There are those who labor for the Lord today; they labor in prayer and fasting, they labor is winning souls, they labor is rebuking the devil, they labor in preparation for ministry, they labor is self-imposed religion and will-worship, they labor in planning and organizing programs and conferences, they labor in seemingly righteous activities. However, “he that is entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his own works” (Heb. 4:10). The only labor God has called us to, is the labor of entering His rest – Christ (Heb. 4:11).
We are all called to enter His rest because “the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Heb. 4:3). The Christ in us is complete, in Him we lack nothing and all the works are complete. Paul admonishes us saying: “for in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him” (Col. 2:9-10). It is in living out of His perfect and complete life that we cease from our works and allow Him to work through us. This is His rest; Him working in us both to will and to do according to His pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
An Evil Heart of Unbelief
What keeps us from entering His rest? The chronicle of the children of Israel in the wilderness is a lesson of why Israel was kept from entering the promise of His rest. God declares: “I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘they always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘they shall not enter My rest.’ Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:10-12). The King James version states that they could not enter His rest because; “they do always err in their hearts.” To “err” is to be led aside from the right way or the truth and to roam about. Israel fell away from the truth and from following the right way. For us today, anything that we do outside of Christ Jesus who is THE WAY is rebellion which will lead us astray from entering His rest.
The problem with Israel was that of the heart. They had gone astray due to “an evil heart of unbelief” and therefore could not enter His rest (Heb. 3:19). The unbelief was refusing to accept both His rest and the path to His rest. The heart of man– the nature of carnal man is the one that possesses this evil heart of unbelief. This nature opposes Christ and His finished work and cannot enter into the seventh day – the fullness of Christ.
The Greek word used for evil the passage is ‘poneros’ which means “full of labors, pressed and harassed by labors.” It signifies not just conduct but that of a ‘bad nature or condition.’ This is the heart continually pressed and harassed by the efforts and works of the flesh. Man by this very nature desires to work. He desires to bear fruit from his Adamic nature. From the natural world we have been programed with the notion that fruitfulness only comes through much effort and labor. Accordingly, there are many in the Church system today who feel idle, fruitless and even unworthy if they don’t work for God. God calls this unbelief. Their faith is in their Christian effort and not God’s finished work in Christ. They don’t believe nor trust God with the work. Only that which springs forth from the life of Christ pleases the Father. In this is rest – trusting in God’s ability, His power, and His working in us.
Rest through Death
As I mentioned above, the word rest is related to causing one to cease or be desist. It signifies death, a condition where one no longer toils or works. That’s why people refer to the cemetery as a resting place. Spiritually, in entering into the rest of God, He brings about the death of the one who strives. We see a wonderful illustration of this in Adam. “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept; and He took one of His ribs, and closed up the flesh… and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman” (Gen. 2:21-22). We can learn from this that God works in our rest. God begins to work when the nature of the one who labors has been put to a deep sleep. As Eve came out of Adam so the church came out of Christ. This was God’s doing, not man’s. Notice it is God who put Adam into deep sleep and it is God who brought the woman out of him. In bringing forth the woman, both the work of entering into rest and the work are done in His rest.
I write frequently about the death of the carnal man and death to self. We should realize that no one of their own effort can bring about the death of their carnal nature. Such labor is futile. The working of death or the bringing of one into rest is the working of God by the Spirit. Paul declares: “if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live” (Rom. 8:13). This working requires that God Himself bring us into this rest by removing the one who is a bondman to relentless religious labor. As we come to fullness in Christ, we are bound to experience a ceasing which is in Him. He stills, He restrains, He constrains and causes our soulish life to desist. John the revelator in encountering the Lord Jesus Christ experienced just this, he states; “when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as dead.” In entering into His fullness there is death to self and in this death is His rest.
Rest in God’s Sovereignty
The sovereignty of God is an important revelation that has to penetrate our hearts if we are to enter His rest. God is almighty! He is El Shaddai! His will is sovereign; it is supreme. To enter fully into the freedom and liberty of the will of God is the beginning of entering into His rest. When we know that God’s will and only His will is supreme over our lives we can rest in Him. The notion of good and evil has distorted this fundamental truth in the minds of those in the church system. They strive to obtain the good that is in God through incessant prayers, confessions and through practices such as sowing and reaping while they rebuke the bad that comes from the devil. They continuously eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in their Garden of Eden. Those in this state have yet to enter His rest because they do not yet have the revelation that the will of God is supreme over them. Therefore, they are restricted from eating from the tree of life and from entering His rest.
Let us never fail to understand that God stands alone. He is declaring even today that “from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” (Isa. 45:6-7). In Job we see that “with Him is strength and wisdom, the deceived and deceiver are His” (Job 12:16). In these words may we see that God is in absolute control over all things, even over things that are seemingly out of order in our life. Those who fail to see this by the Spirit cannot enter into His rest.
Let us labor today to enter the promise of God’s rest for this rest is found in Christ.