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Earned Rest

I was struck down by some sneaky but powerful virus this week which has kept me out of commission for the past three days.  “Out of commission” doesn’t merely mean that I am not contributing to the world around me productively and helpfully, but it also means that I am requiring others to increase their burdens by carrying mine.  I think this is what makes being sick, whether it be physical or mental illness, so hard to handle.  Well, this is at least the surface of what makes me so uncomfortable with it.  What it reveals under the surface is that “peace” means not burdening anyone and it also means tangibly performing in such a way as to feel I have earned my rest.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.  Gen. 2:2-3

God did His work and was able to rest at its completion.  It was this rest that Adam forfeited for his entire line when he failed to complete the work that God had given him to do.  There would now be toil in his labor and rest would be evasive.  Yet even in the curse, God promised the cure – One would come who would complete the work Adam had failed and earn the rest that had been forgotten.  He later gifted His people with a Sabbath day by which to be reminded of the promised rest to come…rest not based upon their own earnings or ability to complete to do lists, but on His.  The Sabbath day, then, is a tangible taste of better things to come and a benefit of faith.

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 their works, just as God did from his.  Heb. 4:8-10The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless  (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.  Heb. 7:18-19Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;  but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.  Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.  For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.  Heb. 7:23-28

What He has known from the beginning, which is what prompted His warning about that darn tree, is that we can never earn our peace with Him or accomplish making ourselves holy as He is holy without accepting it from Him.  The written Law was given in much the same way we now realize visual learners need to see the material because just hearing it doesn’t sink in.  James described it like a mirror, showing us just how awful we really look when we are tempted to imagine otherwise.  The point is, it is my weakness and inability that no longer condemns me but ought to instead point me to the One who is strong and able!  Unlike those old communist regimes that consider the value of a man equal only to  his contribution to the machine, the Gospel offers me faith to lie in bed all week contributing nothing and even burdening others.  It isn’t calling sickness “good” or burdening others “righteous”, but it is redirecting my false notion that I am otherwise “good” for being well and “righteous” for being self-sustaining to see where my goodness and righteousness actually originate and are completed.  It is in HIS contribution, His blamelessness, His sacrifice once for all and His perfection forever in which I stand…or lie in bed.  He has earned my rest and left no portion unpaid for me to complete an installment plan.  This is where my undeveloped faith is revealed in times of sickness, fatigue and when I am unproductive.  I still prefer to earn my rest, to be guilt free about it because I think I deserve it and not that anyone else has to pay for it.  The reality is, however, that others do often have to suffer and even pay for it so that I can rest.  Another absolutely did suffer and pay for it, completely, so that I may rest.  It is finished.  And by faith, I too can enjoy that rest that faith provides in the peace that comes by faith and not my works but His.

  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.  Rev. 22:1-5

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