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Edgar Bazan ~ The Rest of God

I believe that God wants us to enjoy our everyday lives.

John 10:10 says that Jesus came to us so we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, until it overflows). But it seems that far too many people who say they believe in Jesus are not enjoying their lives.

Now, it is not only fair but it is necessary to say that life gets hard in spite of our faith. So although we believe that God wants what is best for us, we also recognize that while we are living this life, we all face challenges.

The key to dealing with the tension between what we know God wants for us and the struggles we face is to rest wholly in Jesus; to know that no matter what may come at us, we are not alone and he will always bring new life, resurrection to our brokenness and pain.

Do you believe that Jesus can bring healing and reconciliation to your life? Do you believe that he brings you rest?

Let’s look at Matthew 11:28-30 to hear what Jesus says on this matter:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.”

Jesus is talking about two main things here: his rest and yoke.

He refers to himself as the provider of healing and redemption from the things that hurt, oppress, and possess us: that which disfigures the image of God in us. All the ugliness of the heart and mind is forgiven and transformed. Jesus speaks of this as the new birth in John 3. Paul also mentions it in 2 Corinthians 5:17 by writing, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

So when we hear Jesus talking about rest, it is not the kind that you find in a couple of weeks in the summer, in a hammock, or in bed, but it is the relief in life that leads us to experience joy and the blessings of God through a grace/faith relationship with him. This is an invitation aimed at all people to bring them to a place of belief, trust, and a deeper level of commitment in which they are to follow Jesus and become like him.

But what does all this mean?

When Jesus says “come to me” he is offering an open invitation to everyone who hears him. For those without Jesus, it is equivalent to a call to believe in him, meaning, to repent and confess sin, to welcome healing into their lives, and to follow Jesus as new disciples. For those who are already believers, it is a call to follow him as a committed disciple; it is a call to turn their lives over to him completely.

In either case, the invitation is to be saved and to be healed, reconciled, and renewed. And then he says this: “and I will give you rest.”

This is a fascinating theological concept that we find throughout the Bible: rest.

In the first two chapters of the Bible, Genesis 1 and 2, we read about how God created everything, the heavens, the earth, plants and animals, man and woman. All these in six days. Some people may argue that these were six literal days as we know them; others would say they represent a process of millions of years, and that the language of “days” is figurative to indicate the beginning and end of each creative process. Regardless, what I want to bring to your attention is that after God created everything, on the seventh day of creation, God rested.

The Bible says that all God created was good and that God gave humanity all this goodness for them to enjoy. Creation is a reflection of God’s love and purposes. God moved creation from disorder and formlessness to a place of beauty, order, and creativity. And rest is the final gift of God to creation.

So, let me ask a theological question: are we supposed to be living on the seventh day right now? Meaning, in the rest of God? There is not an eighth day, right? Perhaps we may understand the eighth day as the day when Jesus comes back in glory. But for now, what if all this time we should be living in the time that God intended to be a time of rest for all creation?

This is not a difficult question; the answer is yes. God did not create us for misery but fruitfulness. I believe the exact words that God used were: “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it.”

This is a beautiful picture of God’s heart. God wanted us to enjoy life and be part of God’s creative purposes as we fill the earth and govern it. But that did not last long.

The first man and woman distrusted God and rebelled against him. They did not believe that God wanted the best for them and they decided to seek life somewhere else. Here is humanity walking away from the rest of God. Humanity was created to be partners with God, to enjoy creation alongside God and then become fruitful, but their sin brought upon themselves what Jesus describes as “heavy burdens.” Genesis 3:17 describes this saying, “All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.” Of course, this does not refer only to work in a literal manner, but to our relationships, thoughts, feelings, happiness, justice, goodness. Aren’t we all scratching in this life to find rest in all the areas of our lives?

Now, there is one more passage that speaks profoundly about God’s rest, too. Hebrews 4:9-11 says,

[A] sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.

This is a fascinating Scripture. I encourage you to read chapters 3 and 4 and mediate further on them. But let it suffice to say for now, that what we are reading here is a reference to how the people of Israel failed to enjoy the rest of God promised to them as the Promise Land. It clearly says two things: God’s rest is still available, it has always been since day seven of creation, but because of sin through disobedience, we do not enter it. In fact, we run away from it.

The promise of rest we read here is the same as what Jesus is saying, Hebrews says, “for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors.”

Jesus says, “all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

The implications are the same: We no longer are at war with God and each other. We no longer fight and kill each other. We no longer are slaves to sin and disobedience. We no longer are infested by fear, anger, hate, and guilt; all those things have been lifted from us, they no longer weigh us down, control us, or define us. And most importantly, we no longer are in a struggle against the voice and will of God. We are at rest in the controversy between our souls and our Savior.

We are at rest in him.

It was unbelief, a distrust that led the first man and woman to abandon God and lose the rest of God. It was unbelief, a distrust that kept the people of Israel from entering into the promised land and the rest God had promised there.

And these stories, sadly, continue to repeat themselves in every person.

Now that we have established our theological framework let’s come back to Jesus and learn about what he means when he said,

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.”

Jesus wants to heal us and help us live in complete trust in God. In other words, he wants to position us through our faith in him to live on the seventh day of creation: the rest of God. By resting in Jesus, we begin to enjoy our life in the ways God intended for humanity to do so. This is a reality, a place, where we assume our purpose to be fruitful and enjoy life as God intended for us to do. This rest is not a rest from work—it is rest in work. It is partnering with God to do what he is calling us to do by his grace and leaving the part we can’t do in his hands, trusting him to do it.

When we do this – believe and trust God – we find enjoyment. Being good is not a task or an effort, but what we have become. Living by faith is not a struggle either—all of these are rest, finally living in the desires of God’s heart for us. And you can enter into God’s rest in every area of your life.

However, we fail to enter or remain in God’s rest due to unbelief, distrust, a hardened heart, and disobedience. And that’s where the “yoke” comes in. Jesus said, “I will give rest, but you need me to keep it. Otherwise, you will squander it as everyone else has done it when they think that can make it on their own.”

What is the yoke? In practical terms, it refers to our continual walk alongside Jesus. It is about trusting God, telling Jesus: guide my steps, set my direction. It is not about controlling you but for you to not forget that you are not alone. To keep you close. Because if you stay close to Jesus, you can listen to him better, you can see him better; you will have a supernatural sense of security and confidence because you know who you are walking with. If you are close, you will learn faster from him, and you will become stronger and wiser for life in this world.

But at the end of the day, if we truly want his rest, it is about the Lordship of Jesus over our lives. Is he our Lord? Does he influence our life?

You know, we get yoked to all kinds of bad stuff throughout our lives that have brought burdens, hurts, and brokenness of all types. Adam and Eve tried to become independent from God, and they hurt themselves. Israel, the people God chose to represent him before all the nations of the world, did the same thing. They yoked themselves to themselves. They distrusted and rejected God altogether. Let’s not make the same mistakes.

So, try now to yoke yourself to the giver of life. Let’s say with all our hearts: I surrender, I trust you God, I want what you want for me.

My friends, if you do this, if you find rest in Jesus and commit yourself to walk alongside him, he will keep you on the new things, living the new life you received in and through him, to nurture you like the new creation that you became. He will take you to places you had never imagined; places where you become who God imagined you to be so you can bear the resemblance of God in the world. You can’t become what you can’t see.

Can you see Jesus?

Have you wandered away from him?

Jesus is saying to all of us today: I want to bring you back to goodness, to be a reflection of my glory.