In the previous post entitled Moving from Imperfect work to Perfect Fruitfulness, I looked at the concept of creativity and divine fruitfulness coming as a consequence of letting go of our carnal mindset and allowing the Holy Spirit to renew and transform our mind, this is part and parcel of the transformation that takes place as we move into and begin to enter into God’s Shabbat (Promised Rest). For a fuller understanding of what rest means and how it links to creativity and fruitfulness please see this post. This current post takes these concepts further.
‘Shabbat Shalom‘ is probably my favourite phrase in the entire world, the bible generally translates these two words as ‘rest’ and ‘peace’ respectively but this does them absolutely no justice at all. Shabbat (where the English Sabbath is derived from) refers to God’s divine rest, it has always been God’s intention for mankind to permanently reside in a state of rest (Eden was the most restful place that ever existed for mankind) however, with the fall of Man and the Curse of sin mankind moved from a state and place of rest to a state and place of toil, hardship, striving and struggle otherwise known as work.
The concept of Shabbat (a true and divine experience of rest) is extremely difficult for humans to fully grasp simply because it is in opposition to the carnal mindset, we hold fast to the inheritance of the curse that man must work to survive (see Genesis) until it has now become the status quo. Anyone seen to not be ‘working’ by the sweat of their brow for their daily bread is seen as crazy, lazy or both. But is it really God’s intention for us to be struggling and striving in order to live? I definitely do not believe so.
When I fell ill in 2008, God called me out of my job as a teacher. It was a difficult decision for me to take, in my flesh I wanted to remain, I had built good relationships with both teachers and students and I was financially independent but my inner man knew that this was not a place of rest for me. When I finally left in 2009, the first lesson that God taught me was about rest. At that time I didn’t fully understand what rest meant (and I’m still learning) my focus was on simply ceasing from physical work in order to allow my body to heal and recuperate. But this understanding was and is incomplete. Resting isn’t simply about what we stop doing most importantly it is about what we start to do in other words it is about us working and operating in the fullness of God’s glory. When we work in God’s glory then we experience rest because everything we are, have, do, think and feel flows through Him, He does all the work for us and all we do is bear the fruit.
We see a great example of this in the blessings surrounding the Sabbath rests of the land of Israel and the year of Release (Yovel/Jubilee). Israel were told to keep the Lord’s instructions and work the land for six years and on the seventh year, the land would produce by itself without the need to do any work at all. During this time of rest for the land Israel were not to work the land but would be able to eat from the land to survive. Likewise this same rule applied to the Yovel and in addition to this the year of release was a time when all people that had sold their property, their family members or even themselves to survive where able to re-acquire their possessions. I see the Sabbath and Jubilee years as strongly highlighting the fact that:
a) obedience to God (resting in Him) brings forth the blessing of divine fruitfulness and disobedience to Him (working in our own strength and in our own will) will result in fruitlessness.
b) Rest is synonymous with freedom and release from captivity, bondage and debt – when we rest in God He not only works on our behalf to restore to us everything that has been taken from us but passes a spiritual judgement in our favour where all agents and dark forces are now legally required to return what has been previously taken. I recently heard a great teaching on the year of Release which I hope to share at a later date if God permits and wills it to be.
So how do we enter into God’s divine rest?
Ultimately Jesus (Yeshua) is the doorway/gate into Shabbat, but even though many of us know this to be true very few of us enter in let alone choose to abide in it. Entering into God’s divine rest requires us to seek Him with everything that we are, worship Him with all that we have and obey Him in all that we do. Ironically, we need to strive/work to enter into God’s rest but the only reason why this is the case is because this truth goes so sharply against our carnal self. Obedience is not just about obeying the 10 commandments, Yeshua made it clear that obedience or disobedience to God’s law starts in the heart. We don’t have to commit the physical act of theft to be a thief at heart, neither do we have to commit adultery to be an adulterer. The seed for our behaviour is buried deep down inside. We may not steal but do we find ways of stealing in our hearts through using unjust balances in our work and everyday activities? Maybe, we choose not to declare everything that we are supposed to in our tax returns, or raise or lower a price at the drop of a hat to suit our own needs?
As a Sabbath-keeper, I come into regular contact with other Sabbath-keepers who outwardly keep the Shabbat, most of their attention goes into two things: letting others know that they keep the Sabbath day and judging others who do not. This is definitely not why God created and hallowed the 7th day, the Sabbath day points towards God’s eternal rest and the restoration work that He is doing in our lives and therefore the focus should be internal and not external. Carnal obedience to God’s laws is the same as being circumcised in your flesh, it is an outward sign only, in order to fully enter into God’s rest He requires more than foreskin circumcision, He requires circumcision of the heart. We will never be able to enter into God’s promised rest here and in eternity unless we learn to obey Him from our innermost being.
I don’t need to say that this type of obedience doesn’t come easy, it is a challenge for every single Child of God, we would rather do things our own way, relying on our own strength and fail rather than fully submitting to God’s will and prosper because when we weigh up the two options in our life balance God’s way comes up as the heavier burden to bear. Yes, God’s way requires the most ‘heart’ effort and change from us, we have to pick up our cross, drag it to Golgotha and crucify our flesh. We need to die to our flesh (carnal mindset) so that we can re-inherit our divine mindset which will teach us how to find, enter into and abide in God’s Divine rest. Bottom line is submission to the Lordship and Kingship of Jesus/Yeshua.
What makes the great Servant’s of God any different from you or I? The bible tells us that Elijah was a human being too. If we allow ourselves to be willing vessels, God is more than able to use us for the noble purpose that He created us to be used for since the beginning of time but, instead we choose to sweat and strive and carve out for ourselves a broken destiny instead of walking in the work and glory which is our portion and inheritance. I am convinced that God wants to bless His children, I mean really bless us in a way that will make even our own eyes pop out let alone the eyes of those around us but this can only occur through submission, surrender, sanctification, discipline and perseverance. We need to be willing to say “OK God, I’m tired of doing things my way and working in my own flawed and incomplete strength/effort I want to enter into your rest by relying fully on you from now on” and we should mean it and then strive to live it, there is absolutely no other way to return back to His promised rest.
I am praying that if you are one of the people that God is calling to return and enter once again into His Divine Rest, that you take the advice of the writer of Hebrews (chapter 4: 7-11) :
again he appoints a certain day, “Today”, saying through David so long afterwards, in the words already quoted,
(G)“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God[b] would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also (H)rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so (I)that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
In Yeshua’s name I pray.
- Moving from imperfect work to perfect fruitfulness (godinministry.wordpress.com)
- Thoughts on re-evaluating life purpose (godinministry.wordpress.com)