“Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: ‘On the seventh day God rested from all his works’. And again in the passage above he says, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” (Heb 4:3-5)
It is hard for human beings to experience true rest.
Imagine being a farmer during the American Civil War. Your land, lush with crops, stretches out for acres around your farmhouse. You are looking forward to a fantastic harvest, for even the weather promises to cooperate. No worries this winter! You’ll have plenty! Yahoo! (Or should I say “Google” instead?)
Suddenly you notice a huge cloud of dust on the horizon. Only something as big as the Union army could stir up that much dust, and sure enough, in just a few moments, the commander of the regiment rides straight up to you. “Hello! We are on your side, and we’ll be occupying your farm for the next couple of days.”
Before you know it, 100,000 soldiers set up camp throughout your fields. All you can do is watch as trampling boots and horses’ hooves grind your much anticipated harvest into the ground.
Naturally, the officers lay claim to your house. They are officers, after all, and they need the best resting place possible. Unfortunately, they don’t leave anywhere for you or your family to sleep…
100,000 soldiers can consume a lot of food. The Union army doesn’t expect you to feed them for nothing, however. They are very willing to pay you for the food they eat! Before you know it, all your available food has been traded for their worn-out, limping animals, and they then pay you twelve cents a pound for your chickens, pigs, goats, cows and horses. You have no choice but to sit back and watch while all your livestock, along with anything else that is edible, disappears down the throats of those hungry men.
100,000 soldiers also need to relieve themselves. Your outhouse was not built to accommodate that many people, but no problem. They don’t expect you to provide them with another one. Instead they begin digging their own trenches for that purpose.
Fortunately for you and your family, the regiment doesn’t stay on your farm forever. They will eventually leave. But not until all of the food supplies are completely exhausted. When they do leave, they do so in such a hurry that there is no time to cover the neat little trenches they dug. These trenches soon begin to smell, and now you also have a huge mess on your hands.
And that’s not all. When the last of the troops have finally cleared out, you discover they have left you a nice little surprise: All of their casualties. About ten bleeding soldiers are left in your care!
How can you take care of them? All your animals are gone, all your food has been consumed and your crops are completely ruined. Yes, you have some old, lame animals, but they will not meet your needs. Where are you going to be able to find food for the rest of the fall and the winter?
You thought you were set for the year. Now, all hope is gone…
Rejoice! It could have been worse. It could have been the Confederates, the enemy army!
Rest is illusive. Honestly, when Sabbath was instituted in Israel, most Israelites did not know how to rest. Worry was even more evident on their rest day. After all, rest cannot be truly fulfilled unless we rest in the arms of Jesus our Messiah. Only then can we be completely worry-free. After all, Jesus’ words are a promise: ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28, NIV2)
By the way, we have heard that your wife is a gourmet cook. We’re all coming over to your place for dinner tonight. Don’t worry, there are only 5,000 of us. Or maybe 5,001 when you include me, but one extra person won’t even be noticed. I can’t wait!
(To access the entire “Restful Repose” devotional series, please click here.)