A Place for Him to Rest
By Francis Frangipane
In the kingdom, there are no great men of God, just humble men whom God has chosen to use greatly. How do we know when we are humble? When God speaks, we tremble. God is looking for a man who trembles at His words. Such a man will find the Spirit of God resting upon him; he will become a dwelling place for the Almighty.
Entering the Sabbath Rest of God
Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? ---Isaiah 66:1
God asks for nothing but ourselves. Our beautiful church buildings, our slick professionalism, all are nearly useless to God. He does not want what we have; He wants who we are. He seeks to create in our hearts a sanctuary for Himself, a place where He may rest.
In the Scriptures this rest is called "a Sabbath rest" (Heb. 4:9). It does not, however, come from keeping the Sabbath, for the Jews kept the Sabbath but never entered God's rest. The Book of Hebrews is plain: Joshua did not give the Israelites rest (v.v. 7-8). And after so long a period of Sabbath-keeping, Scripture continues, "So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (v. 9).
The question must be asked then, "What is this Sabbath rest?" Let us explore Genesis in pursuit of our answer. "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work" (Gen. 2:3). Before God rested on the Sabbath, there was nothing special or holy about the seventh day. Had the Lord rested on the third day, then it would have been holy. Rest is not in the Sabbath; it is in God. Rest is a prevailing quality of His completeness.
Revelation 4:6 describes the throne of God as having before it, as it were, "a sea of glass, like crystal." A sea of glass is a sea without waves or ripples, a symbol of the imperturbable calm of God. Let us grasp this point: the Sabbath was not a source of rest for God; He was the source of rest for the Sabbath. As it is written, "The Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired" (Isa. 40:28). And even as the Sabbath became holy when God rested upon it, so we become holy as we put away sin, as the fullness of God settles and rests upon us.
In our study, we are not associating God's rest merely with the sense of being rebuilt or rejuvenated, which we obviously need and associate with human rest. The rest we seek is not a rejuvenation of our energy; it is the exchange of energy: our life for God's, through which the vessel of our humanity is filled with the Divine Presence and the all-sufficiency of Christ Himself.
Enveloped and Permeated With God
The Hebrew word for rest is nuach; among other things, it means "to rest, remain, be quiet." It also indicates a "complete envelopment and thus permeation," as in the spirit of Elijah "resting" on Elisha, or when wisdom "rests in the heart of him who has understanding." God is not looking for a place where He can merely cease from His labors with men. He seeks a relationship where He can "completely envelop and thus permeate" every dimension of our lives, where He can tabernacle, remain, and be quiet within us.
When God's rest abides upon us, we live in union with Jesus the same way He lived in union with the Father (John 10:14-15). Christ's thought-life was "completely enveloped and thus permeated" with the presence of God. He did only those things He saw and heard His Father do. He declared, "The Father abiding in Me does His works" (John 14:10). There is rest because it is Christ working through us. Jesus promises us, "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it" (v. 14). How vain we are to think we can do miracles, love our enemies, or do any of the works of God without Christ doing His works through us!
This is why Jesus said, "Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). In a storm-tossed boat on the sea of Galilee, Christ's terrified disciples came to Him. Their cries were the cries of men about to die. Jesus rebuked the tempest, and immediately the wind and sea became "perfectly calm," even as calm as He was (Matt. 8:26). What program, what degree of ministerial professionalism can compare with the life and power we receive through Him?
You see, our efforts, no matter how much we spend of ourselves, cannot produce the rest or life of God. We must come to Him. Many leaders have worked themselves nearly to exhaustion seeking to serve God. If they spent half their time with Him, in prayer and waiting before Him, they would find His supernatural accompaniment working mightily in their efforts. They would become passengers in the vehicle of His will, a vehicle in which He Himself is both captain and navigator.
Cease Striving, Know, Then Obey
To enter God's rest requires we abide in full surrender to His will, in perfect trust of His power. We learn to rest from our works "as God did from His" (Heb. 4:10). To "rest from our labors" does not mean we have stopped working; it means we have stopped the laborious work of the flesh and sin. It means we have entered the eternal works that He brings forth through us.
The turmoil caused by unbelief is brought to rest by faith. The strife rooted in unforgiveness is removed by love. Our fearful thoughts, He arrests through trust; our many questions are answered by His wisdom. Such is the mind that has entered the rest of God.
The church needs to possess the knowledge of God's ways, for herein do we enter His rest (Heb. 3:8-12). We gain such knowledge through obedience to God's Word during conflicts. As we obey God through the testings of life, we learn how to deal with situations as God would. Consequently, it is of the utmost value to hear what God is speaking to us, and especially so when life seems to be a wilderness of hardship and trials.
Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness. . . . Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways'; as I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.'" ---Hebrews 3:7-8, 10-11
He says, "They always go astray in their heart . . . they did not know My ways . . . they shall not enter My rest." Let us understand: knowing God's ways leads to His rest.
We must see that there is no rest in a hardened heart. There is no rest when we rebel against God. Our rest comes from becoming honest about our needs and allowing Christ to change us.
Thus Jesus said, "Learn from Me . . . and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:29). Stop fighting with God and learn from Him. Let His Word put to death the torments of the sin nature. Cease struggling, cease wrestling against the Blessed One. Trust Him! For eventually His Word will plunder the defenses of your heart. Be committed to your surrender. In time He shall no longer use adversity to reach your heart, for you shall delight in being vulnerable to Him. Continue your diligent yielding until even His whisper brings sweet trembling to your soul. Far more precious than the men of a hundred nations is one man perfectly given to the Spirit of God. This man is God's tabernacle, the one to whom God looks . . . and with whom He is well pleased.
He says, "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being" (Isa. 66:1-2). Yet, incredibly, one man with one quality of heart captures the attention and promise of God. "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word" (v. 2).
God looks to the man who trembles when He speaks. For in him the holy power of the Most High can, without striving, abide in perfect peace. He has learned the ways of God; he delights in obedience. He has chosen to give God what He asks: nothing less than all he is. In return, this man becomes a place, a holy place, where God Himself can rest.
The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis' book, Holiness Truth and the Presence of God and is available at www.arrowbookstore.com
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