Reaching for Rest
Reaching for rest, at first glance, seems to be an oxymoron. Of the most basic and first steps toward spiritual maturity is the admonition from James to be doers of the Word, avoiding the deceptions that come from passively having our ears tickled. Yet the depth required from the mix of abiding, while being a doer AND resting begins with the insight of a Jewish perspective in a Jewish translation of this relevant passage in Hebrews:
“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall, through the same pattern of disobedience.” Heb 4:11 TLV
Again the admonition of “making every effort to enter that rest” on the surface seems to be a contradiction. However, even the English Standard Version renders this passage as “let us strive to enter that rest.”
Access to Hearing and Obeying
A closer look at the context gives reference to those who, by disobedience, will fail to enter His rest. This context begins in the previous chapter where it pivots on hearing His voice and not responding with a hardened heart. In other words, hearing and obeying with confidence in the relationship and assurance in the guidance. Throughout scripture this has been the standard. To respond with less broaches disobedience.
Let’s start with the framework for this obedience from these passages. It is that of “building God’s house,” not to be confused with brick and mortar, but that of the household of faith itself, the community of God’s people. There’s a depth to God’s intent with this framework that surpasses the superficial. Our role in this purpose is a top-priority to God. Not surprisingly both Jewish translations (TLV and CJB) note Jesus as the “builder of God’s house” and with that, point to the courage and confidence (CJB) and boldness (TLV) of upholding the standard of who we are … as the house of God. So, this taps the identity-thing.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, unveils this deep Jewish understanding of community and that of the community-of-faith abiding in His rest. Between the lines, it should be pointed out that Paul’s point of becoming a dwelling for God in the Spirit stresses the importance of the quality, rather than the quantity.
“You are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling for God in the Spirit.” Eph 2:19-22
The Realm of God’s Rest
So it is that this “rest” refers to a realm. It is a realm that supports a purpose. It is the domain where Jesus was consistently pushing His inner circle to enter and make their abode. It is a realm beyond self. The fine-line misfires of ambition, elitism and short-sighted thinking and faith of Jesus’ most intimate followers is at the core of the rebukes He made to them: “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt;” (Matt 14) “What an unbelieving and perverse generation.” (Luke 9) “Why are you so afraid, do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4) “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.” (John 4)
This “rest” is the realm beyond the superficialities, which held the ultra-religious Pharisees in bondage. On the other hand, it reflects the simple faith-response of the Centurion containing the practicalities and realities of both Life and everyday life. Access involves thinking that applies a different mode of processing reality.
Beginning with the premise of hearing and obeying, the simplicity of engaging in this “rest” in community … modeled in practice by the biblical Shabbat …. is where it’s design can be most readily grasped and accessed. This simplicity starts with the practicalities of family and friends sharing in their reach for this realm in God over a meal. In the same breath, it is at the crux of the realm pierced by ones like Enoch and Elijah that enabled them to penetrate the veil with the supernatural exploits they were known for. In other words, its focus surpasses the natural realm and taps the dimensions of time, matter and space … which align with the expectation for the demonstration of the miracles of Jesus and His followers.
Jesus lived in this realm. He regularly took time away from the crowds and even His disciples to refresh Himself and maintain the focus and perspective that came from this realm … of abiding in the Father’s rest. It incorporated the Father’s presence, but more: the response of abiding in His presence. Yet, in describing this domain, the book of Hebrews notes that God was angry with the generation that Moses led out of Egypt for their failure in maintaining it as their abode.
Scripture notes that in crossing the Red Sea the Israelites were “armed for war.” Despite the desire for peace and aversion to the realities of war, across the seasons traversed by God’s people are God-directed times of conflict. However, with Moses’ exodus crowd, as now are those whose spiritual blindness results in failing to confront the conflicts to obtain the promises by embracing the true power to be found in that “rest” in the face of conflict. Then and now it is due to their weak spiritual identity and thinking that is so polluted and watered-down by what is embraced by the worldly thinking holding them in bondage.
The Cultural Identity Conflict
The conflict at the core of this failure was and is a cultural identity-thing. It was no different with those of the household of faith who came out of Babylon. Yet the willingness to trust God in standing as His standard-bearers is the very core of what is required to enter and operate in this realm of God’s rest. AND it is the very thing that releases God’s protection.
So it was that when the Pharisees tried to add their own spin and pervert God’s intent for His rest with their own add-on’s for the Sabbath, that Jesus made it very clear: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) At its foundation, the practice of Shabbat, as God intended is a time of spiritual enrichment in the practice of its empowerment; both individually and community-wise. AND it is more, much, much more.
In one of my own experiences, while in Israel in the home of a Jewish believer, with all the preparations as the time of the Shabbat commenced, I noticed a tangible change in the atmosphere, a conscious sense of peace and God’s presence. With the scripture coming to mind: “In the time of my favor I will answer you and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’” (Isa 49:8-9) It engenders the task of building God’s house.
The Alignment for Everyday Life
Indeed, Shabbat is a time of enrichment and refreshment, yet it represents a time of alignment, when the community of God’s people simultaneously reach for, make every effort and strive to enter that domain of God’s alone. It is a means to distance God’s people from victimhood with a focus on Him and the practicalities of building His house. Yet, Shabbat is but one, albeit an important means by which God has enabled His people to access what is found in that domain scripture describes as His rest. There has long been both personal and corporate worship, immersing ourselves in and memorizing God’s word and more. It represents the time aside with Him to maintain the alignment …. with Him … for everyday life and its tasks.
Yet it is instructive to take a look at the dynamic that was operating in the pre-Torah era’s with ones such as Job, Noah and Enoch. It places the focus on the vital nature of the point of hearing and obeying …. noted in this sequence in Hebrews 3 and 4 with the intent of the building of God’s house. Then and now, the impetus is on recognizing and responding to the consciousness of God’s presence …. and the God-directed preparation it will trigger.
One of the most pointed rebukes Jesus made to the Pharisee was that of their blindness in reading the signs to understanding the times. The signs amassing since early 2020 point to the intensification of the conflict and the need we have as a global Body to unify and align ourselves with God’s order of battle … to the practicalities and realities of the spiritual battle … which includes the fullness of the heavenly hosts available. Nothing less will offer the fullness of the rest now required. These signs point to an impending, serious time of judgment, exacerbating the need for a great reach and striving for all that His rest contains.
The Trajectory: Preparing for the Day of the Lord
The exodus established the trajectory. It initiated a time of separation of God’s people from worldly bondage, establishing the standard-bearer identity and their mobilization and role when God executed judgment on the forces of darkness and those aligned with them.
“But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having delivered the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 1:5-7
Moses, who uniquely sought the Lord following the exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea … concerning His ways and the dynamics He had been experiencing, later describes the journey to include the host of angels who had been participating in this process. These combined actions of God’s people obediently confronting God’s enemies together with His remarkable divine intervention forms the basis of righteous judgment, when God breaks the trajectory of the wicked to provide the inheritance He intends for His chosen.
“The LORD came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came with a myriad of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand.” Deut 33:2
Moses’ description of the role of the angelic in the events of the exodus conforms with what Jude gleaned concerning the judgment made by Enoch on the co-habiting angels and their Nephilim offspring.
“It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 1:15-16
With this background in mind, there is an amazing sequence leading up to the Day of the Lord captured by the prophet Malachi, especially in Malachi 3. Foreseeing the forerunner role of John the Baptist, along with Jesus’ first and second coming, these passages point to a time when the Spirit of the Lord will be preparing His people for the righteous judgment of the wicked. That preparation pivots on God’s household being separated from worldly lusts and entering God’s rest.
“Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. ‘They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.’” Mal 3:16-18
The Courage for the Expectation
The day of the Lord will be like nothing any recent generation has seen. For those with the courage to listen and obey … reaching for His rest during this severe time of spiritual conflict, a clear distinction will be made between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. When spiritual conflict reaches peak-levels, it seduces the unsuspecting and unprepared with pollution and insanity.
Yet, scripture notes that God will proactively be affording opportunity for His righteous to be reaching for the needed preparation … and the accompanying purity and sanity.
“Who can endure the day of His coming? He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.” Mal 3:2-3, 5
God’s promise in the refinement of this distinction between the righteous and the wicked is strong. It pivots on proactively hearing and obeying and the focus given in the reach for His rest in the task of building God’s house.
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Have you entered the treasury of snow or have you seen the storehouse of hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? For the LORD has opened His armory and has brought out the weapons of His indignation; for this is the work of the Lord God of hosts.” Is 30:15 Job 38:22, 23 Jer 50:25
The lure of a blended faith, which formed the basis of the disobedience of the exodus generation, will be increasingly dismantled as the righteous, by faith, make the right choices, focusing on the right priorities in the distinction made because of their roles in this divine process of restoration. As it has been written:
This reset followed the Lord’s charge to Joshua in telling him that “my servant Moses is dead.” Despite the daunting task of following in Moses’ footsteps, those words mobilized not only Joshua, but the men of valor, a generation uniquely prepared in battle by Moses and Joshua (Ex 17:9-12).
“No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong. Chazak!” Joshua 1:5-6
So it was as Joshua assumed his place of authority, he went through the camp, giving the command to prepare for battle, yet interestingly in doing so, his words of expectation for what they were fighting for included: “Remember the word that Moses commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’” (Joshua 1:13) That distinction between the righteous and the wicked will result from making every effort to enter His rest. As it was with Moses; as it was with those led out of Babylonian captivity, so it will be in the days that lie before us.
“It shall come to pass in the day the LORD gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve, that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: ‘How the oppressor has ceased, the golden city ceased! The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers; he who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he who ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted and no one hinders. The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing.’” Isaiah 14:3-7
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Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner of the Joseph-calling and God’s economy message, being an international voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation, the Strategic Intercession Global Network [SIGN] and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick’s messages equip leaders and economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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2023 Copyright Morris Ruddick — firstname.lastname@example.org
Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For more information go to https://strategic-initiatives.org