“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience”
What a paradox – rest – available to the diligent pursuer. Does this mean if I knock myself out trying, I'll find it? That doesn't sound like God's method of operation. He did create the Sabbath (which most of us ignore). What does the writer of Hebrews mean?
The word rest here has two definitions. Its first use means sabbaton and comes from the Hebrew word shabbat, the root of our word Sabbath. Sabbaton means to cease from one's labor, to stop in mid action, which is what the Sabbath is supposed to be.
The next, katapauo, doesn't mean kick off your shoes, crash on the couch and watch TV. Katapauo is to colonize, to create a place for a governmental structure to take rest. The only other place katapauo appears in the New Testament is in Acts 7:49 and again has nothing to do with the Sabbath rest.
The question remains – how do we rest and establish God's Kingdom at the same time?
Rest is more than a cessation of work; it is God directed efforts. We put down our well thought out plans and good intentions in favor of His agenda. We opt for His way even when it is counter-intuitive to our logic, reason, common sense and obvious pressing needs.
“Simply put: For us to step into the reality of what Jesus has already done, we must stop trying to do it for ourselves.”
Michele Perry, An Invitation to the Supernatural Life, pg. 175
Efforts aren't directed toward making something happen. Attention is focused on establishing intimacy with Him which results in God governing every part of our lives. When His kingdom comes and His will is done in us, the supernatural comes forth effortlessly.
Jesus demonstrated this principle throughout his ministry. In the midst of a storm, He slept. Later He simply spoke to the tempest and it dissipated, Mark 4:37-39. Faced with a crowd of hungry people, He received a boy's lunch, blessed it and gave thanks. All ate their fill and twelve baskets of leftovers remained, John 6:1-12. When people were sick, He healed them. If they died, He raised them back to life. The discouraged and downcast heard words that lifted their spirits. Outcasts were included, no longer disenfranchised. Jesus set Himself up as an ambassador of Heaven. God's Kingdom now established, He simply brought and deployed Heaven's resources on earth.
What Jesus didn't do was stop every storm. He never established a permanent feeding ministry despite an abundance of hungry people. He healed many but at the Pool of Bethesda, only one cripple man was made whole. Not every person who died was brought back to life. Jesus didn't lack the power, resources or willingness to fix every situation. He followed His Father's explicit instructions, no more, no less. Some like the man at the Beautiful Gate were healed by the disciples after He ascended. His responsibility wasn't to do it all, just His part.
So where does that leave us? Jesus said we're supposed to do not only what He did, but also even great things. If by greater things He spoke of quality, quantity or both, we the church are still far from fulfilling that mandate.
How much sabbaton would we experience if we only did what we saw our Heavenly Father doing and spoke only the words we heard Him saying? Would the urgent cease riding roughshod over our lives and schedules? Would time and resources be better used directed toward the things God deems important and not to those outside pressures and even worthy causes that bear down on us? Would we see more fruit for our expended energy? God thinks so and He's always right. Perhaps we need to revisit the concept of rest and in doing so, experience the real thing.
Photo: Photo Morgue