I believe this is very possibly one of the most important posts I’ve ever written, and consequently one of the most important you could ever read. From Christ’s heart to yours…
A Word to the Weary: How to Kick the Seven Day Stretch & Enter God’s Covenant Rest
Most people live in a continual state of unrelieved stress. Our lives at home, work, and even play can bring exhaustion on many levels. People are longing for deep inner peace, yet fail to find it. God designed us to live in His peace physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And we can. But we must learn how to enter His rest on His terms. God has a very practical solution, yet I believe it eludes many for simple lack of knowledge.
This post is one that I have felt compelled to write, even with urgency, because Christ longs to bring His people a perfect peace that is found only in His sabbath rest – which sadly is very misunderstood by so many. I have heard Him say,
My people are weary. I long to give them rest. But they do not know how to enter into it.
This is a long post, but on behalf of Christ, I lovingly implore you to read it.
Two Sabbaths: An Established Covenant of Rest
If God needed to rest, then so do we.
The idea of a sabbath rest was established from the very beginning by God. The idea that God needs rest is a very interesting one. Yet as a Father to us all, He set a paternal example: We need rest.
For the sake of understanding, I’m going to break this down into two Sabbaths: the physical one instituted in the Law of Moses in which the people were commanded to rest on the seventh day; and the spiritual one, which Christ fulfilled in His finished work on the cross which we can walk in daily. The first is a ‘type and shadow’ (we are told) of the second. The sabbath rest of God which He invites His people to enter into is a covenant of rest, and both of these represent God’s finished work. So before we go any further, the fundamental principle you must understand is this:
The sabbath can only be realized & celebrated
once the work of God is FINISHED.
The Sabbath rest of God is entirely predicated upon HIS FINISHED WORK.
The First Sabbath
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made (Genesis 2:1-2, KJV).
God rested on the seventh day after His creative work was finished. Adam walked with God in that perfect Sabbath rest every single day with Him. However, once sin entered the picture and Adam fell, toil and labor were introduced. Adam no longer walked in rest. He was told he would toil and till the earth by the sweat of his brow. After the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, wherein they were grossly oppressed in unjust labors, God once again instituted His Sabbath rest for His people through a covenant of law. He called them into the wilderness to worship Him. Part of that worship was entering into His covenant of rest. Again He gave them the sabbath on the seventh day, as a reminder to them of His covenant. But instead of an inheritance, it was now a law. The Law was our tutor until Christ (see Galatians 3:23-25). It revealed to us two things: the righteousness of God and our own sin and need for a savior (see Romans 3:19 – 5:1) And God did not want His people forgetting this very sacred thing: They were designed to walk with Him in His covenant of rest. That rest was originally executed by God on the seventh day. Therefore, the seventh day was to be set apart as holy unto Him, and He commanded His people to enter into His rest with Him by ceasing from ALL their labors – even as He did from His. Although this was nearly impossible to do, it was a clear reminder to them of just how PERFECT and COMPLETE His finished work truly was, and it was a sign of the covenant rest that was to come. In the seventh day sabbath God clearly demonstrates a complete rest which follows a completed work.
The Second Sabbath
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost (John 19:30, KJV).
When Christ came and finished His work on the cross, that sabbath rest of God was finally fulfilled. Christ fulfilled the whole Law – not just part of it (see the books of Galatians and Hebrews). The rest God originally designed for us to walk in, which Adam so enjoyed, was fully restored spiritually through Christ’s sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension. Although we may still work physically, we can now walk in a daily covenant rest with God, entering into His finished work, even as Adam did. Christ was the second Adam, and has restored God’s sabbath rest to those who believe by faith, and enter into covenant with God through His shed blood.
However, the sabbath rest, which is a perfect covenant rest, has been tossed by many to their own detriment, largely because it is so misunderstood.
In this post we are going to discover more about this beautiful covenant rest God has so graciously given to us, how we can walk in it, and discover some of the reasons that are hindering us from doing so. By the end of this post, you will be able to do the following:
• You will understand precisely what God’s covenant rest is: both spiritually and physically.
• You will know how to walk in it personally.
• You will discover the reasons that are disabling you from doing so.
• And with God’s help, you will identify and target key areas for change.
The Seven Day Stretch
As a result of this lack of knowledge people are perishing in lives glutted with stress. Most people in this world are pushed far beyond their maximum capacity. They endure gross and oppressive labors, which they often put upon themselves, even as Egypt put upon the Israelites. I call it ‘The Seven Day Stretch’.
When there is a lack of rest, there is a subsequent imbalance wherein our very life priorities and values are misplaced and we become sick. For all we have sown, we reap suffering, never realizing the root of the problem. Here are just a few ‘abnormal norms’ in society which are rooted in a lack of covenant rest:
• Time with our families and loved ones is sacrificed upon the altar of work for the sake of greater riches, which often bring the stress of even greater responsibility. As a result our youth are love-starved and troubled, and marriages are failing.
• Companies are demanding more time for less pay wherein people are sacrificed for profit.
• We fail to discern our priorities in saying “No” to the unnecessary demands of others. As a result we succumb to obligations that are contrary to Christ’s plan for our individual lives. And we fail to discern God’s perfect will for us.
• People are sleep deprived and do not know it. Stress increases, disease ensues, and relationships suffer.
• People fail to eat well, not because they prefer bad or unhealthy food, but largely because of convenience and cost. Again, we give opportunity for disease, and mortality rates increase.
• In a sincere desire for rest and peace our spare time is spent on cheap entertainments. We mistake pleasure for peace, and the covenant rest we so desire and need continually eludes us although God has richly supplied it.
And the list could go on…
And we wonder why we are sick, weary and stressed, and why our families are broken and suffering. The perfect will of God cannot be fulfilled in our lives when we fail to enter God’s rest. If you can relate to any of the above, and long for rest and peace, I believe this post is for you. There is a well of living water available to you from which you can drink and be refreshed. Christ provides abundant rest for those who come to Him. But there is a prerequisite: We must choose it and learn to walk in His ways.
A Call to Divine Rest
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:27-30, KJV).
This is more than a loving invitation. It is a divine call.
You were created to live in the covenant rest of God.
God is calling us back to the garden. We were created to live in the sabbath rest of God. It’s always easy to accept a message when it hits home. But it’s not always easy to apply it. The how behind the what is often missing, and although we may nod and agree, we often fail to apply biblical truths simply for a lack of practical know-how. In this post I’m going to share some very simple ways you can begin to walk in the divine rest of God. They may take time to investigate and change, but with prayer, perseverance, and patience – it can be done. You merely need to choose it.
#1. ACCEPT THE INVITATION & ANSWER THE CALL: Make this official. Repent of the seven-day stretch. Take Christ up on His offer, and be willing to learn from Him. Make a strategic spiritual decision today to enter His covenant rest.
In the remainder of this post we are going to discover exactly how to do just that. You need both sabbaths: the physical one, and the spiritual one.
Laboring for the Covenant Rest: Entering the Finished Work of Christ
First and foremost, we must understand the true Sabbath rest of God, which Christ has purchased for us. This sabbath rest is part of our covenant with Him. This is so greatly misunderstood by so many that I believe it’s the number one culprit for many of our problems. We simply do not understand what Christ has accomplished for us and so we fail to implement it and enjoy the fruit of it. This misunderstanding is a perfect example of how we perish for a lack of knowledge. When we misunderstand what God so lovingly provides, we cannot enjoy the benefits.
Christ Jesus wants you to understand that the Sabbath rest of God is no longer a seventh day event; it is a rest we can walk in every single day because we have now entered into the finished work of Christ through our faith.
Christ has purchased for us a SABBATH REST through his FINISHED WORK.
That sabbath rest is available to you EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Let’s learn how to walk in it.
This beautiful covenant rest that Christ purchased for us is expounded upon in Hebrews 3 & 4, which I invite you to read at your leisure. However, here is a sample of that passage for the purpose of this post:
But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest an man fall after the same example of unbelief (Hebrews 3:17-19 & 4:1-11, KJV).
God is NOT a harsh taskmaster. He is not an oppressive tyrant. He is a loving Father. I am so grateful I serve a God who provides rest and comfort for me everyday, and more besides.
We demand much more from ourselves than God asks of us. This is a very simple truth, but it’s one we miss. You were not created for the ‘seven-day stretch’. You were created with a need for physical, emotional and spiritual rest.
God declares that you can enter His rest “Today” when you are willing to hear His voice and simply obey Him.
We enter the divine rest of God when we cease from our own dead works. The only works God has for you to do are those He’s prepared for you since the beginning.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10, KJV).
You cannot do any more or less than what He asks of you, or it’s merely an empty exertion of your flesh. God does not want your carnal sacrifice. He wants your spiritual obedience. If we are not listening, we cannot hear Him. And if we cannot hear Him, we cannot obey Him. And if we cannot obey Him, we will toil and spin in our dead works, and we will miss the will of God. When we miss the will of God, we cannot enter His rest. The root of this is unbelief – a lack of faith in God. When our days are filled with fleshly works that are futile and fruitless, we reap stress, chaos and mayhem. We need to consider: Are we truly surrendering our lives to the LORD? Are we walking in faith? Are we seeking Him for divine instruction? And if we are not – then why? That is a dilemma of faith! It’s called unbelief.
There is no greater rest and peace than
LIVING in the very CENTER of God’s PERFECT WILL.
When we embark upon works God has not appointed for us, we toil and spin in unbelief. That is entirely contrary to a life of faith.
If you do the works He’s created for you to do, then you’ll find your life will flow with a divine grace, even in the midst of hardships. If you try to do works He has not created and prepared for you to do – you’re on your own, because those works were never completed or ‘finished’ in Him, and you will find yourself being frustrated continually. Sadly, this is the life most of us live.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose to enter into the finished work of Christ every single day of your life.
When you choose to hear His voice and obey Him daily, His perfect peace will permeate whatever situation you encounter, because He’s already there. It’s a finished work. That is what ‘laboring to enter His rest’ truly means. It requires a constant communion with God that is very intimate. When you understand that it’s already done, your life is settled. You can enter His rest through childlike faith and simple obedience. This is a moment by moment yielding of your life one day at a time as you take up your cross and follow Him. We must understand that Christ, who is the Beginning and End, has already completed the work. All the works were finished from the beginning. There is a divine path He created just for you; a course He’s paved for you to walk in (see Psalm 139). To enter His rest, we merely need to hear and obey. Stop striving. Just do what He says.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13, KJV).
#2. LABOR FOR THE REST: Regardless of when your day begins, whether it be morning or night, determine to seek His face and hear His voice. Don’t set yourself up for unnecessary stress. You need His instruction and guidance. Begin seeking God daily regarding those finished works He’s called you partake in as a co-laborer with Christ. Cease from the dead works of the flesh which cause you to toil and spin with endless striving. Be obedient. Do no more and no less than what He’s appointed for you that very day. Learn to live one day at a time. Enter into close communion with Him. Commit your way to the LORD. And if Christ wants you to focus ahead – He’ll be faithful to tell you and show you what He has planned. Follow Him.
Celebrating the Sabbath
Apart from a daily covenant rest in the finished work of Christ, I do believe God wants us to celebrate the seventh day Sabbath. We’ve got to kick that seven-day stretch. Working yourself without ceasing 365 days of every year is simply ridiculous. In addition to that daily rest of Christ’s covenant finished work, God intends for you to take one day off every week just to delight yourself in Him and be refreshed by His Spirit. On this sacred day you get to enjoy your family, friends, and time for yourself. All your labors should cease. When we honor Him in this sabbath rest, He honors us as well. You will be AMAZED at how He refreshes you in His presence and the supernatural strength He pours into you for the week ahead. He will literally water you with His Spirit. He will renew you in every area of your life. But you must give Him opportunity. For many of us, this means a complete reworking of our schedule, because we are so maxed out, and spread so thin that we literally have no time for God, for ourselves, or for those we love. That is not only wrong, but it’s sinful. We serve a God who rests. He wants us to enjoy Him, and enjoy time with our loved ones, and time for ourselves. That is precisely what the Sabbath rest of God is all about, and God calls it holy.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:5 & 17, KJV).
Under the new covenant, Paul makes it clear that we are free to celebrate the Sabbath on any day we choose (see Romans 14, entire chapter). We are no longer held to a ‘seventh day’ restriction. I, for one, am thankful for this, because I consistently work weekends as a cardiac nurse. For people like me, this liberty in Christ is very applicable. Therefore, Tuesdays have become my sabbath. Perhaps you have a job like mine that is not “ordinary”. Christ has set you free to celebrate on any day you choose!
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ (Colossians 2:8-16, KJV) .
#3. CHOOSE YOUR SABBATH: Carefully look at your schedule. Take some time with God to re-evaluate your life, your priorities, and where you’re investing your time and energies. This many not be easy, but the rewards are over-the-top. This one day can transform your life. Begin to celebrate the sabbath rest of God every week. Receive His gift of rest and be refreshed.
If you are stressed the question that begs to be answered is: WHY? By the end of this post, I want you to be able to answer this question succinctly in identifying the key areas and reasons.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21, KJV).
We cannot enter God’s perfect peace if we don’t value those things He values. We will end up investing in the wrong things, our priorities will be misaligned, and our lives will be painfully unbalanced. We will reap what we sow. If we sow to the wind, we will reap the whirlwind. And that is exactly what is happening among God’s people at large. As a result, we live sub-par or nearly fruitless lives. This not only makes for a poor life here on earth, but also eternally.
A stressed life that does not produce God’s eternal spiritual fruit is NOT a godly life (see John 15). Christ makes it clear that apart from Him we can do nothing,and yet through Christ we can do all things. Again, these speak to a finished work. We can only do those things He has appointed for us and prepared for us to do since the beginning. All things are in Him (see Colossians 1:17).
His yoke is light – even in the hardest times. When we take His yoke, there is a perfect peace that permeates everything. He grants us rest in every situation as we seek Him and learn from Him. We are enabled to walk through life with His rest and peace when we choose it. And we are enabled to do His will and bear spiritual fruit when we abide in the Vine, being obedient to His voice.
Christ’s invitation to rest is abundant and gracious. He calls us into a life of rest – every single day. So we must take responsibility for the life we’ve chosen to live and the decisions we make apart from Him. If you’re not living a life of divine rest and peace, then let’s consider where you’re investing your greatest resources.
Your greatest resources, contrary to popular opinion, are not man-made. They are not money and monetary wealth. They are actually organic. They come from God. Your greatest resources are the following:
Your Free Will – Fundamental to every human life is the perfect God-given liberty to choose. God has given you absolute and perfect liberty to make any choice and decision you desire at the discretion of your own free will. With those choices also comes responsibility and natural as well as spiritual consequences. From the beginning God has set before us life and death. He implores us to choose life. And He tells us how: We must daily choose whom we will serve. Christ made it clear that we cannot have two masters. We will either serve self or God. Regardless of our choices, God will never transgress our free will.
Your time – once it’s spent, it’s gone. You never get it back. Your time here is allotted by God and it’s very precious. How you spend each day is important. For this very reason, the scriptures teach us to live each day wisely.
Your energy – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Otherwise known as ‘strength’. We are commanded to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. When our energies are spent on fruitless activities and toil, we end up wasting our lives, and we are exhausted.
Your health – every area, including financial. Part of God’s covenant is divine health and wholeness. When we abuse our bodies, our minds, and our spirits, we succumb to disease. We simply are not healthy. We cannot function at our optimal level. We must learn to steward our health wisely as God intends.
Your talents and gifts – those abilities unique to you. God has gifted you with special abilities, talents, passions, and drives. They are what motivate your life force. No one else can fill your shoes. God created you with a very unique purpose. Begin to seek Him for it. Begin to walk in it, and watch your life blossom.
Your reputation – your reputation should be one of favor with both God and man. A good name is worth more than great riches. This life of divine favor is considered a high esteem and is awarded to those who walk in the fear of the LORD through wisdom, honor and integrity (see Proverbs 1-2 & 8). You reputation will always precede you. To have a spotless and blameless reputation with God and man is worth more than gold, and it’s obtained through the Fear of the LORD.
We can know what’s important to someone by evaluating their investments.
Jesus made it clear that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart will be also. We can know what is valuable to any given individual by looking at where and how they invest their organic, God-given resources. What are you investing in, and to what extent?
#4. TRUE TREASURE: Here are some questions that I invite you to prayerfully and seriously consider:
• Where are you investing your time and with whom? Where are you overextended? What are you involved in, or committed to that you can identify is contrary to God’s perfect will for you?
• Where are you expending your physical, emotional and spiritual energies?
• Are you healthy? Why or why not? Consider every area where there is weakness. God wants you strong. How can you begin investing in your health?
• What are your talents and gifts? What do you enjoy? What are you passionate about? What are you good at? Are you allowing God to flow through you and use you in these areas?
• Last but not least: Who are you investing in? Who do you love? Who is precious to you? Are these individuals being given the time and attention they deserve? Why or why not?
First, let’s identify the greatest treasure God calls us to invest in:
His kingdom is all about people. God’s greatest treasures are the souls of mankind. People will live forever. They are eternal. Everything else in this world will perish, including the heavens and the earth. Therefore, begin considering your relationships very carefully. The people you spend your time with, and what you do with them is very important. God, family and friends need to be a high priority. If they’re not, that is a problem. We need to make relationships wisely, and we need to steward those we have with great care.
A Covenant of Peace
If you have been living the seven day stretch I pray that this post has been beneficial to you. More than anything, I want you to know that the life Christ has for you is not beyond your reach. It’s readily available to you. You must simply choose it. I encourage you to do some careful evaluations, seek the Lord about them prayerfully, and make some strategic decisions with His help and counsel.
Delight yourself in the LORD.
In closing, I leave you with this final passage:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever, (Psalm 23:1-6, KJV).
In every situation you can enter His covenant rest, enjoy His covenant peace, and live a fruitful life both now and eternally. But you have to choose it. I pray He gives you the grace to do just that – Today. God bless you.
Cheers & Shalom,