The Rest

In Hebrews 4 there is another passage relating to the promise that also speaks of the gospel. Heb 4:1

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.

2 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 it.

3 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.

4 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.

5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

Here the gospel is explained as a promise to enter into his rest. 'Them' in verse 2 refers to those 'that came out of Egypt by Moses' [Heb. 3:16]. And in their case the gospel was not received with faith. Also the rest is connected to the Sabbath as it mentions the seventh day, when God rested. The seventh day, of course, can also refer to the seventh day of God's week, the millennium or end times, as the following scriptures suggest.

Ps 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

So we see the Gospel can be characterized in several ways. The Gospel message is a promise of a kingdom to come. The Gospel message is a promise of entering into His Rest.

This promise of entering into His Rest, still waits fulfillment, on the seventh day, the day of rest.

Heb 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

Now let's take a closer look at the idea of rest.

Ps 132:8 Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.

There is a popular worship chorus that makes use of the above scripture. It goes like this:

Oh the glory of your presence We your people give you reverence Now arise to your rest and be blessed By our praise as we glory in your embrace As your presence now fills this place.

Another worship song, Baruch Haba, also draws upon Psalm 132 in its verse:

Now arise Oh Lord, come to your resting place You and the ark of your might and we will rejoice as we're clothed with your righteousness And celebrate the light.

The same music company also released a worship music session later which used the same first chorus, but for some reason they changed the wording from "Now arise to your rest" to "Now arise from your rest." Perhaps someone thought that it didn't make any sense to say 'arise to your rest' because naturally people get up from resting. This comes from a failure to understand that here 'rest' speaks of a place of rest, not being at rest. So to say arise to your rest means to get up from some place or other and go to, or into a place of rest. For example, someone would arise from their sofa and go into their bedroom, a place of rest.

Psalm 132:8 is a prayer to the Lord to rise up from where ever he is and come to his place of rest. If you look further down, the Lord clearly says his rest is Zion, a place he will dwell forever.

Ps 132:8 Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.

9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.

10 For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.

11 The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.

12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.

13 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.

14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.

In Ezekiel's descriptions of the temple, the house of the Lord, there is another mention of God's dwelling or resting place. Here the figure of the temple is used interchangeably with Zion.

Eze 43:4 And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.

5 So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.

6 And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.

7 And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, there is a scene that depicts the Lord [as a lamb] coming to Zion.

Re 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

Now let's go back and look at the opening parts of Psalm 132.

Ps 132: A Song of degrees.

1 LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:

2 How he sware unto the LORD, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob;

3 Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; 41 will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids,

5 Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

6 Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.

7 We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool.

8 Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.

9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.

Here we see David, who is a type of Jesus, in verses 3 and 4 saying he will not sleep or get any rest till he finds a resting place for God. In the original historical sense, this is about David's desire to build the temple. In the spiritual sense, it speaks of Jesus' desire to build his church, a temple made of living stones. This is to be an eternal dwelling place for the Lord, based on an eternal covenant. This again is Mt. Zion, the place where he is worshipped.

In Matthew 8, Jesus is involved in a discussion with a scribe. The issue at hand is that of following Jesus. He gives the scribe a cryptic answer indicating that he has no particular resting place. Jesus seems to be changing the subject from following him to finding a resting place.

Mt 8:19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

Then just 4 verses later, we find that he has found a place to rest and was sound asleep. The key to this apparent contradiction is in verse 23. When he enters the ship, two things happen. First, his disciples follow him. This deals with the issue of following Jesus. The second thing is that he finds a place of rest. Entering into the ship and winding up sound asleep is an illustration of arising to his rest. The fact that the disciples follow him illustrates the next verse of Psalm 132. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness. [Here we must be clear that following him means obeying him, not just tagging along after.]

Now look back at Revelation 14.

Re 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

Here the same two issues are dealt with, Mt. Zion is the resting place, and when the Lamb appears atop Mt. Zion, he has with him a group who will follow him. The ship in Mathew is typical of Mt. Zion, the same two issues are dealt with and the results are the same.

So who is it that comes to rest? Is it God who comes to his place of rest, or is it his people who enter into his rest? As we saw above, there are two issues involved and that provides our answer. It's both! God comes into his temple, the place of rest, and his people follow. As it says in Isaiah 6, his train filled the temple. His train is whoever is following behind him. You can also think of it as the body of Christ coming together with Jesus, the head.

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