There are many verses in the Bible that speak of rest… the importance of rest, finding rest and remaining in rest are all topics that can be easily found – or even stumbled across when reading scripture. Why is it then that so many believers are searching for rest? Why is it that so few believers have actually found rest, both for their body and for their soul? Have we all been deceived? Is the scripture one big lie? Or is something else going on here?
Today in this study, we will be taking a look at the rest mentioned in the Bible, to see the details of it, and exactly how it is received. This information is crucial to living the abundant life which Jesus came to bring, and He wants every one of His children to be enjoying His rest.
As we begin today, there is one single commonality that can be seen among every instance of divine rest mentioned in the Bible… It all revolves around faith and belief. And as we have studied several times in the past, understanding that faith and belief are two different things. Most believers today use the terms faith and belief interchangeably as if they were the same things, and this eventually leads to confusion because faith and belief are different. Faith is a noun, it is the information which God gives concerning Himself and what He has done, and belief is a verb, belief represents the action that we take based on faith. So while they do compliment each-other, they are not the same thing, they are different.
Now already, some of you may have just had your understanding expanded based on the distinction of faith and belief – so let’s take it one step further and point out that rest is both a noun and a verb! To rest; in the divine sense of the word, to fully trust in God and rest in His provision and His care and His completed work, is a verb in the sense that it is an action of belief based on faith. It’s important to recognize this, because there are a lot of people that confuse resting in Christ and trusting in His finished work with being lazy, “oh that person is so Heavenly minded they are no earthly good!” is a common phrase. Yet actually, in the economy and view of God, the opposite is often true… people are so earthly minded they are no Heavenly good – and the reason for that goes right back to what we have just learned about faith, belief and rest.
Each person has the word of God, contained in the scriptures. The Bible is an entire book of faith, because the entire Bible from the beginning of Genesis to the very end of Revelation is all about Jesus – and He is the author and finisher of faith. As you receive faith from the scriptures; as you hear the words of Christ, you rest in them… and that as the ultimate action based on your faith.
Rest is also a noun in the sense that it is the place which every believer in Christ is ushered into based on His finished work. You have been delivered from the place of wrath, from the place of fear and worry, from the very place of sin, into the place of righteousness, peace and rest in Christ Jesus.
Why then are so few believers experiencing this rest and living in it? For that, let’s go to our first scripture today, as we examine the relationship between faith, belief and rest. Proverbs 3:1-6:
“My son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments:
For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to you.
Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about your neck; write them on the table of your heart:
So shall you find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”
Now just to make this simple and avoid confusion, when you see the word “law”, you can sub-in the word “Jesus” for that Law. We have done separate studies on how Jesus is the total fulfillment of the Law of Moses for us, and how today our Law is not the Mosaic Law anymore, but the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ. I’m not going to go into detail on that today because it would be too much of a rabbit-trail from the topic at hand – but if you are more curious about that, I would encourage you to request teachings #280, #320 and #322. (They are all free, I do not sell the Gospel)
So we see here in verse 1, My son, (we are all sons in Christ, because sons receive inheritance) forget not my law, which we can say do not forget Jesus today. But let your heart keep my commandments. Some of you may already be making the initial connection, that this here is precisely what Paul describes in the latter-portion of Romans chapter 7, when he goes into agonizing detail about how he is battling his flesh-nature, but then comes to the marvelous distinction that with his mind he serves the Law of God, even though his behavior is not perfect. The detail here is important because this does not say “Let your flesh keep my commandments” it says “let your heart keep my commandments”. The only way this can happen is through Jesus Christ, just as Paul points out in Romans 7. So to summarize verse 1, never forget Christ or His finished work. Keep (guard) these truths of Christ and His finished work in your heart always. Do you see how simple this is?
Next we see some benefits to this simple action of remembrance, in verse 2: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to you.
Length of days and long life are two distinct blessings, for those who may not be aware of them. The Bible is never redundant. Even when you see two things that seem like they are the same on the surface, you should know that they are different. And so it is here as well: Length of days is the supernatural stretching of time. For example, we all have 24 hours in a day… but when you have length of days, it means that you will have a supernatural abundance of time. You will be able to accomplish your tasks and have time left over, whereas others don’t seem to have enough time in the day.
Long life is more than just simple span of years. It is better defined as a “long and prosperous life” filled with many good years, a full life, because God’s peace is also on them.
All of these things will be added to you, simply by keeping the truth of Jesus Christ and His finished work for you. This is emphasized further in verses 3 and 4: Let not mercy and truth forsake you: bind them about your neck; write them on the table of your heart: So shall you find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
There is only one way to truly find favor in the sight of God, and that is through faith in His Grace. Faith in Jesus Christ. Notice is verse 3, it says to not let mercy (Hebrew: hessed, which is grace) and truth forsake you – in other words, do not let them depart. And we know from John 1:17 that Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.
The instruction in verse 3 here is to not let them depart, and to bind them around your neck; and to write them on your heart. What is this which we are to keep so very close? Again, it is not a set of rules or regulations – the instruction here is very clear, we are to keep and bind and hold on to the Grace and Truth of Jesus Christ, and His finished work for us. The Grace which He brings, and the Truth of no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
Now I know that some of you are thinking… “This is way too simple! There has to be something more I need to do! It can’t just all be about Jesus!”
And this is precisely why verses 5 and 6 are in your Bible. Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
Verse 5 says to Trust in the LORD with all of your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. This is a huge one for a lot of people. To trust in the LORD means to rest. And it is b’tah in Hebrew, a verb meaning to “be careless” (free from care) and to feel secure. This security does not come from you, your own efforts, your own knowledge or your own performance or law-keeping. It comes from Christ, the faith (the information) of what He has done for you, and who you are in Him. The verse says to trust in the LORD with all of your heart, which again, is not the muscle that pumps blood. It is your mind and your emotions. Don’t let your mind and emotions run wild with all manner of worldly ideas and cares… rest in Christ. Lean not on your own understanding.
Then verse 6 continues… In all of your ways acknowledge Him. This phrase has been widely misinterpreted and misunderstood to mean “act like Jesus in everything.” The WWJD bracelets come to mind. However please understand that this verse does not say “In all your behaviors, behave like Jesus.”
No. It says In all your ways, acknowledge Him. Which means, know and confess Him. Believers spend a lot of time confessing sin, when what they realty should be doing is confessing Christ and what He has done for them! And it says here, when you know and confess the Grace and Truth of Christ, He directs your path – which when read in Hebrew, means He will make your path smooth and agreeable. In other words: rest… peace!
Do you believe the simple truth of God’s Grace? The sad reality is that many professing believers do not believe what we have just read plainly in scripture today. They are looking for something else to do, some work to perform or some suffering they must endure or some sacrifice they need to make in order to receive blessing – when Jesus already finished the work, endured the suffering and made the sacrifice of Himself, so that all blessing can be freely received by those who believe on Him.
Many professing believers, don’t believe this, which is why verse 7 exists: Be not wise in your own eyes. Fear the LORD: depart from evil.
Do you know that all of your works that you consider righteous, are actually filthy? They are counted as further debt toward God. (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10), but Jesus said in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
The only way to receive true righteousness, rest and peace, is by simply believing on Christ, Jesus’ finished work for you. The Pharisees didn’t believe this, and so they asked Jesus what works that God requires in John 6:28-29:
“Then said they to him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent.”
Simple. Easy. Effective.
If you are looking for true rest and peace, look no further than Jesus Christ. Simply Believe on Him. Belief on Christ is the greatest action you can ever perform, and His rest is the greatest place you can ever be in. So I encourage you today, trust in Christ and be at rest.