Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Work" in the Garden of His Rest

Last night as I slipped into the ofuro (a Japanese bathtub), I was thinking of His rest, His Sabbath-rest. I remembered a comment that Colleen Tinker wrote in Proclamation Magazine about how Adam and Eve didn't do anything to enter God's rest.

God created the heavens & earth in six days, and on the seventh day He rested, He ceased. Because He rested on creation, that seventh day became holy. Not that God "hallowed" (not that God "observed" a day or "reverenced" it), but it became holy because He was on it. Just like when Moses stood before the burning bush, God said the ground was holy. Not because it was "holy land", but because of the Holy One who stood upon it.

In growing up I was taught that I had to observe rules, to "keep" the Sabbath day holy because that's what Adam & Eve did (I was told). But looking back through Scripture, I realize that Adam & Eve didn't do anything. The resting was all God. It was what He did, not them. They freely entered by no effort of their own.

Reading Dale Ratzlaff's book, "Sabbath in Christ", I learned that all of the Biblical commands given to the old nation Israel about "keeping" Sabbath would have meant nothing to Adam & Eve. There was no work & toil to "rest" from. They didn't need to make fires to keep warm. They didn't need to even cook. And they already were communing with God every day. In fact, on the seventh day it seems God was having the Israelites act like they were still in Eden before sin entered.

Genesis says that Adam was put in the Garden to "work" it, but the curse had not yet come yet, so it was not "work" as we know it. It was not toil. Adam would not even sweat. There were no thorns to remove and the ground would not resist him. It would be nothing like "work" for us today! The "work" done in Eden was different. It was done while God was there. It was done in His holy presence. And it was not heavy, burdensome, or tiring. It did not separate Adam from God.

*****Now in Christ*****

Last night in the ofuro while lost in my thoughts about how to share the joy of real Sabbath-rest with those who still looked to a day, I was interrupted and suddenly heard Ephesians 2:8-10,

"It is by grace you have been saved, through faith---and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God---not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

We are saved because of what He did for us. Like Adam & Eve, we are born into what He has already done for us. He has already finished the work of salvation on the Cross. We might as well say,

"It is by grace you have entered His Sabbath-rest through faith---and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."

We receive that same gift of rest that Adam & Eve received from God, the rest of being with Him and knowing no sin. Jesus has become our peace with God. He has brought us back to Eden and even beyond by sending His Spirit to live in us!

How do I "enter" His rest? By faith. By believing. "We who have believed enter that rest" is what Hebrews 4:3 says. We enter by believing in what He has done for us, by believing the Gospel word of Jesus, "It is finished!"

We are so used to living by works---living in such a way that we have to earn things. We have to earn our rest. But our rest has already been purchased for us by Jesus' blood. Our restoration with God the Father is finished and accomplished by His Son's work and death.

*****Working in His Garden*****

I looked up the Scripture when I got out of the ofuro and realized something else: Just as Adam & Eve could not fathom what in the heck "work" was before sin entered the picture, so we too cannot understand the "works" God has called us to unless we have entered His rest.

Unless we have rested in knowing "It is finished" by His work, then we will continue to be striving to earn that which we already have in Him. God does have works for us to do, but they are the works of Eden, per say. They are different than the works we have known. They are done from a position of victory, from a position of already being at rest.

In the same way Jesus, during His three-year ministry, was able to "work" and yet was also in complete "rest" with His Father the whole time. We are called in the same footsteps, to first be in rest with the Father through the Son's all-sufficient sacrifice for us, and then to joyfully do that which He gives us in that Garden of His rest.

As you and I consider whether God is calling us to do something or not, let's first rest in Him, be still and know "It is done", and then ask ourselves why we want to do the task. Often it's difficult for many of us to be comfortable in God's presence, to be comfortable in stillness. I often want to do something, anything. I'm having to learn how to be still all over again, how to rest in His presence and not get fidgety. But it is from this place of stillness in Him---in knowing He has finished the work and just being with Him---it is from this place that all of our works are supposed to flow.

*****Prayer*****

Lord, help me just be in that rest! As many have said, You made us to be human beings, not human doings. Help me understand the work You've given me. But greater than that, Lord, help me know the rest and joy of being with You in Your presence. Help me never leave that to go to "work". Help me and all my friends reading to know how great this life really is that You've given us in Your Son. Help us to fall down completely in knowing it is Your gift, and it is all You, start to finish. Thank You, God, thank You so much. I praise You.

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