IN all ages of the world “rest” has been the hope of the Lord’s people, and thousands have talked of it and written upon it, yet the theme is still of comfort to the weary. In the beginning of the world, after the Lord had created and made all things, he rested from all his works, and as he rested, so also do all his saints rest. The old testament saints rested in faith and hope, according to the promise the Lord made them, and died in faith to enter into everlasting rest. But there were many in those days who did not believe, therefore could not enter into rest by faith. The promise of the Lord to Israel that they should possess the land of Canaan, the place of peace, was as sure to come to pass as any other promise made them, yet they believed not, and rebelled against him and against Moses. How strange it seems that of all the host that left Egypt only two, Caleb and Joshua, reached the land of promise. All others who went over Jordan were born in the wilderness during the forty years travel. The death of so many thousands, however, did not make the promise void. The promise made to Abraham was as much for Isaac as for him, and the promise made to Isaac was as much for Jacob as for him, and just as sure to embrace their children. Caleb and Joshua went over Jordan into the promised land as witnesses of God’s faithfulness and mercy. Those born in the wilderness knew nothing personally of the Lord’s dealings with the Israelites in Egypt, nor of his faithfulness to his promise to deliver them after four hundred years of bondage and slavery, hence could not enter into the “rest” that the two living witnesses knew. It is true that those born in the wilderness had many demonstrations of the Lord’s power and faithfulness, but it seems to us that they, like children, could not enter into the fullness of the wonders of God, therefore could not rest in hope of the glory of God. Notwithstanding all of Job’s afflictions and torments of mind he could “rest” in the Lord. Yes, his confidence was implicit, knowing that even though worms should destroy his body, yet in his flesh should he see God. He knew his Redeemer lived, and for the glorious rest of all his people should stand in the latter day upon the earth, whom Job should see for himself, and not another. David said, As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. His faith in the Lord brought rest to him which the world could not give, though at his command, neither could the world take it away. The work of Jesus was to give rest, joy and peace to his people, and when he said, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, that rest so longed for by the weary was glorious. Their faith and hope were, as it were, swallowed up in fruition. They found indeed that his burden was light and his yoke easy. This rest remains to the people of God. When they believe in Jesus they cease from their own works, as God did from his, never to engage in them again. This means rest forever from the deeds of the law and all human efforts to save the soul. Christ Jesus the Lord, the Anointed of God, the Savior of sinners and the God of the whole earth, finished all the work and cut it short in righteousness, satisfied the demands of both law and justice. Hence there is no work to be done by the subjects of grace except to deal justly, love mercy and walk humbly before God. The Lord ordained good works, the works of Christ, that we should walk or live in them, be established in them, settled, fixed, rooted and grounded in them. In this the saints find “rest,” absolute rest from all their works. As God promised this rest he also ordained that some should enter therein. Here, as everywhere, his ways are equal. Paul exhorts that the saints be steadfast in believing that they enter this rest. A heart of unbelief in departing from the living God robs the children of this rest. To depart from God means to turn from him, his law, his precepts and promises, and to depend upon our own works, forgetting at least for a time his faithfulness and tender mercy. Paul presented this thought in his letter to the churches of Galatia when he asked them if after having begun in the Spirit did they expect to be made perfect through the flesh? Peter exhorted the saints to be steadfast in faith, to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior. But unbelief is “the sin that doth so easily beset us.” It causes us to be restless, to question all things, yea, doubt all things, even the existence of God, and we find ourselves often framing up some way by which all things that appear could exist without a Creator – without God. What a miserable state, yet the church could not be the antitype of the church under the law were it not so with the saints now. The condition also shows the children of God how weak they are of themselves, and how prone to go astray. Yes, like lost sheep they wander far from the fold, and were it not for the Shepherd’s knowledge of them in all their wanderings, and his faithfulness to save, they would never return to the sheepfold. There is certainly no “rest” to the wanderer, no refreshing springs of water, no wholesome food in the desert of unbelief. Rest is not only for this life, but for the life to come, and we have often thought and felt during the past two or three years that “to die is gain;” yes, better than anything this world holds for man. Even salvation is only in part here, rest but for a season now and then. Hope passes away, faith fades like a flower, all is over in a. moment, as it were, and we fly away. Where? To that blessed “rest” that awaits all who love His appearing, there to receive the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give each weary saint. Weary of self, earth and sin, weary of the long journey to the land of rest and peace. When natural forces fail and a grasshopper becomes a burden we long for rest. Why then weep for those who have entered into the glorious rest? Why sorrow as those who have no hope? Why not rejoice for them that the last battle is fought and the victory won? While we should we cannot; selfishness in our hearts wants the treasures back. Sometimes we are reminded of the poem:
“Gone where there are treasures of beauty untold,
Rivers of silver and mountains of gold.
Weep not to miss one from earth’s weary shore –
Earth has an angel less, heaven one more.”
Rest, peaceful rest. K.
Elder H. C. Ker
Signs of the Times
Volume 84, No. 23.
December 1, 1916