Sermon series: God's Purpose for Humanity
Connection to unit theme: It is not an accident that God rested on the seventh day. He created rest, and He created His image-bearers to desire times of rest and enjoyment. Our sin has interrupted this. We either pursue rest to the point of laziness or we refuse rest to the point of exhaustion or illness. Either way, true rest eludes us. Jesus has purchased our rest from spiritual striving, and He calls us to find lasting rest and satisfaction in Him.
Recently, McDonald's ran an ad campaign promising to deliver your drive-through in under 60 seconds or provide a free burger. McDonald's is not alone in their quest to save us precious time. Have you noticed the increasing amount of products and services that are supposed to save us time and money? Yet at the same time, many of us are burned out, depressed, and restless. Some of us would claim we are too busy to rest. Apparently our time saving products aren't working.
Is it possible that what we lack is not time, but true rest? C.S. Lewis wrote of the "serious, yet gleeful determination to rub one's nose in the quiddity of each thing, to rejoice in its being (so magnificently) what it [is]." Jared Wilson expounds upon Lewis' thought:
If I don't believe the gospel, I will miss out on the joy of the it-ness of things. I will be looking to these things as drugs, as appetite-fillers, as fulfillers, as powers, as gods, as worshipers of the god of myself . . . If steak or wine or coffee or chocolate or anything else other than God is the highlight of my day or the ultimate joy of my heart, my joy is temporary, hollow, thin, But if I believe in the gospel, I can finally enjoy the chocolate-ness of chocolate and the coffee-ness of coffee. Only the gospel frees me to enjoy things as they truly now are and as they someday will be.1
What we need is not a new time saving gadget, but to find the rest that Jesus gives to us.
I. Our rest is disrupted (Gen. 2:1-3; Eccl. 6:1-7)
What does the guy that plays 14 hours straight of video games have in common with the lady that works nonstop to keep her house spotless? Both are looking for true shalom (rest/peace). The guy wasting away playing video games is trying to find shalom in his inactivity, while the woman is trying to find it in activity. Neither will end the day truly satisfied.
On the seventh day God rested. His rest was not due to fatigue, nor should we equate it with laziness or inactivity. Jared Wilson is correct; "laziness is not rest; this is why there is no joy in it.2" God's rest is His invitation into a time of enjoyment. God created us to enjoy Him and His good creation.
Our sin has caused us to distort rest. We either live restless lives fueled by sinful ambition and constant work, or we withdraw into laziness. Neither provides the joy-fueled rest that God intended for us. We end up as the one described by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 6:1-7. We have the stuff we desire but we're unable to find satisfaction in it. We cannot enjoy what we have because we haven't discovered lasting joy in God.
II. Jesus gives us true rest (Hebrews 4:1-11)
I've always seen a glimpse of Genesis 2:1-3 in Hebrews 10:11-13. When Jesus "sat down at the right hand of God" He signaled completion. He finished His work much the same way that He did in Genesis 2. By His act of sacrifice – His work - we can truly enter into rest. It is this "rest" Christ purchased for which we are called to "strive" in Hebrews 4.
The Israelites who escaped slavery in Egypt did not enter God's rest because they failed to trust in the Lord. Their disobedience kept them from the Sabbath envisioned in Genesis 2. It is only by faith in God's work that we can truly find rest. It is in His work and not ours (whether through activity or inactivity) that we find our activity. It is as Alan Falding has said: "We err when we try to establish our identity through our work rather than realizing that our identity is shaped and strengthened in the place of Sabbath rest and then expressed in our work.3"
True rest only comes through Jesus.
Application: Finding true rest in Jesus frees us to enjoy things in the here and now. Some need to respond by pursuing delight in God and the things that He has created. Others need to repent of trying to find rest and satisfaction in possessions and run to Jesus for ultimate satisfaction.
Paul Tripp writes of real rest when he says:
"Isn't it wonderful to know that no matter how difficult and confusing life may be, no matter how unexpected and alarming your circumstances may be, there is rest to be found? This rest is found, not in knowing the future or in logical syllogisms, and not in research or experience. No, rest is a gift of grace. It is the result of being accepted into the family of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Rest is found in knowing that the One who rules it all is your Father. Rest is knowing that the King loves you with an everlasting love and he rules over all things for your sake. This kind of rest will stay with you when circumstances are wonderful and when they are terrible, because your rest isn't circumstantial, it is personal. Now that's real rest!4
That is the real rest you and I need.