To quote a hymn writer: Are you weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
What are you doing with your burdens? Are you trying to carry them yourself? Are you weighed down with trying to reach Heaven through your own good deeds and righteousness? Are you oppressed by all the legalistic rules that religious leaders have placed upon you? Matthew 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. These burdens of men are heavy and grievous indeed!
It doesn't have to be that way. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. There is a rest found only in the Saviour that the religions of the world can never offer you. It is the rest from striving for perfection, striving to keep the Law, striving to make your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds.
By the way, that can never happen. In God's sight, when we are without Jesus Christ we have no good deeds. Isaiah 64:6 says But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. The Bible teaches that none of us are righteous - we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (See Romans 3:10 and 23) Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.
All of us have gone our own way in life (whether it be the way of atheism, the way of the religious - trying to work our way to Heaven by adding church service or baptism, etc. to the Gospel - whatever our way has been. That's the problem, it's our way!), not the Lord's way. The wages of our sin against God is death in a literal, fiery place called Hell. (See Romans 6:23) There is nothing we can do to escape that punishment. The wrath of God must strike and our sins must be judged.
But praise the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus offers us rest from the penalty of the Law. He took all our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross. He died in our place, as our substitute, and bore the judgment for our sins so that we wouldn't have to, if we place personal faith in Him and in the perfect salvation He provides.
The saying that lightning never strikes twice in the same place is so true. The lightning of God's wrath struck the Lord on Calvary, and if by faith we accept His payment in our place, we will never be struck by that wrath. God's wrath will not strike His children, because His only begotten Son has already borne it! Romans 5:6, 8-9 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
1 Corinthians 5:7 …For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
1 Peter 2:24 and 3:18 Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.
1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
The fact that He arose again after three days in the tomb is the proof that His sacrifice (of Himself) for our sins was accepted by God the Father. Romans 4:24-25 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Several beautiful types of the rest of salvation found in Jesus are portrayed in the story of Noah's Ark:
1) First, we have Noah's name, which means rest. Genesis 5:29.
2) We have the ark itself, which is a picture of the refuge found in Christ from the wrath of God (which was displayed by the worldwide flood). It is interesting to note that in the description of the Ark in Genesis 6:14-16, there are seven specific things mentioned: Gopher wood, rooms, pitch, dimensions, a window, a door, 3 floors. Seven is God's number of perfection, completion. So here we have a picture of God's perfect salvation through Jesus Christ, who is our complete refuge from God's wrath against sin (eternity in Hell). There was only one door to enter into the Ark. God has only one way of salvation, only one Saviour who paid the complete penalty for our sin, only one name whereby we must be saved! (See John 14:6; Acts 4:12) Once Noah and his family entered the Ark, they were completely safe from the destruction of the flood. The Lord Himself shut them in the Ark, and it is the Lord Himself who keeps us in Christ, safely preserved unto Heaven. (See Genesis 7:16; 1 Peter 1:3-5)
3) In Genesis 8:8-9, when Noah released the dove, she found no rest for the sole of her feet from the chaos of the world after the flood, except in the Ark itself. Even so, Jesus Christ is the only refuge for our souls from the chaos of this world. Is your soul resting in Him?
In Isaiah 28:9-13, we have a passage dealing with the rest found in studying the Word of God. Notice especially verse 12 (which I have bolded). Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people. To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
When we study the Word of God and compare Scripture with Scripture, building precept upon precept (which means we study each passage where a doctrine is taught and we put them together to arrive at the correct conclusion), we will find rest and refreshing. In what way? Because the Word of truth rightly divided reveals the Saviour. Verse 16 says Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Jesus Christ is that corner stone. (See 1 Peter 2:6-8) This rest and refreshing of salvation is found only in Him! The testimony of Jesus is the heart (the spirit) of the whole Bible. (See Revelation 19:10) Peter's promise to the Jews in Acts 3:19 is just as true for us today. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
When we are striving to keep the Law on our own (to earn salvation), the burden is heavy and grievous. God's requirement is perfect obedience, and we all fall short of that mark already. There is only one person in the history of the world that has ever kept the Law fully, completely fulfilling all its requirements - the Messiah who is both God and man, Jesus Christ. (See 1 Timothy 3:16 and John 1:14) Matthew 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
If we accept His free gift of salvation, we are then credited with His righteousness, and that righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. No longer are we as filthy rags in God's sight, but we are covered in the spotless white robe of Christ's righteousness. When our Heavenly Father looks at us, He doesn't see our sinfulness, but He sees the perfect righteousness of His sinless Son.
After we have received Jesus as our Saviour, He then works through us to enable us to fulfill God's will for our lives, and gives us the grace and strength to obey Him. 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous. When you walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, He bears the burden with you. Matthew 11:29-30 Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. Like two oxen yoked together will bear the burden together, so too, when we are yoked together with Jesus, He will enable us to bear the burden in our service to Him, because He bears it with us! (And, believe me, He carries most of the load!) But if we buck against the Lord's will for our lives, then the burden will seem so heavy.
There is one final Old Testament type that I want to bring to your attention in this matter of resting in Christ, our salvation. That is the Sabbath and what it pictured. Of all the ten commandments, nine are clearly restated in the New Testament as still binding on the Christian. (See Romans 13:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; and other passages.) But the Sabbath is not commanded to the Christian - why not? Because it has been completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The word Sabbath means rest, and Jesus Christ is our rest! Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Exodus 31:14-15 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
The Jews were to work six days, but on the seventh they were to rest and do no work. If they worked, they were punished for it. Many critics get upset at this command in the Scriptures because they do not understand it. If we understand clearly what the Sabbath pictured, then the commandment and the punishment for not obeying it is simple to understand. The Jews were not to work on the Sabbath because it pictured the free gift of salvation found in Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Titus 3:4-6 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Several passages that clearly teach about the Sabbath are as follows: (Note: these passages are specifically referring to the Sabbath on the Day of Atonement, when all Israel's sins were dealt with once a year, which pictured Christ's sacrifice once for all.)
Leviticus 16:29-31 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
Leviticus 23:26-32 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
In the above passages, there are several things I want to point out:
1) The Jews were to afflict their souls. They were to be repentant of their sins and acknowledge them to God. This was a requirement for both the Jews and those that sojourned among them (the Gentiles).
2) They were not to work at all, because on that day the priest would make an atonement for their sins. This day was to be a holy day, one set apart from all other days.
3) There was nothing they could do to add to the atonement or take away from it their only requirement was to repent and believe. Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. They were to afflict their souls on that day, or they would be cut off from their people (the people of God). Jesus said in Luke 13:3 and 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Repentance was absolutely essential to be saved. Repentance means a change of mind resulting in a change of conduct. If the Jews did not acknowledge the guilt of their sin to the Lord and turn from it to the Saviour, they would be cut off from the people of God. This is just as true for us today: if we refuse to repent, saying a meaningless prayer is not going to save us - we will not go to Heaven, and we will be cut off eternally from the people of God. We need to believe in our heart. (See Romans 10:9-10)
4) By the way, the alternative to eternity in Heaven is eternity in Hell. Jesus spoke twice as much about Hell as He did about Heaven! This is seen in the threat that those who work on the Sabbath will be destroyed from among the people. This pictures the person who chooses to add their good deeds to the Gospel. The Bible teaches that they will be destroyed in Hell. You cannot add to Christ's work on the cross - He will not accept it! If there was any other way that we could be saved apart from Christ's finished work on Calvary, He would never have needed to die for our sins!
Isaiah 30:15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
Have you personally trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, believing that He died for your sins on the cross? Do you believe that He paid the full penalty when He suffered the wrath of God in your place? Have you received His free gift of salvation? If not, why not turn from your sin and receive the Saviour today? He's waiting for your answer. Find your rest in Him!
The Haven Of Rest
(Words: Henry L. Gilmour)
My soul in sad exile was out on life's sea,
So burdened with sin and distressed,
Till I heard a sweet voice, saying,
" Me your choice";
And I entered the "Haven of Rest"!
I've anchored my soul in the "Haven of Rest,"
I'll sail the wide seas no more;
The tempest may sweep over the wild, stormy, deep,
In Jesus I'm safe evermore.
I yielded myself to His tender embrace,
In faith taking hold of the Word,
My fetters fell off, and I anchored my soul;
The "Haven of Rest" is my Lord.
The song of my soul, since the Lord made me whole,
Has been the old story so blest,
Of Jesus, Who'll save whosoever will have
A home in the "Haven of Rest."
How precious the thought that we all may recline,
Like John, the beloved so blest,
On Jesus' strong arm, where no tempest can harm,
Secure in the "Haven of Rest."
O come to the Savior, He patiently waits
To save by His power divine;
Come, anchor your soul in the "Haven of Rest,"
And say, "My Beloved is mine."
Study written July 10th, 2002
By Jerry Bouey
Eagle's Wings Ministries
Part Two of the Study On Rest:
Rest For Your Souls - The Rest Of Victory In Christ
The Christian Counter