Rest is the action or the result of resting; refreshment; restoration from work. The fourth commandment of the law of Jehovah says: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. You shall labor six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Jehovah your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Jehovah blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy” (Ex. 20:8-11).
But does God rest? Does God, the creator, need to rest? God did not rest, for Jesus said: “My Father is still working, so I am working, too” (John 5:17). And Jesus insisted on working on the Sabbath to prove that, to him, Jesus, the Sabbath, was not important (John 5:16-17). He healed the sick on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:9-14). He cast out demons on the Sabbath (Mark 1:21-26). Jesus taught the people on the Sabbath (Mark 6:1-3; Luke 13:10-16, 14:1-5). “For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath” (John 5:16). And why did he do almost everything on the Sabbath? Because Jesus is bigger than the Sabbath: “He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath’” (Luke 6:5). In the gospel of Matthew, in that same episode, Jesus said: “But I tell you that one greater than the temple is here” (Matt. 12:6).
Paul, the apostle, makes it clear that the Sabbath is a shadow (Col. 2:16-17). Shadow of what? Shadow of Canaan, the Promised Land. Let us examine what David said: “For Jehovah has chosen Zion. He has desired it for his habitation. This is my resting place forever. Here I will live, for I have desired it” (Ps. 132:13-14). And Canaan would be the rest, rather, the repose of the people of Israel: “My people have been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray; they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place” (Jer. 50:6). The repose would be for Jehovah and his people, therefore Jehovah rested on the Sabbath and the people too, according to the law. Jehovah said by the mouth of Moses: “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Ex. 31:16-17). If Jehovah was restored on the Sabbath, it shows that he was rundown with the effort spent on the work of creation. If Jehovah needed restoration from the effort put on it, he is more human than divine.
But, as we read on the psalm of David, the rest of Jehovah and his people is Canaan; the rest of Jehovah is simply the land.
In Canaan, Jehovah chose a place to build his house, that is, the temple that would be built (Deut. 12:11). And there Solomon built a sumptuous temple overlaid with gold, for Jehovah is the god of the gold and the silver (Hag. 2:8). And David reveals us the following: “Then David the king stood up on his feet, and said, “Hear me, my brothers, and my people! As for me, it was in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, and for the footstool of our God; and I had prepared for the building” (1 Chr. 28:2). And Solomon, after the temple was built, prayed: “Now therefore arise, Jehovah God, into your resting place, you, and the ark of your strength” (2 Chr. 6:41; Ps. 132:8).
We learn then that the people of Jehovah kept the shadow of Canaan, the true Sabbath, and the eternal rest, both of Israel as of Jehovah. But it did not work. Neither Jehovah nor Israel entered the rest. The people that were going to enter the rest fell in disgrace in the desert. Jehovah said: “When your fathers tempted me, tested me, and saw my work. Forty long years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people that errs in their heart. They have not known my ways. Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They won’t enter into my rest”’” (Ps. 95:9-11). That people did not enter in Canaan, that is, in the Sabbath of Jehovah. This fact is repeated in the letter to the Hebrews 3:7-18. The letdown is that Jehovah assured that the children would enter the rest, that is Canaan (Num. 14:28-32). And Joshua took the people in and gave them rest (Josh. 23:1). Jehovah, the god of the armies and of the wars, had given a command to the Hebrews to destroy the peoples of Canaan (Josh. 11:19-20). The people settled down and did not send away the inhabitants of the earth (Judges 1:27-36). Then the angel of Jehovah told them: “The angel of Jehovah came up from Gilgal to Bochim. He said, ‘I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you to the land which I swore to your fathers; and I said, “I will never break my covenant with you: and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.” But you have not listened to my voice: why have you done this? Therefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be [as thorns] in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you’” (Judges 2:1-3).
The people, deceived, kept the Sabbath for 40 years. Jeremiah says: “Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord Jehovah! Surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, “You shall have peace;” whereas the sword reaches to the heart’” (Jer. 4:10). The truth is that the people, for a period of nearly 400 years, spent 110, spread in seven hideous captivities, with sodomites. Israel never rested, nor Jehovah. This furious god kept trumping up evils against his people (Jer. 18:11), and Jerusalem was transformed in a furnace (Is. 31:9).
Today, after 2,600 years in which Jehovah rejected the people, the estate of Israel was formed again; but it is a furnace.
But the writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that there is another rest: “For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:8-9).
Jesus Christ said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). The repose of Jesus for those who believe in his words is not on this earth, but in heaven. He said: “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also” (John 14:1-3). The apostle Paul declared: “For we know that if the earthly house of our tent is dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1). And he said more: “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me for his heavenly Kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18). And Peter, in the same Spirit, said: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy became our father again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn’t fade away, reserved in Heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:3-4).
And we read in Revelations: “I told him, ‘My lord, you know.’ He said to me, ‘These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood.’ Therefore they are before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them. They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shepherds them, and leads them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:14-17).
Beware, dear reader, of choosing the wrong rest and falling in the burning furnace.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira