So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
κατάπαυσις (ver. 3) is cessation, as from work, pain, etc. The rest which it indicates is mainly negative. But σαββατισμὸς (ver. 9) indicates a sabbath festal celebration, a holy keeping of sabbath; it comprises the rest of ver. 3 and considerably more. Let us consider what this sabbath rest which remains for the people of God consists in.
I. IN THE ABSENCE OF ALL THOSE DISTURBING INFLUENCES WHICH CHARACTERIZE OUR PRESENT STATE. This is the negative aspect of the rest, or what we shall rest from.
1. Rest from the struggle against sin. The people of God in heaven are more than conquerors over sin and Satan "through him that loved' them. The great tempter, and solicitation to sin, will be entirely and eternally excluded from that bright and blessed world. "There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth," etc.
2. Rest from suffering, both physical and mental. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more" (Revelation 7:16, 17). "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick." "And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes," etc. (Revelation 21:4).
3. Rest from the mystery and burden of life. In our present state there are seasons of darkness and perplexity when trust and hope in God involve painful effort to some souls. Such efforts will not be demanded in the blessed hereafter. Much that to us is now obscure will then be perfectly clear. The pure light of eternity will chase away the grim shadows of time; and what is to us unknown in heaven will awaken neither dread nor doubt.
4. Rest from toilsome, anxious, discouraging labor. No more men and women and children compelled to labor on long after their physical powers are tired out. No more forcing of the brain to continued effort when it already aches wearily by reason of its toils. No further summons to works of social or moral amelioration, which must be prosecuted despite difficulty, discouragement, opposition, and seeming failure. The sabbath rest which remaineth for the people of God precludes all these things.
II. IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL THE HARMONIOUS AND BLESSED CONDITIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH OUR NATURE CRAVES. This is the positive aspect of our rest, or what we shall rest in.
1. In the conformity of our character to that of God. Purity is peace. Holiness is rest. The perfectly holy is the infinitely and ever-blessed God. The saints in heaven "have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Nor is their holiness the mere negation of moral evil, but a positive and active condition of their being. Their thoughts, sympathies, aspirations, services, are all true and pure and benevolent. They are spiritually transformed into the image of the Lord. And in this there is rest and blessedness. "I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."
2. In the progress of our being towards God. Stagnation is not rest. Stationariness is not rest; it is stillness, inaction, but not rest. But harmonious growth is both restful and joyous. One of the constituents of the future rest of the good is growth - growth in mind and heart and spirit, in thought, and affection, and reverence, and holy action. In endless approximation to the infinitely Holy One will man find the rest and perfection of his being.
3. In the continuous service of God. As this rest is a "keeping of sabbath," it cannot mean a complete cessation of activity. Inactivity is not rest. "Sloth yieldeth not happiness; the bliss of a spirit is action;'
"An angel's wing would droop if long at rest, (1) Its inspiration. Love to God is the impulse of every action, and transforms every duty into a delight. (2) Its nature. Every service will be sacred. The spirit in which it is done will make all the work religious, worshipful. (3) Its conditions. Freedom from all obstruction, from all restraint, and from all fatigue. 4. In conscious and continuous communion with God. "He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, their God, And they shall see his face." "We shall see him even as he is." All the redeemed in heaven are through Christ perfectly one with God in sympathies, purposes, principles, and joys. God alone can satisfy them. In him they rest with deepest, holiest blessedness. They are "forever with the Lord." "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." This rest is "reserved for the people of God." Only the sincere and hearty believers in Jesus Christ will ever enter upon it. The character of the rest is conclusive as to this question. To experience the perfect rest of the glorious future we must first experience the spiritual rest which is available unto us at present. - W.J.
(1) Its inspiration. Love to God is the impulse of every action, and transforms every duty into a delight.
(2) Its nature. Every service will be sacred. The spirit in which it is done will make all the work religious, worshipful.
(3) Its conditions. Freedom from all obstruction, from all restraint, and from all fatigue.
4. In conscious and continuous communion with God. "He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, their God, And they shall see his face." "We shall see him even as he is." All the redeemed in heaven are through Christ perfectly one with God in sympathies, purposes, principles, and joys. God alone can satisfy them. In him they rest with deepest, holiest blessedness. They are "forever with the Lord." "In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." This rest is "reserved for the people of God." Only the sincere and hearty believers in Jesus Christ will ever enter upon it. The character of the rest is conclusive as to this question. To experience the perfect rest of the glorious future we must first experience the spiritual rest which is available unto us at present. - W.J.
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.I. THE PERSONS FOR WHOM THIS REST IS DESIGNED. "The people of God."
1. By their eternal election of the Father (Romans 11:5).
2. By complete and final redemption (John 1:29).
3. By perfect righteousness imputed (Isaiah 45:24, 25).
4. By the renewing of the Holy Ghost (Colossians 3:10).
II. THE MANIFESTED DIFFERENCE IN GOD'S PEOPLE FROM THE REPROBATE, AFTER THEY ARE CONVERTED TO GOD BY THE HOLY GHOST.
1. in a deep sense of divine things (1 Corinthians 2:10).
2. Of their miserable state as sinners (Luke 5:31).
3. Of creature-insufficiency (Isaiah 64:6).
4. Of Christ's fulness (Philippians 3:8).
5. In a change of will and purpose (Song of Solomon 1:4).
6. A cordial covenanting with Christ (Jeremiah 50:5).
7. Persevering grace (Micah 7:8).
III. THE EXCELLENT NATURE OF THIS REST. ITS excellency is beyond the power of language to describe.
1. Purchased rest (Ephesians 1:14).
2. Gratuitous rest (Isaiah 55:1).
3. Peculiar rest (John 14:22).
4. Divine rest (Revelation 21:23).
5. Seasonable rest (Galatians 6:9).
6. Suitable rest (John 14:2).
7. Perfect rest (Revelation 21:4).
8. Eternal rest (1 Peter 5:10).
9. Of body and soul (1 Corinthians 15:57).It is a rest from pain, sorrow, disappointment, persecution, sin, lust, and infirmity; a rest of peace, joy, love, knowledge, freedom, and a rest in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
(T. B. Baker.)
1. It may be so called for its repose. An eternal rest! Oh, happy thought, amidst the toils of the wilderness, amidst the fears with which we are now agitated, that we shall soon find rest; like the coming of eventide to the labourer, like the appearance of home to the traveller as he is advancing to repose amidst his household, so shall heaven be to the soul!
2. Heaven may well be called an eternal Sabbath for its sanctity. Holiness is its character, not holiness which arises merely from the absence of sin, but holiness which is inherent; that holiness whereby we are prepared in all we do, and all we enjoy, to possess more and more felicity, in proportion as we accomplish more and more the will of the great Creator. so that we are absolutely a living sacrifice to God throughout ceaseless ages.
3. Heaven may be denominated an eternal Sabbath for its services.
4. Heaven may be called an eternal Sabbath for its society. Never would the Church of Christ realise a fulness of fellowship but for the engagements of the Sabbath.
5. Heaven may be called an eternal Sabbath for its delights.
6. Heaven may be called an eternal Sabbath because of the termination of all secular eras and events. Just as the Sabbath crowns and hallows the week, so heaven comes at the close of time to crown and hallow the whole.
7. Heaven may be called an eternal Sabbath for the perpetual commemoration of the history of all things.
(R. S. McAll, LL. D.)I. IT IS A FUTURE REST. It is not on this side the grave. This — it is emphatically said — this is not your rest. Ye have not yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord your God giveth you. We must go over Jordan — we must cross the river of death before we can reach our home. But till then, while we continue in the world, it is vain and fruitless to expect rest. There may be seasons of refreshment: pauses, like the Sabbath's pause, for recruiting our tired spirits; but these seasons and pauses are but for an instant. Work — work of one kind or other presses upon us, and we cannot, if we would, be long at rest.
II. HEAVEN, whatever other notions we may have about it, WILL BE, BEFORE ALL THINGS, A PLACE TO REST.
(R. D. B. Rawnsley, M. A.)
I. They rest FROM THE TOILS AND PURSUITS OF THE PRESENT LIFE. Toils and pursuits of various kinds, and in different degrees, necessarily occupy much of our attention. We are animated with a strong desire of preserving ourselves and those who depend upon us in life and comfort, hence much labour and exertion fall to the lot of the generality of mankind; it is also a part of the curse denounced against our apostate race: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." Of the small proportion of men who do not procure their subsistence by bodily labour, exertion of another kind is required; they have to undergo the labours of the mind, study, and reflection, and extensive research in managing the religious and the civil concerns of their fellow-creatures. To those who exert themselves vigorously and conscientiously in the one or the other of these kinds of labour, it is no unpleasant view of heaven that it yields a relief from such toils and pursuits.
II. In heaven there is rest FROM THE TROUBLES OF LIFE. These are inseparable from our present condition, being the natural and penal consequences of sin. "Although affliction cometh net forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground, yet man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward." It arises from what we feel in ourselves, from disease, and pain, and weakness, and from "the fear of death"; it arises also from our connection with fellow-creatures: those with whom we are united by the most tender and endearing ties are subject, like ourselves, to a variety of distresses. How soothing in such situations the belief, the hope, and the prospect of that " rest which remaineth for the people of God" — a state where disease and pain are wholly unknown, or remembered as " former things which have passed away;" "a land, the inhabitants whereof shall no more say, I am sick"; and where those whom death had separated shall meet to part no more!
III. "There remaineth a rest to the people of God" FROM SIN AND TEMPTATION. The former views which have been presented of this "rest" may engage the attention and please the imagination of all men, Whatever be their slate and character. It is natural to human beings to desire exemption from toil and from trouble. Too many, it is feared, wish for heaven chiefly or wholly on these accounts; they have little or no desire of heaven as a deliverance from sin and from temptations to sin; they are the justified and sanctified alone who delight chiefly in this view of a future state. Besides this painful contest with inward corruption, there is also a conflict to be maintained with Satan, the great spiritual adversary. The world also in which they live, both the men of the world and "the things that are in the world," present many powerful temptations; snares beset them on every side; prosperity and adversity have each their several dangers to Christians. It is, therefore, to them the most pleasing view of heaven that it is a rest from sin and from all temptations to sin.
(J. Burns, D. D.)
I. A rest FROM what?
I. From our own works. Ye who have known what it was to have reached the end of a six days' or a six months' toil, and to awaken the next morning to the rest of an earthly Sabbath, where there was no duty before you for twelve hours but that of thanking and praising God, and enjoying to the full His gifts and His revelations — judge ye what that morning will be when you awake in heaven, never again to toil unto weariness!
2. But who has not felt that there is a weariness far greater than that of simple work, and, by consequence, a rest far more desirable than that from mere labour? In heaven there will be rest from all anxiety and care.
3. And shall I mention yet another weariness of life, one which besets in these days some of every condition and every rank of men? I speak of doubt — of religious doubt — doubt as to the reality of truth, or doubt as to its application to ourselves. Of all the joys of the first morning of heaven, to many souls in our generation, surely this will be the greatest — that doubt is no more; that Christ Himself is there, seen face to face, and the truth which was dim upon earth is there irradiated by His presence.
4. Lastly, the rest which remaineth is a rest from sin. "Grieved and wearied with the burden of our sins:" that is the account which we all give of ourselves when we kneel at Christ's holy table. Wherever Christ is sought in humble faith, the pilgrim's burden unties itself at the sight of the Cross, and falls off from him, to his great comfort. But old infirmities continue, and lead to new transgressions. Only in heaven will the power of sin be ended.
II. Rest IN what?
1. In thankfulness. Dangers escaped — infirmities healed — sins forgiven — sorrows cheered on earth or explained in heaven — an arresting, controlling, guiding, and supporting hand, now believed and then seen to have been over us all our life long — the forbearance of God — the map of our pilgrimage, inward and outward, at last spread out before us, and the light of heaven thrown upon its windings and its wanderings; in all this there will be matter for an eternity of thankfulness.
2. In occupation.
3. In contemplation. The contemplation of God Himself. The understanding, as never before, of His works, of His ways, of His perfections.
4. In Christ's presence. This completes, this embraces all heaven.
(Dean Vaughan.)I. I shall try to EXHIBIT the rest of heaven; and in doing so I shall exhibit it, first by way of contrast, and then by way of comparison.
1. The rest of the righteous in glory is now to be contrasted with certain other things.(1) We will contrast it with the best estate of the worldling and the sinner. The worldling, when his corn and his wine are increased, has a glad eve and a joyous heart: but even then he has the direful thought that he may soon leave his wealth. Not so the righteous man: he has obtained an inheritance which is " undefiled, and that fadeth not away."(2):Now let me put it in more pleasing contrast. I shall contrast the rest of the believer above with the miserable estate of the believer sometimes here below. Christians have their sorrows. Suns have their spots, skies have their clouds, and Christians have their sorrows too. But oh! how different will the state of the righteous be up there, from the state of the believer here! Sheathed is the sword, the banner is furled, the fight is over, the victory won; and they rest from their labours. Here, too, the Christian is always sailing onward, he is always in motion, he feels that he has not yet attained. Like Paul, he can say, "Forgetting the things that are behind, I press forward to that which is before." But there his weary head shall be crowned with unfading light. There the ship that has been speeding onward shall furl its sails in the port of eternal bliss. Here, too, the believer is often the subject of doubt and fear. Hill Difficulty often affrights him; going down into the valley of humiliation is often troublesome work to him; but there, there are no hills to climb, no dragons to fight, no foes to conquer, no dangers to dread. Ready-to-halt, when he dies, will bury his crutches, and Feeble-mind will leave his feebleness behind him: Fearing will never fear again; poor Doubtingheart will learn confidently to believe. Oh, joy above all joys! Here, too, on earth, the Christian has to suffer; here he has the aching head and the pained body. Or if his body be sound, yet what suffering he has in his mind! Conflicts between depravity and gross temptations from the evil one, assaults of hell, perpetual attacks of divers kinds from the world, the flesh, and the devil. But there, no aching head, no weary heart; old age shall find itself endowed with perpetual youth; there the infirmities of the flesh shall be left behind, given to the worm and devoured by corruption. There, too, they shall be free from persecution. Here Sicilian Vespers, and St. Bartholomew, and Smithfield are well-known words; but there shall be none to taunt them with a cruel word, or touch them with a cruel hand. There emperors and kings are not known, and those who had power to torture them cease to be. They are in the society of saints; they shall be free from all the idle converse of the wicked, and from their cruel jeers set free for ever. Alas! in this mortal state the child of God is also subject to sin; even he faileth in his duty and wandereth from his God; even he doth not walk in all the law of his God blameless, though he desireth to do it. And last of all, here, the child of God has to wet the cold ashes of his relatives with tears; here he has to bid adieu to all that is lovely and fair of mortal race. But there never once shall be heard the toll of the funeral bell.
2. And now I shall try very briefly to exhibit this contrast in the way of comparison. The Christian hath some rest here, but nothing compared with the rest which is to come.(1) There is the rest of the Church. The Church-member at the Lord's table has a sweet enjoyment of rest in fellowship with the saints; but ah! up there the rest of Church fellowship far surpasses anything that is known here; for there are no divisions there, no angry words, no harsh thoughts of one another, no bickerings about doctrine, no fightings about practice.(2) There is, again, a rest of faith which a Christian enjoys; a sweet rest. Many of us have known it. We have known what it is, when the billows of trouble have run high, to hide ourselves in the breast of Christ and feel secure. But the rest up there is better still, more unruffled, more sweet, more perfectly calm, more enduring, and more lasting than even the rest of faith.(3) And, again, the Christian sometimes has the blessed rest of communion. There are happy moments when he puts his head on the Saviour's breast — when, like John, he feels that he is close to the Saviour's heart, and there he sleeps.
II. I am to endeavour to EXTOL this rest, as I have tried to EXHIBIT it. Oh! for the lip of angel to talk now of the bliss of the sanctified and of the rest of God's people I
1. It is a perfect rest. They are wholly at rest in heaven.
2. Again, it is a seasonable rest.
3. This rest ought to be extolled because it is eternal.
4. And then, lastly, this glorious rest is to be best of all commended for its certainty.There remaineth a rest to the people of God. Doubting one, thou hast often said, "I fear I shall never enter heaven." Fear not; all the people of God shall enter there; there is no fear about it. I love the quaint saying of a dying man, who exclaimed, "I have no fear of going home; I have sent all before me; God's finger is on the latch of my door and I am ready for Him to enter." "But," said one, "are you not afraid lest you should miss your inheritance?" "Nay," said he, "nay; there is one crown in heaven that the angel Gabriel could not wear; it will fit no head but mine. There is one throne in heaven that Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it. There is one dish at the banquet that I must eat, or else it will be untasted, for God has set it apart for me."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. WHAT MAN SUPREMELY NEEDS IS NOT REST FROM WORK BUT REST FROM CARE.
1. What is care? It is the experience of the man who is bent on being his own providence; who takes on himself the whole responsibility, not of the conduct of life only, but of the conditions and results which are absolutely beyond his power of regulation, and which God keeps calmly under His own hand.
2. This rest from care has been the great aim and desire of man through all his generations. The problem of man's higher life has always been how to secure emancipation.
3. But the sad part of the matter is, that man does not and cannot rest in mere renunciations and denials. There is a question in the background which has its origin in every conscience. How, on this principle, can the world's business be carried on? No! there is no rest for the human spirit in this burying the head in the sand when troubles throng around.
II. THE ONLY POSSIBLE REST FOR MAN IS THE REST THAT HE FINDS IN GOD.
1. The lowest, but by no means the least burdensome and distracting class of our cares concerns "the great bread-and-cheese question" and its surroundings.
2. A nobler form of care is that which has to do with persons, that which springs out of our affections, sympathies and loves.
3. The same faith lifts the burden from the heart of the Christian lover of mankind. In truth we are always calling for the twelve legions of angels to finish the work swiftly and usher in Messiah's reign. And God answers, "Patience," and points us to the redemptive purpose which stamped its impress on the first page of revelation and sets its seal on the last; and bids us wait His time. The man who trusts most perfectly, works most heartily. Christ, while He lifts the burdens, braces the energies, inspires the will, and parades all the faculties of man in their noblest form for service. The man who believes, understands perfectly that the most strenuous use of all the powers of his being is one of the high conditions by which God is seeking to work out blessing for him self, for his dear ones, and for the great world.
(Jr. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)
(J. S. Knox, M. A.)1. We shall rest from the labours of our calling, wherewith we arc turmoiled. The husbandman shall follow the plough no longer, the weaver shall sit no longer in the cold in his loom, the clothier not ride up and down in the ram, frost and snow, about his wool and cloth; the preacher shall no longer be turning over books and taking pains in his study and pulpit; we shall ride no more to market to buy corn, to make provision for our houses; we shall no longer take thought for ourselves, our wives and children; we shall have all things provided to our hands, and eat of the hidden manna and of the tree of life in the paradise of God for ever.
2. We shall rest even from the works of religion, which are now chariots to carry us to heaven. We shall no longer be turning over the Bible in our houses, catechising and instructing of our families; no more go many a mile in the dirt and wind to the church, shall no more be praying with cries, sighs, and tears; thanksgiving shall remain in heaven. It shall be all our work to be praising of God, but petitions shall then cease; no need of the ship when we be in heaven.
3. We shall rest from the works of sin; here in many things we sin all. Noah is sometimes overtaken with wine, David falls into adultery and murder, Peter into the denial of Christ, Paul and Barnabas are at jars between themselves. "The good that we would do, that do we not, and the evil we would not, that do we." Sin makes us to cry out like tired porters, "O miserable men that we are," &e. Then we shall rest from all sin, and be like the angels in heaven for ever.
4. We shall rest from all the crosses and calamities of this life.
5. We shall rest from death. It is a work to die; it is a main enemy with whom we struggle. But then this last enemy shall be put under our feet, death shall be swallowed up into victory. O what an excellent rest is this I
(W. Jones, D.D.)1. This world is not a fit place, nor this life a fit time to enjoy such a rest as is reserved in heaven.
2. Rest here would glue our hearts too much to this world, and make us say, "It is good to be here" (Matt,. 17:4). It would slack our longing desire after Christ in heaven. Death would be more irksome, and heaven the less welcome.
3. There would be no proof or trial of our spiritual armour, and of the several graces of God bestowed on us.
4. God's providence, prudence, power, mercy and other like properties could not be so well discerned if here we enjoyed that rest.
(C. Stanford, D. D.)
(E. Payson, D. D.)
Baxendale's Anecdotes.A sorrowing mother, bending over her dying child, was trying to soothe it by talking about heaven. She spoke of the glory there, of the brightness, of the shining countenances of the angels; but a little voice stopped her, saying, "I should not like to be there, mother, for the light hurts my eyes." Then she changed her word-picture, and spoke of the songs above, of the harpers, of the voice of many waters, of the new song which they sang before the throne; but the child said, "Mother, I cannot bear any noise." Grieved and disappointed at her failure, she took the little one in her arms with all the tenderness of a mother's love. Then, as the little sufferer lay there, near to all it loved best in the world, conscious only of the nearness of love and care, the whisper came, "Mother, if heaven is like this, may Jesus take me there!"
The people of God.I. THE GREAT FACT WHICH IS HERE IMPLIED. That God has a people — a people who are peculiarly His own and devoted to His service.
1. Let us look into the past history of the Church. What illustrious examples of faith, and piety, and real devotedness to God do we discover!
2. In the present day there ate many such.
3. If we look at prophecy, we shall find that the number of God's people are numerous indeed.
II. SOME TRIALS IN" THEIR CHARACTER.
1. The real servant of God, to whatever community or church he may belong, is deeply convinced of the value and importance of personal religion.
2. The true servant of God renounces self and all else as a ground of dependence in the sight of God, and depends entirely on the atonement, sacrifice, blood, and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. He cultivates universal holiness of heart and life.
III. THE FUTURE DELIGHTFUL AND GLORIOUS PROSPECTS OF THE TRUE CHRISTIAN. Lessons:
1. The awful state of those who do not come up to this character.
2. How great are the obligations of real Christians to serve God.
3. How amiable is the character of the real Christian!
(D. Ruell, M. A.)
1. Every people is gathered together by some means or other; a people is a collection of many men. So we that are the people of God, are gathered together with the trumpet of the Word.
2. A people gathered together must have laws to rule them by, otherwise they will soon be out of order, otherwise they will range beyond limits, even so God's people have God's laws set down in His Word.
3. Every people must have a king or ruler. Even so the ruler of God's people is Jesus Christ.
4. A people must have some country to dwell in. So the country where this people dwell is the Church militant in this life, and triumphant in the life to come.
5. All people are distinguished by some outward habit and attire. So God's people have the sacraments to distinguish them. Baptism is Christ's mark, and the Holy Supper His seal.
6. People must live in obedience to the laws of their king.
(W. Jones, D. D.)
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