ECHOES FROM EDEN
A SABBATH IN EDEN
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and HE RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY from all His work which He had made. And God BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY, AND SANCTIFIED IT: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made" (Gen. 2:1-3).
In Genesis we have the Book of Beginnings. To its first three chapters we are specially indebted for divine light shining on the many questions to which human wisdom never could find the answer. In our search after the fullness of God, and a separation unto Him and His purposes, we are led thither too. The great reality of being separated unto God, of being conformed to His image, to be holy as He is holy, perfect as He is perfect, is there revealed. In the whole Book of Genesis the Hebrew word for "holy" or "sanctified" occurs but once. But that once is in such a connection as to open to us the secret spring whence flows all that the Bible has to teach or to give us of this heavenly blessing of being SEPARATED UNTO GOD. The full meaning of the precious word the Spirit would now unveil to our hearts takes its rise in what is here written of that wondrous act of God, by which He closed His creation work, and revealed how wonderfully it would be brought into relationship with Himself and perfected. When God BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY AND SANCTIFIED IT, He lifted it up above other days, and set it apart to a work and revelation of Himself, excelling in glory all that had preceded. In this simple expression, "and God sanctified," Scripture reveals to us the character of God as the Holy One, who MAKES HOLY, and the way in which He makes holy - by entering in and RESTING.
God sanctified the Sabbath day. He made it holy. Of the previous six days the keyword was, from the first calling into existence of the heavens and the earth, down to the making of man: God created. All at once a new word and a new work of God is introduced: God sanctified. Something higher than creation, that for which creation is to exist, is now to be revealed; God Almighty is now to be known as God Most Holy. And just as the work of creation shows His Power, without that power being mentioned, so His making holy the seventh day reveals His character as the Holy One. And just as He alone is Creator, so He alone is Sanctifier; to separate unto Himself and make holy is His work as truly and exclusively as to create. Blessed is the child of God who truly and fully believes this!
God had pronounced all His works, and man the crown of them, very good, exceedingly good. And yet, they were not holy. The six days works had nought of defilement, sin, or death, and yet it was not holy. Man stood in the image of God - but in innocence, not holiness, brought forth by the hand of God, pure, innocent, undefiled, but to be sure, very unproven and untried. Had Adam been truly holy by nature he would not have sinned! No, my brother, God did not create Adam holy, He created him innocent, as a new-born babe, to be dealt with and eventually made holy. the seventh day needed to be specially set apart and MADE HOLY, for the great work of making holy the man, who was already good.
In Exodus, God says distinctly that He sanctified the Sabbath day, with a view to man's sanctification. It is altogether impossible to overemphasize the truth of this inspired word: "Truly you shall keep My sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you through out your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, do SANCTIFY YOU - SET YOU APART FOR MYSELF" (Ex. 31:13). Thus God sanctified a DAY to declare that He would sanctify a PEOPLE; the day and the people are not merely related - the day and the people so become ONE that the people BECOME THE DAY. The seventh day was made holy by God, separated from all others unto oneness with Himself, as a pledge that He would make man holy and separated from all else unto ONENESS WITH HIMSELF AS ONE SPIRIT. In the ages that preceded the seventh day, the Creation period, God's Power and Goodness had been displayed. But the age to come, the seventh day period, was designed to be the dispensation in which God takes His creation and raises it into an infinitely higher realm, the realm of sanctification unto Himself, to become ONE SPIRIT IN HIM, even His Sabbath, His Holy Day, HIS RESTING PLACE.
THE SEVEN DAYS OF GOD
The word "day" is one of the mysteries of Scripture, unlocked only by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from God. The word Moses used in the Hebrew is "yowm," pronounced, yome. This word appears in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament one thousand four hundred and eighty different times and is translated into the English by not less than fifty-four different words! To get the matter even more clearly in our minds, let us look at the different ways "yowm" is translated in the King James Version: 1181 times as "day" (this covering several meanings); 67 times as "time"; 30 times as "today"; 18 times as "forever"; 10 times as "continually"; 6 times as "age"; 4 times as "life"; and 2 times as "perpetually".
The word "yowm," or "day," in Scripture, frequently means a solar day as we understand it, an earth time made up of 24 hours. Again, the word sometimes means a period of time, of greater or lesser extent, generally of indefinite duration. Such a time period is found in Isaiah the second chapter, where the prophet says: "For there shall be a day (yowm) of Jehovah of Host upon all that is proud and haughty...and Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day (yowm)...in that day (yowm) men shall cast away their idols..." (Isa. 2:12,17,20). All through the prophecy of Isaiah this meaning is given in many instances to the word "day," and without presenting too many instances, see the fourth chapter, where the prophet again says: "And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day (yowm), saying, We will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name...In that day (yowm) shall the branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious..." (Isa. 4:1-2). So, then, the word "day," or "yowm," is sometimes used in a figurative sense, a time period being intended. There are many such passage where this is so.
In other instances the word "day" means time itself. Thus we read in Gen. 4:3, "And in process of time (yowm) it came to pass." In Gen. 26:8 we read again, "And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time..." and once more this word "yowm" appears, but this time instead of being translated day it is translated "a long time." So also we read in Num. 20:15, "And we have dwelt in Egypt a long time..." the word "yowm" here translated "a long time," meaning "a long DAY," this "day" covering a span of hour hundred and twenty years! Yet this is the same word that appears in the first chapter of Genesis as the creative period, and is called, there, "day." Thus we see that in the first chapter of Genesis the story of creation is given in seven "yowms," or days, or time periods. That these seven days are not 24 hour days is evident for in Gen.2:4 we read: "These are generations of the heaven and the earth when they were created, in THE DAY (yowm) that Jehovah made heaven and earth." Here we have the day (yowm) embracing in its meaning ALL THE SIX DAYS of the first chapter, yet without doing violence to the meaning of the word.
In view of the wide Scriptural use of the term "day," it is strange anyone should conclude that the creative days of Genesis were only twenty-four hours in length - especially since Gen. 2:4 refers to the entire creative period as ONE DAY. The Bible speaks of "the day of temptation in the wilderness" which was forty years long - a forty-year day! Not only in the Bible, but outside of it as well, the term "day" often relates to a period of time longer than twenty-four hours, as well as to CONDITIONS and STATES OF BEING. We speak, for example, of Washington's day, of Lincoln's day, of the day of the horse and buggy, of the day of the Roman Empire, of the day of the great depression. These denote not only time periods but the conditions which existed during those time periods. My prayer to God is that all who read these lines may be quickened by the blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, He did far more than bless a certain twenty-four period of time; rather, He blessed THE REALM OF HIS OWN REST AND GLORY, setting it apart for man, that man might know it and have entrance into it, experiencing and abiding in union with God in the high and holy and blessed realm of HIS LIFE, REST, JOY, PEACE AND VICTORY.
It is the will of God that we know what hope God had when He blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, and rested from all His labors. It was that He might make us to know that He, the Lord, does SANCTIFY US, setting US apart unto Himself, to dwell with Him in His own day (realm) of rest and fullness, to be one Spirit in Him.
The seventh day, God's Sabbath of rest, is an eternal day in which God is still abiding, a day eternally accessible to man! Of each of the creative days it is written, up to the last, "There was evening, and there was morning, a first day," and so on. But when we come to sixth day, the Hebrew text says, "The evening and the morning were the sixth day," the definite article appearing for the first time, indicating the absolute end of the entire creative process (Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). OF THE SEVENTH DAY THERE IS NO SUCH STATEMENT! The seventh day has no "evening" and no "morning." Does this not speak to us that the record of the seventh day has not yet been made; God abides in it yet, we are living in it now, it is there for the entering, God's own day of rest and blessing and fullness.
God sanctified the Sabbath day because in it He rested from all His work. The rest is something real. In creation, God had, as it were, gone beyond Himself to bring forth something new; in resting He now returns from His creating work into Himself, to rejoice in His love over the creation He has created, and to communicate Himself to it. In God we see two distinct stages to His work. The first was that of creation - until He had finished all the work which He created and made. The second, His rest when creation was finished, and He rejoice in what He had made, now to begin the higher work of COMMUNICATING HIMSELF TO THE CREATION AND SECURING ITS SANCTIFICATION AND PERFECTION. Oh! that God may give us eyes to see and hearts to understand how it is that God's seventh-day rest is a rest from work which is now finished, for HIGHER WORK TO BE CARRIED ON! It should not seem strange to us that God should rest from one kind of work by engaging in another. Do not the men of this world, business executives and the like, "rest" from their toil of the day by engaging in a game of golf? Who would contend that there is no "work" involved in playing golf? But while one "works" at the game, is he not relaxed and refreshed by having "ceased from all his labors?"
In like manner God is now resting from all His works wrought in the external, physical creation. There is no evidence in either the Bible or science that God is now actively engaged in creating worlds, suns, stars, solar systems, galaxies, or living creatures, anywhere in all the unbounded heavens. He is today resting from all that work; but let it be thoroughly known that God is NOW ACTIVELY WORKING in the bringing forth of a higher and spiritual work - a NEW CREATION. As Adam was the crown of the first and physical creation and all men were fashioned in his likeness, so now Christ is the beginning of a NEW CREATION. Rev. 3:14 states that Jesus Christ is "the beginning of the creation of God." Adam was the beginning of the creation of man. Jesus Christ is the beginning of the creation of God, and those who believe on Him become members of a new creation, the creation of THE LORD'S DAY, a new race of people, even the children of God, having one blood, the blood of Christ; one Spirit, the Holy Spirit; one Lord, the God and Father of all; one faith, the faith of Christ; and one baptism, the baptism into His body, which is the true church (Col. 1:18). HE is the beginning of THE CREATION OF GOD, the new creation, the firstborn from the dead, not a product of the labor of the six days of Genesis, but the outraying and effulgence of the GOD WHO RESTS IN HIMSELF IN HIS OWN DAY, and it is IN HIM that man is brought to cease from all his own labor and strivings and enter into GOD'S REST and glory.
Jesus Christ is the firstborn of every creature and all creation. When the Holy Spirit says that Christ is the firstborn of all creation, He is emphasizing that new creation, the seventh-day creation, of which the believer is a member. Christ Himself was the first to rise from the dead, rising out of the limitation of the old creation, possessing immortality. He is the Head of His body, the church, because He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, the first to ascend out of the dominion of the physical creation of the six days, into the higher and transcendent glory of the God of the seventh day. As Christ arose in resurrection life, putting off the bondage and limitation of earthly realm of the six creative days of Genesis, so shall we also be quickened, already in spirit, and now in soul and body, raised up to dwell with Him in His eternal day of rest and glory.
THE DAY WITHOUT END
I have shown how that on each of the six days of God's labor there was an "evening" and a "morning" marking the beginning and the conclusion of the work and purpose of God in each day. On the seventh day we read of no evening or morning, for the seventh day bespeaks a COMPLETED CREATION, God resting in Himself, the never ending day of the fullness of the glory of the Lord.
But further, the "evening and morning" mark the duration of a day, a work accomplished, a purpose fulfilled; and each new evening and morning indicates a "going on" to another work, which work will also ultimately end, to give way to yet another work. Each day begins and ends. Typically, this reveals to us how each moving of God's Spirit accomplishes His purpose for that time and then becomes history...and God marches on. I am convinced that one of man's great faults is that he always expects the future to be just a repetition of the past. If God moved in a certain way once, they were sure the next move would be in the same manner and form, so they called their all-night prayer meetings and implored, "Oh, God, do it again!" I do not hesitate to declare to you that such a prayer is utterly void of understanding and can never be answered, for God does not repeat the work of a first day, or a second - He marches on! As one has so ably pointed out, God does move in His appointed cycles, but each season of refreshing has a totally NEW element in it as well as some of the age-abiding truths which were revealed in former moves. Thus we have the paradox of how God's moves are both OLD and NEW, and no man can say he already knows what's coming, because there is that new part which has never been uncovered before, being reserved for this special hour. And there is that abiding part from former days, so that we are able to relate to the new from our past experience enough to have confidence that GOD is in it. Thus God moves onward in a progressive working, from age to age, from revelation to revelation, from dealing to dealing, from one moving of his Spirit and outpouring of His glory to another, until finally His image is brought forth and He can rest.
Let all who hear the call to Sonship know that every "day" of the Lord's "labor" ends, the way God has moved in your life in former times will end, all the old orders are ending, the glory of former revivals and movings of God's Spirit are passing away, all the religious institutions organized into powerful kingdoms out of bygone times of refreshing are crumbling and are ready to collapse. And - let something else be equally clear, God has a new order arising, a NEW DAY is dawning, there is a growing consciousness that we are standing on the threshold of a glorious new moving of the Spirit in the earth, TOTALLY UNLIKE ANYTHING WHICH HAS BEEN SEEN IN PAST AGES. I do not say that a revival shall break out! A revival means the reviving of that which was once alive, but has died and needs reviving. This new day is far more than the reviving of some old order, including the old order of the "New testament Church." It is a NEW DAY, the birthing of a NEW ORDER, the unveiling of a NEW GLORY, for HIS KINGDOM SHALL COME and His will shall be done in earth as in heaven as the power of His endless and incorruptible life becomes manifested in full and complete redemption through a firstfruit company - even those who break through into His seventh day of DIVINE FULLNESS!
The "early church" with all its gifts and glory and power did not bring in the Kingdom of God, nor did it deliver the groaning creation from the bondage of corruption. Its glory was eclipsed, giving way to that which even secular history records as the Dark Ages. The Reformation in Martin Luther's day was unable to defeat Satan, deliver the creation from the bondage of corruption, or bring in the Kingdom. All the mighty revivals of church failed to deliver the groaning creation. The Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have not done so either, neither shall they. All the methods and programs of religion, all the missionary and evangelistic crusades, all the deliverance ministries and healing campaigns, have in turn failed to turn this old world around from its pathway to destruction. The Bible Societies, the door-to-door witnessing, the tons of gospel tracts, the satellite television networks, the prayer meetings, and all the other feverish activity by the world's churches have not gotten the job done. None of the six days of labor, nay, all of them together, have not brought the blessedness of God's rest to creation. How unmistakably accurate is the prophecy spoken by our omniscient Father when speaking of man's rule over the earth He said, "Six days SHALT THOU LABOR." All man's grandiose efforts, works, programs, schemes and endeavors to convert the world and bring in the Kingdom of God have not only been an incredible failure but, if for an instant we may descent to baseness of speech, have been a colossal "flop," for sin and sinners abound more today than at any time since the days of Noah.
We have passed through many "days" of God's dealings, revival after revival, move after move, revelation after revelation, and blessing upon blessing. Each has had its evening and morning. Each has come and gone. Thank God, the first rays of the light of A NEW DAY are even now painting the eastern sky! Thank God! a few of His chosen ones have arisen in the Spirit to behold the glories of the dawn and to drink in the intoxicating freshness of the morn! This is a day of days, as the six days of the old creation were but one day of creation, so this seventh day has been preceded by "days" of unfoldment, yet it is but one day in which God brings mankind into rest with Him in His glory. This seventh day is not like any other day in one important way. We have seen that God's Sabbath has no evening or morning. All the days of "labor" have this evening and morning, for they need it, and good as are the days when God's work goes on within us from evening to morning, cycle after cycle, while yet we need them, FAR MORE BLESSED IS THE ETERNAL DAY OF REST IN HIS GLORY WHEN HIS WORK IS COMPLETED AND WE AWAKE IN HIS LIKENESS.
This blessed realm of His fullness, of perfection, is the day of which John prophesied in the Spirit, saying, "And there shall be no night there" (Rev. 21:25). No night! No darkness, no dusk, a day filled with the effulgent glory of the Lord. No night! An eternal day, a day with no end. Of this day it has also been revealed: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there...and they shall see His face: and His name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there...for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 21:3-4; 22:3-5). Ah, beloved, such is the seventh day, a walk with God, uniting earth to heaven in blessedness, God and man dwelling and resting together, joined in one Spirit. If we know it not, let us wait for it: to those who wait with patience and faith, it will surely come, and will not tarry.
When the fullness of God in His seventh day is realized in the body of Christ, then shall be fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet, saying, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles (nations) shall COME TO THY LIGHT, AND KINGS TO THE BRIGHTNESS OF THY RISING" (Isa. 60:1-3).
The seventh day is not merely a period of time; the seventh day is the REALM OF GOD'S REST, and finally, the seventh day becomes A PEOPLE. In Gen. 2:3 it is stated of the seventh day: "And God BLESSED the seventh day, and SANCTIFIED IT." He did this because in it HE RESTED. When God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, He set it apart unto Himself and lifted it up above all other days, specifically above all the days of "labor." But in Ex. 31:13 God identifies the day with a people, showing how the one prefigures the other, and how the twain are one. "Verily, MY SABBATHS SHALL YE KEEP (ye shall rest in My rest): for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth SANCTIFY YOU." Here the DAY and the PEOPLE are BOTH SO SANCTIFIED TO GOD that they become as ONE. As we enter into God's rest, so that His rest becomes personified within us, WE BECOME HIS REST, HIS HOLY DAY, HIS SABBATH.
God is bringing forth a SABBATH PEOPLE, a people who ARE HIS REST in the earth, even a DAY OF THE LORD PEOPLE, a people who ARE HIS LIGHT. Jesus said, " YE are the light of the world" (Mat. 5:14). That is the same as saying, "YE are the DAY OF THE LORD!" As God brings His rest into us, and brings us into His rest, causing His rest to be personified in us, even righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, let the nations rage, let the people imagine a vain thing; let the storms of trouble blow, let sorrows spread as a cloud over the land, let the kingdoms of men tremble and fall, let the whole economic and political structure collapse and darkness cover the earth...God's SABBATH PEOPLE ARE AT REST and unafraid, because they DWELL IN HIM. They are upheld by His mighty hand, and they shall become a beacon of light to those who stumble in darkness. When men's hearts fail them for fear in looking after those things that are coming upon the earth, these shall remain calm, cool, and collected, ready to give an encouraging word to him that is afraid. These saints so become ONE WITH HIS REST that they are not disturbed by the pressures without. While many are running to and fro throughout the earth trying to find some "safe place" to hide in the terrible days which before us, God is preparing His DAY PEOPLE who shall stand in the midst of the land and many shall come to the brightness of their rising. Isaiah looked forward to this day and described the dawning of God's glory, saying, "Then shall THY LIGHT BREAK FORTH AS THE MORNING, and thy health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the GLORY OF THE LORD SHALL BE THY REREWARD" (Isa. 58:8). Solomon wrote prophetically of this army of the Lord: "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, CLEAR AS THE SUN, and terrible as an army with banners" (S. of S. 6:10).
WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP
The work of creation, whether the old or new, is wholly and entirely OF THE LORD. "For we are HIS WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). No truer word of prophecy was ever penned by the hand of holy apostle or prophet than that written by Paul when he wrote: "For he that is entered into God's rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His" (Heb. 4:10). There is no more beautiful truth portrayed in all God's Word than that of MAN RESTING WITH GOD. God's last day is man's first day. God did all His work and in the end of the sixth day man was brought forth, the image of God, to crown and rule it all. Of what does this "image of God" speak? It is the mind and nature of God, for Christ is that mind and nature to rule in us. God's work in the first creation but typifies His higher work in the new creation. Adam, in the image of God, prefigured Christ, the perfect mind of God. When man stepped fresh from the hand of his Creator, the image of God had come to rule all things. Oh the depth that opens here!
God made the heavens, and yet He rested not; He made the sun, the moon, and the stars, and yet He rested not; He made the earth, and yet He rested not; He made the herbs, and fruits, and the moving creatures of sea and land and air, and yet He rested not. But He made man, His image in the earth, and then He rested. But wonder of wonders, and marvel of marvels - MAN RESTED WITH HIM! God's last day was man's first day. Man's first day of life was lived out in God's seventh day. God rested from all His work, but man who had never worked began, not by working six days, but by RESTING WITH GOD! This is why the Scripture states: "And to whom sware He (God) that they should not enter into His (God's) rest, but to them that believe not? For he that is entered into HIS REST (God's), he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His" (Heb. 3:18; 4:10).
Let us SEE! Man did not make Himself, but he rested with the God who did. It was not man's, but God's rest. Man had done no work from which to rest. Open wide your heart and drink deeply of this fountain of truth: Man entered into God's rest! In this man became ONE WITH GOD, dwelling with HIM, resting in HIS accomplishment, without striving to produce anything out of his own labors.
"And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will continue developing that good work and perfecting it and bringing it to full completion in you" (Phil. 1:6, Amplified Bible). These words of Paul teach us a much needed and most blessed truth - that just as it was God who moved and worked and created in the physical creation, so is it God who moves and works and creates in the new creation. There is nothing that will so help root and ground the members of God's firstfruit company in Christ as this faith: "GOD will perfect that which concerneth me." How many precious ones who cherish the hope of Sonship can witness that this faith is just what they need! They continually mourn over the variableness of their spiritual life, up one day, down the next; victorious one day, defeated the next; overcoming today, but swept away by the emotions of the soul tomorrow. Sometimes there are hours and days of blessed experience of the grace of God to triumph over the flesh, but how little is needed to mar their peace, to bring a cloud over the soul! And then, in a moment of weakness, how their faith is shattered! All efforts to press on to "overcome all things" appear utterly fruitless; and neither solemn vows, nor watching and prayer, avail to bring them into a place of constant victory over self, sin, and failure.
Could they but understand how it is that THEIR OWN EFFORTS ARE THE CAUSE OF THEIR FAILURE, because it is God alone who can perfect us in Christ Jesus. They would see that just as in the new birth they had to cease from their own working, and to accept in faith the promise that GOD would give them life in Christ, so now, in the matter of their perfection, their need is TO CEASE FROM STRIVING THEMSELVES TO PERFECT THE LIFE OF GOD WITHIN, AND TO ALLOW GOD TO DO IT. "Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ...IS GOD" (II Cor. 1:21). What these need is the simple faith that the stablishing in Christ, day by day, is GOD'S WORK - a work that He delights to do, in spite of all our weakness and unfaithfulness, if we will but trust Him for it.
What peace and rest, to know that there is a Husbandman who cares for the branch, to see that it grows stronger, who watches over hindrance and danger, to see that fruit is borne! What peace and rest, fully and finally to give up our spiritual unfoldment into the care of GOD, and never have a wish or thought, never to offer a prayer or do any thing in connection with it, without first having the glad remembrance that what we do is only the manifestation of what GOD IS DOING IN US! The perfecting in Christ is His work, but this He can do with power only as we cease interrupting Him by our self-working, as we accept in faith the dependent posture which bows low before Him, and honors Him, and opens the heart to let Him work. How such a faith frees the soul from care and responsibility! In the midst of the rush and bustle of the world's activity, amid the subtle and ceaseless clamoring of the emotions of the soul, amid the daily cares and trials that so easily distract and lead to failure, how blessed it is to be a Son of the Father - always abiding in Christ, in the realm of His life and peace and victory! How blessed even to have the faith that one can surely become it - that the attainment is within our reach!
Dear child of God, the life of Sonship is indeed within your reach. He that stablisheth you with us in Christ IS GOD. What I want you to take in is this - that believing this promise will not only give comfort and good hope, but will be the means of your obtaining your desire. You know how the Scripture teaches us that in all God's leadings of His people faith has everywhere been the one condition of the manifestation of His power. But contrary to what the so-called "faith preachers" tell you, faith is never centered in what "we" can do or accomplish in God. Faith is the ceasing from all nature's efforts, and all other depence; faith is the putting ourselves quietly into God's hands for HIM TO DO HIS WORK. What you and I need now is to take time to meditate deeply, until this truth stands out in all its spiritual brightness: It is God Almighty, the Faithful and Gracious Creator and Father, who has undertaken to perfect us in Christ Jesus!
Listen to what the Word teaches you: "For it is GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU both to will and to do of His good pleasure...Now to Him who, by the action of His power that IS AT WORK WITHIN US, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think" (Phil. 2:13; Eph. 3:19-20, Amplified Bible). Ah, beloved, let us take time to listen, in simple childlike teachableness, to these words as the truth of God, and the confidence will surely come: As surely as I am apprehended in Christ Jesus, I shall also, day by day, be conformed to His image, transformed into His likeness - and GOD SHALL DO IT!
LABOR TO ENTER INTO REST
Man's first blessed experience of rest with God was soon marred by sin - the sin of man's own anxiety about his inner life and development into the fullness of God - as he broke God's Sabbath rest with his own FLESHLY WORK, the carnal self-effort to MAKE HIMSELF LIKE UNTO GOD! "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the women saw that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof...and gave also unto her husband" (Gen. 3:5-6). In this act man's fellowship and relationship with God in the blessing of holy rest was cut off. When Adam was banished from Eden's fair garden, he was cut off not only from the tree of life, but also shut out from participation in God's Sabbath rest, as it is written, "And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; IN THE SWEAT OF THY FACE shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground..." (Gen. 3:17-19). Alas! what tragedy, the man who had RESTED WITH GOD IN HEAVEN BLEST EDEN is seen now toiling and struggling and sweating through six long days of sorrowful labor. There had been no labor nor toil in Eden; no struggle for existence, no disease, no pollution, no calamities of earthquakes or floods, no imbalance or lack of harmony, no disorder, no tears nor sorrow, no crying nor pain, no heartache, no sin and, above all, NO DEATH! Such was the ineffable glory of GOD'S REST in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth!
The fourth chapter of Hebrews makes it plain that God's Sabbath is not just a Mosaic law concerning one day in the week, nor is it the natural land of Canaan that the people of Israel look forward to entering, nor is it just the thousand year Kingdom age we are about to enter. The Sabbath Day is a relationship to God, a place where HE IS ABSOLUTE LORD and where the fullness of God is manifested in His people. It is the place of full redemption, release the curse, where man is again admitted to the Garden of Eden, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, forever free from the slavery and toil of sin, sickness, sorrow and death.
In Heb. 4:1-11 the shrouds of heaven are drawn aside and our wondering hearts bow in holy awe before the things that are there revealed. The apostle penned under inspiration of the Holy Spirit these blessed words of divine instruction: "Now since the same promise of rest is offered to us today, let us be continually on our guard that none of us even looks like failing to attain it. For we too have had a gospel preached to us, as those men had. Yet the message proclaimed to them did no good, because they only heard and did not believe as well. It is only as a result of our faith and trust that we experience that rest. For He said: As I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest: not because the rest was not prepared - IT HAD BEEN READY SINCE THE WORK OF CREATION WAS COMPLETED, as He says elsewhere in the Scriptures, speaking of the seventh day of creation, And God rested on the seventh day from all His works. In the passage above He says, "They shall not enter into My rest." It is clear that some were intended to experience this rest and, since the previous hearers of the message failed to attain to it because they would not believe God, He proclaims a further opportunity when He says through David, many years later, "today," just as He had said "today" before. Today if ye shall hear His voice, Harden not your hearts. For if Joshua had given them the rest, we should not find God saying, at a much later date, "today". There still exists, therefore, A FULL AND COMPLETE REST FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD. And he who experiences HIS REST is resting from his own works as fully as God did from His. Let us then be eager to know this rest for ourselves, and let us beware that no one misses it through falling into the same kind of unbelief as those we have mentioned" (Phillips translation).
In these words "enter into My rest," is the revelation of a deep spiritual mystery and a prophecy of what Christ should bring. The statement, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God," would be better translated "There remaineth therefore A KEEPING OF THE SABBATH UPON THE SABBATH" (see Greek-English lexicons). The word "rest" is translated from the Greek "sabbatismos" - Sabbath. This Sabbath is spoken of as remaining in contrast to both the weekly sabbath and the rest of Israel in Canaan. Those were mere shadows and symbols; the real Sabbath rest remained, waiting its time, till Christ the true Joshua should come, and open it to us by Himself entering into it, and enabling us by the impartation of His own victory to also enter in. Heb. 4:8 makes it plain that if God's Sabbath was that land of rest that Joshua brought them into when he took them over Jordan, then David would not have prophetically spoken of another day. Israel abode in that land for multiplied centuries and during most of that time their laws were strict concerning the weekly seventh-day sabbath. Yet, these people HAD NOT ENTERED INTO GOD'S SABBATH REST, and verse nine tells us that at this time there STILL REMAINS A REST TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD. Verse ten goes on to tell us that anyone who is still working at his own works, in his own power, operating by the natural mind, has not yet entered into God's rest or God's Sabbath. Then we have a solemn warning in verse eleven, "Therefore," he says, meaning, because of what we have just been saying, "let us labor to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." Those Israelites that wandered forty years in the wilderness have provided us with a vivid example of how we also can miss the glorious and eternal reality of the Kingdom of God if we exhibit the same kind of unbelief. "LABOR to enter into rest? How can we work toward coming to the place where we stop working? Phil. 2:12-13 says: "WORK OUT your own salvation with fear and trembling, for IT IS GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU both to will and to do of His good pleasure." When you try to lay down your own labors, when you attempt to turn loose of the control of your own life and give it over into the hands of God, when you cease to try to perfect yourself and put on the mind of Christ by your own initiative and energy, you will find it to be THE HARDEST WORK THAT YOU HAVE EVER DONE! Yet, this is what the Spirit is calling for. This is how the Spirit is leading and directing us. Labor to enter into rest!
We labor and strive and struggle to be what God wants us to be. We labor to be perfect, to overcome, to grow up into Christ, to put on the mind of Christ, to do the will of God, to break through into immortality and incorruption, to be a Son. We labor to come out of the bondages of Babylon, to break her traditions and hold over our minds and hearts. Ah, beloved, how we labor to do everything except what God has commanded us to do! We are to LABOR TO ENTER INTO REST. We are to labor to stop laboring and LET GOD WORK. And in the new creation of the seventh day HE WORKS BY RESTING IN US, by communicating Himself to us in sweet fellowship and blessed relationship. Would you have God work mightily within you? Would you be changed, transformed, made holy? Don't work at it! Rest with God. Enter into His holy presence and abide there in intimacy of fellowship and vital union and you will discover by wonderful experience how it is that God works by entering in and resting within you. As you cease from your own labors and rest in trusting faith He comes in to dwell in the power of a divine life - to be what He is IN YOU.
THE GLORY OF GOD'S SABBATH
God's Sabbath of rest is the realm of His own rest in divine fullness. There is no toil nor work there for all is complete and full and abundant, nothing is lacking, nothing can be added. In entering into God's rest man regains all he lost in the fateful day when he was banished from Eden. Thus, God's rest brings us freedom from the curse, an entrance into a full and complete redemption - spirit, soul, and body. His rest brings the quickening of our spirit by His Spirit, deliverance from the carnal passions and emotions of the soul, and victory over the corruption of the body. Dear child of God, do you long for such complete redemption, the fullness of your Sonship to God? Then hear this word: "TODAY if ye will hear His voice..." This is where God's Sabbath is: "TODAY! It is still TODAY. God's Sabbath Day, His seventh day, is an eternal day, ever accessible to man for the entering. If he can believe. And the heritage remains unconquered, and yet to be possessed.
Both Paul and Peter were quite aware of a greater fullness to come in the last time. Paul says, "The night is far spent, the DAY IS AT HAND" (Rom. 13:12). Again, "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom. 16:20). Peter speaks of "times of refreshing" that shall precede the coming of the Lord (Acts 3:19). He speaks of the present world as a "dark place," but he also speaks of darkness and light, and in that order..."a dark place...until the DAY DAWN, and the day-star arise in your hearts" (II Pet. 1:19). This REST, this DAY, this SEVENTH DAY still remains unfulfilled, but available. And "some must enter therein." In what day? In this day, this TODAY of God's promise, if we can hear his voice!
There was a generation of Israelites that said it was alright to go in and spy out the land of Canaan - and they enjoyed the luscious sample of the grapes and the figs and pomegranates immensely - but they did not want to go in and POSSESS THE WHOLE LAND. I do not hesitate to tell you that we also live in such a day! It is alright, they would tell us today, to speak in tongues, or receive gifts of the Spirit, or heal the sick, or perhaps raise the dead occasionally, or prophesy, or sing in the Spirit - these things are alright. But they do not want to hear any of this talk about Christ appearing in His saints, about Christ BEING FORMED IN A MANY-MEMBERED BODY. And as for a people entering into the fullness of God, as for a people overcoming sin and death, as for the "manifestation of the Sons of God," that is definitely not for this day and age. True, they will admit, God has it for us; it is part of our heritage; but not for NOW. That will take place at the rapture, at the resurrection, or in the Kingdom age. We cannot now possess the land; there are too many giants in the way. There are cities with high walls surrounding them, fearful enemies riding in iron chariots. It is positively ridiculous to suggest that we can take the land - NOW!
It is alright, these declare, to enjoy the blessing of the Spirit occasionally, when the revival is going on at the church; but it is impossible to really enter into the realm of the Spirit so fully that you LIVE there constantly. It is alright to be healed, but not to enjoy divine health of divine life to such an extent that your days are lengthened without pain or feebleness or the abatement of your natural faculties, or until mortality is swallowed up of life and this corruptible puts on incorruption. It is alright to get deliverance from tobacco, alcohol, or other habits, or to conquer your temper, but not to be so positively freed from the carnal mind and nature until "sin hath no more dominion" over you. That would be perfection and, they say, you cannot have perfection until you die and go to heaven! It is alright to fight Satan here on this earth and cast out a few devils, but you cannot ascend up in the Spirit into "the heavenlies" and literally knock Satan off his throne and walk in the realm of power and authority "in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." You can receive thoughts from God occasionally, and speaks His words from time to time, but you cannot have the mind of Christ in such a degree of fullness that you actually think His thoughts, say His words, do His will, perform His works, and live out His very life. We don't mind tasting the grapes of Eschol, and the figs and pomegranates which the spies have brought back, BUT WE REFUSE TO MAKE ANY ATTEMPT AT CONQUERING THE WHOLE LAND!
The whole question resolves itself into this: Are we going to remain in the condition of those who have been saved and baptized with the earnest of the Spirit? Or are we going to arise from the dusty sands of this great and terrible wilderness and follow our Joshua across Jordan into real, triumphant, overcoming power of the Spirit of God? "TODAY, if ye will hear His voice...there REMAINETH A REST TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD...let us therefore labor to enter into that rest, lest any man fail after the same example of UNBELIEF."
The Holy Ghost saith, TODAY. God is the eternal One. With Him there is no yesterday, neither is there any tomorrow. What we call past and future are with Him an ever-present Now; His life and His rest and His glory dwells in an ever-blessed, never-ending TODAY. God's Sabbath day is without evening or morning, an eternal day ever existing in the Now. TODAY! It is a wonderful word of promise, yea, a solemn command. It tells us that Today, this very moment, the wondrous love of God is for thee - it is even now waiting to be poured out in thy heart; that To-day, all that Christ has done, and is now doing, and shall ever do, He is able to do in thee - this very day it is within thy reach, if thou shalt believe. Even now Christ within you speaks that wondrous note of hope - TODAY!
For years the saints have been singing about what they are going to do when the battle is over. They are going to be with Christ, in heaven, enjoying the peace and rest of their inheritance. They are going to shout and dance over the hills of glory, drink at the eternal fountains, eat of the tree of life, and there shall be no more struggle, neither limitation, nor sorrow, nor curse, nor death. But the truth of the matter is simply this: the fruits of the land, the glories typified by the tree of life and the fountains of waters, are glorious and eternal realities to be appropriated HERE AND NOW, gained one by one, as the battle rages, and the saints of the Most High triumph over the enemy! Why fight if you don't intend to win? Each victory will carry a step further into the Kingdom of God. No, I cannot display all the victory of this land nor all the rest of God's Sabbath right now. But - I LABOR TO ENTER IN, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. TODAY! if you will hear His voice. TODAY! the hills are literally flowing with milk and honey; the river of life is gurgling and springing up within thy soul; and Christ who is our life has been impregnated as divine and incorruptible seed within the womb of thy believing heart. TODAY! let us arise and enter into Canaan, into the Garden of God, in to the Sabbath of the Lord our God!
The Sabbath rest of God is a subject vast indeed, and beyond the scope of this present writing. We hope, therefore, to continue the thought in next month's Study.
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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