Thankful for Rest

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“Thankful for Rest”

Text: Joshua 21:43-45

The passage before us is a conclusion by the narrator of the story. It is a conclusion that does two things: (1) it concludes the division of the land promised to Israel and (2) it concludes as an overall exaltation of the Lord. It is a summary of thankfulness, and this thankfulness is for the Lord keeping all of his good promises to the forefathers of Israel -- promises which included a multiplication of people, promises which included a land of their own, promises which included defeat of their enemies. The narrator is simply thankful for this rest.
It is hard for us to understand what this rest really means. If we are not careful, we will use our current definitions of rest to interpret the kind of “rest” that the Lord gave to his people. For example, here are some ideas of rest today:
After a long day of work, coming home to prop your feet up, watch TV, and eat food.
After a long week, being able to sleep in on Saturday mornings without having to set an alarm.
After a long series of months, you are able to finally leave your home location and travel to a destination where you are able to rest in front of a big, watery expanse called an ocean.
After a long winter, finally spring comes and you are able to set up a chair next to an uncharted lake and fish.
On a beautiful day, you are able to sit in perfect temperature in the sun and read a book you have long been waiting to read.
To these ideas there could be many more added, but the kind of rest that the Lord gives does include these, but it is actually far greater than all of these. So, it is possible to enjoy all of these and still not have the true rest of the Lord.
It would be a tragedy of cosmic proportions -- to rest as an activity of life, but to never have a life of true rest. An even greater tragedy would be the enjoy activities of rest in this life and to be at unrest for all of eternity.
What exactly is this rest for which the narrator is thankful?

(1) Only the Lord gives this kind of rest

It is a rest that originates from the LORD (Joshua 21:44) - The Lord gave them rest....

Joshua 21:44 KJV 1900
44 And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Distinct from our Idea
It becomes clear that the rest here is an act of God’s grace. The Lord gave. This immediately makes this kind of rest different from our current ideas of rest because it is not a rest for which we have saved up a lot of money for, but rather it is a rest that God graciously gives to his people.
Betrayal of Grace
Grace is an amazing truth because we often thoughtlessly betray grace in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Grace is certainly God’s unmerited favor -- God’s gifting to undeserving creatures for no good reason other than God is gracious. Yet, in spite our admission of this, we often think to ourselves that God’s grace is dependent upon our good activities. This kind of thinking betrays grace. Other times, we speak as if God’s grace was given to us because we were so faithful. We make statements like, “God was gracious to him because he was so faithful.” This cannot be. If I can earn God’s grace by being faithful, then it is not grace. It is not just our thoughts that often betray grace, but when we talk of ourselves or other people we often betray grace. In addition, we work with such anxiousness as if all depends upon our works -- to merit God’s grace. This kind work is often noted by an overwhelming perfectionism. These kinds of faithless activities also betray grace.
Christian, let this be a reminder that God is gracious by no merit of your own. In Christ, we have received both grace and truth; and we dare not take glory for this grace by how we think, speak, or act. Be humbled this morning to know that God gives rest simply because He is gracious.
To the one who is looking to understand the God of the Bible and what he requires, let this phrase remind you that the God of the Bible is gracious and does not require of you perfection that you cannot offer. Come to this Lord today. Ephesians 2:8-9
Ephesians 2:8–9 KJV 1900
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For your sin, this Lord has graciously provided the Sacrifice; and you stand accountable before this Mighty Judge. But it is this same Mighty Judge who has graciously provided you the only means to have your sins forgiven. Jesus is this gracious God’s provision, and in Jesus Christ you can find rest unto your souls. Hear the cry of Jesus calling to you today: Matthew 11:28-30.
Matthew 11:28–30 KJV 1900
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Will you come to the Lord Jesus Christ today?
The kind of soul rest for which we should be thankful is only found in Jesus Christ, but this rest not only originates with the Lord; but notice...

(2) Only those in covenant with the Lord can expect this rest

It is a rest that had been promised to those in covenant with the Lord (Joshua 21:44) - he had sworn to their forefathers

Joshua 21:44 KJV 1900
44 And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.
We tend to have a problem with exclusivity, do we not? We live in a world and a culture that does not like to say, “You can have something, but then they cannot have something.” The reality is that our relationships exist this way. There are privileges that my children have access to that other children do not have access to. For example, there is the home, the care, the provision which my children have access to that others do not have access to.
Please note that not everyone has this rest. It is based on the promise of God to his own covenant people.
The fact that the narrator brings up the promise to the forefathers is significant for many reasons, as follows: (1) this rest for those in relationship with God began at Creation.
From the beginning, God intended that His creation would enjoy a weekly day of rest -- a day where they were exercising complete dependence upon the Lord’s provision and a day in which they would be dwelling in perfect rest with the presence of the Lord.
Genesis 2:2
Genesis 2:2 KJV 1900
2 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.
While the rest was to be for all of creation, it was specifically intentioned for mankind, who was created in the image of God. Adam and Eve were at rest with the presence of the Lord and they exercised a physical rest every week in honor of the real rest they had with God’s presence. This is how God intended it to be. Those who are in right relationship with God are at rest.
Kid’s Pause: Rest is a good part of God’s original Creation
How did this kind of rest become exclusive though? Why do not all people have this now?
This kind of rest is destroyed in the Fall by sin. Sin has severed mankind from the God with whom they were in relationship with as their Creator. This is was brought about the curse upon all of the creation. Sin severed us from the Source of rest -- the LORD’s presence. This is how this rest became exclusive because there began to be a people who were not in right relationship with the Lord versus a people who were in right relationship with the Lord by faith. Sin created a gulf that had to be crossed between God and mankind. Thus, God chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Israel to be his people who were to rightly dwell with his presence through the OT sacrificial system. It was with these people that the LORD made his covenant.
Notice how this (2) rest is defined differently. It is a particular kind of rest that God’s people have...(Exodus 33:14).
Exodus 33:14 KJV 1900
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
After the Lord has redeemed Israel out of Egypt by the blood of the Passover Lamb, He specifically connects His own presence with their rest.
Rest rightly defined is a tranquility or settled state of the soul because of his righteous existence with the presence of God.
You see, the kind of rest here is nothing of the kinds we listed in the opening of the message. The kind of rest here is a rest that is dependent upon the Lord’s presence dwelling in perfect harmony with his covenant people.
OT Horizons of this Rest
The Old Testament though only gives increasing horizons of this rest though. It is a rest that seems to never really find completion in the OT.
For example, just as we have day after day, and sunrise after sunrise so the OT. This phrase implicates increasing horizons of rest because of its’ incompleteness (II Samuel 7:1, I Kings 5:4).
2 Samuel 7:1 KJV 1900
1 And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies;
1 Kings 5:4 KJV 1900
4 But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.
The sun rises and shows glimpses of this kind of rest with God’s people -- with Joshua, with David, with Solomon; but there are always sunsets and darkness that ensue. There is an incompleteness and seeming hope that is dashed into pieces. That is until the Son of David comes on the scene.
The Son of Man & the Day of Rest
For the Jewish people, the day of rest was crystalized by the fourth word of the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” It had become a way to act, and they had added many unbiblical laws to the observance of that day; but then the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, came to this earth and made some really stark, sobering claims. In Mark 2:28
Mark 2:28 KJV 1900
28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Jesus claims to be the Lord of the Sabbath. This claim cannot be dismissed. Jesus is saying that He is the Master of Rest. In making this declaration, Jesus is not only saying that he has kept the Sabbath Rest perfectly, as opposed to the religious people of his time; but Jesus is identifying himself as the Creator of the Sabbath. Jesus is the Rest of God.
You see, in the OT, we only saw horizons that continued to give glimpses of a coming rest for the people of God; but not until the NT do we fully realize that Jesus is the ONE who is our Rest. Jesus is the presence of God. Rest is not merely a state of soul. Rest is a Person.
Transition: How can this be? The next point gives us a little more insight. Notice...

(3) Only those with this rest are more than conquerors

It is a rest that included the victory over enemies by the Lord (Joshua 21:44) - Not one of their enemies withstood

Joshua 21:44 KJV 1900
44 And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.
The narrator includes this truth about enemies because it is part of God’s promise. There is no real rest while an enemy has some kind of power. Note how this does connect the story of Joshua with the covenants made to the fathers, but this statement connects Joshua with an ongoing fulfillment of promise that was made in Genesis 3:15. This promise is connected with God’s original promise.
Genesis 3:15 KJV 1900
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
By the LORD defeating Pharaoh, God preserved the seed of the woman and dealt a blow to the head of the serpent. By the LORD defeating the Canaanites, God preserved the seed of the woman and dealt a blow to the head of the serpent. Thus, the narrator is showing how God’s kingdom is advancing according to Genesis 3:15.
When September 11, 2001 happened the “War on Terror” became part of the vocabulary of many nations. It still seems to be an ongoing consideration as national departments and international organizations have been created to curb the “War on Terror”. The enemy seems to be a moving target. Small attacks seem to happen continually. France was recently the site of two more attacks. As you hear the headlines you have to wonder if there is really ever an end.
Sometimes when you read the OT, and you see story after story where there are victories and then defeats, highs and then lows, you get somewhat of the same feeling; but the NT changes all of that.
In deed, we see this battles between God and Satan climax in the Person of Jesus Christ. Enemy: Satan, death, sin. Notice how John speaks of Jesus in I John 3:8. John connects the beginning with Jesus, and He makes quite clear what Jesus came to do.
Thus, Jesus’ life lived in perfect harmony with the Father, death for sins, burial, and Resurrection defeating the enemy of death --- all of these serve to provide a rest that is only found in Jesus.
Romans 8:36-37
Romans 8:36–37 KJV 1900
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
It is a tranquility that only comes when you are in right relationship with God, and you can only be in right relationship with God by receiving the One whom God has sent — Jesus Christ.
Do you really have this rest?

(4) Only those who believe God’s Word enter into this rest

It is a rest that is part of all the unfailing, good promises of the LORD (Joshua 21:45)

Joshua 21:45 KJV 1900
45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.
Today, we look back at the finished work of Jesus Christ, and this should cause us to look ahead with absolute hope in ultimate rest.
There is an immediate rest and there is an ultimate rest.
In other words, we rest internally in our hearts by faith in Jesus, and we look forward to the certain and ultimate rest which awaits those who have Jesus Christ.
But what does that actually look like today? What does it look like to rest in the present as we wait for the ultimate?
(a) we must believe the word of God: the word of God must be mingled with genuine faith - Hebrews 4:2-3
Hebrews 4:2–3 KJV 1900
2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Is your soul truly at rest? Can you definitively say that you are in right standing before your Creator?
You know the word of God, but are you really trusting the word of God?
(b) we must live zealously obedient to the word of God - Hebrews 4:11
Hebrews 4:11 KJV 1900
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
What passion defines your life?
Have you replaced zeal for the Lord with well-intentioned passions?
Have you considered that where Christ is not truly ruling, there is no real rest?
(c) keep your eyes on your sinlessly perfect High priest - Hebrews 4:15
Hebrews 4:15 KJV 1900
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Why is a passionate pursuit of Jesus often a last resort rather than a first response?
(d) by Jesus, enter confidently before the gracious Lord in time of need - Hebrews 4:16
Hebrews 4:16 KJV 1900
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Has the deceitfulness of your own pride robbed of you of rest?
Some of you have mistaken temporary satisfaction with rest. You are trying to find rest in food, pleasure, sexual promiscuity. The deception of sin is that it makes us think that we will be at rest, but then conviction eats up your conscience.
Rest, for which we can be thankful, is to be in perfect tranquility of soul with the presence of the LORD. This is only accomplished when you have Jesus Christ, and it is only experienced as you keep coming back to Jesus Christ.
What is worth not having this kind of rest in Jesus Christ?
Some must receive Jesus, others must return to Jesus, and others must be reminded of rest in Jesus.
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