You Need Rest…

Just as with any good play or movie, it’s always helpful to get the players straight.  Knowing who and why they are on stage or screen, along with any background information (character development) can be helpful in understanding and following the plot line. Sometimes, when reading a book of the Old Testament, not having such information can frustrate our understanding of the message and meaning the author intended to convey.  This is especially true when we approach the prophetic works of the Old Testament. The prophets were attempting to convey a message from God to their contemporaries, the Israelites, while at the same time speaking to readers in the future, like you and I.  The message to their contemporaries is most often a warning of what was about to happen to them and why.  For future generations it was also a warning but the message was also one of hope for the future.  The prophet is testifying to the fact that God is always faithful and “in all things works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).” With this in mind, we will turn our attention to who many consider the greatest of all the Old Testament writers and prophets, Isaiah.

The text that was introduced yesterday was from chapter eleven of Isaiah’s work, and finds its context in a warning that soon the ten northern tribes of Israel would be decimated by their enemy, Assyria; advising them that because of their stubborn disobedience, God was sending this foreign army to defeat and carry them off into captivity to be dispersed among their enemies. The southern kingdom, Judah, would remain intact, at least for a time, so Isaiah’s message was also a future warning to them that they too are subject to God’s punishment if they don’t change their ways.

Beginning in chapter eleven, Isaiah looks even farther into the future, when a Savior would be born from the “stump of Jesse” and His name would be Jesus, of the same blood line as David and Jesse, his father.  This was Israel’s future hope and is ours as well. Later in Isaiah’s prophesy, chapter 65, he looks even further into the future when Christ will reign over the “new Jerusalem,” having defeated Satan and together with His Father and the Spirit, creates a “new heaven and new earth” for God’s chosen people. So, Isaiah reflected back to the 10th century BC to the reign of David, Israel’s greatest King, to events of his age in the 8th century BC, to the life, death and resurrection of Christ in the 1st century AD, and finishes at Christ’s return when our world will cease to exist and the final Kingdom of God is established.

Returning to chapter eleven, Isaiah describes for us the work and mission of the Holy Spirit and how the Spirit will impact and shape the life and ministry of Jesus, the Son of God.  This is also instructive for us since, as the adopted children of God, it is also how the Spirit should impact and shape our lives and ministry toward each other.  It is through the power of the Spirit that Christ faced the cross, having been completely abandoned by the Father to suffer the consequences of our sin.  It is the power of the Spirit that enabled Christ to rise from the grave and overcome death, the eternal death that we deserve and from which He delivered us.  It is in the Spirit that Christ ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us and is the same Spirit that Jesus promised would come to live in us, empowering us to overcome whatever challenges we may face, both from the world we can see and the world we can not.  This is the Spirit that Isaiah is speaking of and about in chapter eleven.

In verse two, Isaiah speaks of the Spirit coming to “rest” on Jesus, the same language or image that is used in Acts, chapter two verse three, when the promised Holy Spirit “came to rest” on all those listening to Peter on the day of Pentecost.  Although Luke recounts the appearance being like “tongues of fire” and a “violent wind” accompanying the coming of the Spirit, this was only a representation of the sheer power of the Holy Spirit and not how He would interact with those who are loved by God.  The Spirit would come to “rest” on them, more like a gentle breeze that ushers in the warmth of a spring morning.  Not unlike the image we find in Genesis 3:8, where God is described as “walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”  In spite of the unlimited power of God, His Spirit is never heavy or a burden to those who love Him and have placed their trust in Christ to deliver and comfort them at the point of their greatest need.

So when you find yourself broken and unable to turn your mind away from the sin that so easily entangles and its consequences, ask God, through His Spirit, to provide the rest you require to regroup, renew and re-energize your faith.  It is in prayer and through the Spirit you will find the rest and comfort you need; not in good advice or the prescriptions of this world.  Spiritual illness is the result of sin, perhaps not your own, but sin none the less, and it will take the healing power of the Holy Spirit to cure a spiritual problem; to provide you the rest you need to recover and once again find the strength to live in the love of Christ, which never left you no matter how desperate your situation.

Isaiah writes in chapter twelve verses two and three that the day will come when you will say, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

Tool #356  Stop looking to the world for the rest, healing and deliverance you need; you will never find it there.  Look to the Spirit of God and your search will be over.

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