When the Land has no Rest

“What on earth are you doing?” yelled Pharaoh at Moses and Aaron. “I am god round here, and how dare you take the people away from their work? You are letting them rest from their burdens?!?!” So livid that Moses and Aaron probably struggled not to laugh as he wiped spittle off his chin, Pharaoh stuttered, “Get back to your burdens!”

A little tip: if you are going to try and be God (a really stupid plan) then take your cue from God. Be like God not the exact opposite. Pharaoh thought that keeping everyone loaded up with burdens would drive the problems far away. Instead, it brought the problem – which for Pharaoh, as for all who are living in rebellion, was the Triune God himself – very close … and very quickly. You see, God wanted his people to have rest. God wanted the land in which his people dwelt to have rest (e.g. cf Leviticus 25:4, Joshua 11:23).

Have you ever noticed why the seventh day was made holy? I confess that lack of attention to the text meant that until recently I always assumed that God rested because it was a holy day. But quite the contrary. God made it a holy day because he rested. God’s rest was what made the day holy. Check it out– Genesis 2:3.

In the same vein as that first day of rest, Jesus invites us to come to him receive rest (Matthew 11:28). The invitation is to all of us, since it is to all who are labor and are heavy laden. The invitation is to all who are not perfect. We are to come to Jesus with our problems, not because he will then tie an almost unbearable mountain of guilt and penance upon our already wearied backs, but because he will cut loose our burden, straighten our back and grant us rest in his perfection. This is the gospel: rest. Taking Jesus’ yoke, and learning from our gentle and lowly-in-heart Saviour is where we will find what none of world, flesh or devil can give us: rest.

Rest from sin and its effects means we can rest from our work. Rest from our work means we can celebrate a holy day. Rest from our work means the land can have rest. You’ve seen the news headlines of the last week, month, year. Economic fears. Social unrest. Natural disasters. More economic fears. Moral corruption of our leaders. Ethical compromise.

When the land has no rest, the gospel is not believed. When the land has no rest, bring people to Jesus.

Article by Timothy van den Broek

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