Beloved, in the scriptures (and by the Spirit) we are exhorted to labor to enter into God’s rest. The question that comes to my mind with this is; how can people labor to enter into this rest if they don’t know what it is? Few Christians today seem to understand this rest. Let me show you what it is…
“My Father is working until now, and I myself am working… Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for what the Father does, these things the Son does in like manner.” (John 5:17, 19)
The context of this, beloved, is that Jesus had just healed a crippled man on the Sabbath Day and was being persecuted by religious Jews because of it. He was showing these persecutors the reality of the Sabbath Rest of God, but because they were BLINDED BY THE ZEAL OF THEIR TRADITIONS and angered by their jealousy, these men completely missed out on what Jesus was teaching.
Jesus was plainly showing that the reality of the Sabbath Rest of God is when men cease from doing the works of man and do only that which the Father directs them to do by His Spirit. Now, this reality is not defined by what one does or doesn’t do externally and ON A PARTICULAR DAY OF THE WEEK, but rather, it is defined by A STATE OF PERFECT HARMONY AND AGREEMENT WITH GOD HIMSELF, a walk in which one NO LONGER SEEKS HIS OWN WILL OR WAY, but rather, lives in A STATE OF DEATH TO ALL SELF INITIATIVE, no longer guided by his own intellect or carnal thoughts (as reasonable and as rational as those thoughts might seem).
In the healing of the crippled man and with the words that followed, Jesus demonstrated the substance of the Sabbath Rest perfectly, beloved. He made it clear that He could do absolutely nothing of Himself, but that He would do EVERYTHING THAT THE FATHER DIRECTED Him to do and DO THAT every moment of every day! The Jewish laws which pertained to the Sabbath Rest were mere sample representations of what Jesus was showing in reality. This is saying that all of the religious ordinances which related to the Sabbath were only SHADOWS OF THE REAL THING, and were not supposed to be recognized and kept once God BROUGHT THE REAL INTO FOCUS.
Beloved, Jesus is our Living Example of the Sabbath Rest of God and is a Pattern for what we are to become in Him. This is not a people who keep religious rules and carnal ordinances with regard to a holy day of the week, but rather, are a people who let THE SPIRIT have His way in their life to the extent that they can walk in God’s holy Sabbath rest every moment of every day! This, beloved ones, is THAT HOLY REALM OF REST for which the Lord went before us to prepare for us. Let’s not harden our hearts to this wonderful and profound truth, but let’s ENTER INTO IT! There is a promise for us of entering into this rest. This promise is one of those CONDITIONAL ONES though (Hebrews chapter 3 and 4). That is where the “LABOR” part comes in.
With regard to our “laboring” to enter into God’s rest, I propose to you that this is not “a working” so much as a TRAVAIL, even our oftentimes painful cooperation with the Spirit by which we learn to TAKE CAPTIVE ALL THOUGHTS, bring them into obedience to Christ, and be broken of all self initiative and action. Another way of putting this, beloved, is that the Kingdom of God which is within you and I and WHICH IS WHERE THE WILL OF THE FATHER IS DONE CONTINUALLY must BE BIRTHED from within us – the “labor” of entering this rest being OUR CO-OPERATION IN THE PROCESS of this birthing.