The Rest of God
Hay season means different things to different people. For those of us between the ages of 12 and a long 55, that means hot temps, hay hooks, sultry eves, and short water breaks. It’s the best stay in school lesson a boy can have. The short breaks are greatly welcomed. I am glad life is not lived at hay season’s pace. I learned this twice in the during a week in July.
The week began on the first day, Sunday, preaching at Hartford. We left there and drove to Greeley, Colorado and spent the night. The next morning we hung out in Greeley and visited some awesome people that I will write about at another time. My family reunion began Monday afternoon in Larkspur, so we headed down there after seeing all that Greeley had to offer. Wednesday night brought the Franklin County Christian Youth Rodeo where I needed to be at 5pm. I left Colorado Springs at 6:30 am to get to the rodeo. After a 9 hour drive, 2 stops, and 15 sermons on the iPod, I arrived at my destination where I fought bulls horribly. My performance that night has haunted me ever since. I came home around 3 and slept a short few hours before getting up to do some chores…I am still hazy on how I got home.
This nect Sunday morning (a day of encouragement) I preached in Hartford as well. We had left early, but a flat tire had delayed us. Thinking I would have plenty of time to get my head right before preaching, my down time was gone before I had to preach. As I stepped up on stage, my mind was racing and my thoughts garbled. As I began the message that morning, the rodeo and my current situation spun around my brain and I came to this realization: rest has got to be a bigger part of my life.
Sleep is not the issue. I have had plenty of sleep. Rest is not sleep. Rest is “time between”. It’s that time where you are doing things that fill your spirit, ease your mind, challenge your heart, and get energized. It is “time between” the tasks before you.
Much has been made of the term “between”. Some have called it “margin” or “fill”. God called it “Sabbath”. But until recently, I didn’t realize that God had practiced it on occasion.
Three times in Scripture, God “rested”. Not because of exhaustion or weariness, but because of accomplishment. When there is nothing left to do, no more on the list, with the finishing touches complete, the only thing to do is to rest, to enjoy the “time-between”.
At the end of Creation: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed [hb.-kala] in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished [hb.-kala] the work [hb.-mela’ka] he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested [hb. shabat] from all his work[hb.-mela’ka].” [Gen. 2.1-2] The first verbal form of k-l-h is in the pual stem which is intesive but passive, “heavens and earth were completed”; whereas the second form is in the piel stem which is intensive and active, “God finished”. And when He finished, he rested. The hebrew verb shabat, which the NIV translates rested, is the same root as the hebrew noun Shabbat, which is transliterated as Sabbath. So when God finished, he took Sabbath; a “time between”. God would no longer be creating, but providing for His creation. God will now be partnering with man to accomplish his purposes and plans.
At the Cross. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19.30) Tetelestai meaning “It is finished” or “complete”. It is a perfect verb. Not just a fitting verb for what is happening both locally meaning Jesus death on the cross, or cosmically the atonement of sins, but the tense of the verb is the “perfect” tense. In Greek the “perfect” tense showed a completed action with lasting consequences. Our current salvation is assured because of the completed action of Christ’s work on the cross. Our present state of “saved” is because of the finished work of Christ on that day. God rested on that day, but his work would continue on because of the “perfect” tense of Tetelestai.
The Inauguration of New Heaven and the New Earth. “He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 21.6) Done is a fantastic word to hear. A few verses prior, God has said that He will dwell with man and he will live with them (3). God walked in the morning cool of the Garden, dwelt among men for 33 years in human form, and now will live amongst His people forever. The work may be done and God is resting, but God is still God. Just because the work is complete, doesn’t mean God has checked out.
What is fascinating about these three instances where God completes a task, be it creation, salvation, or complete redemption, is that though the work is done, he never leaves it behind. Make sense? After creating it, He sustains it. After saving it, He guides it. After redeeming it, He dwells amongst it. The work is done, but not abandoned.
All to often tasks, once completed, are left to their own devices. God has never treated humanity that way. From creation to inauguration and beyond, God chose to partner with humanity, to be in relationship with us, in order to accomplish his purposes, namely to receive His due glory. In the midst of the struggle when God seems at His farthest, though we live in a completed action, it must never be thought of as an abandoned project.