Today we’re going to transition from the journeying to entering. This was a pivotal moment in Israel’s history – when they went from being a wandering tribe to a landed nation. The entering came much the same way as the exit from Egypt. God performed a miracle to open the borders of His chosen place to allow His people through, as if to remind them that He would continue to provide for them just as He had in the past. Israel’s history is tightly woven with the land. When I heard about it as a child, I didn’t really understand why – wasn’t one piece of property as good as another? But as I’ve matured, I’ve come to see that the land is so much more than a bit of geography. It is the physical manifestation of the promises of God. From the earliest dawn of the Israelite nation, God had promised a place where He and His people would live together in close relationship. This promised land was intended to be a drawing-in place to all the world, where all the nations could come to receive the blessings of God and know Him. To the Israelites, this land was more than a home; it was of eternal import because this was the place that God would dwell with them. This would be paradise on earth – this place was their rest and their inheritance.
The struggle for a place still continues, for each of us. The land of Israel is a physical manifestation of an eternal reality – all have a call to come home to a place where we are loved, where we are at rest, and where we become all God has planned for us. In this place of communion with God, He offers us the most precious of gifts – that of rest. Rest was an important aspect of Jewish culture, as they zealously maintained Sabbath observances of not work once a week. God’s creation mirrored the emphasis He put on resting – 6 days of creation; one of rest to enjoy the fruit of His labor. Rest was a physical expression of God’s favor. This concept of rest was closely tied to promises of a coming Messiah. When God visited His people, He granted them rest. On the eve of Jesus’ birth, the priest Zechariah prophesied that Jesus, as Messiah, would “raise up salvation, deliver them from their enemies, allow them to serve God without fear, reveal the mercies of God, and guide their feet to peace” (Luke 1:68-79). It’s a beautiful and complete description of all that rest meant to the Old Testament Jew. Jesus’ teachings confirmed and extended that promise of rest to all who would come to Him and trust Him. In His presence, we can cease all our efforts to be good enough, to be better than the next person, to stifle our shame, to heal our own wounds. We can look into His face and see our Shepherd who takes us in His arms and says that He will be our rest. He will be our righteousness, He will be sufficient, He will be our glory, He will be our healer. We want for nothing when we accept His love. To those who are tired and weary of the world, of their lives, of themselves, He offers the sweetest words: “Come to me and I will give you rest”. Our journeys are full of fear, uncertainty, and hard times; but they also shine with the promise of redemption, the glory of God’s presence, and the delight of His rest.
Blessings to you,