God's promise of entering His place of rest still stands... For this Good News - that God has prepared a place of rest - has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn't believe what God told them. For only we who believe can enter His rest. Hebrews 4: 1,2-3
On the first go round, the Israelites didn't enter the Promised Land because they didn't believe God's promise to defeat their enemies. I think God offers each of us a Promised Land, a place where we see the fulfillment of the promises and dreams that He's planted in our hearts. But much like Joshua and the Israelites, the journey to our Promised land is where our faith is tested and our battles are fought. And it's in this place where it's tempting to get out of trust and peace and into fear, worry, and striving. But even in the midst of the (sometimes long) journey and the constant battles, even before we see the fulfillment of the promises, God offers us a place of rest. And we enter into this rest only by believing.
I love what Justin Dorroh says about faith and rest:
"I’m rediscovering that real faith is a by-product of resting (read peaceful trust) in God’s promises. Therefore, fighting and wrestling to believe God is not the good fight of faith. In other words faith is not a wrestle match with God to pump up belief. Rather faith is sinking into the promises of God and recognizing God’s confidence in His ability to perform His word as your firm conviction. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a process which feels like wrestling. But that process is NOT about you mustering up faith.
That process is about ceasing from your own efforts at faith and learning to lean and trust only in Him. That wrestling is God convincing us that He can do it in and through us and doesn't need our strength."
Rest comes when we learn to cease striving and sink into God. When we begin anxiously trying to solve our own problems or attempt to figure things out apart from God's wisdom and revelation, we have actually come out of rest (believing) and moved into works of the flesh (striving). We have stopped trusting in God's ability to fulfill His own promises and purposes and started looking to our own ability to bring about their fulfillment.
"...when it comes to our areas of concern, our human efforts to solve our problems, despite the best of intentions, cannot produce results that are as beautiful as if we were to allow God’s wisdom and timing to do it. It’s when we rest from our self-efforts and struggles to solve our problems, and allow God to work in us and through us, that we see divine results. I’ve often said this: If God wants all the glory, then allow Him to do all the work." (Joseph Prince)
Remember Abraham and Sarah? Ishmael was born out of self-effort. Isaac was born as the fulfillment of a promise. Our striving and self-effort can never bring about the fulfillment of God's promises because in God's kingdom, we receive through faith, what we could never earn through our own effort.
By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what He said. Heb. 11:11
I love this verse because it makes it clear that Sarah's natural circumstances were utterly impossible. Even in the prime of her life she had never bore a child and now here she was an old woman, way past child-bearing years, and God promises her a child from her own womb. This verse reminds me not to look at my natural circumstances or my weaknesses, but instead to just believe that the One who made the promise will do what He said. God doesn't lie and He is fully capable to accomplish His purposes. Our part is just to believe and abide in Him as He works things out in our lives. This is rest.
Even the battles we face can be fought from a place of resting in God. For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory. (1 John 5:4) No matter what comes against us, we can stand firm and our hearts and minds can remain steadfast knowing that He has already secured our victory. Our victory is found in Him, not in ourselves. It's in His strength, not in how hard we fight.
Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me (Isaiah 30:15 MSG)
Rest comes when we know and believe that these battles are His (2 Chron. 2: 15) and many times our position is just to stand still and watch the LORD rescue us (Ex 14:13).
There is such Good News in this! It means we don't have to be strong. We don't have to figure things out or make things happen. He has supplied it all and He does it all. It means we need to get our eyes off of ourselves and back onto Him. It's all Him. It's all grace. Whatever we lack, He supplies. And the more we can recognize that, the more we enter into resting in Him in every area of our lives.
"Come to me, all you who are weary (labor) and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28)