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Christ Our Promised Rest

October 22, 2012

Rev. Scott Porath

“Christ our Promised Rest”

 

“In the beginning” God created all things in heaven and on earth.  He has given us our very lives – and all that is needed for life.  After He had finished all His work of creating, God rested.  God isn’t worn out after a long, hard week of creating all things – He rests because He is finished with His work of creating.  But even on His day of rest – God is at work – providing us with the rest we need.

God sets aside the Seventh Day as a holy day of rest – a day in which His beloved ones might be gathered to Him, to hear His Word – to receive life, and rest, through that very Word.

With Adam’s fall into sin comes all kinds of hardships and burdens – pain in childbirth, pain from thorns and thistles as man toils by the sweat of his brow to work the ground cursed by sin.  With sin comes shame, guilt, a fear of God that hides from Him, and death – “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

To a creation cursed by sin the Lord promises a Savior, a Deliverer.  The seed of the Woman, the Savior, shall crush Satan’s head.  Sin will be atoned for – death defeated.  And so from that very day, all of creation longed for the Promised Savior – the Promised Rest.

 

In the Liturgy we sing the song of the angels at the birth of the Christ Child – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace goodwill towards men!”  In this One born of Mary, the Lord provides His Promised Rest – His Sabbath.  The Glory of God in the highest, His very own Son – becomes man – so that He might deliver peace to all mankind.

 

To say that we live in a chaotic world is to say the least.  We live busy, hectic lives – always on the go – never stopping, never resting.  Just listen to your conversations with one another – and you will hear how we long for rest.  When we have a vacation planned – we struggle to make it to that day.  When a meeting is canceled, we rejoice that a little slot of time has opened up in our calendars.

And if that were not enough, the world around us is embroiled in chaos too – Syria, Libya, Iran – financial cliffs, droughts, meningitis outbreaks – and so on.  It’s no wonder the advertisers take advantage of this yearning that we have – offering the security of gold, Royal Caribbean cruises, and Select Comfort beds.

Even if you had the luxury of taking a few weeks off of work – a diverse and deep portfolio – a good report from the doctor – and the best mattress in the world — you would still yearn for rest — because there is another kind of rest, and peace, that the world cannot give.

 

The writer to the Hebrews exhorts us to “strive to enter that rest.”  The rest of which he speaks is rest from the guilt and burden and shame of our sin – a rest from the fear of God’s judgment – of eternal death and damnation.

“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Just as sin brought guilt, shame, painful toil and death to Adam – so our sin burdens us.  All those things we try to hide from our parents, spouse, and employer – all those skeletons hidden in our closets – none of them are hidden from God.  You can try to hide in the bushes with Adam and Eve – but God sees you.

Like Adam and Eve we try our best to cover our nakedness.  We make excuses for our sins, excuses meant to say to God and everyone else that what we’ve done is really not a sin.  We hide our sins with our lies, with deflection, with deceit.

But the Word of God cuts to the heart of the matter.  God will not let His beloved children go on living in their sin and its death.  He lays us bare, naked in His sight – without any excuses – totally at His mercy.

 

 

 

Dearly beloved – quit trying to take care of your sin – quit trying to make up for them with a more obedient life.  If you want to go that route – you will be like the little gerbil on his wheel – always running, always trying harder, always toiling away – but never getting anywhere.  It’s time to stop trying to create a peace which you can never create – and let the Creator go to work.

“When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).  God the Father has sent His Son into our flesh – to bear our sin, and be our Savior.  Jesus takes His place under God’s Law – to do everything you have failed to do – to fulfill God’s Law for you, the lawbreaker – and then, He turns around and gives you His obedience, His righteousness, His peace.

On this Sabbath Day the Lord is busy at work – exposing your sin so that you will let go of it and cry out for mercy – and then giving you the soothing balm of His forgiveness.  God came in the flesh to unload all your sins, to carry them to the cross and cover them with His blood – so that you might be set free from its burdenn – so that your nakedness might be clothed – so that you might have rest.

 

Here is my Body, My blood – for you – so that you might be at rest with your Father in heaven, and with your neighbor here on earth.  Here is true and genuine peace – found only in the blood of Jesus Christ which forgives all your sin.

“Glory to God in the highest …… and peace to you on earth” – for you have entered into His rest, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

The peace of God which passes all understanding, guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   Amen.

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