Listen to audio above while reading transcript below (which is also available for download from www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)
As we turn to look in God’s word, there is one principle that is indispensable and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit. It’s not only a principle of Bible study but it’s a principle of life. We must always depend on God’s Holy Spirit. Before we pray, let me share 1 Kings 3:24&25, “Then the king said, ‘The one says, “This is my son who is living, and your son is the dead one”; and the other says, “no! For your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.” Solomon said, “Bring a sword and kill the baby.” That’s what his lips said, “Kill the baby.” But his heart was saying, “Save the baby.” When we read the Bible, it’s not only what Jesus says but it’s His heart. When Lazarus died Jesus told Mary and Martha, “This sickness is not unto death.” That’s what His lips said but that’s not what His heart said. Jesus told me that if I’m to follow Him I’m to hate my wife and family. That’s what His lips said but that’s not what His heart said. Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead.” He didn’t mean that. All I’m saying is, that when we study the Bible, put your ear on God’s heart and not His lips. We need to hear God’s heart.
Our heavenly Father, we thank You for the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us. Now we ask that Holy Spirit would anoint the speaker. We pray that your Holy Spirit would anoint the translator. We pray that the Holy Spirit would anoint the listener. Help us all put our ear to Your heart, so we can hear again so great a salvation. We pray in Jesus’ name.
We have been looking at some wonderful foundations of our faith. We looked at the truth of the exchanged life; His life for mine. We looked at the truth of faith and how sensitive Jesus is to the smallest touch. We looked at the truth of revelation and how the Holy Spirit takes the Bible and shows us Jesus. And by God’s grace this morning I’d like to look at the truth of resting in the Lord. Beyond all doubt, resting in the Lord is a great foundation.
I want to begin with a wonderful benediction from the Apostle Paul, 2 Thessalonians 3:16. “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance! The Lord be with you all!” Sometimes our heart says, “Is such a thing possible, that the Lord of peace Himself would continually give peace in every circumstance?” Many Christians don’t experience that benediction. Sometimes they fret and worry. Sometimes they get very frustrated. I pray that after this truth that God shows our heart, that we will understand how to have rest at all times.
I started with that benediction because some have confused peace and rest. Some people think that if in my life I have anxiety, fear, fretting, frustration and confusion, that’s proof that I need rest. If I have peace and happiness and satisfaction and if I have joy and calmness, that is the fruit of rest. That is not rest. Peace is not the same as rest. If you have rest, the by-product will be peace. If we are resting in the Lord, the by-product will be joy. God does not give us Jesus and something else called “joy”. He doesn’t give us Jesus and something else called “peace”. He only gives us Jesus. If we have Him, we’ll have joy. If we have Him, we’ll have peace.
As you go on in the Lord we must learn not to chase after by-products. If I seek Jesus I’ll have peace. If I seek peace I’ll have frustration. If I seek the will of God, I will never find the will of God. If I seek the God whose will it is, I will have the will of God. In everything we must seek the Lord; not the book of God but the God whose book it is; not the people of God but the God whose people they are; not the will of God but the God whose will it is. So, I want to begin by describing what rest is.
Please follow these verses, Hebrews 4:4, “For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.’” Hebrews 4:9&10, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” 4:10 says that God rested. If I can understand what it means that God rested, perhaps I can understand what it means for me to rest. As God rested we must rest. Let me begin with what it means that God rested.
Hebrews 4:4, “For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.’” The Holy Spirit says that after six days of creation God rested. I know what that does not mean. It doesn’t mean that God quit working and now He works no more. John 5:17, “But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’” It doesn’t mean that God was exhausted and weary after He finished. Isaiah 40:28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.” God does not become weary.
It certainly doesn’t mean, when it says that God rested, that God was frustrated or anxious. Habbakuk 3:3&4, “God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran, His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, and there is the hiding of His power.” We look at creation and we say, “Look at the power of God.” The prophet looked at creation and said, “That is the hiding of His power.” That’s just a little picture of the power of God. Every six days God could have created another universe as big as this and never duplicated any shape, law, size or color. That’s our God! How great is our God!
Genesis 1:4, “And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.” Genesis 1:10, “And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:12, “And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:18, “…and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:21, “And God created the great sea monster, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.”
Genesis 1:25, “And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.” And then He created man, Genesis 1:31, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” After He finished, Genesis 2:1&2, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”
The key to understanding that God rested, on day one He said, “That’s good.” On day two He finished and said, “That’s good.” And days three, four and five He said, “Good, good, good.” And when He created man he said, “Very good.” God was pleased with His creation. It was finished. It was completed and He was happy. God was satisfied. One reason He made man on the sixth day is because man would say, “May I please help you. One grain of sand, one blade of grass; can I help?”
God created man when everything was finished. Man’s first day was the Sabbath so he could enter rest. Everything was done and finished and complete. You couldn’t add to it and you couldn’t subtract from it. It was a full and complete creation. God’s joy and happiness and satisfaction in finished creation is a picture of His joy and happiness in a finished redemption. John 19:30 when Jesus was on the cross, “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” When He brought so great a salvation to man He said, “It is finished!”
That’s the work that Elijah and Moses talked to Jesus about on the Mount of Transfiguration. Luke 9:31, “…who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” They talked about the work that He would accomplish. When I die I don’t “accomplish” death; I succumb and I give up to death. But Jesus accomplished death; a finished work.
Hebrews 1:3, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” When He finished redemption He ascended to heaven and sat down. Hebrews 8:1, “Now the main point in what has been said is this; we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens…” He finished and he sat down. Hebrews 12:2, “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He finished the work and He sat down.
Why couldn’t the priests in the Old Testament sit down? It’s because their work was never done. They had to kill sheep and they had to offer incense and they had to trim the lamps and they had to make the bread and they had to mix the spices and they had to care for the altar. They were never finished. Jesus finished and then He sat down. God was satisfied with the finished work of creation and He rested. God was satisfied with the finished work of redemption and He rested.
Hebrews 4:10, “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” The one who rests must enter rest as God did. For a long time, for many years, what I thought was wrong. I thought that I had to rest in God’s finished work. I tried to rest in God’s finished work but I thought maybe that I wasn’t sincere enough or maybe I didn’t trust Him enough or maybe I didn’t know enough. Rest is not the Christian resting in the finished work. God is satisfied with the finished work. When I am satisfied that God is satisfied, I enter rest. He satisfied; that’s enough for me. That’s when you enter rest. It’s not somehow that I have entered into being satisfied with what Jesus did. The Bible says that He’s satisfied with what Jesus did.
Remember the story of the Passover? Exodus 12:13, “And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plaque will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” He said, “When I see the blood, I’ll pass over you.” It’s Him seeing the blood they made.
Let me press this home to your heart by giving an illustration. Hebrews 3:11, “As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” It says, “Enter MY rest.” Hebrews 3:18, “And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?” They didn’t enter HIS rest. Hebrews 4:3, “For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Because of unbelief they didn’t enter MY rest is what God said.
Hebrews 4:10, “Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; and they did not know My ways’…” the good news is that we can enter HIS rest; not the rest that He gives but the rest that He has. Let me ask this, is God concerned about anything going on in your life right now? He’s at rest and He wants you to enter His rest and be as unconcerned as He is. God is satisfied with the finished work of creation. God is satisfied with the finished work of redemption.
I would always wonder, “Am I surrendered enough, am I humble enough, am I sincere enough, do I have enough faith.” God said, “Don’t go there.” What you need to know is that He is satisfied. He accepts you. He loves you. He delights in you. He has your future under control. When God allows me to start believing that He has everything under control, I enter rest. His rest was being satisfied. My rest is believing that He is satisfied.
What I would like to do now is take another step. It’s true that He’s satisfied with everything that He has done in creation and redemption but He’s not finished working. Philippians. 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” He’s still working. He’s not finished. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.”
There is still a work in process. God is still conforming us to Jesus. He won’t complete the work. In His mind and in His purpose it’s already finished. Romans 8:30, “…and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Entering rest is not only believing that everything that He has already done makes Him happy but we must also believe that everything that He is doing right now in our lives, He is satisfied with. If I start believing that, the peace of God will flow over on all sides and at all times.
What I would like to do is to illustrate His present work, right now and how His present work pleases Him. I want to illustrate it by His title “The Potter”. Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father. We are the clay, and Thou our potter; and all of us are the work of Thy hand.” If we can understand the potter and the clay, it will help us with His present work. The illustration that I want to give is from Jeremiah 18 which talks about the prophet going to the potter’s house. “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.” Let me give the background of this story.
The background is that God, after the captivity, was going to bring them back to Jerusalem. To do that he was going to use a man named “Cyrus”. Just like they didn’t understand how a holy God could use sinful Babylon, they couldn’t understand how a holy God could take a sinful man like Cyrus and bring them back to the land. They were happy that they were going back but they didn’t like God’s method. “Do it another way.” They had a controversy with God. They had an argument with the Lord, not about the end but about the means to the end. “I want to be conformed to Christ but do I have to go through bankruptcy?” “I want to be conformed to Christ but does that mean I have to get cancer?” “Does that mean that my children must go in a wrong direction?” “Does that mean divorce will come into my life?” “I like the end but I don’t like the means.”
Israel reacts to God’s work. The story of the potter is God reacting to their reaction. With that as background, Jeremiah 18:1&2, “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, ‘Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.’” God tells the prophet, “Go to the potter’s house.” At the potter’s house they would hear the word of God. That’s a strange place to hear the word of God. I go to church to hear the word of God. I go to Bible study to hear the word of God. I have a quiet time to hear the word of God but I don’t go to a potter’s house to hear the word of God.
When he was to go to the potter’s house, he was to keep his mouth shut and say nothing; just look. So, Jeremiah went to the potter’s house. Jeremiah 18:3&4, “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.’” God explains that at the potter’s house you will see that My people are like clay.
I would like to invite you to use your imagination and to come with me and the prophet to the potter’s house. What did he see? Jeremiah 18:3, “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel.” The potter was making something on the wheel. Jeremiah didn’t know what but the potter knew what he was making. The clay didn’t know but the potter knew. He was making something on the wheel. In his mind the potter had a plan. He had a blueprint and he had a purpose. He knew the end. There was nothing arbitrary. He was making something.
When I was a child I played with modeling clay. I was not a potter. My uncle would come and say (they called me “Butchie”), “Butchie, what are you making?” I said, “What does it look like?” He said, “It looks like a turtle.” I said, “Okay, I’m making a turtle.” They would ask again, “What are you making?” And I would take another piece of clay and was asked, “Butchie, is that an ash tray?” I said, “Yes.” I had no plan. I made a ball. I made a pancake. I made a snake but I had no purpose.
When Jeremiah went to the potter’s house he saw the mind of the potter and that he was making something. It’s not a game with God. Pottery is His vocation. It’s not His hobby. He’s not trying to amuse Himself with clay. You are not an experiment with the Lord. When He deals with us, He has in His mind what He is doing. He’s determined to make each of us according to His purpose and knowing how great the Lord is, it’s a wise and loving purpose.
The clay doesn’t know what is going on. It’s not going to help for the clay to get fussy and complain. The clay can’t kick and rebel and can’t murmur. It knows nothing. Especially, the clay can’t give the potter advice. The clay must just allow the potter to do what He is doing. That’s the first thing that He said; that He was making something. He saw the potter’s mind.
As he watched he saw something else. Jeremiah 18:3, “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel.” He saw the potter’s hands and the hands were working with the clay; sometimes on the outside and sometimes on the inside. And He observed a very skillful hand. Sometimes He would press and sometimes He would scrape off some clay. Sometimes He would pound it. He would poke the clay and scrape the clay and move the clay and sometimes it seemed gentle and sometimes it seemed hard. He began to see that when the pressure was the greatest the vessel was most unique.
Jeremiah watched the potter. He saw his mind and that he had a purpose. He saw his hands and saw that he had skill. But then he kept looking and he saw something else. The clay was on a wheel. It was called a throwing wheel. In those days there was no electric motor. In fact, there were no pedals. They had two wheels; a small wheel on top and a large wheel on the bottom and there was a vertical shaft between the two wheels. The clay was put on the top wheel and you saw the potter’s foot; it was kicking the wheel. The foot decided how fast it would go. As he’s watching the potter, he’s watching the clay go around and around. He sees skillful hands and he sees a controlling foot moving that wheel. The clay is getting dizzy.
You are the clay! We don’t know what God is doing! We are spinning around and around and we’re confused. Sometimes He scrapes us and sometimes there is pressure in our life but we’re always spinning and wondering what is going on. The potter knows. The potter is skillful. The potter is in control. Jeremiah kept looking. The clay didn’t know what was going on and when he looked he saw something else.
Jeremiah 18:4, “But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.” That was a surprise! The potter who knew the clay, the potter that was so skillful, the potter who was in control, all of a sudden the clay is ruined in His hands. I want to make one little explanation here.
When you think of the vessel being ruined, usually we think of a shard or a broken piece of vessel. But that’s the vessel after the kiln. This is not after the fire. That’s a different revelation of Jesus. That’s Jesus the Smelter, not Jesus the potter. That’s a message all it’s own. This is the clay on the wheel. As it was being formed there was a hard spot on the clay. If the potter were only making a ball, that stubborn spot may never have been discovered. In the clay there was maybe a hair, a piece of straw, a stone. If he were only making a ball, the potter would never find that hard piece of clay. Because he’s making a beautiful vessel, like Christ, embellished, and elegant, when God works with us, sometimes in His work He finds a stubborn spot. I’m so glad that the clay was ruined in His hands.
Then Jeremiah saw something else. He saw the potter’s mind and he saw the potter’s hand and he saw the potter’s foot and he’s about to see the potter’s heart. When he saw the clay ruined he did an amazing thing. He did not throw the clay away. I would have thrown me away a long time ago. But the Bible says that He made another vessel that brought joy to His heart. Do you believe that the Potter is making you into a vessel?
I’m satisfied that He’s satisfied with everything that He has done. Am I satisfied that He is satisfied with everything He is doing? If God works that in your heart you will know what rest is. It’s being satisfied that He is satisfied. I don’t have to know what God is doing. I have to know that He knows what He is doing.
I’m going to leave the potter’s house now and go to the New Testament and give one more illustration. Matthew 8:24, “And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep.” Our Lord Jesus was sleeping in the storm; God was at rest. The disciples were not resting. I’m going to describe faith as many people think it is. They think that faith is coming to the end of yourself.
Matthew 8:2, “And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” They came to the end of themselves. They said, “We can’t handle it! We need Jesus!” Some people think that faith is not only coming to the end of me but it’s rolling everything on Jesus. They woke Him up. Some think faith is coming to the end of me, giving it to Jesus and then getting out of the way and letting God work. Matthew 8:26, “And He said to them, ‘Why are you timid, you men of little faith?’ Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm.” Jesus stood on the deck and calmed the storm.
It looks like He should have given them applause, “Well done; you have come to the end of yourselves and you gave it to Jesus and you got out of the way.” But what do we read? They got rebuked for little faith. Matthew 8:26, “And He said to them, ‘Why are you timid, you men of little faith?’” In Mark 4 he said, “You have no faith.” What is faith, if it’s not coming to the end of myself and giving it to Jesus and getting out of the way? May God help us to understand this! Faith is letting Jesus sleep! They did not have to wake Him.
Was He in more control when He was standing on the deck with His arms stretched out, when it looked like He was unconscious and unaware? I’ll confess, nobody wakes Jesus more than I do! He’s so tender and He is so patient with us and I don’t have to wake Him. He knows what He is doing. Everything that comes into my life, He is satisfied with. What I need is to let Him sleep and believe that He has a plan and He has the skill and He has the control and He has a heart that loves me and if I mess up He’ll start again. Rest is being satisfied that He is satisfied. Not only is He satisfied with everything He has already done but He’s satisfied with everything He is doing.
If you knew what God knew and if you had for your information everything that God knows, He knows everything actual and everything possible. If you knew what God knew and He said, “Choose a path for your life,” you wouldn’t change a thing. He is in control of your life. Everything He allows in your life; it’s the Potter. Let Jesus sleep. Just trust the Lord!
Heavenly Father, we thank You that You are satisfied with the finished work of creation. Thank You that You are satisfied with the finished work of redemption. We thank You that You made a vessel that was pleasing to Your heart. Enable us to enter Your rest. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen