Rest With Us: Finding Biblical Peace9 min read
As believers, we are confident to know that relationally “being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is absolute, unconditional, and unchanging. Yet it is often much more difficult to come into the enjoyment of that peace, that is, the peace of God rather than peace with God. Basically, in each one of our hearts we long for rest, quietness in our souls. Where does that come from?
Gleanings From the First Mentions of Rest and Peace
The first mention of rest in the Bible is in Genesis 8:9 – “But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.” This is actually the picture of restlessness which showed what was lacking from a picture of rest. We have (1) the lack of solid ground, (2) a return to the ark, and (3) welcoming arms to “pull her in unto him.” The ark represents God’s ordained place of safety and protection, which would speak of the ultimate place of positional safety: in Christ. But for the believer, we see a place of conditional safety in God’s presence, whether that be in His assembly or before the Throne of Grace. And many a believer has tried to tread the wavy sea of worldliness with its system of emptiness as far as the eye can see, yet wearied from a wasted effort to find more pleasure he had to return from where he left: the place God wanted him originally. And when he was willing to seek restoration, God willingly with open arms took the wanderer in unto Himself ever so graciously into the place of safety. So then, dear believer, know that the best place to find rest is in God’s place of safety, which always coincides with the place of His will. Be where He wants you to be.
Then we see the first mention of peace in Genesis 15:15 “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.” The basis for this peace was a promise of God and His ability to see Abraham through his life until its end. Abraham could have the assurance that God would be with him until the very last. Do we not have those same promises? “Be content with such things as ye have, for He hath said ‘I will never by any means forsake thee, nor in any way forsake thee.” “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God is faithful to his people. Life can seem dire as if we will not finish well, but peace comes from knowing “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”
The Importance of Rest
“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” (Mk. 6:31). “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” (2 Thess. 1:7). Have you had time to rest lately? Or can you well relate to the condition of the disciples, that they had no leisure so much as to eat? It is good to be busy for the Lord – and perhaps we need to be more diligent in this regard more than anything – but at times, the Lord calls us to cease from labor and simply spend time with Him. Or when it comes to the rest of the soul, perhaps some thoughts of the Lord’s coming would be appropriate, as it was with the Thessalonians. Whatever the case may be, sometimes our call is just to “come and rest a while” in a quiet place where we can concentrate and be nourished so that when we return to our duties we can do them more effectively. Have you had trouble finding calm? Perhaps its time to step back from “coming and going” just to concentrate on regaining that ever-necessary peace of mind and soul. While our inner peace should not be based on circumstances, often we do hinder inward rest by not allowing time in our circumstances to concentrate on gaining that. It seems like a contradiction that we need effort in order to rest, but it is very true. Take time to muse upon your God. Take time to read a psalm and consider it. Take a walk and enjoy the scenery. Sit in a coffee shop with your Bible. The essential thing is that our souls receive adequate attention; otherwise they may stop fuelling our ability to work when rest really isn’t an option.
True Sources of Peace
Scripture has much to say about peace; the bad news is that we can’t look at everything it has to say about it. The good news is that you can study it yourself and actually retain the information much better, thus being on the path to peace quicker. For now, consider what God has to say to you, and with this we will conclude.
- Psalm 16:9 – “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” Hope is not an unfounded, cross-your-fingers type of desire that really is subject to mere change; it is rather inner assurance about the faithfulness of God and the righteousness of His plans. It is a personal conviction that God will bring about His promises for our future. This prophetic psalm tells us that the Lord Jesus rested in hope, the assurance of resurrection and vindication for His death. For us, in spite of sinking sand and turbulent waters, we can claim the words of the psalmist, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” which allowed him to say “my flesh shall rest in hope.” Romans 15:13 – “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
- Psalm 119:165 – “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Do you believe that God works through His Word to transform our inner beings? This is how He sanctifies us, how He teaches us, how He saved us. It is no wonder, then, that His Word is the means of our peace. How else will we know His promises? How else will we understand more of His Person that we might rest in Him more? Saturate your anxious heart with the Word: rest with it, rest in it, and rest by it.
- Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” This brings us to the grace of Christ and the burden that is lifted when prayer is made a prominent point of our lives. If we understand the truth that we have a Great High Priest Who understands exactly what we are going through and more, and if we understand that the Spirit intercedes for us when we can’t express what we want to say, then we will understand the importance of prayer in regard to our peace. Our burden is only ours the extent to which we carry it. So then, why not pray in the morning before your various obligations? Why not pray during those obligations? Why not pray after those obligations? Such is the only way to keep sanity in our hearts and minds.
- Isaiah 26:3-4 – “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” The idea here is the sufficiency of the Lord. The mind finds the Lord, in and of His Person, to be enough for all its questions, all its burdens, all its rejoicing. God’s goal for us is to bring about a perfected relationship with Him: the ultimate peace He grants is when His Person is enough for us. Has your relationship with Him been limited to what you can gain from Him, rather than a seeking of His character, glory, and revelation? Perhaps that is why your peace is so limited.
- 1Thessalonians 5:23 – “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice that peace is associated with holiness (sanctification). There is a vital principle in Scripture which is this: “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Why? Because peace is a work of God, and wickedness quenches much of His work in terms of our peace, joy, hope, etc. One way not to have peace is to forget holiness. Don’t expect rest when your life is inconsistent with your calling. In each one of our hearts, the first issue to resolve is unconfessed sin: this is always the point we start at before moving on to the things of deep spirituality. Don’t expect prayer to pacify restlessness if a defiled conscience prevents boldness before the Throne of Grace. Don’t expect to learn much from God’s Word if the Holy Spirit Who applies the Word to the heart is quenched. Peace with God came when sins were forgiven; peace of God comes when sins are confessed and forsaken.
- John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This tells us more of where we should not look for peace. It is His peace and specifically not the world’s. You see, the world will try to offer you peace and will try to make Biblical peace seem stupid and irrelevant. They will have their slogans, their psychology, and their methods. But all these things are based on an agenda to discredit the need for God and His gospel; their desire is to replace it with the gospel of self. So then, their advice on self-esteem will be to glorify self, rather than acknowledge sinfulness and look to Christ for an identity worth having. Their advice on burdens will come down to vain mental exercises that fail to address the main problem of the heart, which is Godlessness. All of the world’s peace will be at best “Try not to think about it.” What better can it offer since they want to reject the God of hope and life? Dear believer, the Devil will use your restlessness to make the world look bright, but in the end it will leave you with darkness deeper than when you began tampering with it. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.” Let us always look for the peace He gives: Jesus said “MY peace I give unto you.” What can surpass that? After all, it is “the peace of God which passes all understanding.”