Posted by: lepages | October 27, 2009

Rest

Rest is a difficult thing! Don’t seem to be very good at it! Fitting that I should reflect on it given the nature of our session at Waverley Abbey yesterday!

Have posted before about early mornings and restless nights. Made some connections in the middle of the night last night. Looking back, I think the times when I have had restless nights and early mornings have been times when I’ve had a very active day – not physically, but mentally – so its been those days when I’ve been away for the day, travelled alot, and then perhaps had an active mind in the evening too.. perhaps reading the paper because I haven’t had opportunity to do so earlier – well that was the pattern yesterday… result I’m restless in sleep, stir with active mind, wake up and find my mind going over stuff, can’t get back to sleep. How do I get out of that place? Well for me it needs something to distract but not to stimulate – food is good! But I usually need more than that. Last night an episode of Star Trek Voyager in the middle of the night did the trick!

Perhaps though there’s a lesson for me – maybe I need to make sure I relax my mind before I go to bed after a mentally active day. One way I guess would be some physical activity – but if you’ve been out all day, not good to go out again and leave family at home. I guess the other way is a bit of mindless TV that takes away the thinking stuff – a good film, or drama, or maybe a couple of episodes of Star Trek…..

Some things to ponder further and experiment with…. but how does this all relate to my day at Waverley looking at God’s redemptive story.
Yesterday we were looking at God is committed to choosing a people for his own – God’s covenant with Israel.

Just as in previous sessions when God has put in place a symbol of his covenant, so there is one this time. For Noah it was the rainbow. For Abraham, circumcision. For the people of Israel it was a Sabbath’s rest.

Exodus 31:12-18 New Living Translation
The Lord then gave these instructions to Moses: “Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. You must keep the Sabbath day, for it is a holy day for you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death. The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed.’”

When the Lord finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God.

After all those years in slavery, being told that the symbol of the covenant with God was rest is something quite stunning – what a blessing – its a blessing which is still offered to us to follow the pattern which the Lord himself modelled for us at creation. Why, oh why do we so often step back from the blessing of the rest which the Lord has covenanted for us for our blessing?

The delight of God’s covenant here again is that he is the initiator. Exodus 19:4-6 NLT sets the scene for all that is to follow in terms of the working out of the law

‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’

God in having delivered his chosen people from slavery says see ‘what I did’, remember how ‘I carried you’ and ‘brought you to myself’. Out of God’s grace in delivering he now makes a promise to bless as his people act in obedience – as a result they will be God’s ‘special treasure’, God’s ‘kingdom of priests’, God’s ‘holy nation’ – what a privilege for a people who once were enslaved, maltreated and abused to now be in such a wonderful position – and we see that as with all the previous covenants it would be to bless all peoples – and so in 1 Peter 2:9,10 we find that it is to bless us.

So perhaps its time to stop thinking and rest a while……

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