Show me Your glory, I pray.
And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their ancestors; not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
Saint Augustine famously prayed, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.” (Augustine, Confessions) While it is common to think of rest as the absence of work, the Exodus shows rest as the very presence of God. God promised Moses in the Wilderness: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). The Lord equates His presence with experiencing rest. In tender, fatherly words the Lord promises His restful presence: “...The beloved of the LORD rests in safety— the High God surrounds him all day long—the beloved rests between his shoulders” (Deuteronomy 33:12).
Thus, today’s scripture signals the settlement of God’s people in the Promised Land, declaring them at rest: “And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their ancestors.” To enter the Promised Land is to enter God’s rest in its fullness. Here is rest, not just of bodies, but of souls!
Note the vivid imagery of the Exodus as a movement from slavery to rest, from bondage into freedom. People are commanded to weekly celebrate God’s rest and to remember the Lord’s deliverance from their slavery: “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:15).
When we come to the New Testament it is significant that God’s rest is offered to everyone. The writer of the book of Hebrews calls people to boldly enter God’s rest by faith: “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened” (Emphasis added, Hebrews 4:1-2). We must be ‘united by faith’ with God’s promises. Just as the Israelites enter the rest of the Promised Land by faith only, so we enter God’s many promises by faith.
It is to people worn down and weary from the legalisms of religious leaders that Jesus picks up the Exodus story and offers rest: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It is Jesus who breaks the bonds of our slavery to sin and death, and Jesus who offers us rest. He takes away our yoke of slavery and gives His yoke of rest. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
Bible commentator F. B. Meyer has it right:
“To all of us Christ offers ‘rest’, not in the next life only, but also in this life. Rest from the weight of sin, from care and worry, from the load of daily anxiety and foreboding.” (F. B. Meyer, Our Daily Walk)
As God once promised Moses, so He promises us: His presence goes with us, and His presence gives us rest. We can be bold to press on and enter the land of God’s promises by faith. This is the Exodus story, the story of us!
- Can you think of a time of great trouble when you experienced God’s “presence”? What was that like for you?
- Jesus promises: “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b). Take a few moments to think about that and the rest it might give you.
Remember the long way that the LORD your God has led you…
- What has been a ‘Pharaoh’ in your life from which the Lord has freed you and given you rest? Is there a ‘Pharaoh’ now in your life?
- What has been a ‘Red Sea’ experience in which God made a way for you?
- Have you been in the ‘Wilderness’? What was that like for you? How did you sense God leading and caring for you?
- How has God provided ‘manna’ for you in the Wilderness?
- Has there been a time when you wanted to go back to the ‘bondage of Egypt’ rather than move ahead by faith?
- What ‘giants’ and ‘great walled cities’ do you face today?
- How do you sense God might be calling you to trust Him and be bold to step into the waters of the River Jordan?
- What does it mean for you to hear God’s repeated command to remember?
- Has God revealed something of His glory and goodness to you in the last 40 days? If so, how?
- Is there anything you want to say to God about your Exodus story?