Nuach and Eternal Rest
Music: Robert Weston: Let Your Spirit come
Improvisation on the hymn tune, ‘Immortal, invisible, God only wise.’
The time of resting will come. ‘The LORD your God will give [us] rest (nuach) by giving [us] this land,’ Joshua declared. (Josh. 1:13 NIV) But until then, let us neither procrastinate nor give a foothold to complacency.
Father, You spoke to Ezekiel, and said, “I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land’ (Ezek. 37:14) – another key meaning of the word nuach.
When Your Holy Spirit settled on Isaiah You promised that, “Your people would dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Is. 32:18)
We know that there is often battle involved to get us to a place of promised deliverance and warmly welcome rest. (e.g. Deut. 12:10) But when we read that we are to make every effort to enter the rest – to strive to do so even (Heb. 4;11, ESV; NIV = ‘make effort to’) – that sounds like quite a paradox.
But you see, the rest that the Lord gives, menuchah, conveys more than just physical rest.
In the Jewish Minchah (the afternoon service), we learn that it is “a rest of love freely given, a rest of truth and sincerity, a rest in peace and tranquillity, in quietude and safety.” Yet at the same time, it is a rest bathed in holiness. It exists so that we might glorify God’s name. [This article contains valuable insight into God’s intentions for the sabbath day in reconnecting us with what He has already done and with who He is.]
This is the refreshing, of which the Lord spoke in Isaiah when He said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest here”; and, “This is the place of quiet rest.” Menuchah is a powerful word; an intensifier of nuach, which itself speaks of deep rest. And the Lord Himself invites the faithful to rest from their labours.
There is a lovely promise for Daniel too when he had been through a prolonged period of great mental and spiritual agitation, seeing visions which shook him to the core of his being: Daniel, go your way till the end, and you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days. (Dan. 12:13)
Yes, there will be rest in Heaven, and of a kind we can barely begin to imagine. Thank You for Isaiah’s profound insight that ‘Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they pass beyond this life and into the next.’ [But see the context in Isaiah 57:1-2]
If there was work in the Garden of Eden, before the Fall, then why should there not also be work in Heaven too? Albeit with none of the under- and over-tones that so often make it toilsome on Earth. (Gen. 1:28, 2:15) Praise You, Lord, that it is recorded that in Heaven, too, Your people will serve You. (Rev. 22:3) – for Heaven is so much more than a glorified retirement home.
When You taught about Your Father’s Kingdom, Jesus, You weren’t primarily thinking about people putting their feet up in a hammock, with a book in one hand and a harp in the other! Where You are, everything brims and overflows with Your life, and there will be no shortage of activity in Your Kingdom, the whole Host of Heaven now deep in worship and now about the Father’s work, for work is worship and worship is work.
We have seen how the Lord set Ezekiel down in a dead valley, but took him too, out of the land of exile and into Israel, setting (nuach) him ‘on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city.’ (Ezek. 40:2 NIV) This weary, displaced, dis-possessed, temple-less priest had suffered much in order to obey and serve God, and here was the Lord giving him a sight of His own eternal resting place where God Himself would dwell, because He desires to. (Ps. 132:14)
Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 6:11 and 14:13)