Anticipating Everlasting Rest

Scripture Focus: Joshua 11.23
So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.

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Reflection: Anticipating Everlasting Rest

By Dennis Nicholson

Joshua’s conquests in the Promised Land have reached their end. After more than four hundred years of slavery and forty years of exodus, the weary Israelites finally receive relief from conflict. They finally enter into the rest which God promised to give them (Deuteronomy 12:9; Joshua 1:13).

This rest doesn’t last very long, though. Indeed, Joshua’s campaigns secured only the largest cities in the Promised Land (Joshua 11.12). And even when the Israelite tribes do secure full control over the land, they fail to drive out its pagan inhabitants. Enticed by pagan religion, they begin to serve other gods and their disobedience drives them into the hands of their enemies time and time again (Judges 2.14).

God knew this rest wouldn’t last. He knew the Israelites would disobey His covenant. He knew they would fall into sin and ultimately into exile. Why, then, did He promise the Israelites rest? What’s the point of a rest that doesn’t last?

For one, the Israelites’ fleeting rest points to their insufficiency. As we read in Hebrews, “If Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day” (Hebrews 4.8). Even Joshua, who acted in full obedience to God in his conquest of the land, could not secure lasting rest for the Israelites. On their own, they could never enter into God’s rest.

And, if we’re being honest, we find in ourselves a similar insufficiency. Enticed by our own idols, we fall captive to sin, alienated from God’s presence by our disobedience. On our own, we can never enter into God’s rest. 

Only Christ, who acted in full obedience to His Father’s will in His death on the cross (Matthew 11.28; Ephesians 2.14), can secure everlasting rest for us.

We all experience seasons of rest in our lives that don’t last. We might not be fighting for the Promised Land, but we fight daily against sin and temptation. As we long for rest amidst these battles may we remember that, despite our disobedience, Christ has won the victory. May we lay down our weapons and pick up his cross. May we come to him, as weary wanderers in the desert, and receive His eternal rest.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons

Help me, O Lord my God; save me for your mercy’s sake. — Psalm 109.25

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Joshua 11 (Listen – 3:52)
Psalm 144 (Listen – 1:56)

This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 12-13 (Listen – 8:18), Psalm 145 (Listen – 2:19)
Joshua 14-15 (Listen – 9:20), Psalm 146-147 (Listen – 3:09)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Read more about Transcendent Peace and Rest
Trust and enter his rest. Carry his peace with you always.

Breath, Reconsidered

Psalm 144.3-4
Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.

John 3.5-8
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Reflection: Breath, Reconsidered
By John Tillman

We rightly think of the psalmist comparing us to breath as humbling. But not everything that humbles humiliates. When humbled we are prepared to be lifted up, by God.

In Aramaic and Greek the word for “Spirit,” “breath,” and “wind” is the same word. This makes Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus one in which we must carefully attune our ears to context. Jesus is purposefully mixing his meanings. As Eugene Peterson rhetorically asks in his book, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, “What’s being talked about here, breathing, or weather, or God?”

Although the length of a breath may be a humbling downside, perhaps, there is also an upside.

Breath, Reconsidered
Lord, what are we that you care for us?
We are like a breath.

Like a breath, Lord, we pass from the earth.
Like a breath, Lord, insubstantial we seem.
Like a breath, Lord, some deep and some shallow.
Like a breath, Lord, we dissipate in the breeze.

But you gave us breath,
Your mouth on Adam’s lips.
And you redeemed breath
When Christ first drew it in
And you received his breath,
When his Spirit he released
He gave that Spirit to us
When on the disciples he breathed…

We are Adam’s first breath,
His first breath, re-breathed.

We are like a breath, we are a beginning
We are like a breath the first sign of life
We are like a breath, divine inspiration
We are like a breath, a baby’s first cry
We are the breath, of a worker,
drawn to take strength

We are the breath, of a mother,
that can warm frigid hands
We are the breath, of the preacher,
whose voice carries a dream
We are the breath, of a singer,
whose song fills the land

Breath sustains symphonies
Breath extinguishes candles
Breath ignites embers
Breath powers prophets
Breath connects lovers
Breath fills balloons
Breath is life

Breath serenades
Breath enlightens
Breath enlivens
Breath laughs
Breath shouts
Breath prays
Breath fills
Breath comes
Breath goes

Lord, what are we that you care for us?
We are like a breath.

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms. — Psalm 95.1-2

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Joshua 11 (Listen – 3:52) 
Psalm 144 (Listen – 1:56)

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Read more poetry: Accepting Jesus
She takes within her body
The cure for the sickness of sin
She gives the maker of the Garden
Tiny feet to walk earth again.

Read more poetry: He Stoops to Raise
He strips himself.
He lays aside
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His throne
His clothes
His life