As we begin this new year I am reminded of the Scriptures that encourage us to view the land, that there is much yet to possess, and that we are to press on toward to the Prize of the High Calling in Christ Jesus!
So this year begins with a challenge of vision, and yes, action—vision to see the future as God sees it and action to enter into it as God leads and provides the means. Challenging!
During these days I have been meditating on the “rest” we are to take in the Lord! Heb. 4:9 says that we are to “labor to enter into His Rest.” Staggering thought … to “labor” to enter into the Rest God has for us. He does not need it! The first day given to the first couple was a day of rest, not a day of work! It was an “assignment” from the Lord to remind them that their Source was in the Lord … that they were to have intimacy with Him first before labor was to occur. Exposure to the Word of God is the Rest we have in Him. The completed Work of Christ brings us into our Canaan, the Christ of the New Testament leading the Way!
The second thought I have been meditating on has been the passage in Psa. 23:2—“He (the Lord Who is our Shepherd) makes me to lie down in green pastures.” I thought this might be a suggestion—a command, maybe—but “makes me to lie down” is pretty strong language! In my serious study of that verse, I was surprised to find that the Hebrew word is as strong as the translation suggests. “He makes us to lie down in green pastures.”
“To lie down” means “to profit”. Sheep have a proportionally smaller brain than any other animal their size. Is the connection obvious? What a picture the Lord gives to us: ”All we like sheep have gone astray.” Not like dogs, cats, or even horses. He leads us, at times by coercion, to pleasant places of His Word, beautiful places of ample abundance (Ex. 16:14,15), sweetness (Ex. 16:30; Psa. 119:103), joy (Jer. 15:16), peace (Psa. 17:4). Sometimes the NT shepherd would have to break the leg of the sheep because it was too “busy” to “rest”. At times, he would have to carry the lamb so that the sheep would follow.
Sheep are near-sighted (about 10-15 yards), and must follow the “word” of the shepherd. Similarly we must walk by faith in the Word, not by sight. Therefore, the Word and the Spirit are indispensable for our following. It is truth in the OT as it is in the NT (see Word [Manna] in Ex. 16 and John 6, and Spirit in Ex. 17 and John 7).
He leads us to “rest-giving … resting place … deep waters of quietness.” He “leads” us so that we may “run with a sparkle … causing us to ascend above” (I Cor. 10:4—Victory). The satisfied sheep may lie down in the “pleasures of Christ” (Heb. 11:25; Psa. 16:11) … satisfied in the Pasture of Christ alone (Isa. 40:11—Feeds; Psa. 23:2—Leads; Psa. 107:9—Satisfies). Hallelujah!
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira