June 20, 2014
TODAY’S STUDY TEXT:
“So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest round about.”
II Chronicles 20: 30
“Rest Round About”
“When the soul gives up all for love, so that it can have Him that is all, then it finds true rest.”
Julian of Norwich
What do I need rest from each day?
How would I feel if I could say about my life that there was, “rest round about?”
“True peace and rest do not lie in outward things; if it were so, the Evil One would also have peace when things go according to his will.”
“The reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord leads to life, and (she) who has it rests satisfied; (she) cannot be visited with evil.”
Proverbs 19: 23
King Jehoshaphat had been tried in the fire. He had faced three enemies. He had gone through the wilderness only to come out in the Valley of Blessing – praise God for that! But here’s what I love so much about our heavenly Father – yours and mine!
God isn’t one bit stingy. He is the most generous Father in the world. It is from His unlimited reserves that He taps into one good thing after another. And God had more than joy for Jehoshaphat. He gave him the gift of rest, as well!
Now I understand. Sometimes things look very bleak in all our lives. Just like the children of Israel at the Red Sea, you and I may have the Egyptian army at our backs and the raging Red Sea in front of us. Oh, and one more thing – we don’t even have a boat or know where to get one. And yet, the Israelites weren’t the ones to drown. They came through a pathway made in the middle of a torrent of water. A dry path no less!
With this fact in mind, I want us to take another look at what happened to Jehoshaphat. Instead of blaming God for all his problems, which is easy to do, he worshiped and praised God. And he kept putting one foot in front of the other as he traversed the wilderness and once God had won the victory, with joy King Jehoshaphat led the people of Judah into the house of God. What a journey! And what enormous faith was exhibited when God’s children took Him at His word.
In today’s text, the result of following God, when confronted by looming threats, resulted in something so wonderful it stirs me through and through. We are told that God gave His children, “rest round about.” I checked on what the word, “round,” means in Hebrew and it is this: “compassed about on every side.” This was God’s gift to the faithful: rest, or as the Hebrew defines the word, “quiet all around.” There was no war. No conflict. No battle. In other words, when God’s children followed His lead, worshipfully, there was a peace…quietness…a rest that settled over their lives whether they were walking in the dry, barren wilderness or feasting at a banquet table fit for a king.
This truth is emphasized by two Old Testament prophets. The prophet Isaiah spoke these words to the children of Israel, “In returning to Me, and resting in Me, you shall be saved; in quietness and in trusting confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30: 15 Amplified Bible). And just a few pages over, in Jeremiah 6: 16 (Amplified Bible), he tells God’s children, “Thus says the Lord: stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is; then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6: 16). What a simple and clear lesson for you and me. But tragically, both Isaiah and Jeremiah end their instructions with these words: “But they said, ‘We will not not walk in it” (Jeremiah 6: 16). And in Isaiah 30: 15, these words are recorded, “But you would not.”
It seems we are rather stubborn creatures. God lays out a wonderful pathway for us and we think we can carve our own way instead. So we will not worship God or follow His lead, even after He tells us that the rainbow after the rain is rest and quiet.
As we look at King Jehoshaphat’s life, he faced a great deal of trouble, sorrow and difficulty, but through it all, he sought the will and way of his Father. In the end, God gave him rest! A much needed gift.
The great preacher Charles H. Spurgeon perfectly describes the challenges we face in our lives, but he also gives the solution – a solution we find in the lives of Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah as together they knelt, prayed, praised and worshiped God.
“Believer, you are not exempt from trials, but you have sufficient grace for any trouble. God’s choicest love letters are sent in black-edged envelopes. The envelope frightens us, but if we know how to break the seal we will find riches for our soul. Great trials are the clouds from which God showers great mercies. Frequently, when the Lord has an extraordinary mercy to send, He employs His rough and grizzle horses to drag it to our door. The smooth rivers of ease are usually navigated by little vessels filled with common commodities, but a huge ship loaded with treasure crosses deep seas…in all things pray. Prayer is the universal remedy subduing every disease. Prayer unlocks the treasure of God…prayer extinguishes the violence of flames and closes the mouths of lions. Prayer overcomes heaven and bends omnipotence to its will. Just pray, believer, and, in the name of the Well-Beloved, answers of peace must be given.” In the words of Jesus, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.”
“O Lord, Jesus Christ, who art as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, who beholdest thy weak creatures weary of labour, weary of pleasure, weary of hope deferred, weary of self; in thine abundant compassion, and fellow feeling with us, we pray Thee, unto Thy rest.”
“Flame-dancing Spirit, come
sweep us off our feet and
Dance us through our days.
Surprise us with your rhythms;
Dare us to try new steps, explore
new patterns…release us
from old routines to swing
in abandoned joy and fearful adventure.
And in the intervals rest
us in your still center.” Amen
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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