All ye that labor, Come (and live)

On the first Monday of September, annually, America celebrates Labor Day, in commemoration of the American Labor movement, honoring the workers who have contributed to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the country. On this day, both private and public sector offices are closed to give rest to the working people.

The pursuit of rest by man can be dated back to the time of his fall into perdition, in the garden of Eden, for it was only after his fall that he had to labor, to have the cursed ground produce its yield. The only remedy for this tireless pursuit was for the curse to be lifted. When Jesus himself became accursed and willingly laid down his life and died on the cross, the power of the curse of death was lifted from man, with his resurrection. So only in Jesus can one find true rest – rest from their weariness; rest for their souls.

The lyrics of the first stanza of Chris Rice’s song, “Come to Jesus” is as follows: Weak and wounded sinner. Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by. Come to Jesus; Come to Jesus. Come to Jesus and live! This is substantiated Biblically for Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In other words, “Come to Jesus and find rest for your souls” i.e., Come to Jesus and find life – eternal life.

Points to ponder:
Are you laboring to find rest? Are you weak and heavy laden without any rest? Are you pursuing rest from the weariness in your life. If so, come to Jesus and live.

Matthew 11:28 (KJV)
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Rest and comfort from the curse

Genesis 5:29 informs us of the name of the son of Lamech and its meaning. Lamech named his son, Noah, because he believed that this child, of his, shall comfort them all, concerning the work and toil of their hands because the ground had been cursed, by the Lord God, on account of the disobedience of man. Noah is derived from an ancient Hebrew word which means ‘rest’ or ‘comfort’.

Points to ponder:
God named his only begotten Son, Jesus, knowing that he shall comfort his people, from The curse of sin and death. Jesus referred to his Holy Spirit as the Comforter (John 16:7) who shall come after he ascends to God the Father and testify of him (John 15:26). All who trust (believe) in Jesus are sealed with the of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), who shall comfort them and give them rest from the curse of death in the life to come and give rest from the weariness of life, from this life, in this one and the one to come. All who come to Jesus will be given ‘rest’ for Jesus is the Lord of the sabbath (rest) and he said, “Come unto me, all ye that are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Are you comforted? Do you have rest?

Genesis 5:28-31 (KJV)
28 And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:
29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.
30 And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
31 And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.

Are you in the land of Nod?

The land of Nod is mentioned only once in the entire Bible and it is the land, east of Eden, where Cain, the man who committed fratricide went to dwell after he had murdered his brother, Abel. Interestingly, the Holy Bible records that Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod. Nod in Hebrew means “wanderer, exile or fugitive” and the land of Nod would mean the land of the wanderer, which is what Cain was, going away from the presence of the Lord.

Points to ponder:
Though Cain was punished to be a wanderer and fugitive, he was not driven from the presence of the Lord. Instead of repenting for his sin of murder, Cain willfully chose to continue his going away from the Lord and he went to the land of wandering. Jesus said, come unto me and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28), which means those who choose to willfully go away from Jesus will find no rest and instead find themselves as a wanderer in exile. If you have been willfully choosing to ignore the ‘restful’ gospel of Jesus Christ, please do so no longer for if you willfully choose to go away from the Lord, you will find yourself in the land of Nod. Are you in the land of Nod? Repent and return to Eden!

Genesis 4:16 (KJV)
16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

Matthew 11:28 (KJV)
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding Fathers of the United States of America is attributed to have quoted, “Early to bed, early to rise; makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise.” Early to bed implies that one needs to rest at the right time and early to rise implies that one must not rest for more than what they are supposed to. The pursuit of health, wealth and wisdom has always been in man’s interest but as America celebrates labor day on the first  Monday of September, even the most ambitious seem to regard this day as a day of rest.

Rest is necessary to be rejuvenated and renewed. It is important to rest. The Bible says that God worked for six days to create the world and everything in it and on the seventh day, He rested. Unfortunately, in today’s world everyone wants to be healthy, everyone wants to be wealthy and everyone wants to be wise, which has made the world system a hamster wheel and you and me caught in its perpetual cycles. We are often foolish in our pursuits. We pursue health, wealth and wisdom and seldom take time to rest.

Rest does not mean laziness or sloth. Remember, Jesus said,”The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Rest, on the contrary requires action and is a reward that is given or a treasure that needs to be found. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He then added, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”  (Matthew 11:28-30). To receive and find rest, we must act i.e., Come to Jesus, Take from Jesus, Be Yoked with Jesus and Learn from Jesus. Only then will we find true rest (for our souls). When we come to Jesus, we receive rest (Come; I will give); When we take Jesus’ yoke and are yoked with him and when we learn from that, we find rest for our souls.

Points to ponder:
Today, are you caught in the malady of busyness, spinning perpetually in an hamster-wheel world? Take time to rest as you are prompted to pursue health, wealth and wisdom. Remember the wise man is the one who does NOT spend the first part of his life, spending his health to pursue wealth and then the second part of his life spending his wealth to hold on to health. Rest was made for man and not the other way round.

Happy labor day, or should I just say: Happy Rest Day!

Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV)
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

As the deer panteth

Psalm 42 begins with the words, “As the deer panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God“. This Sunday at Church, as we sang the familiar song “As the deer panteth for the waters, so my soul longeth after thee, you alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship thee”, I wondered as to the reasons as to why a deer would pant.

One of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary for the word pant is to long eagerly or yearn. It is often in the context of a feeling that results from some form of physical exertion, usually running. This made me realize that a deer would pant for water when it runs (just as other animals and humans do), either from a predator or due to a need for satisfaction of its thirst.

With this realization, I learn from the scripture that our souls must pant after God as well. This means that we must also be running in order to pant. We must first run from evil, the devil who is like a predatory roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) and we must run to God as we long to be satisfied. There is no other one, other than Jesus who can satisfy. He said come unto me all ye that are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). In other words, He was expressing that in Him and only in Him is total satisfaction and until we are satisfied, we must be panting after Him, the source of Living Water (John 4:10-15).

Point(s) to ponder:
Are you/Am I panting after God, the living God?

Psalm 42:1-2 (KJV)
1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?