What is THE goal in life? If we had to single out one, what would it be? How should we even try to determine it? Today is Good Friday, the day on the Christian calendar to commemorate Christ's death on the cross. Before Jesus breathed His last breath, He said, “It is finished!” He accomplished His goal. What was it and should it be THE goal? From the Bible, and even the Gospel, it seems like THE goal is rest. Btw, we know physically that rest is really important for our bodies to restore and recharge; we're supposed to spend a third of our lives sleeping so that's got to say something! What if there's a spiritual rest that is equally or more significant? Well, follow this muse with me.
Let’s start at the beginning, Genesis 1 and 2. After 6 days of work, God entered His rest, the Sabbath.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Gen.2:2
On the 7th day of creation, He stopped doing. Why would a day of rest count as a day of creation? Perhaps resting is the high point or climax? Could it be THE goal? Considering the next verse, it seems very possible:
“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Gen.2:3
The 7th day was blessed and set apart to be all about what was most important to the Creator - rest. God didn’t bless and make holy any other day. First 6 days, He spoke, it was so, and it was good; 6th day after people were created, it was very good. But evidently, there’s something extraordinarily special about the 7th. If creation were a mountain, “The good is the base, the holy is the summit.” (Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath, p.75).
So what exactly is the Sabbath about that identifies it as blessed and holy? If we look around Genesis 2:1-3, we see immediately following the passage about the garden of Eden and what happened there. Eden means ‘delight’ and in this delight, man and woman come together to be one flesh, they join together in the marriage union. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:32 that marriage is a profound mystery because it is actually about Christ and the Church. It seems like this rest is about the union of God and Man. Could being united be THE goal of God’s creation?
What if God’s goal for His people is rest? Does it seem reasonable and Biblical that His goal is to be one with His people, to be united in heart, soul, mind, and body? What if the Sabbath / union has been God’s destination for people since creation. It even seems like the Sabbath might somehow be connected to Jesus as Jesus is the union of God and man. If that were the case, THE goal would be Jesus, to worship Him, to be with Him, to be one with Him. And the Bible reveals an incredibly huge and transcendent understanding of Jesus; check out Colossians 1:15-20
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Really sounds like He is THE goal! If we’re willing to believe that, our destiny / goal is found in who God is in Christ. He defines the maturity of who we are and through His death and resurrection (the Gospel), He has made our maturity a very real and possible reality.
Furthermore, Hebrews 4 gives an even deeper idea of what this maturity is.
A Sabbath-Rest for the People of God, Heb.4:1-16
(Btw, Hebrews is about the supremacy of Jesus)
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
JESUS THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
See how many times the writer emphasizes the reality of a rest that we need to make every effort to enter. To get a better grasp of this rest, here’s a list of elements I got from this passage:
- belief (vv.2-3)
- today (v.7)
- heart (vv.7, 12)
- no works (v.10)
- being transparent and vulnerable; deep discernment and exposure of thoughts and attitudes (vv.12-13)
- empathy (v.15)
- confidence (v.16)
- grace (v.16)
Reflecting on that list, it looks like God wants to grow us to a place of spiritual maturity where our hearts are ever-increasingly open to Him. With that openness, we boldly approach Him daily to be in the presence of grace which renews our minds and hearts to live with a confidence born from taking our deepest and most intimate secrets, shame, guilt, fears, pain, and anxiety to our loving Heavenly Father for comfort and encouragement. When we are reshaped through being in God’s rest, we grow to be one with Christ so that we too can be a presence of grace and empathy to help others enter and experience God’s rest.
If Jesus is THE goal, what goal will He take the place of in your life? How will THE goal reprioritize your time and resources? What action will you commit to today that reflects Him as your Sabbath rest / THE goal?