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We don’t rest; we work.
That’s the mantra of our American lives.
Even so, the Bible has a message for us: Stop & Rest.
In 1st Samuel, Chapter 6, the Philistines sent the Ark of the Lord back to the Israelites, because God punished them for taking it and for dishonoring his name. They sent it back with two new milk cows on a new cart.
What happens next struck me rather profoundly.
“Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the LORD. And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.” (1 Samuel 6:13-16 ESV)
The people of Beth-shemesh were harvesting their crops from the land. In this culture, the harvest is something that had to be completed within a certain amount of time or the crops would rot. It was also a time of great labor for all the people. It was work.
But the presence of the Ark of God stopped the work.
How often does the joy of worshipping God, does the presence of God cause you to cease and desist everything else that you are doing?
The people of Beth-Shemesh saw the ark of God and drops their scythes to celebrate!
The joy of the Lord caused Paul to stop in the book of Romans, in the midst of his rhetoric and argument and exclaim:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36 ESV)
Does the greatness of God’s redemptive work cause you to stop working for yourself?
In our society, we are taught that we must always be going and doing and never stopping. But this passage teaches us that we need to learn to stop, we need to learn to worship.
Second, when they worshipped, everything they needed to worship was all provided for them.
The Philistines sent two new milk cows that had never known a yoke, and a brand new cart to carry the Ark. The people of Beth-shemesh used everything that was sent to worship the God of Moses. They chopped the wood up to sacrifice the cows, and used a huge rock in the field as the altar!
What did they bring? Not a thing.
This calls to mind the words of Augustus Toplady’s great hymn Rock of Ages
“Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling”
What God wants is our worship, not our efforts. He has provided everything we need to worship him. Rest in God’s provision.
Are you clinging to your work? To your time? To your schedule?
Or are you clinging to the Rock of Ages? To God himself? To the cross of Jesus.
Today, may you be bold and worship before (and as) you work.
Photo Credit: Emma Frances Logan Barker