Enter into My Rest

The next theme that I want to focus on in The Apocalypse of the Sabbath (Psalms 92-99) is that of the voice of the remnant throughout this series of psalms.  As an introduction, I will give a brief overview.  Interwoven throughout this passage, there is a voice of a godly remnant which proves to be that eschatological people of God who will witness the coming of the LORD in power and glory.  It is the godly remnant of Israelites which was also seen in Psalm 46, Psalm 50, and Psalm 102.  They cry out to God in the midst of the great tribulation.  They stand on the precipice of entering into the promised land of rest.  They are the first to herald to the nations that the LORD indeed reigns here on earth.  They announce the LORD’s coming and continue to worship Him throughout the Messianic Kingdom established here on earth.

 

The entire Apocalypse is filled with praises to God from this remnant.  I will stick to the portions which are pertinent to our studies of end times.  It is good to give praises to God.  Any of these praises can be uplifting.  But the world simply cannot contain all that needs to be written concerning our Great God, so I must limit myself.

 

92:1-9 begins with praise to God for His loving kindness, 92:2.  This praise is for the works of God, but mentioning a specific work, 92:4, which the foolish sinners are simply unable to comprehend, 92:6.  Sinful man which cannot understand God’s work will be destroyed, 92:7, while God reigns on high forevermore, 92:8.  These foolish sinners are further described as God’s enemies, 92:9.  The work which only the righteous can understand is about to be revealed.

 

1 The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength.

Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.

2 Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

 

93:1-2 is the voice of a group of God’s people giving Him His rightful place.  Although the wicked are still present, this group recognizes that the LORD reigns.  The LORD has not yet broken forth, yet this voice sees God on His throne because He is there whether mankind recognizes Him or not.  They have recognized His right to reign in advance.

 

1 O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—

O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!

2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth;

Render punishment to the proud.

3 Lord, how long will the wicked,

How long will the wicked triumph?

4 They utter speech, and speak insolent things;

All the workers of iniquity boast in themselves.

5 They break in pieces Your people, O Lord,

And afflict Your heritage.

6 They slay the widow and the stranger,

And murder the fatherless.

 

94:1-6 is where we see the voice of the remnant enduring great persecution, 94:4.  This section is a cry to God for vengeance, 94:1-2.  God’s people are being slaughtered by the wicked (government), 94:6.  The wicked are winning; they are triumphant, 94:3.  In short, this is the great tribulation with God’s people crying out to God to be avenged.  We see this same voice in Revelation 6:10 at the fifth seal.  “How long shall the wicked triumph?”

 

12 Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord,

And teach out of Your law,

13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity,

Until the pit is dug for the wicked.

14 For the Lord will not cast off His people,

Nor will He forsake His inheritance.

15 But judgment will return to righteousness,

And all the upright in heart will follow it.

 

94:12-15 shows God’s plan to give rest to the righteous from the current persecutions and punish the wicked which are dishing out the persecution.  Notice God’s claim on His people.  His purposes are eternal.  He will not cast off His people.  Similar language is used in Romans 11:1-2.  Paul emphatically denies that God had cast off the nation of Israel.  Instead, there is an Israelite remnant of grace also known as the elect.  The remainder of Psalm 94 shows exactly how God will remain true to His promises to His people.  The LORD will punish the wicked which persecute His people.

 

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!

Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;

Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

3 For the Lord is the great God,

And the great King above all gods.

4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth;

The heights of the hills are His also.

5 The sea is His, for He made it;

And His hands formed the dry land.

6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

7 For He is our God,

And we are the people of His pasture,

And the sheep of His hand.

 

Psalm 95 contains the fulcrum of the entire apocalypse.  This is the hinging point of the ushering in of the Messianic Kingdom.  The first portion of the psalm is the recognition by the remnant of God’s utter sovereignty, 95:3.  God created all things, 95:5.  Let us, this remnant, bow down and worship Him who holds all things in His hands, 95:4.  This is the acknowledgement God alone being the shepherd of His chosen people, 95:7.  God’s people have humbled themselves in the midst of the great tribulation recognizing God alone can deliver them, 94:16-19.  They have been stripped bare, Psalm 102:17.  They are calling upon God in the day of trouble hoping that He will deliver them, Psalm 50:15.  The nation of Israel has been brought to the place of utter dependence upon the God of Israel.

 

Today, if you will hear His voice:

8 "Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, F87

As in the day of trial in the wilderness,

9 When your fathers tested Me;

They tried Me, though they saw My work.

10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,

And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,

And they do not know My ways.’

11 So I swore in My wrath,

‘They shall not enter My rest.’ "

 

The second portion of the psalm is God’s response.  From the word “today” through the end of the psalm, God addresses His people, Israel.  Here they stand worshiping the LORD and He responds.  He tells them that their forefathers were in this very place.  They had the opportunity to enter into the promised land of rest, but they did not.  Instead, they provoked God, tempted Him, and made Him prove Himself.  Israel as a nation did not know His ways.  He swore in His wrath that they would not enter into that promised rest.

 

At this point, I must turn to the book of Hebrews to demonstrate how the author quotes this passage.  I anticipate A-Millennialists objecting to my eschatological view of this passage based on the way the writer utilizes this psalm.  They would say that his use of this psalm demonstrates how the OT was an allegory.  It was only written to show that there was a spiritual rest for God’s people to enter into.  Since that was the goal, there is no more application for the nation of Israel to enter the promised land to fulfill the Abrahamic promises.  I will demonstrate from the very scriptures that they quote that the opposite is true.

 

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." 16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

 

Hebrews 3:7-11 quotes the OT passage.  Notice how the writer quotes beginning with “today”.  This would suggest that he saw this section as one section, just as I have divided the psalm into two sections at that same point.  He also ascribes this psalm to David, something we don’t know from the psalm itself.  Then in verses 12-19, the writer demonstrates a few basic principles.  First, the original context was that the nation of Israel as a whole hardened their hearts, but there was a remnant that did not harden their hearts, verse 16, “for some, howbeit not all”.  Second, the author is applying the same principle to the current believers to whom he is writing.  He admonishes them not to do the same thing that the nation of Israel did, verse 12-13.  Third, he places a condition upon the rest to which he is alluding by telling them that only if they hold the beginning of their confidence to the end will they enter into that promised rest, verse 14.

 

1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ " although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; 5 and again in this place: "They shall not enter My rest." 6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, "Today," after such a long time, as it has been said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

 

Hebrews 4:1-11 demonstrates the “already, not-yet” aspect of the Sabbath rest of God.  In verse 3 it states that God’s work has been finished from the foundation of the world, so the creation is complete.  Those who have believed have entered into that rest, because they are, in one sense, complete.  But this is on an individual level.  Verse 4 begins to unfold the relationship of the creation rest to the promised land rest.  God rested from His creation on the seventh day.  Yet the psalms stated there was yet another rest for the people of God.

 

Here is where most A-Millennialists miss the subtlety of what the author of Hebrews is saying.  He states that the nation of Israel did not enter into that promised rest because of unbelief.  Years later, in the days of David, the invitation is renewed for the nation of Israel to enter into that promised land of rest.  This shows, contrary to most Preterist and A-Millennialist teachings, that the Abrahamic promises were not fulfilled during the days of Joshua.  If this were so, David would not have prophesied of another day.  He states, “Today” after such a long time after the days of Joshua.  So the invitation to the nation of Israel is given afresh during the days of David.  The writer then makes this startling conclusion.  Therefore, there remains a future rest for the people of God.  So the nation as a whole has not entered into that rest as the people of God, even in the days when the book of Hebrews was written.

 

Only a remnant of Israelites entered the promised land by faith.  Even after the remnant entered the land, David speaks of another rest for His people, the people of Israel.  The writer to the Hebrews then concludes that there remains yet a future rest for the people of God.  There is nothing here to suggest that the church has replaced the nation of Israel.  The author of Hebrews is still operating under the premise that in the days of Moses there was a godly Israelite remnant within the nation of Israel and correlates that same principle to the believers to whom he is writing.  Otherwise, why would he caution them to take care lest there be an unbelieving heart in even one of his audience?  The same Israelites who were led out of Egypt were also those who fell in the wilderness, not being of the remnant of faith.  The writer to the Hebrews is concluding that there remains a rest for the nation of Israel.  He saw Psalm 95 as still future in his day.

 

Before moving on, I would like to state that the similarity to Ladd’s theology is uncanny.  Ladd asserted that the disciples of Jesus represented the true Israel, not a new Israel.  The church was the Israelite remnant that God had been working through all along who also stood as the eschatological people of God waiting for the glorious appearing of the Messiah.  He also founded the already/not yet view of the kingdom as taught in the NT.  We see all of this here in the Hebrews passage.

 

1 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!

Sing to the Lord, all the earth.

2 Sing to the Lord, bless His name;

Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.

3 Declare His glory among the nations,

His wonders among all peoples.

 

10 Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns;

The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved;

He shall judge the peoples righteously."

11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;

Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;

12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.

Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.

13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.

He shall judge the world with righteousness,

And the peoples with His truth.

 

In Psalm 95, it is the Israelite remnant that God is addressing which is poised to enter the promised land by faith.  In Psalm 96 it the Israelite remnant singing the new song among the nations.  There is a transition in between the two chapters.  Something has happened to this Israelite remnant.  They are no longer crying out to God for vengeance.  There is no more mention of persecution.  Now they seem to be victoriously proclaiming the Kingdom of the LORD.  They sing, proclaim, and give glory to the LORD who they view as already reigning here on earth.  They view themselves as God’s forerunners, telling the world that He reigns, and that He comes promptly.  In short, the nation of Israel has entered the community of faith, or the church.  98:3 focuses on the fulfillment of God’s promises to the nation of Israel contained within these psalms.

 

3 He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness

to the house of Israel;

All the ends of the earth have seen

the salvation of our God.

 

This is why the title to this series of psalms is called A Psalm for the Sabbath, or as I have termed it, The Apocalypse of the Sabbath.  It shows how the nation of Israel enters into that Sabbath rest as a nation.  They did not enter that Sabbath rest in the days of Moses, Joshua, or even David.  In the days of the New Testament church they still hadn’t entered in.  But in the future, under the conditions portrayed in these psalms, the nation of Israel will enter into that rest.  As they do, the LORD comes to judge the entire earth.

 

Can we correlate the remnant of this passage with the 144,000 of Revelation?  I believe we can.  But it must be remembered that the 144,000 are only the firstfruits, Revelation 14:4.  The entire nation of Israel will be saved, Isaiah 59:20-21, Romans 11:25-27.  So this remnant of Psalm 95 could represent the 144,000 while the rest of Israel comes to that place of faith at a later point in time.  The new song of Psalm 96 may very well be the new song of Revelation 14:3.

 

Based on what we have seen in these psalms, did the nation of Israel misunderstand the preaching of John the Baptist and Jesus when they proclaimed the Kingdom of God at hand?  Or did they understand it correctly?  Jesus was calling out from the nation of Israel that true remnant of faith.  He appointed His disciples as the eschatological people of God.  They were to proclaim the kingdom as being a present reality even before the LORD shines forth in vengeance, just as we saw in the passage.  The reason why the nation of Israel as a whole did not enter the kingdom is because they did not seek after it by faith, Romans 9:31-33.  It wasn’t due to the fact that they thought that Jesus would defeat the Romans.  They simply didn’t believe in a future kingdom at all.  They cried out, “We have no king but Caesar!”  The day will come, though, when Israel cries out, “We have no king but Messiah Jesus!”

 

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

 

-The Orange Mailman

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One Response to Enter into My Rest

  1. Pingback: Links for the Series on Prophetic Apocalypse in the Psalms | The Orange Mailman

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