Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Rest of 2012


We are already 4 days into this new year – my how time flies! Most of us managed to get the year started off right but:

What are we going to do with the rest of 2012?

This past Sunday was the 1st … not only the first day of the week but the first day of our 2012, and we began the new year strong by proclaiming it as a year of Jubilee.

That sounds good and all, but what does it really mean? When Jesus preached His first in His home Church in Nazareth just after He was baptized by John in the Jordan River, He referenced one of Isaiah’s prophecies as His text. We read a portion of that prophecy Sunday. You remember:

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." (Luke 4:18-19)

The “acceptable year” of the Lord is the year of Jubilee. Out of the 20 times the word Jubilee is mentioned in the Bible, 19 of those times are found in only 1 book, Leviticus, and 14 of those references are contained in only 1 chapter. Let’s turn there now to discover the intent of Jubilee:

Leviticus 25

1 ¶ And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying,

2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ’When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD.

3 ’Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit;

4 ’but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

5 ’What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land.

6 ’And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you,

7 ’for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land — all its produce shall be for food.

8 ¶ ’And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.

9 ’Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land.

10 ’And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.

11 ’That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine.

12 ’For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.

13 ’In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession.

14 ’And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another.

20 ’And if you say, "What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?"

21 ’Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years.

These Sabbaths were very important to God, His Children and His land. Sabbath refers to a ceasing of labor and an observance of rest.

God worked six days and on the 7th day He rested. The 4th Commandment of God was to observe a day of rest in remembrance of God ceasing from His labor on the 7th day of creation.

Jubilee is a Sabbath of Sabbaths – The Ultimate Day of Rest

That’s what Jesus proclaimed with His message – The fulfillment of God’s intent to offer unto man an ultimate day of rest. (Adam Clarke’s bible commentary on this subject says that this rest is a “state of blessedness” which “procures and communicates the eternal glory” of God.)

Hence my title for tonight’s message: “The Rest of 2012”

What will you do with the rest of 2012?

To conclude our thoughts on this subject for tonight, allow me to read a passage from the New Living Translation.

Hebrews 4

1 ¶ God’s promise of entering His place of rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to get there.

2 For this Good News—that God has prepared a place of rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t believe what God told them.

3 For only we who believe can enter His place of rest. As for those who didn’t believe, God said, "In my anger I made a vow: ‘They will never enter My place of rest,’" even though his place of rest has been ready since He made the world. (NLT)

The scriptures tell us that the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and then centuries later went into captivity all because they would not enter into God’s rest. The rest which only comes by faith – believing in and trusting upon God’s finished work.

Verse 11 of Hebrews 4 begins, “Let us be diligent and do our best to enter that rest”.

How can we make the most of “The Rest of 2012”? – We enter God’s rest by trusting Him and relying on the fact that He has had everything ready for 2012 ever since He first made the world. Trust Him, obey Him, be diligent and do your best … Put your trust in God and let the rest begin!