By George H. Warnock
Abraham, the Father of All who Believe
"How slow we are to comprehend that in God's design and purpose, He would have a people in the earth walking in the same Spirit that our Lord Jesus walked in. Not to make ourselves equal with Jesus. For we are much less, much weaker - yet knowing that God's strength is "made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9). And Jesus Himself as the Son of God, voluntarily took the role of a slave, a bondslave who did all that His Master wanted Him to do.
Surely the more we are filled with the Spirit, the more meek and humble do we become, because that is the nature of the Holy Dove that rested upon Jesus. And therefore Jesus told His disciples that when He went away, He would send the Comforter to abide with them in His stead. And through Him they would do the same works that He had done, because they would be baptized with the same Spirit. And even greater works, because He would be exalted to the Throne with all power in Heaven and in Earth, and interceding for them before the Father.
We are not talking about the "old Adam" in us attaining the stature that Jesus walked in. We are talking about the old Adam being crucified with Christ, that the Seed of the Last Adam might bring forth a New Man from the Seed that He has implanted in the soil of our hearts.
Two Adams and Two Adamic Races
We are inclined to think this way: Jesus had a great advantage over us, because He had no sin nature, and we do! True, but in God's glorious plan of Redemption, we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus (the Last Adam) by simply believing in the Man Christ Jesus as our Sin-bearer and Substitute. And then by matchless grace, He puts His Spirit in our hearts, who abides there as our Advocate and Intercessor in the earth -- to show us the way by which we shall overcome the Old Adam, that the New Adam might reign as King in our lives.
It is true that our Lord was born without the sin nature, and what assurance this gives us! How else could He become our Redeemer? But He was still subject to temptation as we are, and He was subject to the trial of obedience, as we are. Even the First Adam was created without a sin nature, and yet he fell -- not because of inherent sin, but because of an act of disobedience.
The first Adam chose to disobey. "Adam was not deceived" is the clear word of the apostle (1 Tim 2:14). He wasn't tricked into it, like Eve was. He chose to disobey. It must have been because he knew Eve was the only creature God had made that was compatible with himself. Adam loved her, and she was very close to his heart, for she was made from a rib that God took out from Adam's side as he slept. He deliberately chose to go the way of disobedience, to save his marriage. How could he live without his beloved wife who was now on death-row because of her disobedience to God? He loved her, and chose to share the penalty of death with her.
We mention this as a background to what we know about the Last Adam, and how He avoided the pathway of disobedience. It was the Father's plan and purpose to undo the tragedy of the Fall, and Jesus came out from the bosom of the Father, to be another Adam in the earth, born of "the seed of the woman" but conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was therefore without sin, but He too would be subject to trial and testing, for anything or anybody that cannot endure trial and testing, is not worthy to be in God's Kingdom.
The test of Adam and Eve was very simple. It would involve no hardship. But the dazzling gem of the fruit on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was too much for Eve to resist.
Our Lord (the Last Adam) was subjected to a very severe trial also. Would He be true to the covenant He declared in the prophetic Psalm: "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God!" Or would He fail? The trial was in His pathway all through life. 'Son, You are to become the Lamb for the Burnt Offering, and in so doing You will deliver My people from their captivity to the Law of Sin and Death. But You must learn obedience in order to annul the disobedience of Adam. I have ordained a Bride for You, as I did for Adam. In Your obedience to Me, You must sleep in death, a death brought about by cruel hatred and malice at the hands of a rebellious mob. Only then will this Bride be redeemed and washed and cleansed from all her filthiness. For Your Bride will be chosen from the sons and daughters of Adam, redeemed by the blood of the Cross, upon which You must die.'
Our precious Lord and Saviour made a full commitment: I will walk in obedience, for the sake of my Bride that You have promised Me.
And so we have the story of our redemption. By one act of disobedience of the First Adam we all fell into sin and disobedience by natural generation. And it was by one act of obedience that the Last Adam prevailed. Not denying of course that He learned obedience through His life, as He walked in union with the Father. Nevertheless His life of obedience culminated in a final act of obedience by which we are redeemed. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous" (Rom 5:19).
Calvary was in no sense a tragedy -- something that could have been avoided if, if, if -- All these Ifs must be shut out of our minds, when we realize that our Lord Jesus came as a Lamb, ordained of God to be slain for our redemption. In the outworking of God's sovereign purposes, this Lamb knew He was ordained to die for His people, but "for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb 12:2). The Captain of our salvation must be made "perfect through sufferings" (Heb 2:10). This sacrificial Lamb anticipated the Day when a glorious Church would come forth, He being the Head: "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph 5:27). He anticipated the day when this holy Bride would be revealed, and one of the holy angels was excited when he saw her, and said to John: "Come hither, I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife" (Rev 21:9).
We must emphasize the perfections of this Holy Bride, these overcoming Sons, this Holy Nation, this Royal Priesthood, for they are called by many names. We must be convinced that God's plan for us is to become Holiness to the Lord, "A crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God" (Isa 62:3). And many people draw back, thinking they are too unworthy, too human, too carnal, to ever come to such a state, until they get to Heaven. Do these people really believe that it would be easier for God to take them to Heaven, than to work in their lives the perfections of Christ while they walk here in the earth? God designed that the great redemptive work by which we come forth in God's own image and likeness, would take place right here in the earth; and the Lord from Heaven came to earth, to become the Last Adam, our sin-bearer. And now by His mediatorial ministry in the heavens, He will continue to faithfully minister all those virtues and qualities that are in Him, through His Holy Spirit, to His chosen ones in the earth.
His mandate is secure. Jesus knows what it is all about. He is the "Mediator of a New Covenant" which is not like the old one, "written and engraven in stones." But a New Covenant where He writes His righteousness, His mercy, His grace, His beauty, His faithfulness, His own nature and character on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit. And He will continue to do so until God has procured for His Son a Holy Bride, made ready by precious blood sprinkled on the heart, and by the renewing grace of His Holy Spirit within us.
We are purged from sin and disobedience by the efficacy of Jesus' blood, and our obedience to the Gospel, which the apostle Paul calls "the obedience of faith." The regenerating power of the Holy Spirit transforms us to become heirs of the will of the Last Adam. We hear Him saying in prophetic voice in the Psalms: "Lo I come to do Thy will O God." When this Will of God becomes our Will, by virtue of the new Seed planted within us, growing within us, and coming to fruition within us, and our minds are renewed by the same Spirit -- then we are able to overcome even as He overcame.
God is Preparing a Resting Place for Himself
I recall reading how Augustine said something like this: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O LORD, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee." I never forgot that gem of truth. But in more recent years I came to understand there is a counterpart to that:
"God created Man that He might find His resting place in Man, and God can never find rest, until He finds His habitation in Man."
Isaiah declares this state of restlessness in God:
"For Zion's sake will I not hold My peace,
And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
Until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness,
And the salvation thereof as a Lamp that Burneth."
Now God is so eager to see His glory shining forth in His people, that He actually sets watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, to continually remind Him of His own Vision - until it happens!
"I have set watchmen upon thy walls,
Which shall never hold their peace
Day nor night;
Ye that make mention of the LORD,
Keep not silence and give Him no rest,
Till He establish, and till He make
Jerusalem a Praise in the earth."
Certainly, brethren, we are often in a state of restlessness as we consider our circumstances, our failures, our barrenness - our helplessness to deal with hopeless conditions that abound in our lives, or in the world about us. If only God would make this deep impression on our hearts, that God will not let us REST, in any degree of fullness, until we cease from our own works, and until God's pleasure in our lives becomes the all-consuming purpose for which we live.
For it is not about the Canadian Dream, or the American Dream - It's all about Him, and His Glory, and His Resting-place, and His Vision for His people.
Never could the Mighty God discover a habitation and resting place for Himself in the vast realms of the heavens, nor in the angelic beings He has created, nor yet in the beautiful unspoiled, untarnished earth that He had created. Only Man created in His image, could become a true resting-place for the Most High God. And so when man sinned and fell away from His Creator, God's Sabbath Rest was broken. Any tent or temple that God ordained in the past, were but for a season, and served only as a faint shadow of the Temple He found in our Lord Jesus Christ when He was here. And now since His ascension, His glorious body of which He is the Head, is designed of God to be His own Temple, His own resting-place. Not another Temple, but a Temple of which He is the "Chief Cornerstone" - a glorious Body, of which He is the Head.
We can't help but pause here for a moment to emphasize this undeniable fact - which should be very obvious to us all. How could the Mighty One "who inhabiteth eternity" ever delight in any kind of structure or temple or palace that man might build for the glory of God? Even Solomon who built a very costly and magnificent temple in Jerusalem, which God ordained for a season -- recognized that it was just a place where His Name might be known in Israel, and where men might come from other nations, who would hear about the fame of Yahweh, Israel's mighty God. It was ordained simply to be "an house of prayer for all people" (Isa 56:7, Lk 19:46). And when in the process of time the people of God went their own way and despised His Name, God raised up prophets to denounce their hypocrisy.
"The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest?" (Isa 66:1). God's real quest in ordaining this magnificent structure built by the wisdom of Solomon, was that a man of penitent heart, and humbled before God, might have an altar upon which he might offer his sacrifice, and a house of prayer. Only then would that man himself become a place where his Creator might find rest.
And so He challenges His people, and all men today who would bring sacrifice and worship into a temple they have made:
"Where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word" (see Isa 66:1,2). God can only delight and find rest in men who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, and bring glory to His great name, with a humble and a contrite heart.
Certainly God will yet choose a remnant of the natural Israel, who are "beloved for the fathers' sakes." But let us never forget that Gentiles, washed in the blood of Jesus, have already been grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel, because of Israel's failure to receive their Messiah. And when those branches of Israel, cut off and dead, are grafted back into their Olive Tree, they become part of the same tree that we as Gentiles were grafted into by His grace (see Rom 11:19-25). It is in this context that the apostle tells us: "And so all Israel shall be saved" (vs 26). "All Israel" -- all who are in this Covenant Tree of Israel: the wild branches from the Gentiles who abide in the Tree, and the dead branches of Israel, whom God will graft back into their Covenant Tree, in the day when God will turn their hearts back to Him. The wall of partition that separated the Jew from the Gentile has been torn down -- and together they are one new man in Christ (see Eph 2:15). Some of those dead branches are coming into the Tree now, but only a small remnant. But those who are "beloved for the fathers' sakes" will yet come back into the Tree after "the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (Rom 11:25).
In Ephesians, Paul speaks of a House, in which God tears down the wall of partition, to create one new Man from this union of Jew and Gentile. Whereas in Romans, Paul is speaking of a Tree, where the wild olive branches are brought into the Covenant Tree of Israel, and "grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the Olive Tree" (Rom 11:17). But whether it be called the House of God, or the Covenant Tree -- these two warring factions, who have been constantly at enmity with each other -- together they discover total Peace in Christ! And they are "one New Man" because they have been washed in the blood of Jesus!
I am amazed how many Christians these days are seeking to become involved with Jewish customs and traditions, in the hope of reaching Israel for Christ. A few years ago there was a tremendous interest by Christian people, in a spotless "red heifer" they discovered, a perfect specimen for Israel's sacrifices. Do God's people not understand that the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross has done away with the sacrifices of the Old Testament?
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb 9:13,14). The Word tells us clearly, that if there is any efficacy or purpose in those former sacrifices, "Would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins" (Heb 10:2). There is no other sacrifice, nor ever can be -- because the sacrifice He offered was once for all "when He offered up Himself" (Heb 7:27). His sacrifice was totally acceptable to God, and totally sufficient. And for those having received the "knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins" (Heb 10:26).
I am confident God will yet raise up a true Testimony of Jesus to carry this Gospel of the Kingdom to the land of Israel, as well as to the four corners of the earth. And I do not mean a message only, or a teaching from the Bible only, but a living Word that will go forth: "not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1 Cor 2:4).
A New Sabbath for God's New Man
We have talked about God's Habitation in Man; and in this context we must talk about God's Sabbath Rest, for these concepts are very much the same. When God had finished the old creation, which culminated in a Man in His image, He ordained the seventh day as a Sabbath. But His rest was not for long. The man He had made in His image sinned, and God's "rest" was disturbed, and once again God went to work. He worked many centuries in the hearts of men, waiting for the time when the woman's Seed would bruise the head of the Serpent (see Gen 3:15). The Seed was none other than our Lord Jesus, who would bruise the Serpent's head, and in Him the Father found true Rest. In this Man, after so long a time, God had once again enjoyed a Sabbath Rest, and this Man was Himself the true Temple of God, as He walked in the earth. When Jesus had driven the money-changers out of the Temple, some of the Jews came to Him and asked for a sign to demonstrate why He had taken that very severe action, and Who gave Him that authority? Jesus said to them, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (Jn 2:19). It was a blinding truth, and it became a stumbling block to their rebellious hearts. What a ridiculous thing to say that He would raise up a Temple from the rubble in three days -- a temple that took 46 years to build!
"But He spake of the Temple of His body" (vs 21). He was the true Temple where God Most High had taken up His habitation. God had found perfect rest in His Son. And as the Father ministered in and through this Man, it was God drawing closer and closer to the offspring of Adam's fallen race: not only to bring them back to God, but to prepare them "for an Habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph 2:22). He assures us that we too may become a part of this House, this Habitation, as we come into oneness with the Son. We do not become another Temple, but we become a part of Him -- a further enlargement of the Temple that He is.
There is no record of men keeping the Sabbath until the giving of the Law at Sinai. Even in Egyptian bondage, the people of Israel continued to worship the gods of the heathen (see Ezek 20:7-13). Yet God continued to work among them for His Name's sake. Then He gave Israel His holy laws at Sinai, including the Sabbath laws. These laws were compulsory, and if broken, there were very severe punishments. But His people never experienced a real Sabbath Rest, because of their consistent rebellion against God.
Then Jesus came to earth, to carry on the work of the Father, saying, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (Jn 5:17). He would even do the Father's work on the Sabbath day, because to the Lord Jesus, every day was a Sabbath, as He rested in the Father, and the Father rested in Him. Of course He got into real trouble with the Scribes and Pharisees over this, for they did not know that in doing the Father's will He was really walking in Sabbath Rest every day. All through His ministry in the earth Jesus continued working, to bring God and Man into this new Sabbath Rest of the New Creation order.
The Bible speaks much of God's Rest. The land of Canaan was spoken of as a Land of Rest - where His people would partake of rest and of fruitfulness and of victory over their enemies (see Josh 1:13-15). But even though they took the Land of Canaan and dwelt in it, they really did not discover the Rest that God had in mind for them.
"For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day" ( Heb 4:8). (Note: the context of this passage refers to "Joshua" - but the KJV uses "Jesus." The names Jesus and Joshua are virtually the same in the Greek). By a revelation of the Spirit, the apostle Paul discovered this other Day of Rest that David spoke about, and which the children of Israel had not discovered. They had great victories, and took the land God had promised. But Paul reminds us that if Joshua had really brought them into the Rest that God had in mind, then God would not have spoken of still another Day. But He did speak of another day, in the psalms of David. And what Day is that?
"Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart" (Ps 95:7,8).
Some may feel that today ought not to be so specific. Tomorrow should be good enough. We often hear the expression, Tomorrow is another day, but God limits our day of opportunity to "TODAY, if ye will hear His voice."
Why not Tomorrow?
Let me illustrate the fatal decision Israel made when they waited for tomorrow. After their long journey through the wilderness they came to the doorstep of Canaan. Then they sent 12 men to spy out the Land of Canaan that God had promised them. Most of them came back with an evil report (Num 14:37). None of the 12 spies could deny it was a good land, but 10 of them said, We can't take it! The inhabitants of the Land are too powerful! But two of them (Caleb and Joshua) tried to persuade them to obey God and go in. Caleb said "Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it" (Num 13:30). All Israel missed their Day of opportunity, because they voted in favour of the majority, the ten spies who came back from Canaan with an evil report. They had heard a clear word from Caleb and Joshua, but they refused to walk in obedience to the Word of God. They did not "mix the word with faith, in them that heard it" (see Heb 4:2). God would teach us that when a living Word comes forth from the heart of God, faith is available right there, to walk in obedience, and do what God says, if we mix the Word with faith. But the decision of the majority prevailed, and that whole generation failed to enter into the Canaan Sabbath Rest. I think it is fair to say, that in Bible days, the decision of the majority was very often, perhaps usually, wrong.
Now all this happened TODAY! But the next day they realized their mistake, formed a make-shift army, and went against the enemy. Moses told them not to go, but they went anyway. The result was total disaster. They were routed and put to flight by the men of Canaan. It was no longer TODAY. TODAY had slipped by in their unbelief; and Tomorrow was too late. God said this band of men went forth and attacked the enemy, not in faith but in presumption! (see Num 14:44). Note that God calls it presumption when we attempt to do something without having clear direction from the Lord!
What is this Rest that Remains for God's people?
It is important to recognize that the apostle uses these references to the Sabbath Rest to give us great hope, as well as much caution.
Great hope, because it is still TODAY. We still read these words and hear the good news of Rest and Delight in God, in this world of chaos.
Much caution, because this Word comes to us TODAY, with no assurance that we will be able to hear it TOMORROW. "TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness." Of that generation, God spoke these solemn words: "Unto whom I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest" (see Ps 95:7-11).
"Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again, He limiteth (defines, ordains) a certain day, saying in David, TODAY, after so long a time; as it is said, TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb 4:6,7).
Let us be assured what God means by the Rest that remains for the people of God. He has appointed still another day for His people, because it is a mutual rest! God must find Rest for Himself; and if we do not discover our rest in God, He cannot discover His rest in us!
Then how long will Today continue? This, we do not know. And therefore God's Word to all of us is very solemn, and very clear: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb 3:12,13).
And how was Israel supposed to keep their Sabbath days unto the Lord?
"Not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words" - but walking in His ways, doing His pleasure, and speaking His words (see Isa 58:13). This verse confirms very well the Sabbath that we are talking about. Whatever the will of God might be in your walk with the Lord Jesus, do it as unto Him at all times, for the true Sabbath is "Today." God calls it "My Sabbath" - because He finds true Rest and Delight and Joy in His people, when they cease their endless works, and find their Rest in Him.
"There remaineth therefore a rest (Gr 'Sabbatismos') for the people of God." It's something like we would say: I walk in the blessing of baptism (Gr 'Baptismos'), because I was baptized in water, and into Christ. Our baptism into Christ is a once-for-all work of grace, but we abide in that work of grace day by day. And likewise I cease from my own works daily, and find rest (a Sabbatismos) in the finished work of the Cross.
Zion, the City of God's Habitation
This may sound frustrating. But the labour must be in the Spirit. The word means to be diligent in our walk with God, that we might have intimate communion with Him -- hearing His voice, and abiding in Him, and He in us. I know we all fall short of this abiding union with Him. But we must know that He is our Mediator in the heavens, interceding for us that we do not fall short of His desire for us. He will not fail in His advocacy on our behalf, until we find our total Delight in God, and He finds His total Delight in us.
When the apostle tells us to give diligence to enter in, he emphasizes that it is through a living Word, activated by His Spirit - otherwise the frustration of our own labours will defeat us. When God speaks, that Word is "quick (alive), and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb 4:12).
Instead of saying, the Word is not working that way, and lamenting over it, let us seek the Lord very earnestly for the manifest Presence of Christ in our midst, and then it will happen the way God said! When we have come to perfect Love, He will come and abide in us in Rest and Joy and Delight, and we will hear God singing for joy in our midst, fulfilling the prophecy of Zephaniah:
"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;
He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy;
He will rest in His love,
He will joy over thee with singing."
May we all anticipate the Day when God will have found such Rest in us, that He will rejoice over us with singing!
Now in all that we have said about The Sabbath Rest of the Lord being TODAY, we must keep in mind Paul's exhortation to the Romans. We are not to judge any man who, in his walk with God chooses to keep a certain day as special unto the Lord. This is all part of our liberty in the Spirit, to keep all days the same, or to observe one day above another.
Nor are they to judge our liberty, if we observe all days the same - as we do it unto the Lord, and enjoy God's Sabbath Rest every day (see Rom 14:5-6).