In the last two posts, we highlighted two things. First, we enter God's rest by faith. Second, God's rest is actually his rule and reign. Please take a moment to read these two posts first if you haven't yet and then come back to this one! You'll get a lot more out of it that way.
But how do we fit into this picture? Well, to begin with, we saw that to rest means to reign and rule. A significant truth is revealed about this by understanding something you may not have known about the tabernacle of Moses. God deliberately designed the whole camp, centering upon the tabernacle, to mimic the pattern of Egyptian military encampments of that same period of time. Egyptians camps had the same three-part structure, the same measurements, were oriented toward the east, and in the innermost chamber had an image of Pharaoh, which rested with two winged creatures on either side. The Egyptians believed that the soul or spirit of Pharaoh resided in the idol, so that Pharaoh was with them, whether he was physically present or not. Their camps were surrounded by troops divided into four units.
What was the point God was making? He was sending a message to the Egyptians as well as trying to give a revelation to his people of who he was and what he was going to do for them. Even as the idolatrous Pharaoh led his troops from his innermost chamber, so the God of Israel led his troops from the Most Holy place, which contained no Egyptian idol but the majesty presence of Almighty God himself. Israel’s tabernacle was a travelling war headquarters from which God, in his place of rest, directed his troops until they achieved total victory. This shows us that God’s people are meant to exercise his authority on earth.
God’s rest reveals his sovereign power. God’s rest is not his retirement -- it is his reign! It is the place of rulership where all his enemies have been defeated. Why does Scripture say repeatedly of God that he is “enthroned above the cherubim” (2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 13:6; Psalm 80:1, 99:1)? God did not go into the tabernacle or the temple to sit down and retire. He went in to sit down on his throne and reign!
So if the Israelites were meant to rule and reign, what about the church? Because of what Christ did, what is true of Israel is even more true of the church! In Ephesians 2:5-6, Paul makes three amazing statements. We may have read them so many times they no longer seem amazing to us, but they should. He uses three compound verbs, all beginning with the Greek preposition sun, meaning “together with,” to describe what God has done for us. He made us alive together with Christ, he raised us up together with Christ, and he seated us in heavenly places together with Christ.
These three verbs express an astonishing truth which, if we comprehend it not just in our mind but in our spirit, will change the way we look at everything. And this is the life-changing truth: what God accomplished in and for Christ he accomplished also for us. God made Christ alive. He has done the same for us. He raised Christ from the dead. He has done the same for us. He seated Christ in heavenly places. He has done the same for us.
You and I, who just an instant ago were lost sinners enslaved to the world, the flesh and the devil, now share in the destiny of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We are taken up out of our despair, our darkness and our depression into his life, his glory, his power and his authority. We are taken into his very throne room to sit beside him, to reign and rule. What God gave to Christ, he has given to us. What God purposes for Christ, he purposes for us. The authority God gives to Christ, he gives to us.
Where the devil seeks to blind us to our authority, Jesus gives his truth to set us free (John 8:32). Take your place of rest, and begin to share his rule!