THIS SERIES: JOURNEY INTO REST
When Adam & Eve rebelled against God, the consequence was that they were banned from the Garden of Eden, the representation of perfect fruitfulness. Instead of enjoying productive, and blessed labour in relationship with the Father, they would from that time onwards have to wrest their living from an earth cursed with thorns and thistles [Genesis 3:17-19] – barren toil and slavery had entered human history.
Slave labour profits the master, not the worker; slave labour is about sweat, toil and drivenness; slave labour eats up the strength of the labourer, strains relationships and sneers at recreation; slave labour focuses on the end results, achieved by any means.
When the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, this was the lifestyle they left behind. What they were promised in their new land was not a life of unrelenting leisure, but fruitfulness, the Lord’s blessing on the work of their hands [Deuteronomy 8].
We know that slavery is still a terrible fact of life for many in our modern world; communities live oppressed by brutal regimes, human lives are trafficked for financial gain, and women and children are kept in subjugation in many regions – including our own. And it is essential we support the work to bring freedom where there is tyranny; but slavery is not just a physical state, slavery is also a condition of the heart.
In our modern western world, success is determined by production, status by achievement, and worth by material acquisition; and the key to all this glory is the self: human beings can do anything if they try hard enough. And so the internet and bookstores are full of self-help manuals, and the working day is driven by targets and data analysis. And the net result? Health services which are groaning with stress-related illnesses; an escalation in relationship breakdown with all its repercussions; and serious personal unrest.
We were created for something more than this……
Fruitfulness is different. We never see fruit trees in an orchard groaning and straining to produce a crop. Fruit is the natural consequence of life coursing through a tree planted in healthy ground and supplied with water and nutrients. The key is not in the effort of the tree, but in the quality of the provision.
Fruitfulness is a big deal in the New Testament. Jesus expected His followers to bear much fruit - in godly character, in answered prayer, in advancing the Kingdom, and in good works*. And He made every provision for our success.
When Jesus was crucified, significantly a crown of thorns was rammed upon His head; along with every other curse born by humankind, He took on Himself the curse of thorns and thistles, the curse of unproductive labour from the Garden of Eden.
And when He cried out, 'It is finished!' every scheme of the Evil One was rendered impotent.
The ground was prepared for fruitfulness….
Let's take time to reflect on this - and make sure we benefit from from His amazing sacrifice; this powerful truth has the potential to alter the course of our lives!
[*Matthew 28:19,20; Luke 10:1-21; John 15, Romans 7:4; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 2; Colossians 1 – to name but a few!]
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