Times of Refreshing

Isaiah speaks of a time when "the priest and the prophet have erred", are "out of the way", and "stumble in judgment". How? "Through wine, and through strong drink." Isaiah 28:7. Perhaps this is the result of simple alcoholic intoxication, but more likely from drinking false doctrines, lies, and deceptive fables, because they say, "We have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves." Isa 28:15.

The question is then asked, "Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine?" Isa 28:9. And then that famous passage follows: "For precept upon precept...line upon a little, there a little" Isa 28:10. This is God's way of teaching knowledge and making us understand doctrine.

How the God of Israel wanted to save His people! Through Isaiah He assured them, "This is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest: and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear." Isa 28:12. What was this time of rest and refreshing which they refused? This invitation to rest was the last offer of mercy given to Judah before the southern kingdom was to be given into the hands of the king of Babylon "when the overflowing scourge shall pass through" (Isa 28:18), the city burned, the temple destroyed, and the people taken into exile.

We are told about this last chance for God's people to rest in their own land and to save the City of David in Jeremiah 34. The children of Israel had been instructed to not only keep the seventh day Sabbath every week, but to let the land keep sabbath every seventh year as Moses recorded in Leviticus 25:4. And in the seventh year, the Hebrew slaves were to be set free (Exodus 21:1-6). It was a failure to observe this statute that required the people to be taken out of their land "until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath" 2 Chronicles 36:21. Jeremiah had warned them what would happen if the inhabitants of Jerusalem did not "hallow the sabbath day to do no work therein" Jer 17:24. "Then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched" Jer 17:27. "But they obeyed not, either inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff" Jer 17:23.

So, the last chance was given. "King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them; that every man should let his manservant, and every man his maidservant, a Hebrew...go free" Jer 34:8-9. This was a seventh year opportunity for the Israelites to keep at least one land sabbath and receive the blessing of Jehovah. "When all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant...go free...they obeyed, and let them go."Jer 34:10

This is what God was waiting for! Finally, that seventh year the king and the princes made a covenant to observe the seventh year provision for setting free their Hebrew servants. "You were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbor" Jer 34:15. "But afterward they turned, and caused the servants, whom they had let go, to return, and brought them into subjection" Jer 34:11. So the Lord reminded them of the seventh year covenant. "I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying, At the end of seven years let go every man his brother an Hebrew...but your fathers hearkened not unto me" Jer 34:13,14. It looked like these last day princes would do what their fathers had failed to do. "But you turned (also) and polluted my name." Like Pharaoh the princes changed their mind and took back their servants denying them their seventh year freedom.

What could have been a year of rest for the weary and refreshing for the land and all the people, became a year of destruction and bondage. At little over four centuries later, in the final 70th seek of time, a final invitation was given to the Jewish people by Jesus Himself. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The Lord of the Sabbath was offering the ultimate rest, "rest unto your souls" Matthew 11:28-29. And again the people responded just like they did in Isaiah and Jeremiah's day, "But you would not" Matthew 23:37. And they were left, desolate, without the Prince of Peace to protect them from the destroying Romans.

We are now at the final end of time. Once again, the invitation is being made to His remnant people. The "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" are when our sins may be blotted out. Acts 3:19. It's the "times of restitution of all things" Acts 3:20. The hour of God's judgment is come (Rev 14:7), the judgment has been set and the books have been opened (Dan 7:10). The King is inspecting the guests who have come at His invitation to the wedding feast of His Son (Matt 22:2,11). Will they at least this one last time accept His rest, His time of refreshing?

Will we "worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea, and the fountains of waters"? Rev 14:7
Will we "remember now our Creator in the days of our youth"? Ecc 12:1
Will we "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy"? Exo 20:8
Will we "remember His marvelous works that He has done"? 1Chr 16:12
Will we "remember His wonders of old"? Psalm 77:11
Will we "remember this day" when He brought them "out of the house of bondage"? Exo 13:3
    the same day that He died to release us from the bondage of sin.
Will we "remember how He spoke unto you", that He would be crucified and raised again"? Luke 24:6-7
Will we "remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead"? 2Tim 2:8
Will we "remember therefore how we have received and heard"? Rev 3:3
Will we "remember the law of Moses with the statutes and judgments"? Malachi 4:4
Will we be refreshed with Him at the times of His refreshing? Exo 31:17

Grace and peace be unto you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Father in truth and love. 2 John 3

Gary Hullquist