By Elizabeth Prata
Are the weeks getting longer, or is it just me? By the time Friday comes, I’m just too pooped to pop. Of course, I’m thrilled to have been working in a job I love, so no complaints there.
Weekends are an opportunity to rest and reflect on the week. Sundays are days for worship and fellowship, praising Him. In short, weekends are not only respite from the busy week but a clearing of space and time to reflect on the relationship I have with Him.
The Bible does not speak much of the concept of physical rest, except that when it does speak of rest, it is always in the future. The Bible does speak much about work. Paul uses many active verbs to describe our life here on earth- walk, strive, wrestle, run…
There are few people resting in the Bible. Even in Genesis 49:15 where Jacob said “When he saw that a resting place was good, And that the land was pleasant, He bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, And became a slave at forced labor” it means that they saw that the place was permanent and full of potential, so they worked hard to prepare it for the day in the future when they could rest.
Of course, the most important mention of rest was in Genesis 2:3 where God Himself rested on the 7th day. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
I like to be busy for the Lord and to use every minute I can to do His will and further His kingdom. But at times we have to stop. Continual work for the sake of work is not good. Though God was not tired, He stopped and rested on the seventh day to show us we need it. In addition, He didn’t just stop and rest, He blessed the day, AND He made it holy.
Hebrews 4 discusses rest. In that verse, the LORD is called the Rest. Heaven is the place of rest. (Also Hebrews 3:11).
The rest is not just physical rest as we think of it, like laying down, or napping, or sleeping. It is a rest from the struggle against sin, rest from the constant warring of our sin nature against the Spirit in us. Here is more on the ‘rest’ from Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 377) —
The Old Testament tells us that “by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:2). This rest by God on the seventh day was the basis for the Hebrew Sabbath—God’s command to the Hebrews to rest on the seventh day. But this Sabbath rest really didn’t give God’s people a peaceful cessation from all of the hardships of life—so God promised another day of rest in Psalm 95:7–11. These two different rests are important for our understanding of how the concept of katapausis, the Greek word for “rest,” is developed in the New Testament—specifically by the writer of the book of Hebrews.
Quoting Psalm 95:7–11, the writer of Hebrews rehearsed the tragic experience of Israel under Moses during the desert wanderings (Hebrews 3:7–19). Throughout the forty-year wilderness experience, the people hardened their hearts and rebelled against God. In turn, God was provoked by their stubbornness and swore that those who sinned would never enter “the rest” He was going to provide (Hebrews 3:10–11, 18). The writer thus argued that if disobedience to God under Moses had serious consequences, forsaking Christ will be much more perilous. Hence, the wavering Christians were urged to be careful in case they should fall away from the living God due to an evil, unbelieving heart (Hebrews 3:12). Although Joshua was regarded as a great leader of Israel, the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership failed to enter “the rest” that God had planned because of the people’s disobedience. The “rest” spoken of in this passage is related to the Sabbath rest of God (Hebrews 4:3–4); but, it is more closely related to the concept of salvation. It is a spiritual reality that is achieved by turning from our own empty works and trusting in the finished work of Christ (Hebrews 4:10). The author of Hebrews reminded his readers that “there remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9), one that only Christ can provide. Christians not only benefit from this Sabbath rest in the present age, but anticipate its full realization in the age to come. It is God’s “rest” into which all persons are encouraged to enter. The weekly day of rest is a reminder and a reflection of that rest. The “rest” of the Israelites in the Promised Land after their wilderness wanderings is a symbol of God’s eternal rest that His people will share. The rest that Christ gives to those who come to Him (Matthew 11:28) is a foretaste and a guarantee of “the divine rest” that awaits them. The rest after death of believers who have fallen asleep in Christ is a blissful intensification of the reality of this experience: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … They may rest from their labors” (Revelation 14:13). Source: Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 377).
The permanent rest will be as a flowing fountain of peace, thoroughly drenching our every cell and relaxing us to a degree none can even imagine. No more fighting! No more persevering! No more wrestling! No more running! Heaven means that we rest, but heaven IS rest!
Our rest will be Jesus Himself!