What Does It Mean To Rest?
To most people rest means a temporary break from going to work each day. It’s a way of taking time off to gather up enough strength to go back and endure another season or two of labor, until another period of rest can be scheduled. Resting is what we intend to do when we go on vacation.
But for the Christian, rest has a spiritual and more meaningful definition.
Our understanding of rest begins in the book of Genesis, where God rests from His process of creating the universe on the seventh day. Obviously, He was not resting because he ran out of steam and needed more energy since God does not run out of energy. If you look at the narrative, you see that He rested because His work creating all things was finished. All of the formlessness and void was filled with His handiwork so… He stopped because the work of creation was done.
God also set the seventh day aside as a special day where mankind would rest and recognize God as the creator and provider of all things. The Jews would come to name this day Shabbat or Sabbath, which is derived from the Hebrew word for ‘rest.’
But because of the sin committed by Adam and Eve, humanity began to reject God and His ways, having accepted the lie that humans can be like God. This breach in the completed created order now needed a permanent solution to bring all of creation, which was now subjected to decay (Romans 8:20-21), to completion again. Man needed to be brought back to God before he could rest with God.
Now, move the clock forward to Jesus, who said He came to earth to complete the work of His Father (John 4:34, 5:36). What was that work Jesus came to accomplish? In the Gospel of John, chapter three, verses 16 and 17, Jesus made it very plain when He said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” Jesus came to complete the work of salvation, bringing back to God all who would believe in Him.
To accomplish this, Jesus was crucified, taking our eternal punishment upon Himself; and as He was about to die, He proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The work of salvation was completed the moment He died.
Three days later He would rise from the dead and eventually ascend to be seated, at rest, at the right hand of the Father. All believers are, in a spiritual sense, seated with Him there (Ephesians 2:6).
We now find our Sabbath rest in Jesus, laying aside the futility of saving ourselves to rest in Him and in His completed work. When we rest in Him, we tell the world – and remind ourselves – that God has provided everything for us, both in this world and in the world to come.
“There remains then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us make every effort then to enter into that rest…” (Hebrews 4: 9 – 11a)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
Are you weary and weighed down with the labors of life? Give it a rest.