We understand the literal meaning of “Rest” as a break from our routine work. Everyone needs rest, and we look forward to the weekends. We think that the holidays would refresh our minds to work better as we need a break from time to time to rejuvenate ourselves. Practically speaking, we are not taking rest but replacing our routine with leisure time, engaging ourselves in entertainment & travel that needs more energy. Our endeavours to give rest to our bodies wouldn’t yield the best results unless and until our minds are tuned to accept a change.
God designed our minds to adapt to these hormonal transitions automatically. When our minds struggle to adapt to these changes, stress mounts up and leads to depression among many other connected ailments. When we do not understand this truth, God pours out His grace and relieves us from our sickness and pain through treatment and medicines. Forgetting the provider of the treatment and continuing the procedures forever numbs our veins and suppresses the immune system. Some people think that giving rest to our bodies would bring healing. Giving excess rest to our body might hamper the whole system as it needs regular exercise to keep in shape.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
Rest is not about taking a halt but shifting from a stressful situation to a soothing one. In the above verses, God asks us to focus on Him and His methodology of handling rest. Not understanding this, we expect God to give us a break from our tiresome lives by setting us apart from this sinful world. Not doing so, God sent His Son to teach us to live in this world by shifting our focus to Him. Jesus said when you see me and follow my path, your sorrow will turn into joy. Jesus prayed to His Father My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:15( NIV)).
Every individual is doing what appears right to them. Jesus said that they will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God (John 16:2). Only when we come to God, or God comes to us we can understand that what we are doing is wrong (Isaiah 6:5 & Acts 9:4-6(NIV)). Only when we focus on Jesus, we can identify our sinful state and come forward to confess our sins to receive a pardon from Him. If we focus on this world, we will try to justify our deeds, and we will be in utter confusion, not being able to remember what we said and to whom to support our cause. David wrote about his state before and after confession.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.Psalms 32:3-5 (NIV)
Shifting our sinful thoughts to look upon the Savior who died on the cross will give us rest. Leaving aside everything else and coming to His presence, we will find rest. In the Old Testament, God giving rest to His people meant that He accompanied them (Exodus 33:14). To utilize the optimum benefits of rest, we should understand what the scripture tells us about rest. But first, let us understand what the world tells us when it says that we should calm our minds to give rest to our body and mind in its perspective.
We often connect work with our rest as we think that rest is a remedy for continuous work pressure. We link rest to work because we misunderstand working as a curse. This thought emerged from the incident of God cursing Adam and Eve for their disobedience (Genesis 4:19 (NIV)). We think that we have to toil in this world to fulfil the punishment of God, and those hardships are blessing in disguise to inherit the Kingdom of God. If getting punished by God is the way to His Kingdom, then why God punished His Son on our behalf?
Work is not our punishment but our source to enjoy the goodness of God. Even before Adam and Eve sinned, God allocated them work. Man has to cultivate the earth without precipitation, and woman has to join man in cultivation. Before fall, it was enjoyable for both Adam and Eve as they enjoyed His presence every day and found rest.
Our passion for money and position draws us far from God, and we fail to enjoy His rest. God gives us work to enjoy working with Him as partakers, but we misuse that to flee from His presence. God assigned Jonah a work to enjoy the enormous presence of God, but he went away from Him with the earnings He gave him (Jonah 1:2-3 (NIV)). What diverts us away from God to make us feel restless?
Rest in God’s Perspective
The Bible promises us a unique kind of rest in all respect. First of all, we should understand that our body functions without rest. We can’t give our hearts rest or hold our breath, but it should keep working. While we sleep, nothing halts as our body keeps functioning. The book of Genesis recorded that God rested on the seventh day but that does not mean that God became very tired after creating the world, so He rested. If we think so, then we doubt His omnificence.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.Genesis 2:2 (NIV)
The above verse conveys the real meaning of rest. God created everything, and there was nothing to create. God never stops working. From the seventh day onwards, God controlled everything He made. On the seventh day, God would have formulated the redemption plan to strip the power of evil and curtail it from bringing death to His people. He substituted His Son to die in the place where we had to die, blesses our days, and makes them Holy.
God unceasingly works to protect the eternity of His people. The greatest blessing God gives us is eternal life (John 6:52 (NIV)). Jesus prays to His father unceasingly to protect our salvation. God never stops restoring people from their eternal death. Psalmist exclaimed that God neither sleeps nor slumbers. Jesus confirmed the statement of the Psalmist with the following words.
…My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.John 5:17 (NIV)
A Call To Tirelessly Move Forward
The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that God is still working. To ascertain this truth, the author referred to the Psalm, where God spoke about another day.
God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.Hebrews 4:7-8
If this world gives us rest through rituals and talking about elementary teachings, then God would not have spoken about a day that has to come. Again the author warned us not to stick with the initial information about Judgement day but to grow mature enough to enter His Kingdom. The followers of Jesus are still evolving around the elementary teachings and making it mandatory to receive salvation which is freely available to all who believe that Jesus died for their sins and rose again on the third day. The author of the book of Hebrews warns us not to speak about judgment day but to prepare ourselves for that day.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.Hebrews 6:1-2 (NIV)
The scripture tells us that He finished creating the world and planned His work of redemption, and is eagerly waiting to see each one of us enter into His Kingdom. We have to accomplish the work allocated by God then and there with joy so that we will understand that God has done everything on our behalf (Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)), giving us perfect rest.
Not understanding the role of God in accomplishing His work, we often boast about our skills and influence. When we identify His grace and power in everything we do, we will find rest. After accomplishing His will in this world, nothing else is left to do except praise His name with other saints with unexplainable joy. Without understanding this truth, people who forego their jobs to serve God full-time are also eager to take a break from their ministry as it is another job to them. Taking periodical breaks will not give them rest, but accomplishing the purpose of their calling will lead them to inherit rest.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.Hebrews 4:9-11
When the purpose of God is accomplished in our lives, the call will come, and at that time, we can only rest. The call will come either by God after He has accomplished His will in our lives (Isaiah 57:1) or when we accomplish our desires against the will of God but still execute His greater purpose (John 17:12). Therefore its always better to be included among the former set rather than going against the will of God as both will only lead to the accomplishment of His will.
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Thank you for your thoughts on rest.