7 Principles on Rest from the Scriptures:
- God Himself Rested: “2 By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.” Genesis 2:2-3 It is significant that the all-powerful, all-mighty God Himself rested after the work of creating the universe. If God Himself rested after His work, it shows that resting after work is neither lazy, nor a sign of weakness, but the highest form of good. Rest is good. Rest is Godly.
- Jesus invited His disciples to come rest. “ The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place,“ Mark 6:30-32 Remember that Jesus and His disciples were on an important mission. In fact, it is likely that they were on THE MOST IMPORTANT MISSION in the history of the world, and yet Jesus withdrew with His disciples for rest multiple times. Even when you are engaged in very important things, the life of Jesus and how He led His disciples, demonstrate the need for rest.
- Because God rested, we must rest, and rest regularly. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11 For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11 The Pharisees and other religious leaders added so many regulations to the Sabbath that what was intended to be a blessing had became a legalistic nightmare in Jesus’ day. Jesus did not abolish the Sabbath, but fulfilled it, and noted that the Sabbath was made for man – as a gift. Hebrews 4 is clear that there is still a Sabbath rest available for God’s people – a rest from works based salvation AND a rest from labor in God. I do not believe that New Testament Christians MUST keep the Sabbath the way Old Testament followers of God did; but we should still follow God’s pattern of rest and heed His call to rest.
- God is a giver of rest. Jesus is a giver of rest. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. 29 He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. 30 Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, 31 but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” Jeremiah 40:28-31, AND Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” God gives strength and refreshment to the weary, exhausted and powerless. He upholds them and renews their strength. Jesus also invites His followers to come to Him, and TWICE promises them REST when they do. Listen to the call of Jesus to come to Him and rest. Revel in the promise of God to strengthen the weary and powerless! Note also that God rested even though He NEVER grows weary or faint. That seems to indicate that there is an intrinsic goodness in resting, even when we are not fatigued.
- Strength comes from God’s Rest. “For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said: “You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence. But you are not willing.” 16 You say, “No! We will escape on horses”—therefore you will escape!—and, “We will ride on fast horses”—but those who pursue you will be faster. 17 One thousand will flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you will flee.” Isaiah 30:15 There is a general principle here that is critically important: Followers of God are delivered not by power or might; not by horses and armies, but by RETURNING to God and RESTING in Him. Our strength is not in ourselves, our technology, our power, our money, our hard work, or our allies, but in quiet confidence in God and resting in Him through faith.
- We can, as noted above, reject God’s Rest…with devastating consequences: “This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, “We won’t!” Jeremiah 6:16 The way of God will lead to rest and not striving in our own power. Just as the Israelites rejected God’s rest to trust in Egypt’s armies, or idols, or in their own strength, so also can we reject God’s rest and trust in other things for success.
- Hard work is wise and commended – Over work is foolish: “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind. 5 “Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.” 6 And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 Here is some biblical wisdom from the wisest man of his day, Solomon: It is foolish to be idle and not work – that will always lead to ruin. Even those who don’t have jobs should work – somehow, someway. At the same time, it is “chasing the wind,” to work overly hard so that you have more and more! That might seem counter-intuitive to those raised in America and similar nations, but the wisdom of the Word tells us that it is better to have “one handful with quietness than two with hard work and chasing the wind.” How do we know whether we are working too hard? The Bible doesn’t say, but it is wise to meditate on this principle and be led by the Holy Spirit. I imagine that there are many reading this who are under-working, and many who will read this that are neglecting other priorities to chase the wind and get one more handfuls than their neighbor. Take Solomon’s advice and be satisfied with the one handful and quietness.
Consider: Are you too busy? Is your family too busy? Are your children too busy? Think about asking your spouse, your family, and your closest friends. Assess. Believe me, it is quite easy to get trapped into a lifestyle that is wearying and overly-busy. Hard work is wise and commendable; but living a life that is overly busy and void of rest is idolatrous and self-defeating. Yes, you might end up with two handfuls…but you will more likely end up shipwrecked on the rocks of self-sufficiency. Ponder the Scriptures above and be wise. Meditate on Psalm 62 below, and let God’s Word richly fill you:
1 I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.
5 Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God.
8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him.
God is our refuge. Selah (Psalm 62)
And finally, a nice Charles Spurgeon quote on getting rest:
When you get very weary, and perhaps worried as well, the best thing you can do is to go to sleep. Go to bed, brother; and go to sleep. It is astonishing what a difference a night’s rest makes with our troubles. I would say this literally to fidgety, worrying people, like myself, “Go to bed, brother, go to bed.”But I would also say it spiritually to all sorts of people; when you are feeling weak, and disturbed, and you do not know what to do for the best, “Go into the presence of God, and there get rest.” “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”
Charles Spurgeon: Only a Prayer Meeting: Forty Addresses at Metropolitan Tabernacle and Other Prayer-Meetings