I know something about you. You struggle to rest frequently and struggle to find the answer why. I know this about you because it is true about every one of us. We are restless and that is portrayed in many ways such as anxiety, depression, and overworking. There are many books that discuss how to use your time more wisely, how to observe the Sabbath correctly, and inform you to rest – even though you already know. We struggle to rest because we are sinners and separated from the one whose image we bear.
The Creation of Rest
The opening chapter of the Bible is all too common to most people. However, can you stop and recall what the opening verses of Chapter 2 say?
"The heavens and the earth were completed with everything that was in them. By the seventh day, God finished the work that he had been doing, and he ceased on the seventh day all the work that he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he ceased all the work that he had been doing in creation." (Genesis 2:1-3)
Creation was complete and God was dwelling with his people. Everything that was created was good. God welcomed Adam and Eve into rest with him upon the completion of his work. They lived in a world in which they would work and rest at the same time.
The third chapter of Genesis is not as positive. Adam and Eve disobey God and eat of the fruit they were told not to eat of. Upon this act, the rest once given to man and woman was gone. Judgment was given to Adam and Eve in the form of hard labor. The greatest catastrophe found in the Fall of Man was the separation of God’s image bearers from God. The gift of rest to God’s people is rooted in our relation to God.
The Restoration of Rest
It is no mystery that we all struggle with resting to differing degrees. We long for the day that we can go to bed with no worries. Although the lack of rest is due to our sinfulness, God has not left us without hope of restoring the rest that is lost to us. Throughout the Old Testament, God is revealing a plan of redemption. God has sent his Son in order that we would have an opportunity to be restored to the family of God. Jesus lived the life we could not in order to fulfill the role of the perfect sacrifice. The most dramatic point of this mission from God reaches its climax with Jesus sacrificing himself. Jesus is being crucified in our place and right before he breathes his last breath, he exclaims, “It is completed!” (John 19:30).
The most dramatic event in the mission of redemption echoes the words found in Genesis 2. The God who finished creating the world for his people is the same God who finishes the work of redemption for his people. In both instances, the gift of rest is achieved through the character of God. We strive to find rest in many ways. Some are prone to overwork themselves, while others seem to be restless. The only solution to finding rest is in God.
Jesus has made a path toward salvation and those who are saved have a promise of rest. Jesus provided a way so that we can rest again. All the promises that came before Jesus help us to rightly understand the source of our rest. We often wonder how to rest, but we have instructions with the promise of rest in Psalm 23:
The LORD is my shepherded, I lack nothing.
He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water.
He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of reputation.
Even when I must walk through the darkest value, I fear no danger,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me.
You prepare a feast before me in plain sight of my enemies.
You refresh my head with oil; my cup is completely full.
Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days,
and I will live in the LORD’s house for the rest of my life.
David writes this psalm knowing that rest and security are only found in the character of God. Jesus came to be the fulfillment and representation of this shepherd. Jesus claims in John 10 that he is the shepherd who protects and cares for his sheep. However, while he made a way that we can experience rest in this world, we do not fully experience the rest that was achieved. We are still waiting for the day that we “will live in the LORD’s house for the rest of my life” (Psalm 23:6).
The Hope of Future Rest
Jesus completed the work of restoring our relationship with God. Those who are saved now experience a closeness to him that we could not experience otherwise. Part of the application is the gift of rest. As Christians, we can attest to the lack of rest that remains prevalent in our lives. The promise of rest is not fully achieved, but it is fully promised. While we await the return of Jesus, we have a future promise the finalizes the echo of Genesis 2 and John 19. Jesus will return and defeat sin once and for all and he will do so saying:
“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the one who is thirsty, I will give water free of charge from the spring of the water of life. The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:6-7)
We live in a restless world with no long-term solution. God planned redemption in order that we would be saved and, through that salvation, would restore the rest that was given at Creation. The only solution for resting is found in the God who has not only completed creation for us, but who has also completed redemption. The hope is solidified in the coming completion of sin which robs us of the rest God intended. All people are made in the image of God and there is a promise of rest with God for eternity through believing and trusting in Jesus as Savior. Are you looking for rest? Look to Jesus!