Rest, For God’s Sake

In creation we see a divinely ordained rhythm of work and rest. God created the entire world through his powerful spoken word across six days and he rested on the seventh day and made it holy (Gen 2:2–3). This pattern of work and rest that was instituted by God in creation was to teach human beings—who were the pinnacle of his creation—that whilst work is important, rest is equally and more important. The mandate that God gave Adam and Eve in Gen 1:28 involved them having dominion and taking care of God’s creation. This divine mandate, whilst it involved work in order to take care of God’s world, was still centered on founding one’s indelible trust and focusing their attention upon God. Without an ongoing focus and dependence on God, the mandate would not have been fulfilling, let alone possible. This God-centered and God-focused rest was given to mankind before sin entered the world. Therefore, it was part of God’s good design and plan for humankind and a clear indicator that mankind would truly only be ever satisfied in God himself and none else.

We see the concept of rest echoed again in the giving of God’s law to the rescued people of God, the nation of Israel. Even as they with bathed breath watched the glory of God on Mt. Sinai, they understood that His written word now makes it clear to them that he was to remain the focus of their entire life and all the activities that life entails. The Sabbath day was specifically instituted to draw out their worship towards him with all of their devotion (Exod 20:10–11). Work was prohibited, because that was a holy day unto the Lord. It was to bring their attention back to God, even in the midst of the mundaneness and monotony of life. In the midst of their toils and pain they were to remember that God was the only giver of their promised rest. In the midst of the curse that had come on the ground because of their sin and rebellion against God, it was a reminder there was still hope in the promised son of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15).

God-centered and God-focused rest was given to mankind before sin entered the world. Therefore, it was part of God’s good design and plan for humankind and a clear indicator that mankind would truly only be ever satisfied in God himself and none else.

Rest therefore implies a deep-seated communion with God. It involves reflection on God’s goodness and His provision and a warranted response of heartfelt gratitude. The purpose of the period of rest is for the essential good and benefit of human beings. It was to allow them to reflect on God and His nature and benevolence and thereby draw strength from him for the times ahead. It was not mere physical rest that God intended, rather a time of spiritual rest and reflection renewing one’s focus, commitment and dedication towards God. Although the whole of life was to be given over for the purpose of worship, the Sabbath rest was intentionally directed towards that singular goal of unhindered worship.

Today, we see people struggle with the idea of a Sovereign Creator God who instituted certain directives in his creative order and in the Scriptures so that they can take their gaze off their various vain pursuits of life and place it back on to God where it rightfully belongs. Many others struggle with a lopsided view of work and rest, pushing themselves to endless work and toil where that imbalance ultimately becomes detrimental and even disastrous to their overall well-being. Why does this happen? Because they have grossly neglected the divinely mandated pattern of work and rest in their individual lives, families and communities. Rest is more than physical recreation or leisure. Rest involves a true recognition of who God is and His holiness and then a subsequent response to Him in and through genuine worship. God needs to be the centre of our life and focus always. God needs to be the one who orders our steps in this fallen world and only then will they be of any avail and for this to happen we need to be steadily anchored in Him. Then only we can run this race of life with rejuvenated strength and vigour. When we come to God in true heartfelt and committed worship, we can draw spiritual strength from Him to move forward even through various trials and hurdles and be able to overcome them with the strength that comes from Him and Him alone.

Today, we see people struggle with the idea of a Sovereign Creator God who instituted certain directives in his creative order and in the Scriptures so that they can take their gaze off their various vain pursuits of life and place it back on to God where it rightfully belongs.

It is of little wonder, that Jesus the Incarnate Son of God, who willingly condescended from his place of glory to take on humanity and be found as a servant (Phil 2:6–8), echoed this promise of rest to those who believe in Him. He said to His followers “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” (Mt 11:28–30). Jesus Christ promised his divine rest for those who would willingly come to Him in trust and belief and cast their burdens upon him. The weight of sin, and the cares and the troubles of the world, can be exchanged at the cross of Christ for his peace, assurance and gift of eternal life. We, in and of our own merit cannot save ourselves and find true rest for our souls. Our rest even as it is divinely ordained and instituted can only be found when we truly surrender ourselves to God, cast our burdens, cares and troubles upon him and make Him the Lord and Saviour over our entire life. His yoke upon us is a picture of intimate fellowship and communion and it doesn’t burden us rather it frees us to love Him and serve Him.

Our true satisfaction is to be found in Christ alone when we shift our spiritual gaze towards Him and come to Him in true repentance and total surrender. He forgives us, adopts us into his family and makes us his own and gives us his shalom rest. When we come to him and make him the focus of our attention, we can truly find our spiritual renewal and refreshing in Him. Only then can we be rejuvenated to live our lives pleasing to Him. We can then better fulfil our divine mandate to be God’s ambassadors and his appointed rulers over his creation. So, let our entire life of worship bring a sweet and pleasing aroma to God and let’s truly find our true rest and satisfaction in Him alone. The world can never satisfy, only God can.

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