“Come to Me, all you 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.” – Matthew 11:28-30.
As so many of you know, the world is no place to find rest. In actuality, the world compels and tells mankind to hurry, don’t stop, keep going if you want to be a success. So many things the world promises to offer a person is in total contrast to the truth of the Word of God and what is found in the Lord, Himself.
In Matthew, we see recorded the very words AND promises of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ concerning the rest that He offers as compared to what the world says it can offer.
The source of the Christian doctrine of rest is the rest of God Himself, who, after completing the work of Creation in six days, “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.” – Genesis 2:2. The Biblical concept of rest is not however, just based in the past Creation, or even in our present weekly observances but also it is based in future promises of eternal rest. Maybe not so much as a cessation from activity, for I believe in Heaven we will be very busy, but rather we will be at eternal rest from all strife!
It is God’s rest into which all persons are encouraged to enter. The weekly day of rest is a reminder and a reflection of that rest that is promised through Jesus Christ. The rest that Christ gives to those who come to Him as described in the Scripture above is a foretaste and a guarantee of the divine rest that awaits all those who believe in and have surrendered to Christ Jesus. The rest after death of believers who have gone on in Christ is a blissful intensification of the reality of this experience: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . They may rest from their labors.” – Revelation 14:13. But the completion of this rest in its inexpressible fullness will take place at the return of Christ, when at last all who are His will be fully conformed to His likeness (1 John 3:2). Salvation will be consummated as His redeemed are clothed with imperishable, glorified bodies (2 Corinthians 5), and the renewed order of creation in which righteousness dwells will be established (2 Peter 3:13).
The completion of the redemption purchased by Christ on the cross will mean rest and freedom from all sin, and this in turn will mean rest and freedom from all sorrow, pain, suffering, persecution, frustration, injustice, and death (Revelation 7:9–17; 21:1–7). The rest of mankind also after Jesus’ return will involve the rest of God’s whole creation as it is brought to the perfection of that glorious destiny for which it was intended from the very beginning (see for reference Romans 8:19–25).
However, and keep this in mind, rest is not synonymous with inactivity. What God rested from was the work of Creation. He continues however, to be constantly active in providentially sustaining all that He has created and in the work both of righteous judgment and gracious salvation. Jesus Christ, also, in His incarnation, life, death, rising, and glorification, is precisely God in action (2 Corinthians 5:19). Hence the assertion of Jesus: “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” – John 5:17. The Revised Standard Version says it this way; “My Father is working still, and I am working.” It truly keeps it ongoing in the present tense. What the Christian will rest from is the struggle against the forces of evil and the afflictions by which this present life is marred. The rest into which the Christian will enter will not be a state of uneventful boredom. God Himself is dynamic, not static, and so also is His rest and this is something that most people don’t give thought too. When asked what Heaven will be like, most people are at a loss as to what will be occurring, but rest assured (no pun intended) that our eternal lives will be very eventful and fulfilled in service to the Lord and as I stated before, it will be a total and complete rest from any form of strife.
Consequently, all that a Christian rests from simply sets him free to be active ceaselessly and joyfully in the service of God, the Creator and Redeemer. In perfect harmony with all God’s works, and in complete fulfillment, Christians exultantly praise and serve God Almighty. Joy will be full, without possibility of improvement or even any deficiency in that joy (see for reference Revelation 4:8–11; 5:8–14; 7:9–12). Such will be the rest without end of that eternal Sabbath that has a morning eternally but no evening: “Let us therefore diligent to enter that rest.” – Hebrews 4:11. The Revised Standard Version states to “therefore STRIVE to enter that rest,” (bold added), which implies a more aggressive pursuit of rest than the NKJV’s word usage of “diligent”.
The concept of true rest is so foreign to so many and yet it is one of the most blessed assurances and promises that we as Christians, as God’s children can be sure that we will partake of. It truly is part of God’s inheritance that rightfully belongs to His children (see for reference Colossians 1:12).