GOD’S OFFER OF REST
‘REST’ is a significant theological word in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, there is an emphasis on rest, the loss of rest, and rest given again by God. Rest is from God. Rest is tied to the Promised Land. Rest can also mean Heaven. The lack of rest is equated with the lack of God’s presence. Rest is a complicated word that has variations of meaning depending on the context. When we understand the theological roots of rest, we understand more about human life and the rest to which God calls all human beings.
Rest is a significant thought in Hebrews 3:7-4:13. This thick theological passage begs the believer in Jesus Christ to look back into the Old Testament through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to see the emphasis God the Father makes on ‘rest’ and how it relates to the People of God. The author of Hebrews says it related to the believers he was writing to and to the people who received the Old Testament. It applies to us now.
GENESIS: THE LOSS OF REST
We are introduced to rest in Genesis 2. Genesis 2:1-3 states, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation” (ESV). God creates rest and weaves it into the fabric of Creation and time itself. Part of rest is holiness. Part of rest is the set apart nature of something or someone dedicated to God.
It is at the beginning of the human journey, in the Garden of Eden, where human beings suffer the loss of rest. Sin broke Creation and the relationship human beings had with God. Human beings were set apart by God and yet chose to sin. Brokenness ruled. As a result, there was a lack of rest. Genesis 3:17-19 records for us that human beings would work and work and sweat and sweat in order to receive God’s provisions and then would return to the dust. Sin created a lack of rest.
God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and removed them from His life-giving presence. He covered their shame and their bodies. They were to survive outside of the Garden. Eventually, God would deal with sin and bring about His will for Creation in the fullness of time, but that time was not then. They did not have peace with God. Yet, there was hope. Because of God’s life-giving nature, there was hope for rest through the faithfulness of God.
In Genesis, we are introduced to the idea of rest and its theological connection with holiness, the presence of God, and an abiding relationship with Him. Those things were broken because of sin and therefore rest was lost.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ON:
Have you ever considered ‘rest’ to be a theological word?
What would life be like without sin or the loss of rest?
How might rest connect with ‘holiness,’ ‘the presence of God’ and ‘abiding in God’s presence?’