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.
REVELATION: THE FAITHFUL GRANTED REST
The Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, concludes the Bible with a grand declaration of ‘rest,’ for those faithful on to death.
The weaving of the truth of rest has been in and out of many passages and books and lives and prophets. The Book of Revelation shows that those who are faithful to God will be granted rest. Those who are in Christ and marked by Him will be part of the worldwide Garden of Eden we normally call Heaven.
The rest that was lost in the Book of Genesis is restored.
The rest foreshadowed in Exodus is made real.
The rest flavored by peace in Psalms is given.
The rest given as a future secure promise in Isaiah comes to the present and is realized.
The rest for the soul in Matthew is fully deposited for those in Christ.
The rest produced by living for Christ in Colossians is rewarded.
The rest promised to the faithful in Hebrews is secured.
Many verses (we will cover 7 passages here) in the Book of Revelation reveal the realized Kingdom of Jesus Christ which provides the peace that the rest of the Bible promises and looks forward. The ‘now and not yet’ quality of ‘rest’ is settled in the future and ‘rest’ becomes the ‘normal now’ once Jesus Christ has returned.
‘Rest’ is promised to those who lost their lives because of faith (the martyrs). Once the work of God is completed, the rest is given.
Revelation 6:10-11 (ESV): They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
Revelation 7:13-17 (ESV): Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. “Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
We see in this passage, related to the previous, that the white-robed faithful to Christ will be given the rest they were promised. This only happens in God’s presence and nowhere else. It is only those who have Jesus Christ as their Shepherd that will receive the peace and rest and reward for trusting in Him. Literally, there is no peace/rest outside of Christ.
This same truth about rest only being in Christ is further (and plainly mentioned) in Revelation 14.
Revelation 14:13 (ESV): And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
Revelation 20 is continuing the idea that martyrs and the faithful receive the promised rest that God desires to give His children. Those souls marked by Christ rest. Those souls marked by the beast (those outside of Christ) do not receive rest. We are talking about spiritual/soul rest and not a rest tied to land or work like a vacation, but rather the highest form of ‘rest’ discussed in the Bible. Those outside the presence of God are not those who rest in any way shape or form. To be outside of the presence of God, means no rest (see also Revelation 22 below).
Revelation 20:4-6 (ESV): Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV): Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
We find in this passage the idea that rest also includes: God dwelling with man, no tears, no death, no mourning, no sadness, and no pain. There is a complete rest from all of these experiences and issues as it relates to sin. Rest in God is complete rest.
Even to the very end of Revelation, we see a comparison of those who are part of the Kingdom of God and those that are not. Inside the Kingdom is rest. Outside the Kingdom is un-rest.
Revelation 22:14-15 (ESV): Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
The Kingdom of God is those that bend their knee to King Jesus. A Kingdom is made up of a King and his subjects. King Jesus reminds us that His burden is light. Serving Him brings rest to the soul. There is no rest outside of Lord Jesus. No rest day or night forever.
Understand Jesus is fighting back such darkness from consuming our souls. There is rest in Jesus and freedom from the power of sin and death. Fully embrace the offer of rest in Lord Jesus because He loves you.
QUESTIONS TO THINK ON
What does ‘rest’ inside the Kingdom of God look like?
What does un-rest outside the Kingdom of God look like?