Norma Jean and I just returned from a week’s vacation in the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City.
While not as high, compared to the Rockies, it was a breath-taking drive up the steep grade to Snowbird. The beautiful views of the sculpted glaciers and the rugged granite cliffs provided a great place for some peaceful R & R for the week. And the cooler temperatures in the 60’s provided a nice break from the summer heat in the 90’s! We even saw some snow one morning a mile up the mountain at Alta!
Our work of the week is “rest.”
It is good to take a break from our weekly workload. From the daily routines. And from deadlines, pressures, and pressing problems. There is a time for rest, relaxation, and recreation.
Rest is a Bible word and a Biblical concept. The Genesis account of creation offers this insight.
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Gen. 2:2-3)
Under the Old Law, the Sabbath was sanctified as a day of worship, as well as rest. In Exodus 35:2, Moses commanded, “Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord.”
In the New Testament, we see Jesus taking time off from his ministry to rest. His first miracle was while he attending a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. (John 2;1-10) Such celebrations in Bible times could last for a week!
During the pressures of Jesus’ ministry, He still found time to rest. To enjoy time alone. Or private time with his apostles. On one occasion Mark records: “And (Jesus) said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. (Mk. 6:31-32).
A time to rest from work is a good thing. Ironically, I’m writing this on Labor Day! In the United States, it is a day to celebrate the social and economic achievements of the American worker. Of course, the further irony is that government is shut down and many workers enjoy today as a holiday. A day of rest on labor day!
But there is a another kind of rest referred to in the Bible. It is used in a spiritual sense to speak of relief from the load of emotional cares, from the weight of guilt and the burden of sin. Jesus promised, “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.” (Matt 11:28-30).
The Hebrew writer also uses the concept of the “Canaan rest,” when Israel entered into the promised land and found God’s rest from their wilderness wanderings. He uses that metaphor to speak of an eternal rest promised for the God’s faithful. The beloved John expressed it this way: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Rev. 14;13).
So, take some time off to rest. Enjoy your Labor Day holiday. But more importantly, may you find rest from the burden of sin. And enjoy the expectation of an eternal rest with the Lord in heaven!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman