Recently I causally listened to a presentation on rest. I don’t remember everything that was said, but they did suggest that many people do not rest well. People do activities that they think will help them to feel more rested like watching TV, but in the end their activities do not give them the results that they needed. That presentation caused me to consider if I rest well?
What does the Bible teach about rest?
In the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites some very specific rules about how to rest. They were supposed to rest on the Sabbath and on other holidays. God gave the Israelites many laws because He loved them. However, the Israelites did not obey and God became angry with the Israelites. He declared that they were not going to enter into His rest. The book of Hebrews reminds us that the Israelites did not get to enjoy the rest of God that He wanted to give them because of their disobedience.
Many modern teachers make it sound like Americans are tired because they need to manage their time and priorities more appropriately. If we could finish our to-do list, then we can rest. If we could just make our work easier, then we would not be as tired.
When I study the Bible, I don’t see it working that way. I don’t recall Jesus ever separating himself to accomplish his to-do list. I don’t recall Jesus ever doing something because it was the easy way to get a job done.
Rather, I see both Jesus simply praying and then obeying the will of the Father.
The lesson we should learn from the Israelites is that obedience of the Lord is required for God-given rest. Many Americans don’t rest well because we often do not obey the Lord.
Rest seems to be a gift from the Lord for those who obey him.
So the next time you feel tired, maybe you should be like Jesus and Paul and separate yourselves to ask God what He wants from you. Maybe He wants you to work hard so that you can be energized through work. Maybe, He wants you to take a nap and realize that ultimately God is the One who works. Maybe He simply wants you to connect with Him.
Let’s learn from Hebrews 4:11, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (referring to the Israelites’ example).
How will you apply this lesson from the Israelites? How is God calling you to obedience?