Worship Topic #11: Rest

clear drinking glass on brown wooden table near body of water during daytime

by Pastor Nate Green

One of the most important aspects of worship is rest. Rest allows us to enjoy a job well done. Rest is meant for us to meditate on God’s work and to marvel at His grandeur. In Genesis 2:1-3 we see the first time the concept of rest is introduced to us:

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.

We are commanded by God to follow this same practice in our lives:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).

Jesus healed people on the Sabbath on seven recorded occasions in the gospels. Jesus tells us that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath“. And that “the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).  God’s commandments are not burdensome and are meant for our good. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus last words on the cross were “It is finished” (John 19:30). He had finished the work that God the Father had given Him to do. He had finished the work that would allow us to enter His rest “for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:10). The work that Jesus did allows us to profoundly enter a Sabbath rest in which we can enjoy God and His finished work on our behalf. The way we enter that rest is by believing in God’s complete and finished work on our behalf.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

When we believe this, the entire approach to how we live our lives changes. We are no longer striving to merit God’s approval of us, but instead find rest in His finished work. His righteousness becomes our righteousness, and we appropriate this by faith.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

There is a whole new dimension of power and strength that we can count on as we wait upon the Lord. Our strength can easily be exhausted (even when we’re in our prime). But the strength of the Lord never runs out.  He never grows weary or tired. Thus, we can take comfort in God’s word to us, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Henry J. Van Dyke wrote the hymn “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” in 1907, one of my favorite lyrics is found in verse 3:

               Always giving and forgiving

               Ever blessing, ever blest

               Well-spring of the joy of living

               Ocean-depth of happy rest!

Fanny Crosby’s hymn “In the Sunlight of His Love”, published in 1895, beautifully speaks of God’s rest within the chorus:

               Resting in the sunlight of Jesus’ tender love

               Basking in the glory that lights the heavens above

               Hearts are filled with wondrous delight

               Jesus brings us morning so bright

               While resting in His love

Another song that comes to mind about rest is David Crowder’s song “Here is Our King”:

               From wherever spring arrives to heal the ground

               From wherever searching comes, the look itself

               A trace of what we’re looking for

               So be quite now and wait

               And what was said to the rose to make it unfold

               Was said to me here in my chest

               So be quiet now and rest

It’s a poetic lyric, but that’s one of the beautiful things about poetry. Poetry causes us to spend more time pondering a lyric instead of giving us a clear concise meaning from the get-go. Many things that God gives us in this life are better fulfilled when we learn to wait, rest, and ponder God’s amazing works.

All song lyrics used by permission, CCLI #25620.