Best Rest

Bible Reading:
Laws about False Spiritualists, Blasphemy, Dedications, Tithing, Conquest, Sabbath Deuteronomy 5:11-15; 13:1-5; 14:22-29; 15:19-23; 18:1-8, 9-22; 26:1-15; Exodus 22:18, 28-30; 23:19; 31:12-17; 34:19-21; 35:3; Leviticus 19:23-25, 30; 20:27; 23:1-3; 24:10-16, 23; Numbers 15:32-36

"You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.... For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord... for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested" (Ex. 31:13-17).

The Sabbath was a day set aside to rest from the work of man and to reflect on the work of God. It has been medically proven that our bodies need a day of rest each week. God knew it long before we did, and instituted a commandment that would provide that rest. But the Sabbath is about much more than physical rest; it also represents a rest for the soul (Heb. 3, 4). "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him" (Ps. 62:1).

Many people spend their lives working to earn salvation, hoping to place enough good deeds on God's scale of justice to tip his judgment in their favor by the time they die. They never experience the spiritual rest that is available only by trusting in the atoning work of Jesus' death on the cross. "The message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest" (Heb. 4:2-3). When we accept, by faith, the message of the gospel, God puts our souls at rest with him.

"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his" (Heb. 4:9-10). Many Christians, though having trusted in God for their salvation, never rest from their efforts to earn God's acceptance and affection. They keep working to earn points with a God who is not keeping score, striving to gain what is already theirs. When we accept, by faith, the reality of God's perfect love for us, God puts our souls at rest in him (1 Jn. 4:16-19 LB).

After years of inner conflict, the truth of God's lavish love slowly sank in to my heart and overcame my fear and distrust of God. I finally resolved to trust in his heart of love, even when his purpose remains unclear. When I began to approach life with the question of God's goodness and love already settled, I entered into a new kind of rest. I began to feel a deep-rooted strength and security that I had not been able to conjure up on my own. "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it" (Is. 30:15). When I quit trying so hard to earn or confirm God's love and acceptance, I found myself deeply loved and totally accepted... just as I am.

When we put to rest the turmoil of the soul, we can't help but reflect on the wondrous work of God. When God created the world, he didn't wait until the seventh day to declare that his work was good. We don't have to wait until we see the whole picture and how it all fits together before we acknowledge that God's work is good. God is good, all the time. Even on the days that we can't see it, we can trust in it. "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you" (Ps. 116:7).

Come to Jesus and find rest for your soul. Can you hear him calling out your name? "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28).