What Is Spiritual Rest?

“Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.” (Psalm 121:4-5 NLT)

In Genesis chapter 2 the Bible says: “So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation.”

What do you envision when you read those words? Is God just chilling in His heavenly hammock, catching a few winks? Another translation for “rested” is “cease” or “desist.” The verse from Psalm 121 let’s us know that God never sleeps or slumbers, so what are the implications? If God didn’t slumber or sleep, what did He do, and why?

God was establishing for us a precedent that He knew we would need in this life. The Jewish teachers of their religious law took God’s words to extremes I don’t believe He ever intended. Obviously, Jesus healed often on the Sabbath or “shabath,” which was against the Jewish laws they’d made, but didn’t violate God’s intention.

Perhaps 2 Chronicles 32 gives us a better understanding of God’s desire. King Hezekiah was a godly king who sought to be faithful to God in his leadership of Judah. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had a vast army against which Judah was no match. But King Hezekiah said to his people: “’Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!’ Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.” Another translation says: “the people rested themselves.”

Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

For us today, the Sabbath isn’t only a time of literal rest from our week of labor, whatever that may look like for you, but a day of worship and contemplation of the power and might of our God. On many levels the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s fear. Like the children of Israel, fear can cause us to lose hope, which limits our ability to hear from God and/or to follow Him.

Spiritual rest, to me, speaks of placing our full confidence in our Savior. It paints the picture of relaxing by a bubbling stream as it meanders down it’s chosen path. It’s not being frightened by the week to come, knowing the Lord is with us and for us.

In thinking of this it reminded me of how I envision heaven. Think of driving on crowded highways with never a thought of an accident. Or leaving your home with no locks on your doors because there’s never a thought of someone breaking in. Or letting your small child ride their bike with friends without a concern that someone will harm them in any way. Or having someone say they’ll do something for you and you don’t give it another thought, never doubting that they’ll do exactly as they said they would.

You see, that’s how we can “rest” in God, because He’s all those things and a million more. The Sabbath is a day of rest to contemplate and become more and more grounded in the beautiful Savior to whom we’ve pledged our lives. We’re never alone and we never need to be afraid – “for His rod and His staff protect and comfort me.” Why? Because they’ll never be used against me, only for me against my enemies.

I can rest in that thought! Nap anyone?

Blessings, Ed 😊

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