Periodic rest stops on a trip are often helpful as are rest periods in our lives. They can take the form of vacations, slowing our schedules, or just taking a nap. Preaching on Mark 6:31 (KJV), "Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile," evangelist Vance Havner said, "Come apart or you'll come apart." Rest periods are important even in the Bible!
In Genesis God rested on the 7th day after 6 days of creating the world. I don't believe God was tired, but in doing so He set a pattern for us. In the 4th Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11) the Israelites were told that the Sabbath day was holy and no work was to be done. God intended that no person or work animal should labor on that day but have a day of rest. Travel and meal preparation were limited as well to insure rest. Extremists took the point of Sabbath rest too far in that they wouldn't even allow emergency help or acts of compassion to be performed. (Jesus rebuked such misunderstanding with His teaching that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath). God even required the Israelites to give their farmland every 7th year off for rest. (Exodus 23:10)
Not only do we need physical rest periods but emotional ones as well. The Bible speaks of "being still" as we lay our fears and frustrations aside and rest in the love, wisdom, and power of the Lord. (Psalm 37:4; 46:10) Emotional rest can also come as we pause from concentrating so hard to figure it all out and take a moment to do something we purely enjoy or appreciate a moment of beauty, quietness, or humor.
In our text today, Jesus speaks of spiritual rest for our souls. What a joy to realize we can't earn our salvation but that we can rest in the finished work of Christ to save us. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:25) What a delight to know that even when we don't know the future or life brings the unexpected, that we can be led of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:14) What a peace to know that even when the world seems to be "out of control" that God's Word teaches us of His sovereign plan. (Proverbs 19:21) What a blessing to know that following the will of Christ brings greater rest to our heart, mind, and conscience than any worldly pathway. (Matthew 11:30) What an encouragement to know that our future in Heaven provides permanent rest from the heartaches, hurts, struggles, and sins of this life. (Revelation 21:4)
See you Sunday. (Just don't rest too much during the sermon!)
1. Read about that first day of rest. Genesis 2:2-3
2. What is the intended result of rest? Exodus 23:12
3. Ancient Israel often failed to give the land the rest God commanded in Exodus 23:10. What was the final result of that? 2 Chronicles 20:21
4. Where can we find peace and rest? Jeremiah 6:16; Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6-7
5. Note some of the rest periods of Jesus. Matthew 14:13a; Mark 4:38; John 4:6
6. In our text Jesus speaks of wearing His yoke (worn by an animal working to pull a plow or wagon) and yet having rest for our souls rest. How do these 2 concepts work together?
7. How does Jesus indicate completion of His work of salvation? Hebrews 1:3
8. Study Hebrews 4:1-11...a fascinating passage about spiritual rest.