Rest in the Bible Scriptures: Short Study with Commentary


Lord’s Library contributor Jared Helms created this short resource on rest in the Bible, with key Scriptures and commentary. Check out Jared’s YouTube channel and two blogs: A Light in the Darkness and Blind Faith Examples. Lord’s Library’s Ministry Leaders Series is a collection of contributed articles written by ministry leaders on key Christian topics.

Ministry Leaders Series BadgeGenesis 2:1-3: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

God alone had no need to rest, He is inexhaustible with His limitless power. Yet immediately upon completing the creation, God takes a day off. The writer makes clear that this was done to set a principle. We are possessed of limited power; we are quickly exhausted and constantly in need of restoration. At night we sleep, but that was not enough for us; we needed a more substantial rest a full day devoted to this simple repose.

It is easy to overlook the need for rest and to overwork ourselves. Often times we even make a virtue of overwork, but from the beginning, God has refused to endorse this vice of ours. Too much work is as bad as too little both practically and morally. The Sabbath day is included as one of the Ten Commands. See Exodus 20:8-11, 31.

  • Exodus 20:8-11: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

The Gospel

Rest in the Bible

In Leviticus 25, the principle of the Sabbath is expanded upon to include a year of rest for the whole land of Israel. All of this points forward to Christ who provides ultimate rest through eternal salvation from sin, and the curse of sin. See Matthew 11:28-30 and Hebrews 4:9-11:

  • Matthew 11:28-30: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
  • Hebrews 4:9-11: “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

Still, the principle remains that we need to take time away from work. Jesus himself illustrates this for us by taking time away from his busy ministry, even at its busiest, to rest and be alone with the Father See Mark 6:31: “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”

Following in the Master’s footsteps Paul also took time to rest between his missionary journeys see Acts 18:22: “And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch.” We could also cite 1 Kings 19, and many other passages to reinforce our point.

I am content to let that point rest, however, so that we can make another. Ignoring rest demonstrates self-reliance and a lack of faith. Work can be our means of managing anxiety by trying to control our circumstances. The wisdom of Solomon has something to say to this: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep.” the Bible says in Psalm 127:2.

A faithful approach to work is able to leave work at the end of the day and rest. Ultimately this leads to a higher quality of work, and of life. The Bible clearly says so, and our own empirical observations bear-out God’s precepts. We need to balance work and rest to maximize our lives here on Earth.

So, how much rest is best? The answer to that question can vary from person-to-person, and from season-to-season. We need to know ourselves, and to seek God’s wisdom through prayer to strike a proper balance. Knowing that there are serious dangers both physical, and spiritual; personal and social on either side should make us careful as we seek to establish and maintain a balanced life. This is an area were biblical counsel, and accountability are immensely helpful.

At the end of this matter, those of us who have trusted Christ as Savior and who follow Him as Lord look forward to the fullness of rest in Heaven. No matter how much sleep we get each night, or how diligent we are to take regular time off of work, we shall always find we still in need of something more to relieve our souls of their most profound weariness. There is rest in Christ now, but it is only a foretaste of the wonderful rest that will be soon.

Therefore, we close this brief discussion with a heartfelt plea to the weary soul, which echoes that of Lord Jesus Christ, come to the savior in humility and accept His gracious offer of rest. There is no rest outside of Christ, but in Him you find renewal for your soul.

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Jared Helms
Jared Helms

Jared Helms

Jared received his Bachelor of Arts from Bryan College in 2012, and his Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2017. He has pastored churches in Kentucky and Tennessee. Most importantly, Jared has walked with Christ most of his life. His interests extend from theology to church history, but he is particularly passionate about ecclesiology and homiletics.

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