In the book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul promises the church in Jerusalem that “there remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.”1 What is a Sabbath-rest? I might not know all the things that it is, but I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not a thing that most people I know have. It seems that each year our pace quickens, we push for more, strive harder, and increasingly run on fumes. This probably sounds familiar to many of you.
God must have known that after sin separated us from Him, we would strive to control, to earn, to create, to master, and we would end up losing His peace. So He commanded His people to observe the Sabbath. This was a day where work, earning, creating, serving, and mastering ceased, and the people rested and remembered that their relationship with God was more important than anything they could accomplish. As long as His people’s hearts were right with God, Sabbath felt like a blessing—but if their priorities were off, Sabbath probably felt like something that held them back from being as productive as other nations, or as a burden of rules and regulations.
Today, we aren’t called to observe Sabbath according to the traditions in the Old Testament, but God’s call to rest is just as needed. “Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.”2
Maybe you, like me, are at the point where your soul needs rest. I really need it. I need to let Jesus lead me to green pastures and restore my soul, but how can this happen when I’m always rushing, worrying, doing, and stressing? If I were to describe modern culture in one word, it would be “stress.” So much that we hold dear is the opposite of calm, peace, and still. And we pay for it through burnout, addiction, loneliness, and brokenness. We who have learned this culture go on to teach it to our children.
But God tells us there is another way: there remains a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. How do you get that rest? Jesus tells us: “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives.”3 When we come to Him and learn from Him, this Sabbath-rest is a promise to us.
- Hebrews 4:9 NIV
- Hebrews 4:10–11 NIV
- Matthew 11:28–29 NCV