Rest Will Come: A Biblical Theology of the Sabbath (Part 5)

“It’s been a long day!” I am assume that most of us have used that expression at some point in our lives. I remember several occasions very vividly. I had spent a whole day traveling, eating little, and working very hard to understand the advanced Spanish being spoken around me. Finally I arrived at my hotel in Morocco. The bed looked so inviting, and it felt like it had been a long day. More recently I had a late counseling appointment. I love to help people and counseling is part of my responsibility and joy in ministry. There are, nonetheless, occasions where counseling can be especially draining and where a couple can be especially difficult. Such was the case on this day, and I came home so tired that I actually fell asleep on the couch. Long days are hard and we all know how it feels to finally lay our head down to rest after one. The reality, of course, is that we have to get up again and we know that another long day may face us soon. The Scriptures, testify, however, that one day real lasting rest will come to the people of God. But that is the key phrase, “the people of God.” For the Bible paints a stark contrast concerning rest for those who are not God’s children.

Revelation 14 describes the judgment of those who reject God and worship their own idols on the day that our Lord returns:

10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. (Revelation 14:10-11)

What a terrible thought. It is bad enough to have to face the wrath of God, but to face it with no rest! To see no end to this “long day,” to see no end to this punishment. To feel that incessant weariness and exhaustion but be unable to close your eyes! How dreadful a thought. I recall my own experience of working the graveyard shift from midnight to 5:00 a.m. and then driving home, showering, and going to class from 7 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. I then slept until 10:00, ate dinner, and went back to work. I did this for a whole semester and that feeling of desperately needing sleep but being unable to close your eyes (because you’re driving, or working, or taking notes) was enough to make you want to cry! Rest is what we all long for, but friends, be assured, it is not found outside of Christ.

The opposite news comes to the Christian in Revelation 14. Here the author writes:

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.  13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:12-13)

How sweet are those words? Those who “die in the Lord,” that is those who belong to His family when the die, will find rest from their labors. In the New Heaven and the New Earth Rest Will Come! Be patient friends, endure those long days…because soon the long day will be over!

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