Rest in God

In the message of July 25, 2001, Our Lady says:

“…give your soul and your eyes rest in God … find peace in nature and you will discover God the Creator … then you will find joy in your heart…”

Rest and work

From the very beginning, God gave to Israel the commandment to “sanctify the Sabbath” (Exodus 20,8), to give glory to God through prayer and ceasing of all work, and for two main reasons:

- Because rest is the sign of human freedom: In sanctifying the Sabbath, Israel remembers how Yahweh delivered him from Egyptian slavery (Deuteronomy 5,15).

- Because rest is taking part in the creative plan of God the Creator: Man who ceases all activity and praises the Lord follows the Creator who takes rest on the seventh day of creation: “He rested on the seventh day…” (Genesis 2,2). Rest is a sign between Yahweh and his faithful: “Between me and the Israelites it is to be an everlasting token…” (Exodus 31,17). Man’s rest signifies his freedom and his adoption by God: it does not mean only to cease to with work, but to live joyfully in the image of God.

Towards the rest in God

Israel understood only progressively the spiritual nature of the rest, which God had commanded to him.

The Promised Land, an image of the rest in God

After the Exodus from Egyptian slavery, the announced rest in the Promised Land was a fruit of a long process of crossing the desert and conquering the land (Joshua 21,43s). When the king Solomon finally consecrates the Temple of Jerusalem, he acclaims: “Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised!” (1 Kings 8,56). In the time of king Solomon, who was a “man of peace”, God gave to his people “peace and tranquillity” (1 Chronicles 22,9), and every one can rest “under his vine or under his fig tree” (1 Kings 5,5). Yahweh Himself dwells in the Temple, He finds in the Temple the place of His rest (Psalm 132,14) and gives rest to those who seek Him (2 Chronicles 14,6).

Foretaste of the promised final rest

In different ways, Israel has discovered the joys of spiritual rest. In times of persecution (Psalm 55/54), in trials (Psalm 16/15), through the experience of his nothingness (Psalm 39/38), the psalmist prays God to give him some respite and abandons himself to the Good Shepherd, who gives him rest (Psalm 23/22). This interior rest also offers the Law: to walk righteously means to find rest (Jeremiah 6,16). The remnant of Israel will take rest, with none to disturb them (Zephaniah 3,13).

In the Song of Songs, the bride dreams about the midday rest, at the end of seeking (Song of Songs 1,7). Wisdom promises rest to those who seek it: If the wise concludes that “I have laboured only a little, but have found much” (Sirach 51,27), it is because Wisdom dwells in Israel, which is chosen for the place of her rest (Sirach 24,7-11).

This foretaste of the rest in God helped Job to support his sufferings, although – to be delivered – he even desired to find rest in death (Job 3,13).

The prophet Daniel announces that the fullness of final rest shall come only when the light of the Resurrection shall enlighten the darkness of the grave: “Go and take your rest, you shall rise for your reward at the end of days!” (Daniel 12,13)

Rest and action in Jesus Christ

Rest and Redemption

In conflict with the Pharisees, Jesus explains the real meaning o Sabbath: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2,27), to save life (3,4). Rest should mean liberation of man and glorification of the Creator. On the day of Sabbath, Jesus heals and delivers (Luke 13,16) and so shows His power over the Sabbath (Matthew 12,8), because He realizes what Sabbath had announced: the liberation of the children of God. To obtain for us this rest, the Redeemer has “nowhere to rest his head” (Matthew 8,20); he will rest it only at the moment of His death on the cross (John 19,30).

Revelation of the rest of God

To justify his action on the day of Sabbath, Jesus says: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work!” (John 5,17). In God, work and rest do not exclude each other, but express the transcendent character of the life of God; it is a mystery announced by the book of Wisdom, when it speaks about rest in the midst of work (Sirach 24). Christ, and those who follow Him, go at any time in search of the lost sheep (Matthew 9,36; John 4,36), because Jesus says to those who come to Him: “I shall give you rest” (Matthew 11,29).

Rest in Paradise

According to the Letter to the Hebrews, the fullness of rest sought by the Hebrews in the Promised Land is given to those who are faithful to Jesus Christ: “For we who believed entered into that rest … and whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 3,7-4,11). The final rest, it is Paradise, where enter those who die in the Lord, accompanied by their works (revelation 14,13). Rest in heaven, in fact, does not mean ceasing of action: for those who worship the beast, there will be no relief day or night (Revelation 14,11), but the Living praise the glory of God day and night (Revelation 4,8), which is the perfection of action.

Cf: Vocabulary of Biblical Theology