It is not difficult to understand the emotions that many people are encountering in these confusing times. It is natural to feel uneasiness and trepidation when we are faced with so many threats of drastic change in our lives. But, as Christians, we know that there is no room for fear or anxiety in our relationship with the Lord. In fact, there are approximately 192 references in the Old Testament to "resting in the Lord" during times of turmoil; with approximately 48 references in the New Testament. But just what does "resting in the Lord" look like? We think that's a principle that we should easily understand, right? But how many of us actually do it, or can explain to another how to rest in the Lord?
I will tell you that, personally, I have been waking up around 3:30 each morning with varying thoughts that I can only describe as "unsettling". I recognize that many times they are a word of knowledge for someone I am to intercede for before a ministry session. At other times, I know it is an attempt by the Enemy to torment me and force my attention away from both my purpose for the Lord, and my peace in Him. So, last night as I once again found myself awakened in the Fourth Watch of the Night, I chose to ask God what He wanted me to know in these early morning hours. I heard in my spirit, "Learn what it means to rest in Me".
So, I got quiet and committed my spirit to hear His voice; to listen to the direction He would have me go in discerning what His rest would mean for me. In those hours before dawn, I got the outline that would lead me to deeper study. On a very fundamental level, I received the understanding that resting in the Lord is a function of all three parts of my Being. "Rest" in my body can result in restoration, rejuvenation, or repair. "Rest" in my soul occurs in my mind, my emotions, and my will -- where the idea is to surrender and let God's presence "settle in" to those three components of my soul; to feel comfortable and confident in His company. "Rest" in my spirit is best described as being absent from my body and soul, giving me the opportunity to recharge and plug into my Source.
I think the best overall picture that encompasses the fullness of rest in all that I am is exemplified in that moment in the spectacular show "The Chosen", when Jesus returns to his tent after spending a long, exhausting day healing everyone who came to Him. He is in desperate need of rejuvenation and repair to a body that is in pain; nothing is left but surrendering to the companionship of the Father; and in His depletion, He plugs into His Source of strength and energy. That image is a comprehensive display of the fullness of Rest.
After receiving that early morning instruction, and upon arising, I spent the next few hours studying the different interpretations of "resting in the Lord" by exploring the various definitions in the Bible -- 23 different words in Hebrew and 15 in Greek, to be exact. [The richness of the Hebrew and Greek versus our one English word, "rest", astounds me!] So, if you will allow me, I'd like to share some of these distinct, yet complimentary, connotations of what it means to "rest in the Lord"...
Exodus 33:14 says, The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.” Here, the word "rest" is the Hebrew word nuwach, meaning rest, remain, be quiet; a physical settling down at some particular place. Sometimes it means a complete envelopment and permeation, as in the spirit of Elijah resting on Elisha. Here, we can comprehend the support of the Lord in the meaning of rest.
Psalm 37:7 says, Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. "Rest" is the Hebrew word damam, meaning to be dumbfounded, astonished, brought to silence. The New Living Translation, interprets this passage to read, Be still in the presence of the Lord; wait patiently for Him to act. This gives us a sense that "rest in the Lord" is a state that amazes and astounds us as we wait in His presence.
Isaiah 30:15 gives us the importance of resting in the Lord, and the consequences of refusing it. This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: Only in returning to Me and resting in Me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence in your strength. But you would have none of it. You said, 'No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle. But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! "Resting" is the Hebrew word nachath, intimating quiet and quietness; to be set on. There is rescue and salvation in allowing oneself to be set upon by the Lord. Refusal of that, or choosing another path, results in unfavorable punishment.
Matthew 11:28 reads, Then Jesus said, "Come to Me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Here, "Rest" is the Greek word, anapausis, meaning refreshment, or to refresh so as to recover strength. Again, that scene in "The Chosen" comes to mind; when we abide in the rest offered by the Lord, we regain the strength we need to carry out our purpose.
Hebrews 4:9 says, So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. In this instance, "Rest" is the Greek word sabbatismos. This speaks of the joy in a perpetual sabbath to be enjoyed uninterruptedly by Believers in their fellowship with Father and Son! It is not the same as the commandment to keep the Sabbath according to the Law. It is the rest of God, Himself! It's full fruition is in the future, but Believers can enter into it now in whatever way they enjoy their indissoluble relationship with God. The idea of this kind of rest is amplified in the next verse...
Hebrews 4:10: For all who have entered into God's rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. Here, we have a different word for "rest"; it is the Greek word kutapausis. It accentuates the basis upon which a Believer can enter God's rest. We can enter that divine state when we are confidently assured within our full Being of our position in Christ, and outwardly when we live peaceably in an assurance of God's daily provision for all our needs.
As you can see, there's a lot to consider when contemplating what it means to rest in the Lord. There appears to be limited, intermittent times of rest when we need to replenish our strength. There is also that timeless, permanent, endless, and constant rest that comes when we enter into God's continuous provision and presence in our lives. There we find the optimal rest that the world cannot take away from us. So whether the world continues to descend into chaos and lawlessness, or we are miraculously delivered into a new age of revival, we are assured of our "special rest"; a full, complete, and everlasting state that we abide in. It is a place of quiet confidence, and peaceful, untroubled strength from which we collaborate with the Lord during our time on this earth. It is worth seeking and maintaining, and it is my prayer that each member of the Body of Christ discovers this blessed state of rest, in body, soul and spirit.
Hebrews 4:1-3 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. 3 For only we who believe can enter His rest.