Saturday, May 01, 2010

Eternal Rest

Sabbath Study, Part 37

Just as believers enter into rest when they pass away, so the Sabbath is a form of rest for us now. “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10). Indeed, this Sabbath rest finds its ultimate fulfillment in Heaven:

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

The Greek word translated as “labors” in this verse denotes intense labor united with trouble and toil. This word is used in several other places in Scripture, including 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

“From such [painful, earthly] toils the redeemed in heaven will be released; for although there will be employment there, it will be without the sense of fatigue or weariness. And in view of such eternal rest from toil, we may well endure the labours and toils incident to the short period of the present life, for, however arduous or difficult, it will soon be ended” (Albert Barnes).

In this passage, we see that the rest a believer will experience in heaven is at least twofold. The first part is a cessation of laborious activity; that is, painful toil will finally cease. The second part is enjoying the benefits those labors procured: “their works follow them.” Every good work (though painful and filled with toil) is deposited in Heaven like a check in a bank, only to be withdrawn at the end of days, to be enjoyed forever (Mt. 6:1-4, 16:27; Mk. 9:41; Lk. 6:35; 1 Cor. 3:14; Heb. 11:26; 2 Jn. 8; Rev. 22:12).

It is also, I think, safe to assume that work itself will not completely cease in Heaven—only sin-stained work (i.e., painful toil). Work itself is not sinful. Indeed, it is sin and rest that are antithetical, not work and rest. Before the Fall, God placed Adam in the garden to “work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15, NIV). In the perfect world God created, before we see the entrance of sin, mankind was called to restful labor. When the New Heavens and the New Earth arrive, restful labor will be restored to humanity and will continue on into eternity, free from the hindrance of condemning, enslaving, indwelling sin.

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At this point, we have reached the end of our search through Scripture in our study of the Sabbath. We will wrap up this blog series with a few concluding posts. None of these posts have been written, however, so I ask for your patience as I work on them in the next coming days/weeks. Thank you!


Commentaries Cited from
Hall, Kay.
Online Bible. Beersheba Springs: Ken Hamel, 2000. CD-ROM.

Commentaries Used
Notes on the New Testament, by Albert Barnes

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