Posted on Tue, Apr 1, 2014
Transforming the Soul to Rest
Transforming the Soul to Rest
“…Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. …” (Matthew 11:28))
Rest was the centerpiece of the fourth commandment. God established the Sabbath or celebration of rest as a critical element for man’s wellbeing. Centuries later, many religious communities took it so seriously, that violating “the Sabbath” was equivalent to a capital crime (i.e. punishable by death). I guess if we were not willing to rest for a while, the religious leaders would help you rest…permanently. This evolution of the Sabbath law is understandable. In the old (First) Testament, God seems to put extraordinary attention on the subject of rest (see Exodus 23:12, Deuteronomy 5:12 & 14). In fact, other than the second commandment (regarding idolatry), instructions regarding the Sabbath were more detailed than any other of the ten. God even blessed and “hallowed” the day (established it as “Holy”). When Jesus arrived on the scene, He began to reverse what had developed into a legalistic understanding and lifestyle of the Sabbath. Some leaders thought that rest was transcendent to doing good or catering to the welfare of mankind. Jesus refuted their doctrine and dogma as not only inaccurate, but about 180 degrees from God’s intent. He thus had to reverse dogma and remind the world that,
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath!” Mark 2:27
But was God’s intent directed towards the body, soul (mind) or spirit? Yes, yes and yes! Several studies have linked physical rest to mental wellbeing. In peer review article, The Power of Rest (Edlund, 2011), rest was described as a necessity for life. Physiologically (body) and psychologically (mind or soul), we need rest to maintain health and be more effective for life’s journey. Simply put, rest not only regenerates the body’s strength and tone, but it refreshes the mind. If the average person were to go without sleep for five days, they would start hallucinating and potentially cause harm to themselves or others. In other words, when God designed us, He knew exactly what the body’s physical & emotional maintenance plan would be and incorporated it into His Ten Commands (not suggestions or recommendations). Like most of the Mosaic law (the law given to Moses), the risk of death was immanent and swift if the commandments and laws were not obeyed. The Old (First) Testament presented little tolerance for disobedience. Although in our dispensation (era) of “grace” we don’t get stoned or executed for our disobedience, disobeying the command and necessity to rest has grown proportionally with our busy lives. Rejecting the need to rest could equate to rejection of our fitness to hear God’s Word…thus limiting our faith...thus limiting our potential to be God pleasers (Heb 11:6).
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