People are anxious and tired. They want and need peace and rest. God the Father freely offers both through faith in His Son Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit.
The Church Father Augustine wrote that God made us for Himself and that our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. Abundant in love, mercy, and grace, God offers a number of different kinds of rest.
From the first week of time (Genesis 2:1-3), there is a Sabbath day of rest (Exodus 20:8-10), not a legalistic observance of a particular day but ultimately an opportunity for our bodies to rest and for God to work rest in us by His Word and Sacraments (those are, Baptism, Absolution, and Communion), forgiving our sins and thereby giving us eternal life and salvation.
The Old Testament civil and ceremonial law called both for every six years to be followed by a Sabbath year (Exodus 23:10-11) and for every 49 years to be followed by a year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-22). Those periods of rest, as all periods of rest, ultimately are fulfilled in Christ.
The Promised Land was to bring the people of Israel rest, but even that rest was in some sense incomplete. The Divinely-inspired author of Hebrews, for example, writes that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9 ESV) and encourages us strive by repentance and faith to enter that rest (Hebrews 4:11).
This past Friday was All Saints’ Day, which, whether observed then or tomorrow, celebrates especially God’s work of redeeming and fully sanctifying those who have departed this life in faith and so are with Him, resting from their labors (Revelation 14:13). The hymn “For All the Saints” meditates on such rest.
That rest and all believers’ greater appreciation of it as a result of the resurrection of the body is coming and soon (Revelation 22:12, 20). Our present anxiety and exhaustion, or whatever we suffer here and now, are not even worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us then and there (Romans 8:18)!
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore.You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.