Have you ever been examined by a doctor who summarized his evaluation of your physical condition by saying, “There is nothing wrong with you. You just need to rest”? In your fast-paced, stressed-out life, do you lack rest? Do you actually long for it? One of my blessings this past year that included cancer surgery, chemo and radiation was that I needed to rest. I had a compelling reason to take a break from extensive travel and regain my strength.
But now, as the summer turns into fall, I find myself somewhat apprehensively looking ahead at my full schedule, which includes a new book launch … I want to be really rested. Well-rested. What I need is the kind of rest only God can give … the rest that the writer to the Hebrews described as being something of a trilogy, with three distinct parts:
Read Hebrews 4:1-11
I. PHYSICAL REST (HEBREWS 4:4)
A. THE EXAMPLE OF PHYSICAL REST
- Give a phrase from Hebrews 4:1-11 that refers to physical rest.
- Describe this physical rest from Genesis 2:1-3.
- Did God intend for His example to be a pattern for our lives? See Isaiah 58:13-14 for your answer. From these verses, what benefits result from setting aside one day in seven for physical rest and spiritual refocusing? Put them into your own words.
- Give phrases from the following verses that underscore this principle: Exodus 16:23; 23:12; 34:21; Leviticus 23:3.
- Give the phrase from Leviticus 16:31 that indicates this principle transcends time and is in effect today.
- Make a list of what you do on Sunday that can be done Monday through Saturday, so Sunday can be reserved for physical rest and spiritual refreshment. Then transfer those things to another day of the week. Some examples: shopping, housework, laundry, yard work, business calls, travel, email.
- How closely are you following God’s example?
B. THE EXPERIENCE OF PHYSICAL REST
- The Ark of the Covenant that led the children of Israel through the wilderness signified God in their midst. Keeping this in mind, what do you learn from Numbers 10:33?
- Give phrases from the following verses that reveal God intends physical rest to be not only a theory, but also an experience: Joshua 1:13; 21:44; 1 Kings 8:56; 2 Chronicles 14:6; Psalm 23:1-2; Jeremiah 31:2; Mark 6:31.
- How much time did you make for physical rest during the past week … the past month … the past year?
- Are you physically exhausted because you’re working 24/7 instead of following God’s own example?
- What will you do to build times of physical rest into your life so that rest is not just a longing, not just a need, but an actual experience?
II. SPIRITUAL REST (HEBREWS 4:1-3, 6-8, 11)
- How does Proverbs 6:9-11 indicate that physical rest alone is insufficient, and can actually be detrimental if not balanced with hard work?
- Give phrases from Hebrews 4:1-11 that refer to spiritual rest.
- How can spiritual rest be related to physical rest? See Psalm 4:8.
- What other words for spiritual rest can you think of? See John 14:27; Philippians 4:11-12; Jeremiah 31:25.
- What are some of the things we must do in order to experience spiritual rest? Read Philippians 4:6-9; Job 22:21; Psalm 119:165.
- From each of the following verses, describe one aspect of spiritual rest: Exodus 33:14; Deuteronomy 12:10; 33:12; 2 Chronicles 15:15; Psalm 62:5; 91:1; 116:7; Proverbs 19:23; Jeremiah 6:16; Matthew 11:28-29.
- Just as lack of physical rest can make us tired and irritable, give characteristics of the lack of spiritual rest from Jeremiah 45:1-5; Habakkuk 2:4-5; Isaiah 57:20-21; Ecclesiastes 2:23; 5:10.
- Based on the above verses, define spiritual rest.
- What is the primary reason you and I don’t enter into spiritual rest? See Hebrews 3:19.
- What can you do to avoid being physically rested, but spiritually weary? See 1 Peter 3:8-12.
- How much of an effort are you making “to enter that rest”? See Hebrews 4:11.
III. ETERNAL REST (HEBREWS 4:9-10)
- Give phrases from Hebrews 4:1-11 that refer to eternal rest.
- How do the following verses also point to eternal rest? Job 3:13, 17; Psalm 55:6; Isaiah 57:2; Revelation 14:13.
- From Revelation 21:3-5, list some of the characteristics of eternal rest. Put each of them in your own words.
- What phrase from Hebrews 4:1-11 indicates that you will not be truly “well-rested” until you enter your heavenly home?
Now that summer is over, take the time and make the decision to be “well-rested.” Follow God’s example by building into your weekly schedule a time for physical rest and refreshment. Re-examine the conditions for spiritual rest and make sure you meet each one. Then relax … and look forward to going some day to your heavenly Father’s house, where you will experience the eternal rest He is preparing for you. ©2019 Anne Graham Lotz
Adapted from an article originally published in September 2005.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” will be available soon from major booksellers and online.