Eternal Rest

I smile when I read an obituary that states that the deceased entered into eternal rest on whatever the date of passing was. Rest amounts to very different interpretation in different contexts. For Israelis in bondage in Babylon, for Africans sold into slavery by their African neighbors, for believers and Muslims in China forced into slave labor to make products for almost every industry, for Christians being sold into slavery by Muslims around the planet, and for spouses in abusive relationships, rest means something very different from what it means to an upper-middle class American on one of their five weeks of vacation.

Eternal rest is not a phrase found in the Scriptures. In Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30, His listeners were invited to easy yokes and light burdens, which would provide them with rest. They were invited to the proper work, so that they could in it find rest.

In Hebrews 3:7-4:13, the writer quoted several Scriptures, including Deuteronomy 1 and Psalm 95, where Yahweh spoke of Israelis who were not going to enter His rest because of their rebellion and unbelief. The description of the rest and its direct realization was their entrance to the land occupied by Canaan’s descendants. This entrance to “rest” was obtained by battles, some of which were not won. It was maintained through ongoing battles. It required continued years of work if subsequent crops were to be converted to food after the invasion, when they received one free crop.

The whole Bible has reference to dead people sleeping in Sheol, but it is just a nap. Rest will be part of our reward for becoming sons and daughters of Yahweh, now and after the death of our flesh, but it doesn’t seem likely that such rest will be a vacation. More like greater strength and Life from greater proximity to Yahweh and His desires for us being realized.