How Do We Enter God’s Rest?

By Melissa McLaughlin

Home Sweet Home

Surprisingly, one of the sweet joys of a summer get-away is coming home. After all the fun, the visits to see family, the sights and sounds of new places, there is something simple and beautiful about arriving back home. Seeing the familiar. Returning to your own comforts. Sleeping in your own bed. There is a deeper rest when we are at home.

When we view the Bible through God’s lens, we observe a theme of rest. Deep soul rest. From beginning to end, we are called to rest with God. Eternal sweet rest. And one day, when we enter heaven, it will truly be home sweet home.

Rest in God Begins

As we read in Genesis, in the beginning God created the heavens, the earth, all living things and people. Immediately following this great burst of divine creativity, Genesis 2 begins with these words, Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, in all their vast array. By the seventh day God finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Since mankind was created on the sixth day, we realize that Adam and Eve’s first day of life, the seventh day, was one of rest with their Creator God. Imagine, even before being commissioned to care for the Garden of Eden, their first day of life, they rested with the Lord.

Truly this was God’s plan all along. For God’s creation to live in sweet, restful communion with Him.

All too soon, Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s leadership and rule by eating of the forbidden tree. The call to rest and closeness with our Creator came crashing down. God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden and assigned them to the hard task of working the ground.

No more gentle walks and talks with the Lord among the Garden of His making. Now they would toil and sweat and fight with the very dust of the earth from which they were formed.

From dust to dust. That is our plight. The very earth over which we were commanded to have dominion, now has dominion over us.

Like Adam we have all rebelled and sinned against God. Since that time, all of humanity remains restless until we rest in God. (Quote attributed to Augustine of Hippo)

Sabbath Rest

Later when God laid out His law in Exodus 20, as part of the 10 Commandments He provided and actually commanded rest for His people, the Israelites. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work. Exodus 20:8-10a

Resting on the Sabbath reminds us of God and His power over all creation. This world is His. We are the people of His making. As God purposed to rest, He calls us to do the same. As we rest with Him, it is both a reminder of the Garden of Eden where we began our rest and God’s call to join with Him in heavenly rest.

Enter God’s Rest through Jesus

But how do we regain that rest God once provided?

That rest is hard-won. Paid for with a costly price. For our heavenly rest was purchased through the work of Jesus Christ, God Himself. As Jesus took the sin-debt of all humanity and bore it in His own body on the cross, He won for us an eternal rest, salvation rest and assurance of our place in heaven. A promise more sure than our next breath.

For the One who created all things, makes all things new. The God-Man, Jesus Christ.

However, this hard-fought salvation rest, is not to be taken lightly, by any means.

We are reminded in Hebrews of the time when God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt by parting the Red Seas. He led them to the promised land, but they could not enter because they disobeyed. They did not trust God or believe His word and they grumbled against God. As a result, God led them back into the wilderness to strengthen their faith in Him. After 40 years of wandering in that wilderness, the people grew to trust God enough they could finally enter the land flowing with milk and honey.

This Biblical account echoes of our eternal promised land. Heaven. We must trust God, through our faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross, in order to enter the rest of heaven.

Hebrews 4:1-3a – Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest.

Hebrews 4:9-11 – There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

May we never trust in our own work or efforts, trust in the world’s philosophies, trust in a political party or social justice cause. None of these can truly earn us soul-rest. Only when we are in a right relationship with our Creator God, can we walk in close communion with Him. Only then can we again enjoy the rest that first began in the Garden of Eden.

We cannot earn our salvation or pay Jesus back. We must trust and rest in Jesus. Rest. What a gift!

Rest in Jesus

When we believe in Jesus as Savior and LORD, we find rest for our souls that begins here and now.

We no longer go from dust to dust.

Instead we go from rest to rest.

We rest in His assurance now, for we know our heavenly home is just up ahead, where eternal rest and sweet fellowship with God awaits us there.

Trust Jesus to do that which you cannot.

Then enter God’s rest today.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Additional Resources

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant By Melissa McLaughlin

A Bad Example by Melinda Inman

Article Inspired by My Yoke is Easy – Sermon by Sinclair Ferguson

22 thoughts on “How Do We Enter God’s Rest?”

  1. This is such an encouraging passage of Scripture. I was so blessed when I studied through it and wrote my own post on this. And now, more than a year later, it’s just as much a blessing to hear you address God’s rest, and even more so, because I’m blessed to be able to read your presentation. You did a superb job making this clear and winsome and beautiful! Your clear and precise writing makes this passage accessible and understandable, and I’m encouraged all over again that the Lord Jesus did all the work, so that we could enter His rest, since we lost it so decisively when we sinned in the Garden. You pulled all of salvation history together to present a truly encouraging post, Melissa. Thank you!

    • Melinda, I am honored and humbled at your kind words. All glory to God! The Author of our very lives. There are many days when I feel so worn and weary and to think of “rest” is a beautiful gift. So, when I pause and consider, the gift of “rest” and “resting in Him” is the gift God intended all along and intends for us one day in heaven, I am truly overwhelmed at God’s goodness, love and kindness. I have thoroughly enjoyed your Bible study series on the book of Hebrews. You are a masterful teacher and writer and have brought the entire book to life for me! If you happen to remember the post in which you covered Hebrews chapter 4, I would love to link to that one. I will also scan back through your old posts and see if I can find it. Anyway, thank you again for your kind encouragement to me, Melinda. God bless you and give you deep rest in Him, in the days ahead!

  2. Melissa, such a beautiful way to unpack our need for true soul rest starting with creation and the first man and woman. We often forget the importance of God’s example and command to find our rest in Christ alone. Love this: “Truly this was God’s plan all along. For God’s creation to live in sweet, restful communion with Him.”

    • Karen, I find it such a blessing to remember how God planned for us to be in close communion and rest with Him in the Garden. What a good, good Father God and Creator. May we rest in His unchanging hands and loving heart!

    • So true, Linda. We need to rest in God and His peace to sustain us and make us whole. Though we may try to cling to this dusty earth, it won’t last. Only what’s done for Christ will last. May you rest in the everlasting arms of God tonight!

  3. One of the ways I rest more fully in God is when I obey him. When he calls me to something, not matter how hard or scary, when I obey, I rest. But it is not until I obey that I find that rest. Before obedience, I wrestle with anxiety, frustration, and exhaustion. But once I cross over to the land of obedience, I find the milk and honey of God’s presence in my soul. I finally experience peace. Wonderful article, Melissa. 🙂

    • Oh Marcie, such an important insight. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience. I’m glad you added this crucial point. Once we have surrendered our lives to Christ to receive peace with God through Him, then it is a daily surrender to the working of the indwelling Spirit that brings that minute by minute peace of God. Walking in a right relationship with Him day after day. May you rest in His perfect will and perfect peace tonight!

  4. Melissa, I love this post. As I read it and read your thoughts and the Scripture verses you quoted, I was drawn into a sense of peace and rest. It has been a great reminder not to be drawn into the worldly values of business, efficiency, speed, multi-tasking, and production. But rather, focus on God’s call to trust in him and find soul rest in him. “Truly this was God’s plan all along. For God’s creation to live in sweet, restful communion with Him.”

    • Thank you, Anne. Glory to God! His goodness has no end. It seems the more we reflect on who God is and what He has done, the more we see His kindness, truth, mercy and love. His nature is so different from our world, in all its hurry, scurry, self-made effort, speed and accomplishments. The very fact that God rested and commanded us to rest is a remarkably beautiful thing to take in. May you rest in His glorious peace tonight!


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