Rest And Work (2)


Rev Adrian Ng

Scripture Passage: Hebrews 3 (NIV)



Summary | Remaining FAITHFUL to God requires a God-centred perspective of WORK.

Employment provides income for our livelihoods. But working too hard can lead to burnout when work is not separated from personal life. Ranked 2nd most overworked city in the world (2020), clocking 51.1 hours of work per week, the problem of burnout is notably higher in Singapore than elsewhere in Asia (recent study by Microsoft). Headlined “When busyness becomes social currency, lives become poorer”, the Straits Times reported that busyness is a norm in Singapore, with students seen as succeeding even when they are miserable, being overworked and overscheduled (2015).

Going forward, how can we allow God to take charge of our time, to be an integral part of our everyday life, so that our work emanates from Sabbath-Rest with Him? What is God’s view of work? Having previously considered a Biblical perspective of REST, how now does WORK relate to REST according to the Bible? Unless we have a correct understanding of this, work will always tire us out.

The book of Hebrews underscores the need to remain faithful to worship, trust and obey the LORD in spite of challenges that cause hardship. Persecuted for their faith, the early Jewish Christians were on the verge of abandoning Jesus. Urged to hold firmly to the confidence and hope they had in Christ, they were warned not to turn away from God like their ancestors did, who were disqualified from entering God’s salvation place of eternal rest, and ended up as corpses in the wilderness (V10,11,17). In Hebrews 3, the author intentionally quoted from Psalms 95 instead of Exodus to reveal important truths about how the early Hebrews sinned against God. We also find a simple theology of Work here for our reflection, lest we fall into the same sin as them.

Biblical Theology of WORK

1. Worship is top priority for God’s people – Biblical Work involves worship! – Hebrews 3 quoting from Psalm 95 begins with a call to worship the LORD (v1-7) which is a top priority for God’s people. Biblical Work, in fact, starts with worshipping God. The first thing Adam did immediately after he was created was to spend time with God, illustrating how important worship was to humanity. It was from Sabbath-Rest, worshipping God that humanity began work.

2. God owns all of creation – including Rest and Work! – Majestic God, exalted above all, owns all of creation - the depths of the earth, the mightiest mountains, the sea, the dry land (v4-5) etc including Sabbath-Rest and Work. To the Jewish Christians, they would be reminded that everything, their whole life belongs to God, which would include all of their works.

3. REST is part of God’s created work, and WORK is only complete with Sabbath-Rest – Genesis 2:2-3 mentioned that by the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. God blessed the Sabbath and made it holy. It was only by the seventh day that God completed His Work meaning work was only completed with Sabbath-Rest & worship. Worship is that Sabbath-Rest that is important to the Jewish Christians and it is from restfully worshipping the LORD our Maker that we receive care and nourishment for we are the people He watches over, the flock under His care. (v6-7) We are not to abandon Sabbath-Rest for it is like abandoning worship that makes Biblical Work complete.

4. Busyness & Ignorance of Sabbath-Rest will lead us away from God – Work without Sabbath-REST can lead to unbelief over time. To abandon the Sabbath is to abandon the LORD God. Workaholic Christians are warned not to prioritise work over God, which is tantamount to the serious offence of rebellious apostasy, where work becomes one’s idol and is worshipped. God was angry when His people hardened their hearts to go astray, not taking time to know His holy ways. Today when we hear God’s voice, do not harden our hearts? (V7-8) Guard against a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. (v12) Encourage one another today to be faithful so that none may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (v13) especially in times of testing.

Spiritual disciplines and daily scheduled Rest times will ensure we get to pause, reflect, and allow God to renew and recharge us. As we return to a world full of pursuits and achievements, may Abba Father’s love assure us that He is in control of our lives, including our work, so that we will never abandon His Sabbath-Rest for us. Let us consecrate all work to Jesus, LORD of the Sabbath, in whose redemptive grace we shall find work ordained and designed by God for us to be truly satisfying and ultimately fulfilling.

(Sermon notes by Marjorie Tan)


1. (Before the sermon) Is work more important than rest or rest more important than work? Why?

2. Why is so difficult to prioritise rest in our Asian / Singapore culture?

3. What are your thoughts that Rest is a part of God’s Work and work is only complete with Sabbath-Rest?

4. How can I we incorporate Sabbath-Rest as part of our work / rhythm of life?