Rest And Work


Rev Adrian Ng

Scripture Passage: Hebrews 4:1-7 (NIV)


(Click on video below)


Summary | God’s people are promised life-giving REST to enjoy His presence and providence for eternity.

Are we, like Alice in Wonderland, constantly running and expecting to get to someplace but finding ourselves stuck in the same spot? Are we planning this year to follow the Red Queen’s advice to Alice to run twice as fast as all the running she had been doing, in order to get somewhere? Biblical theology of rest and work, however, tells us that God designed us to enjoy His promised rest (v1) if we would listen to Him, and with faith, obey. (v2) The reality of God’s truth assures us that:

1. There is a place of promised-rest created for God’s people. We must not miss it! V1 tells us to tremble with fear that some may fail to experience this good news. For only those who believe can enter God’s place of rest. (v3) The invitation, open to mature practicing Christian believers who had good knowledge of Old Testament scripture, still applies to us today being part of the New Testament. God’s eternal promises always seek to bless those who trust Him. They are not manipulative but designed, tried, and tested to build faith and trust.

What is this place of promised-rest? Appearing four times (v2-5) REST is KATAPAUSIS in Greek, meaning to pause. It means to cease from whatever work or activity we are doing, from whatever is occupying our mind. Such a period of rest results when we put ourselves in a place where God Himself went when He rested on the seventh day of Creation. It is pure holy pause, created by God from the beginning of time, that we are invited to enter into with Him even today for eternity. We can if we spend time to hear, trust, and obey His promised Word.

2. There is a pattern of rest and work created for God’s people. We must not ruin it! V3-5 (quoted using Psalm 95:11) pointed to the Hebrew slaves led out of Egypt by Moses being disqualified from the Promised Land as they hardened their hearts to God’s instructions, disobeyed Him and indulged in idolatry. As God’s people we are to follow His created pattern of rest and work which started when He Himself rested on the seventh day of creation to enjoy ALL that He had worked six days to create – light; sea and sky; land and plants; sun, moon and stars; fish and birds; animals and humans. Humanity’s existence therefore started the very next day dwelling in GOD’s REST. Adam, the first human, did not start off working. He first enjoyed blissful time with his Creator. We are called to follow this pattern of rest and work created by God for us and not to ruin it by our disobedience like the Hebrew slaves in the Old Testament.

What is Sabbath Rest? It is not about doing nothing – but doing everything to worship and spend time with God. It is only by resting in God that we can start our work in the world. We WORK having first RESTED in God because He designed our DNA to thrive in this holy pattern. We will always be restless in our hearts, never satisfied if we do not rest to enjoy the LORD as our first love before starting anything else. Saint Augustine of Hippo, after wrestling with and giving himself to worldly pleasures, acknowledged in surrender this pattern of truth that the LORD God has made us for Himself and that “our heart is restless till it rests in You.”

3. There is a priority of worship over work created within our hearts as God’s people. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (v7) The prevalence of online social media and consumerism is a serious problem frustrating faith in the church today as it ruins our pattern of commitment. Fear-of-Missing-Out (FOMO), a syndrome much like “kiasu-ism” makes one anxious about losing out on a good deal so that many in the congregation today avoid Bible study or serving voluntarily in ministry with the church. They wait instead for something better to come along. Potential “better deals” grab one’s attention so that we lose sight of what is truly important. God’s people in Exodus gave in to self-desires, chose to forsake their love of God for a seemingly good golden calf that became more important to them. Their impatience got the better of them and they sought to worship products of the created world instead of the Creator.

What are we to do? Guard against the human tendency to prioritise work and success over everything else! The idolatry of work is the modern-day golden calf that has enslaved so many Christians. The antidote to work enslavement is to develop a deliberate rhythm of Sabbath Rest. God who controls man’s time, rewards those who trust and put Him in the pilot’s seat of their lives.

Having heard God’s voice today as we begin 2021, let us obey and prioritise the LORD. Resist allowing work and other distractions to become so hectic that we find it hard to do the good deeds that God designed for us to do. Admit that busyness and falling for distractions are our own making. In Christ we can prioritise Sabbath Rest – commit our time, consecrate our lives to worship, grow faith, and serve our Maker.

(Sermon Notes by Marjorie Tan)


1. What does "resting" mean to you?

2. What does "resting in God" mean to you?

3. Why do you think the Sabbath-Rest is so important to God?

4. Why do you think the Sabbath-Rest is so important to humanity?

5. How can you build a pattern of Sabbath-Rest and work this year?