That Blessed Rest!
"'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Yes', says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.' " (Revelation 14:13)
I once overheard a little boy say, "Well if I can't have any rest, I might as well give up on life." Those words were obviously stated in exaggeration. However, they serve as a good example of man looking for ease and comfort.
In the days of the prophet Amos, (Amos 6:1-6) God condemned the Jews for their ease and comfort. In their luxury they reclined in beds inlaid with ivory, banqueted on fatted claves, and were soothed by lascivious songs. They were much like modern America -- rich and fat -- yet God was far from their thooughts. Notice the context of the passage above. (Revelation 14:11-13) Observe the contrast between vs. 11 ("they have no rest") and vs. 13 ("may rest from their labors"). John's says that some have no rest (vs.11), but some will rest from their labors. What is the difference between the two?
First, observe that verse 11 is describing the future destiny of the wicked. Here John says they have no rest night and day suggesting a condition that continually exists - i.e. eternal pain and grief. These will never enjoy the luxury of sleep or rest, but only eternal sorrow.
However, verse 14 describes the destiny of those "in the Lord". Those who rest from their labors are those who (v12) persevere in the "patience of the Lord". They are those who remain steadfast in trials and steadfast in the Lord's work. (I Cor. 15:58) By exercising patience during continued trials and keeping God's commands, they will show that they belong to the Lord. "Labor" literally means wailing or grief or a beating of the breast. It denotes toil and effort in promoting the cause of Christ and the saving of souls. From such toil one day the saints will be released! They will enjoy an eternal rest!
So, my brother persevere and press on - rest is coming at last!
By George Slover
From Expository Files 9.10; October 2002